The 33rpm long-playing record album ("LP") was introduced to the public by CBS in 1948. Until then, artists released singles on 10-inch double-sided 78 rpm disks. Occasionally, several 78 rpm disks were packaged together as an "album" and, if you had a record-changing phonograph, you could play a stack of them. Bing's earliest LPs were mere compilations of his earlier work. It wasn't until 1953 that Bing recorded his first set of songs for release as an LP. What follows is a list of Crosby's major original musical LPs (not compilations) and my evaluation of each album. I will use this evaluation scale:
A = superior performance and musical selections
B = very good
C = some selections are fine, others are clunkers; uneven performance
D = Bing should've golfed all day
F = noise pollution.

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Le Bing: Song Hits of Paris (Decca) -- RECORDING DATES: May 16, 1953. ACCOMPANIMENT: Paul Durand Orchestra. TRACKS: Mademoiselle De Paris, Au Bord de l'Eau, Embrasse - Moi Bien, La Mer, Tu Ne Peux Pas Te Figuerer, La Seine, Mon Coeur Est Un Violin, La Vie En Rose, Embrasse, Mademoiselle De Paree. EVALUATION: In the spring of 1953 Bing took his CBS radio show to France, where he also recorded his first original LP. Bing recorded all the songs in Paris in French in one day accompanied by the Paul Durand Orchestra! I don't know French, but I found the songs a pleasure to listen to. Grade: B

Some Fine Old Chestnuts (Decca) -- RECORDING DATES: June 26, 1953. ACCOMPANIMENT: Buddy Cole Trio (piano, bass and drums). TRACKS: Somebody Loves Me, Do You Ever Think of Me, I Never Knew (Fio), After You've Gone, Sleepy Time Gal, Dinah, I Never Knew (Pitts), I Can't Give You Anything But Love. EVALUATION: The original 10-inch album contained 8 ballads recorded for Bing's radio show. The highlight of the original disc is the quaint bedtime lullaby "Sleepy Time Gal," which Bing performs flawlessly. MCA released a 12-inch version of "Some Fine Old Chestnuts" in the 1960s with four additional songs backed by Buddy Cole ("In a Little Spanish Town," "Old Man River" recorded in 1955 and "Swanee," "Honeysuckle Rose" recorded in 1956). Grade: B+

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White Christmas (Decca) -- RECORDING DATES: April 10 and May 4, 1954. ACCOMPANIMENT: Joseph Lilley Orchestra. TRACKS: White Christmas (with Danny Kaye, Peggy Lee and Trudy Stevens), Snow (with Danny Kaye, Peggy Lee and Trudy Stevens), The Old Man (with Danny Kaye), Gee I Wish I Was Back in the Army (with Danny Kaye), What Can You Do With a General, Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep. EVALUATION: Bing is joined by Danny Kaye, Peggy Lee and Trudy Stevens in the soundtrack album to the movie White Christmas. Unfortunately, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen were under contract to other record companies and were not allowed to participate in the soundtrack album for Decca. The best part of "White Christmas" was Irving Berlin's music, and the soundtrack album captures it well. Bing sings the Oscar-nominated song Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep. I particularly like the song "Snow" sung by the group. Grade: A.

Bing: A Musical Autobiography (Decca): RECORDING DATES: April 21, May 3 and June 16, 1954. ACCOMPANIMENT: Buddy Cole Trio. EVALUATION: Bing was in a reflective, retirement mood in the spring of 1954. He was preparing to leave his long-time radio variety show and he also recorded his musical autobiography with the Buddy Cole Trio, a small group formed from members of the John Scott Trotter Orchestra, who accompanied Bing on his radio show and on most of his recordings since 1937. All together the biography filled 5 long-playing records, which were sold as a package for the hefty 1954 price of $27. Bing recorded excerpts of many of his early hits, and then used the original Decca masters for his hits after 1940. Curiously absent from the collection was Crosby's famous anthem of the Great Depression, Brother Can You Spare a Dime. Grade: B

