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*THE ULTIMATE CROSBY CHRISTMAS COLLECTION.*
on July 24, 2002
There is no finer collection of Bing Crosby's Christmas music than this one. Collected over the course of two discs (one red, one green) are ALL of Bing's holiday recordings, both secular and religious, which were commercially released by the Decca label. The tracks span the years 1935 to 1956, from Bing's glowing vocal peak on tunes such as Silent Night and Adeste Fideles (1935) to the mellow, burnished voice of Silver Bells (1950) and Snow (1954 - w/ Peggy Lee, Danny Kaye, and Truely Stevens).
Bing's well known affiliation with Christmas music began in 1935 when Decca Records chief Jack Kapp suggested that Bing record Silent Night and Adeste Fideles for commercial release. Bing insisted that he did not want to profit financially from religious music, but the issue was resolved when it was arranged for profits to go to charity. Featured here are these gorgeous versions of Silent Night and Adeste Fideles, plus later versions, all excellent and with interesting differences. White Christmas, Irving Berlin's famous composition, first recorded by Bing in 1942 (for the Crosby/Astaire film Holiday Inn), is the biggest selling single of ALL TIME, and is also here in several different incarnations.
Aside from the classics I've already mentioned, this set provides many other fantastic treasures including Bing's moving 1956 reading of I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day, his spirited 1949 medley of Deck The Halls/Away In A Manger/I Saw Three Ships, and refreshingly lesser-known treats such as 1955's The First Snowfall. Also worth mentioning are the several Christmas tunes that Bing recorded with The Andrews Sisters, all of which are present here, including their hip, swingin' take on Jingle Bells. Another winning combination of vocals takes place when Miss Peggy Lee joins Bing for a jazzy duet on 1952's Little Jack Frost Get Lost. Add in Bing's fine renditions of evergreens such as I'll Be Home For Christmas and The First Noel, as well as his sprightly readings of children's favorites like Here Comes Santa Claus and It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, and you've got yourself an absolute treasure trove of Yuletide cheer.
No one accustomed to recordings of this vintage will be disappointed with the sound quality here, which is really quite good. With beautiful packaging, including a fold out insert with extensive liner notes, pictures of original record sleeves, and session information for all 44 tracks, The Voice Of Christmas is, without a doubt, the ultimate holiday collection of the most celebrated Christmas crooner of all time.
P.S. - For those who would like a fine companion disc dealing with Bing's later Christmas recordings, including his 1977 duet with David Bowie, the best bet is Bing Crosby's Christmas Classics.