Bing Crosby was one of the most influential singers of the Twentieth century, yet his legacy has been sadly neglected in the CD age. He was the role model for countless vocalists in the pre-rock era, including Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. In conjunction with the Crosby family, Collector's Choice has embarked on an ambitious campaign to properly present Bing's music to the audience of the Twenty-First century.
Bing Crosby had an affiliation with Latin music that stretched all the way back to his 1928 recording of "La Paloma." The ten tracks that make up El Senor Bing were recorded in 1960, with the great Billy May providing musical accompaniment. His approach was to arrange ten two-song medleys of thematically related tunes.
"In The Still Of The Night"/"I Could Have Danced All Night" leads El Senor Bing off in gorgeous style. Another great combination is "How High The Moon"/"Old Devil Moon," especially the backing vocal contributions of Jud Conlon's Rhythmaires. "Again"/"Allez-Vous-En (Go Away)" closes out the original LP, with some beautiful vocals from Bing.
One of the huge benefits of the label working so closely with the family has been their access to his closely guarded archives. The bonus material on each of the reissues is remarkable, most especially with what they unearthed for El Senor Bing. Crosby actually had stored away a mono mix of the album, minus the Rhythmaires, in a completely different running order. It appears here in its entirety for the first time. There are also six radio recordings from The Bing Crosby Show, including a great take on "Papa Loves Mambo."
Return To Paradise was originally released on Sinatra's Reprise label in 1964. It too is something of a concept album, in this case highlighting the music of Hawaii. Bing's interest in the genre was kick-started with his recording of "Sweet Leilani." The tune was used in Bing's 1937 film, Waikiki Wedding, and won the Oscar for Best Original Song.
For Return To Paradise, Crosby teamed up with the incomparable Nelson Riddle. His arrangements on songs such as "Return To Paradise" and "Adventures In Paradise" are simply stunning. The Hawaiian motif is best displayed in "The Hukilau Song," "Lovely Hula Hands," and "Beautiful Kahana." The album closes with the bittersweet "Home In Hawaii (King's Serenade)."
As for bonus tracks, there are six. The first is an alternate take of "Return To Paradise," complete with false start and studio chatter. The remaining five all hail from The Crosby - Clooney Show, the CBS radio program which featured Bing and Rosemary Clooney. All tracks were recorded in 1961, and complement the Hawaiian theme of the disc.