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High Society (Capitol) -- RECORDING DATES: January 1956. ACCOMPANIMENT: Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars, the MGM Orchestra. EVALUATION: Bing's exclusive recording contract for Decca expired at the end of 1955 and Bing chose to free-lance. This album features the cast of the movie "High Society" and its great Cole Porter songs and lyrics. The soundtrack turned out to be Porter's Swan Song. Bing solos on "Little One" and "I Love You Samantha." But the highlights of the album are his duets with Frank Sinatra ("Well Did You Evah?"), Louis Armstrong ("Now You Has Jazz") and Grace Kelly (True Love). The album and Bing's single with Kelly struck gold. The songs on the LP were recorded in stereo for playback in theatres, but the LP was released initially only in mono. Stereo LPs did not hit the market until 1958. Capitol released the High Society stereo LP in 1961. Grade: A

Songs I Wish I Had Sung the First Time Around (Decca) -- RECORDING DATES: April 17-18, 1956. ACCOMPANIMENT: Jack Pleis Orchestra. TRACKS: April Showers, Blues in the Night, Prisoner of Love, Memories are Made of This, My Blue Heaven, Paper Doll, Aint Misbehavin, When My Baby Smiles at Me, A Little Kiss Each Morning, This Love of Mine, Mona Lisa, Thanks for the Memory. EVALUATION: Bing is back recording for Decca, accompanied by the Jack Pleis Orchestra. Highlights of the album are "Ain't Misbehavin" and "Mona Lisa." Grade: B

Bing Sings while Bregman Swings (Verve) -- RECORDING DATES: June 11-12, 1956. ACCOMPANIMENT: Buddy Bregman Orchestra. TRACKS: The Blue Room, Jeepers Creepers, I've Got Five Dollars, Deed I Do, The Song Is You, Nice Work if You Can Get It, They All Laughed, Heat Wave, September in the Rain, Cheek to Cheek, Have You Met Miss Jones, Mountain Greenery. EVALUATION: When I told a fellow jazz enthusiast about this album he responded, "You must mean Bunny Berrigan." No, I told him, I mean Buddy Bregman. He had never heard of Buddy Bregman. Variety wrote of this album: "Crosby's first on Verve Records, is also his first with such a thoroughly modern, swinging orchestra in accompaniment. The songs, morever, are among those rare few that Bing has never before recorded. Buddy Bregman orchestrated the songs, conducted a hand-picked group of Hollywood's foremost musicians and -- most important -- conceived the idea in the first place. Altogether it is quite a musical package -- muscular and tender, driving and romantic, pulsating and lyrical. For Bing Crosby, the artist, it is a somewhat different testament to add to the many already on record and, as you will hear, an ingeniously varied and durable one." Bregman told interviewers that he made the request of Bing to record with him. Bing consented with the stipulation that his vocals be recorded early in the morning because Crosby felt his voice had greater depth than in the afternoon. Grade: A-

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Bing with a Beat (RCA) -- RECORDING DATES: February 19-20, 1957. ACCOMPANIMENT: Bob Scobey's Frisco Jazz Band; arranged by Matty Matlock. TRACKS: Exactly Like You, Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella, Mama Loves Papa, Down Among the Sheltering Palms, Last Night on the Back Porch, Along the Way to Waikiki, Whispering, Mack the Knife, Some Sunny Day, Dream a Little Dream of Me, I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, Tell Me. EVALUATION: Bing returned to his jazz roots and, clearly, had a good time recording this album. His performance on most of these selections was superlative, though not even Bing (nor Sinatra) could equal Bobby Darin's hit performance of "Mack the Knife." Grade: A

New Tricks (Decca) -- RECORDING DATES: March 14, 1957. ACCOMPANIMENT: Buddy Cole Trio. TRACKS: Alabamy Bound, When I Take My Sugar to Tea, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Georgia on My Mind, I'm Confessin, If I Could Be With You, Avalon, Chinatown My Chinatown, You're Driving Me Crazy, On the Alamo, Chicago, Softly as in a Morning Sunrise. EVALUATION: It's back to Decca for Bing, where once again he has a rather thin accompaniment (the Buddy Cole Trio). Perhaps Decca had to cut back on the orchestral accompaniment to compensate for the marvelous artwork on the cover of the album. Clearly Bing's best album cover. Highlights of this album are "When I Take My Sugar to Tea," "I'm Confessin" and "Georgia on My Mind." Grade: B+

