Bing rose up on Brunswick, but the bulk of his reign as the top singing star in the world came on Decca. Here are 50 1934-56 Decca classics including a host of huge hits and eight tracks making their U.S. CD debut! Among the essentials: White Christmas; I'm an Old Cowhand; June in January; Red Sails in the Sunset; Pennies from Heaven; Sweet Leilani; I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams; Alexander's Ragtime Band; Moonlight Becomes You; Now Is the Hour; It's Been a Long, Long Time; Don't Fence Me In (with Andrews Sisters), and more.
Bing Crosby has been called the "Voice of the Century," a title that's rooted in considerably more art and accomplishment than mere show-biz hype. Others may have scaled more spectacular peaks during the 20th century, but one could make a well grounded argument that without Crosby's pioneering vocal artistry the careers of Frank Sinatra
and Elvis Presley
might well have never blossomed. This 50-track double-disc anthology chronicles the most productive years of the crooner's career, a period that spans the early '30s to the mid-'50s; his final years at RCA largely rested on the laurels garnered herein. His rich, effortlessly dreamy baritone has become a pop-culture cliché, but it was in fact as radically pioneering in its day as anything the King or the Chairman of the Board would muster in later decades. Radio and modern electronic recording were in their infancy on many of the '30s hits here, yet Crosby mastered both with preternatural grace--and an innate, jazz-born sense of timing--he later brought to his successful film and TV careers. What's remarkable here is the breadth of styles and influences Crosby's dulcet tones make there own here. The dizzying slate here includes standards and early hits ("Star Dust" and "Where the Blue of the Night" in Decca re-recordings of his original Brunswick sides), country-western ("New San Antonio Rose," "Don't Fence Me In"), island exotica ("Sweet Leilani," "Blue Hawaii"), Irish affectations ("McNamara's Band," "Galway Bay"), holiday favorites ("Silent Night," "White Christmas") and film hits ("Pennies From Heaven," "Swinging On a Star"), performances that represent the very cornerstone of American vocal tradition. --Jerry McCulley