Bing Crosby

The Chronological Bing Crosby, Vol. 29: 1940

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Bing Crosby was very busy in the recording studio in December 1940, and five of his seven sessions during the month are included here, amounting to 14 songs. (The disc's 21-track list is filled out by alternate takes and an unissued Christmas greeting to record company employees). The collection begins with a session of Irish songs (Crosby's first efforts in the genre, which was a natural for him) and songs by Stephen Foster. Although Crosby had delved into the Foster catalog previously, his revivals of "De Camptown Races" and "My Old Kentucky Home" may have been inspired by the looming radio ban of ASCAP compositions that took up most of 1941, and that probably prevented the several newly written movie songs he also recorded -- "You're Dangerous," "You Lucky People, You," and "Birds of a Feather," from the Crosby/Bob Hope "road" picture Road to Zanzibar -- from becoming hits. 19th century songwriter Foster became very popular on the radio after all ASCAP songs were dumped. As it happened, the only hits among the songs included here were ones on which Crosby outdistanced their original owners: His version of "Dolores" outpointed the one by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra with Frank Sinatra on vocals, even though the song was featured by Dorsey in his film, Las Vegas Nights, and his cover of "New San Antonio Rose" beat out the one by its composer, country legend Bob Wills, going on to an unofficial "gold record" designation. The collection also includes excellent performances of the Sy Oliver swing standard "Yes Indeed" (done as a duet with Connee Boswell, with brother Bob Crosby's Bob Cats for accompaniment), and the British wartime favorite "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square." With such recordings, Crosby continued to hold his own against the big bands that dominated the early 1940s.