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Fancy Meeting You Here (RCA) -- RECORDING DATES: July 28, August 7, 11, 1958. ACCOMPANIMENT: Rosemary Clooney, Billy May Orchestra. TRACKS: Brazil, How About You, On a Slow Boat to China, It Happened in Monterey, Hindustan, Fancy Meeting You Here, Calcutta, Isle of Capri, Say Si Si, You Came a Long Way From St. Louis, I Can't Get Started, Love Won't Let You Get Away. EVALUATION: All the stars and the planets must have been aligned just right when Bing and Rosemary Clooney recorded this album! I will not list the highlights of the album, for every track is a highlight. Moreover, the tracks are interwoven into a coherent whole. (No, "Sgt. Pepper's" was not the first concept album!) The album begins with the theme song, and closes with a reprise. In between Bing and Rosie step out of character to make musical note of the fact they were recording an album, even referring to "the flip side" and "side one." Everyone hit their targets, including the Billy May Orchestra, the Crosby-Clooney rapport, the Crosby liner notes ... even the cover art was on the mark. Moreover, the album was recorded in stereo, and the fidelity is sparkling even by today's standards. Although most of the songs were old standards, all were refitted with fresh lyrics that included references to many celebrities of the day, including Elvis Presley, Aristotle Onassis, Brigitte Bardot, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. If all you can afford is one Bing Crosby album, this is it. It's hard to believe this album neither sold well at the time of release nor was nominated for one of the first Grammies. Grade: A+

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How the West was Won (RCA) -- RECORDING DATES: July 20-21, 23-24, 1959. ACCOMPANIMENT: Rosemary Clooney, Bob Thompson Orchestra. TRACKS: Shenandoah, Old Settlers Song, Skip to My Lou (w Clooney), Streets of Laredo, All Pewtrified (narration), Will You Come to the Bower, When I Went Off to Prospect, Nine Hundred Miles, Hang Me Oh Hang Me, Git Along Little Dogies, Crossing the Plains (w Clooney), Buffalo Gals (w Clooney), Green Grow the Lilacs, Jennie Jenkins (w Clooney), Bound for the Promised Land (w Clooney), Buckskin Joe, Red River Valley. EVALUATION: Bing reads Carl Sandberg poetry and sings of the Old West, often accompanied by Rosemary Clooney. The highlight of the album was Bing's soulful rendition of "Hang Me." The disk is said to have inspired the movie. This album was released on CD in 2007 by Bear Family records. Grade: A-

Join Bing and Sing Along (RCA) -- RECORDING DATES: Dec. 16-17, 1959. ACCOMPANIMENT: Jack Halloran Orchestra and Chorus. TRACKS: Daisy Bell, The Bowery, After the Ball, When You Wore a Tulip, You Were Meant for Me, When I Grow Too Old To Dream, Doodle Do Do, All I Do Is Dream of You, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Meet Me In St Louis Louis, Peggy O'Neill, Give My Regards to Broadway, You're a Grand Old Flag, K-K-K-Katy, Mairsy Doats, Old McDonald Had a Farm, Goodbye My Lady Love, Linger Awhile, The Gang that Sang Heart of My Heart, Long Long Ago, I Was Seeing Nellie Home, Aura Lee, Cuddle Up a Little Closer, Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me, Oh Dem Golden Slippers, On the Road to Mandalay, At Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight, Toot-Toot-Tootsie. EVALUATION: This was an album of medleys that reflected the popularity of the sing-a-long format championed by Mitch Miller. Grade: C

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El Senor Bing (MGM) -- RECORDING DATES: June 21-23, 1960. ACCOMPANIMENT: Billy May Orchestra. TRACKS: Pagan Love Song + Cuban Love Song, How High the Moon + Old Devil Moon, Marta + The Rose in Her Hair, Cest Magnifique + Taking a Chance on Love, In the Still of the Night + I Could Have Danced All Night, Heavenly Night + My Shawl, Down Argentina Way + What a Difference a Day Makes, Ramona + Amapola, At the Crossroads + The Breeze and I, Again + Allez-Vous-En. EVALAUTION: Yet another set of medleys, this time with a Spanish theme. Bing sings 10 medleys of two songs each. No particular medley stands out as exceptional or even interesting. The rolling baritone Bing developed in the late 1930s had thinned considerably by the 1960s and the high notes were mostly beyond Bing's reach. Grade: C

