Bing & Rosie: The Crosby-Clooney Radio Sessions
Bing Crosby's musical relationship with Rosemary Clooney is well established by their co-starring roles in the film White Christmas; their three duo albums; and their joint concert appearances toward the end of Crosby's life. But one aspect of the partnership has gone undocumented until now, and it may be the most extensive one: their radio work. Crosby, a major star of radio during its heyday in the 1930s and '40s, clung to the medium as it went into commercial decline with the rise of television starting in the '50s. He maintained a weekly network show until 1954 and continued to host radio programs for syndication into the early '60s, prerecording songs and patter for later broadcast. Clooney was not only a frequent guest, but also shared The Crosby-Clooney Show with him in 1960-1961. This double-CD set, assembled under the auspices of Bing Crosby Enterprises and released through Collectors' Choice Music, presents 61 tracks in over two-and-a-half hours, nearly all of them Crosby/Clooney duets. On the first disc, recorded between 1952 and 1958, they are accompanied by Crosby's longtime bandleader John Scott Trotter and his orchestra. On the second disc, keyboardist Buddy Cole leads a quartet to support them. It looks as though producer Robert S. Bader, in analyzing the material, decided he had too much for a single 80-minute CD and, instead of cutting, decided to expand. Particularly on the first disc, this means the tracks are often loosely edited with studio chatter included, and there are sometimes multiple versions of songs. No doubt the Crosby and Clooney fans most likely to buy this album won't mind, but four versions of "You'd Be so Nice to Come Home To" and three of "Something to Remember You By" seem a bit much. The two singers take on everything from each other's hits to standards, then-current songs from Broadway musicals, and novelties, always performing with comfortable chemistry. Bob Hope pops in for a specially written "Open Up Your Heart" that calls to mind the Hope/Crosby "Road" pictures, but otherwise it's the two principals trading off lines and harmonizing. Sometimes the songs were designed as duets, such as Clooney's first hit "You're Just in Love" (two versions) or "Anything You Can Do." Others were not; it would be hard to find another duet arrangement of "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess, for instance. But that matters less than the joy of hearing two such compatible voices singing together at length.