Through the Years, Vol. 7: 1954

by: Bing Crosby

In the sixth volume of Sepia Records' chronological series of Bing Crosby's commercial recordings called Through the Years, the series reached a major re-recording project for Crosby, the five-LP box set Bing Crosby: A Musical Autobiography, in which he introduced and sang songs from throughout his career to mark the 20th anniversary of Decca Records in 1954. Through the Years, Vol. 7: 1954 is largely given over to more material from the box set. Crosby, accompanied by Buddy Cole's organ playing in his spoken reminiscences, then sings over Cole's piano trio on evergreens from the '20s and ‘30s (many of which, in their original versions, were cut for labels other than Decca). These often brief renditions are heard in Crosby's relaxed, resonant later style (he celebrated his 51st birthday in this period, though thinking himself only 50). A few new recordings are interspersed with the Musical Autobiography tracks, notably a couple from Crosby's upcoming film White Christmas with a score by Irving Berlin, "What Can You Do with a General?" and "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep." As the extensive liner notes by Crosby expert Malcolm MacFarlane point out, Crosby's statements in the introductions are not always entirely factual (he gets some dates wrong, for instance), but they have the jocular tone of his radio shows, and, in fact, this disc comes off more like a radio show than a set of commercial tracks, making it an unusual entry in the chronological series. ~ William Ruhlmann

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