Bing and Satchmo (MGM) -- RECORDING DATES: June 28-29, 1960. ACCOMPANIMENT: Louis Armstrong and the Billy May Orchestra. TRACKS: Sugar, Way Down Yonder in New Orleans, Let's Sing Like a Dixieland Band, Brother Bill, Muskrat Ramble, Dardanella, Bye Bye Blues, Lazy River, Preacher, Rocky Mountain Moon, Lil Ol Tune, At the Jazz Band Ball. EVALUATION: Louis Armstrong appeared in several movies with Bing, and on many of Bing's radio and TV shows, and shared a hit single (Gone Fishin). Finally they get together for an album. Nearly every track jumps. Songwriter Johnny Mercer joins in the fun with an unbilled cameo vocal on "Lazy River." One of only two albums from the 1960s to earn Bing an "A." Grade: A

101 Gang Songs (Warner Brothers) -- RECORDING DATES: Dec. 20, 23, 27-28, 1960. EVALUATION: A double-album of sing-along songs similar to Bing's 1959 "Join Bing and Sing Along." Medleys included "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," "Loch Lomond," "Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?" On most selection Bing can barely be heard above the chorus. Grade: C-

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Holiday in Europe (Decca) -- RECORDING DATES: May 8-9, 1961. ACCOMPANIMENT: Malcolm Lockyer Orchestra. TRACKS: Cest Si Bon, Under Paris Skies, Morgen, Melancolie, April in Portugal, More N More Amor, Moment in Madrid, Never on Sunday, Pigalle, My Heart Still Hears the Music, Two Shadows on the Sand, Domenica. EVALUATION: The music was recorded in London and then shipped to Hollywood where Bing recorded the lyrics. Bing sings of Portugal, Madrid, Paris ... kind of a "Fancy Meeting You Here" without Rosemary Clooney. Rosie was smart to stay away. The album is pleasant enough, if all you want is pleasant. No track really stands out. Grade: C+

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On the Happy Side (Warner Brothers) -- RECORDING DATES: April 30, 1962. ACCOMPANIMENT: Bob Thompson Orchestra, Jack Halloran Chorus. TRACKS: Singin in the Rain, Darktown Strutter's Ball, Around Her Neck She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua Hawaii, Me and My Shadow, Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue, Marching Along Together, Should I, Blue Moon, Cecilia, Gimme a Little Kiss, When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin Along, The Loveliest Night of the Year, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, My Pony Boy, The Man on the Flying Trapeze, Billy Boy, A Tisket A Tasket, For Ever and Ever. EVALUATION: Another sing-along album that Bing records karaoke style. Grade: D+

On the Sentimental Side (unreleased) -- RECORDING DATES: June 21-22, 1962. ACCOMPANIMENT: Ivor Raymond Orchestra and Chorus. TRACKS: My Bonnie/The Band Played On; Always/Wishing; Remember/Put on Your Old Gray Bonnet; All Alone/In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree; How Can I Leave Thee/A Bird In a Gilded Cage/The Sidewalks of New York; If I Didn't Care/Blueberry Hill; Beautiful Dreamer/The Last Rose of Summer; Roll On Silver Moon/Now the Day Is Over; Tom Dooley/The Old Gray Mare; Together/What'll I Do; Look For the Silver Lining/Say It With Music, and Did You Ever See a Dream Walking/A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody. EVALUATION: This album of medleys was not released until 2010 for obvious reasons.

I Wish You a Merry Christmas (Warner Brothers) -- RECORDING DATES: Oct. 5, 1962. ACCOMPANIMENT: Orchestra directed by Bob Thompson and Peter Matz. Chorus directed by Jack Halloran. TRACKS: Winter Wonderland, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, What Child is This, The Holly and the Ivy, The Little Drummer Boy, O Holy Night, The Littlest Angel, Let It Snow, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Frosty the Snowman, Pat-A-Pan, While Shepherds Watched Their Sheep, I Wish You a Merry Christmas. EVALUATION: Bing was in great voice in his first solo Christmas album (Decca's "Merry Christmas" is a compilation of Bing's Christmas singles). Highlights include "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "The Littlest Angel" and "Let it Snow." My favorite, though, is Bing's inspirational rendition of "O Holy Night." At holiday time I played "O Holy Night" in my dorm room at college where it attracted the attention and the respect of the rock 'n' rollers for the Old Groaner. This album is by far Bing's best vocal performance of the 1960s. Grade: A

