The reasoning behind this two-fer is obvious: That Travelin' Two-Beat, by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, and Bing Crosby Sings the Country Hits are two albums released by Capitol Records in 1965. But they are very different sets. That Travelin' Two-Beat, recorded at sessions in August and December 1964, is a follow-up to the previous Crosby-Clooney album, 1958's Fancy Meeting You Here, another musical travelog. This time, the pair, again working with arranger/conductor Billy May, are abetted by the songwriting team of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, who overhauled a series of international favorites by adding new lyrics and countermelodies. But no matter what country they are nominally visiting, in a sense Crosby and Clooney never leave New Orleans, since every arrangement is in two-beat Dixieland style. Often, there isn't much of an Irish or Spanish flavor left when Crosby, Clooney, May, Livingston, and Evans have gotten through with the song, but the two singers still have enough chemistry between them to make the album an enjoyable outing. Bing Crosby Sings the Country Hits, actually recorded in October 1963 but not issued until after That Travelin' Two-Beat, is, as its name suggests, a collection of Crosby performances of country favorites from "Wabash Cannon Ball" to "Hello Walls." The material itself is often melancholy, but Crosby never sounds as heartbroken as the lyrics he sings, and, though the album was recorded in Nashville, it has few real concessions to country, with the twanging guitars well in the background. The real problem is that Crosby isn't in very good voice; he had a cold during the sessions and grew uncertain with any note out of his bass range. As such, these two albums don't quite justify the description of them as "classic," though Crosby fans will welcome their issuance together on CD.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann