Irving Berlin's White Christmas Expanded Edition
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Irving Berlin's White Christmas'
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There never was a proper soundtrack album released of Michael Curtiz s classic 1954 musical featuring Irving Berlin s immortal score because Bing Crosby was under contract with Decca and Rosemary Clooney was under contract with Columbia. Decca didn t want to promote a Columbia artist on their release so they brought in Peggy Lee for their version of the soundtrack album, and Columbia, in turn released this record. But we got around all of the labels maneuvering on this first time ever standalone reissue of the Columbia version by adding a previously unreleased bonus duet between Rosie and Bing on Silver Bells pulled from The Bing Crosby for General Electric radio show! Not to mention six other Yuletide-flavored bonus tracks taken from Rosie s appearances on various CBS radio shows, all but one never before released, and all beautifully remastered by Maria Triana at Battery Studios in New York. Liner notes are by Clooney expert Tom Pickles, and we ve added some great photos. Another Real Gone Christmas miracle!
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In 1997, Bear Records issued the first of their three Rosemary Clooney CD sets which included six of the eight Columbia Records' recordings from White Christmas. The film title song as well as "Snow" were included in the second volume on a CD of Clooney's Christmas singles. Amazingly, the first volume also included soundtrack recordings from the film, including "Santa Claus", a song performed in the opening war sequence of film by Crosby and Kaye, which was cut. (You can still hear a few bars of the music while Kaye and Crosby seemingly adlib a song and dance routine at the opening of the film.) These recordings, including "Sisters" with Rosemary and Trudy Stevens (dubbing for Vera-Ellen); "Snow" with its exceptional arrangement and blending of Crosby, Clooney, Kaye, and Stevens; "I'd Rather See a Minstrel Show" and "Mandy" (full unedited version); "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me"; and "Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army" are all from pre-recordings and sound very good, but this latest release of White Christmas on the Real Gone Music label is the best sounding of all the film related releases thus far.
The liner notes by Tom Pickles are informative as well as interesting for expressing his opinion (especially regarding his suggestion for recording "Snow"). The CD includes original cover art only in green, black, and red, rather than the original yellow background. One wonders why the original album cover was so un-Christmas like. Even the photo of Clooney with the cartoon Santa kissing her looked very low budget in terms of album cover designs) as well as original liner notes, photos of the original LP record, and three photographs including one from the finale of the film.
In addition, there are seven Christmas songs sung by Clooney in top voice. Among these is a lovely version of "Silver Bells" with Crosby. Three of the recordings, "The Christmas Song", "Jingle Bells", and "Home for the Holidays", are also included in the expanded "Diamond Anniversary" release of the White Christmas on Blu-ray DVD. The CD is almost perfect. Why am I carping? It would have been fun to have the songs on the CD in the same order as they appeared in the film, building up to Clooney's spectacular torch version of "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" to her lovely rendition of title song from the film. Still, I can understand the producers wanting to present the recordings as they were first issued (not to mention deciding whether to change the order of the songs on the back of original album cover). In any case, this is a wonderful tribute to Rosemary Clooney and those of us who appreciate hard to find recordings of such excellence. In fact, I have already bought several for friends as Christmas presents.