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Return to Paradise Islands (Reprise) -- RECORDING DATES: August 21, Oct. 16, Dec. 9, 1963. ACCOMPANIMENT: Nelson Riddle Orchestra. TRACKS: Return to Paradise, The Hukilau Song, The Old Plantation, Lovely Hula Hands, Love and Aloha, Keep Your Eyes on the Hands, Adventures in Paradise, Frangipani Blossom, Forevermore Aloha, My Tane, Beautiful Kahana, Home in Hawaii. EVALUATION: This was Bing's first solo album for Frank Sinatra's new record company, but his first effort was anything but Paradise. Crosby had sung many Hawaiian songs to good effect in his Decca days, but he fell flat on his face in this album. The one highlight was "Keep Your Eyes on the Hands." For the rest, put your fingers in your ears. Grade: D+

Great Country Hits (Capitol): RECORDING DATES: Oct. 29, 31, 1963. ACCOMPANIMENT: Bill Justis Orchestra. TRACKS: Still, Wabash Cannonball, A Little Bitty Tear, Jealous Heart, Four Walls, Wolverton Mountain, Hello Walls, Crazy Arms, Oh Lonesome Me, Bouquet of Roses, Heartaches by the Number, Sunflower. EVALUATION: Some reviewers have panned this album. Perhaps they do not like traditional country music. I enjoyed most of the selections, and Crosby was in fine voice, nearly as fine a voice as on his Capitol Christmas album. Highlights of this album include "Heartaches by the Number," "Hello Walls" and "Jealous Heart." Grade: B

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That Traveling Two-Beat (Capitol) -- RECORDING DATES: Aug. 15, Dec. 2-3, 1964. ACCOMPANIMENT: Rosemary Clooney, Billy May Orchestra. TRACKS: That Travelin' Two-Beat, The Poor People of Paris, Adios Senorita, Roamin' in the Gloaming, Come to the Mardi Gras, Ciao Ciao Bambiono, The Daughter of Molly Malone, I Get Ideas, Hear that Band, New Vienna Woods, Knees Up Mother Brown, That Travelin' Two-Beat. EVALUATION: Assembled once again is the team of Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Billy May. This time the theme is Dixieland. No doubt the expectations were high, but the magic that happened in "Fancy Meeting You Here" does not happen again. I find the album monotonous and much less sophisticated than "Fancy." It's hard to differentiate one song from another, they are orchestrated so much alike. Even the sound quality is not as bright and sharp as the recording done 6 years previous. This album has been released on CD in Australia (combined with Bing's album with Louis Armstrong) on the Axis label (CDAX 701597). Four tracks are included on the EMI CD "Legends of the 20th Century." Grade: B

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The Songs I Love (Longines Society) -- RECORDING DATES: Nov. 30, Dec. 2, 1965. ACCOMPANIMENT: Michel Piastro and the Longines Symphonette Orchestra. TRACKS: Stormy Weather, Always, Isn't This a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain, In the chapel in the Moonlight, Lonesome and Sorry, All Alone, Coquette, South of the Border, When My Sugar Walks Down the Street, The Breeze and I, I'll Take Romance, Rock-a-Bye Your Baby, Tenderly, Amapola, Ole Buttermilk Sky, My Prayer. EVALUATION: Bing recorded this album with the Longines Symphonette Orchestra to be distributed by Longines through the mail. On most of these songs Bing's voice sounds tired and ineffective, but he rises to the occasion on "Ole Buttermilk Sky," "All Alone" and "I'll Take Romance." Grade: C+

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Thoroughly Modern Bing (Pickwick) -- RECORDING DATES: Feb. 9, 12, 1968. ACCOMPANIMENT: 'Bugs' Bower Orchestra. TRACKS: Thoroughly Modern Millie, Talk to the Animals, Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, High Hopes, My Friend the Doctor, I Call You Sunshine, Where the Rainbow Ends, What's More American, Up Up and Away, Puff the Magic Dragon, Chim Chim Charee, Love is Blue. EVALUATION: This album starts off with the rousing title song, which may be the fastest-paced song that Crosby has sung. He manages to keep up quite well, and raises our expectations of what is to come. Those expectations are quickly shattered, with the possible exception of the lark Crosby has with "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead." Grade: C

The Songs I Love (Longines Society) -- RECORDING DATES: March 26-28, 1968. ACCOMPANIMENT: Michel Piastro and the Longines Symphonette Orchestra. TRACKS: Marie, That Old Gang of Mine, One for My Baby, River Stay Away from My Door, What'll I Do, Ballin' the Jack, The Song Is Ended, I've Heard that Song Before, Remember, Puttin on the Ritz, Than You for a Lovely Evening, Love Makes the World Go Round, Sentimental Gentleman from Georgia, There's Danger in Your Eyes Cherie, Say It Isn't So, Say Si Si, Friendly Persuasion, I Hear Music, How Come You Do Me Like You Do, Dance with a Dolly. EVALUATION: Crosby returned to record another mail-order album for the Longines Society. This recording session produced better results than the '65 session. He recorded some thoughtful tunes, including "That Old Gang of Mine," "What'll I Do?" "The Song is Ended," "Say It Isn't So" and "Friendly Persuasion." Crosby's voice was not in the best shape here, but his sensitive interpretation of these songs makes this disk worthwhile. Longines packaged both the '65 and '68 recording sessions together in one large collection, which was later released on CD as Lillis, Love and a Little Covered Wagon (HLVCD-004). Grade: B

Hey Jude Hey Bing (Amos) -- RECORDING DATES: Nov. 21, 25, 1968. ACCOMPANIMENT: Jimmy Bowen Orchestra and Chorus. TRACKS: Hey Jude, Those Were the Days, It's All in the Game, Both Sides Now, The Straight Life, Little Green Apples, Livin on Lovin, More and More, Just for Tonight. EVALUATION: Bing's voice sounded tired throughout this album, and the overall recording quality is rather fuzzy. But this album is significant in that it features the only Lennon-McCartney tune recorded by Bing. The album has been the object of much scorn, even by Crosby himself. Rhino Records released the title song on a CD called "Golden Throats -- Celebrities Butcher the Beatles" and suggested that Bing should have golfed instead. Bing's crooning of "Hey Jude" is not up to the McCartney effort, who, after all, was 40 years his junior. One could easily imagine a more appropriate selection from the Lennon-McCartney catalog for Bing to sing -- for example, "In My Life." Nevertheless, "Hey Jude" was included no doubt to ride the coat-tails of the biggest Beatles' hit. Bing's best efforts on this album were "It's All in the Game" and "Just for Tonight." Grade: B

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A Time to Be Jolly (Daybreak) -- RECORDING DATES: Nov. 16, 1970, Sept. 7-8, 1971. ACCOMPANIMENT: Jack Halloran Singers and the Les Brown Orchestra. TRACKS: A Time to be Jolly, And the Bells Rang, The First Family of Christmas, When You Trim Your Christmas Tree, Christmas Is, A Christmas Toast, I Sing Noel, The Song of Christmas, Round and Round the Christmas Tree, Christmas Is Here to Stay. EVALUATION: Bing always seemed to rise to the occasion when he was recording Christmas music. The first time I played this album was the first time I heard any of these songs. Each song begins with an introduction by the Jack Halloran Singers. Highlights include "I Sing Noel," "And the Bells Rang" and the title tune. Grade: B+

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Bing 'n' Basie (Daybreak) -- RECORDING DATES: Feb. 28-29, March 1, 1972. ACCOMPANIMENT: Count Basie Orchestra. TRACKS: Have a Nice Day, All His children, Sunrise Sunset, Little Green Apples, Gentle on My Mind, Snowbird, Everything is Beautiful, Gonna Build a Mountain, Sugar Don't You Know, Put Your Hand in the Hand, Hangin Loose. EVALUATION: When two giants combine their talents expectations rise. This is a fine album, but does not live up to the expectations. Two songs stand out: "Gonna Build a Mountain" and "Hangin' Loose." The latter song makes purchasing the album well worthwhile. "Hangin' Loose" was written by Johnny Mercer especially for Bing and the Basie Orchestra, and Crosby milks it for all it's worth. Grade: B

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A Southern Memoir (London) -- RECORDING DATES: Jan. 16, 21, 1975. ACCOMPANIMENT: Paul Smith Orchestra. TRACKS: Sleepy Time Down South, Carolina in the Morning, Way Down Yonder in New Orleans, Stars Fell on Alabama, Alabamy Bound, Where the Morning Glories Grow, Georgia on My Mind, Sailing Down the Chesapeake Bay, Swanee, She is the Sunshine of Virginia, On the Alamo, Crying for the Carolines. EVALUATION: This was Bing's first album following the removal of most of his left lung in January of 1974. Highlights of this album include "Where the Morning Glories Grow" and "Carolina in the Morning." Most of the other selections on this album were repeat recordings that Bing had sung better in the 1950s. Bing is left in the dust by the Paul Smith Orchestra in a rather bizarre arrangement of "Georgia on My Mind." Bing was said to have initiated the idea for this album, but the results overall were disappointing. The album was released only in Great Britain. (SHU 8489) Grade: B-

That's What Life Is All About (United Artists) -- RECORDING DATES: Oct. 17, 1974 (duets with Mercer), Feb. 19-20, 25, 1975. ACCOMPANIMENT: Pete Moore Orchestra. TRACKS: The Pleasure of Your Company (w Johnny Mercer), Good Companions (w Johnny Mercer), That's What Life is All About, I Love to Dance Like They Used to Dance, The Good Old Times, The Best Things in Life Are Free, No Time at All, Bon Vivant, Some Sunny Day, Breezing Along with the Breeze, Have a Nice Day. EVALUATION: For the first time Crosby teams with producer Ken Barnes and arranger Pete Moore. The result is one of Crosby's best albums, and a thoughtful one to boot. On two of the tracks he is teamed with his old songwriting pal Johnny Mercer. Bing scores on virtually every selection. Grade: A

Bingo Viejo (Anahuac) -- RECORDING DATES: June 23, Sept. 15, 1975. ACCOMPANIMENT: Paul Smith Orchestra. TRACKS: The Breeze and I, Maria Bonita, Eres Tu, Amapola, Frenesi, Green Eyes, Besame Mucho, Spanish Eyes, Cuando Caliente El Sol, La Borracita. EVALUATION: The Spanish title means "Old Bing." This turned out to be descriptive of Bing's voice on this album too. I enjoyed the bright, brassy accompaniment of the Paul Smith Orchestra, but Bing's voice was often not up to the task. Too often he reached for notes that he couldn't find. I found myself wincing several times throughout the album. Bing's best performances were breezy versions of "Frenesi" and "Maria Bonita." Bing financed the recording of the album, which was released in England on the Decca label and in the United States on the Anahuac label. Grade: C+

A Couple of Song and Dance Men (United Artists)
Bing and FredRECORDING DATES: July 15-17, 1975. ACCOMPANIMENT: Fred Astaire, Pete Moore Orchestra, Johnny Evans Singers. TRACKS: Sing, How Lucky Can You Get, In the Cool of the Evening, Pick Yourself Up, A Couple of Song and Dance Men, The Entertainer, Roxie, Top Billing, Spring Spring Spring, I've a Shooting Box in Scotland, Change Partners (Crosby solo), Easy to Remember (Astaire solo). EVALUATION: Crosby returned to the guiding hands of Ken Barnes and Pete Moore for an album with Fred Astaire. Fred and Bing reprised their song from the movie "Holiday Inn" and added such tunes as "Pick Yourself Up" and "Top Billing." The special lyrics written by Barnes and Moore for the album helped make the album sheer delight. Bing soloed on "Change Partners" to good effect. The album has been released on CD in truncated form but using the original mix by Curb Records (D2-77617). EMI in England released the album on CD with alternate takes and some additional selections from Bing and Fred (EMI 0777 7 89312 25). The album has also been released as part of the 3-CD set "The Complete United Artists Sessions" with many tracks remixed (EMI 7243 8 59808 24). Grade: A

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Bing Crosby Live at the London Palladium (K-Tel) -- RECORDING DATES: June 24-25, 1976. ACCOMPANIMENT: Rosemary Clooney, Ted Rogers, Bing's family, Joe Bushkin Quartet, Pete Moore Orchestra. TRACKS: The Pleasure of Your Company, Mary Lou, Where the Morning Glories Grow, At My Time of Life, On a Slow Boat to China (w Clooney), Send in the Clowns, Gone Fishin (w Rogers), Now You Has Jazz, Sing (w Crosby family), You've Got a Friend (w Harry Crosby), My Cup Runneth Over (w Mrs. Crosby), Play a Simple Melody (w Harry Crosby), The Way We Were, Cuando Caliente El Sol and The Crosby Medley. EVALUATION: This two-album package features Bing and friends at the London Palladium in 1976. Much of the material was repeated on his 50th anniversary show broadcast in the United States the following year. Here he does a medley of many of his numerous hit songs, and he sings some songs from his recent albums. Grade: B

At My Time of Life (United Artists) -- RECORDING DATES: Feb. 22, 24-26, 1975, Jan. 19, 1976. ACCOMPANIMENT: Pete Moore Orchestra. TRACKS: I'll Never Fall in Love Again, I Got Rhythm, Heat Wave, My Heart Stood Still, How Are Things in Glocca Morra, Something to Remember You By, Hello Dolly, Looking at You, Cabaret, Thou Swell, Razzle Dazzle, Send in the Clowns, With a Song in My Heart, At My Time of Life. EVALUATION: Bing used this album as a salute to 50 years of show hits. My favorite selections off the album are the title tune, a rendition of "Heat Wave" that has Crosby singing like a teenager in heat, and "How Are Things in Glocca Morra." The album contains a whopping 14 songs, and none are cream puffs for a septuagenarian, but Bing holds his own. It's not as good as "That's What Life is All About," but it contains some great Crosby moments. Grade: B+

Feels Good Feels Right (London) -- RECORDING DATES: July 20-22, Aug. 17, 1976. ACCOMPANIMENT: Alan Cohen Orchestra. TRACKS: Nevertheless, When I Leave the World Behind, As Time Goes By, The Way We Were, Time on My Hands, The Night Is Young and You're So Beautiful, Once in a While, The Rose in Her Hair, Old Fashioned Love, Feels Good Feels Right, There's Nothing That I Haven't Sung About, What's New. EVALUATION: Crosby was in great voice on this album. My only disappointment was Bing's performance on "The Way We Were," but I had been spoiled by Streisand's. Otherwise, the album is flawless. Of historical interest on this album is the tune There's Nothing I Haven't Sung About that was written for Bing. Crosby gives what must be a definitive interpretation of "As Time Goes By" on this album. "Feels Good, Feels Right" was released on CD in England and includes 3 tracks that were scratched from the original album (That Old Black Magic, At Last, I'm Getting Sentimental Over You). Now we know why. (London 820 586-2). Grade: A-

Beautiful Memories (United Artists) -- RECORDING DATES: Jan. 19, Oct. 19, 29, Nov. 5, 1976. ACCOMPANIMENT: Pete Moore Orchestra. TRACKS: The Only Way to Go, Children, When a Child is Born, What I Did for Love, The More I See You, Deja Vu, My Resistance is Low, A Little Love and Understanding, The Woman on Your Arm, Come Share the Wine, We've Only Just Begun, Beautiful Memories. EVALUATION: This album turned out to be the least of Bing's collaborations with Ken Barnes and Pete Moore. The album consisted mostly of recent pop hits, such as "What I Did for Love," and "We've Only Just Begun." The high point of the album is Bing's laid-back rendition of "The Only Way to Go." Grade: B-

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Seasons (Polydor) -- RECORDING DATES: Sept. 12-14, 1977. ACCOMPANIMENT: Pete Moore Orchestra. TRACKS: Seasons, September Song, June in January, Autumn in New York, Yesterday When I Was Young, On the Very First Day of the Year, Sleigh Ride, In the Good Old Summer Time, June is Bustin Out All Over, April Showers, Summer Wind. EVALUATION: Bing's final album was another great one. The goal was to include songs of all the seasons, with the title tune "Seasons" acting to sew them all together. On this album Bing reprises to great effect one of his hits from the 1930s, "June in January." My favorites on the disk are "Autumn in New York," "September Song," "Yesterday When I Was Young" and the title tune. "Seasons" is a fitting finale to a great recording career. Grade: A

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