Featuring perhaps some of the most peculiar lyrics I’ve ever heard, So Rare: Treasures from the Crosby Archive finds Bing Crosby’s sheer volume of recordings mined deeply by Collectors’ Choice.
Gathering the nuggets and misses from Crosby’s archives, So Rare proves Crosby’s tendency for amassing his work even from the early days. It’s been said that nobody was a greater collector of all things Bing Crosby than, well, Bing Crosby. Here, his rarities are out in force and the resulting strangeness is ultimately captivating.
The two discs of So Rare: Treasures from the Crosby Archive are packed to the brim with all sorts of goodies. The outtakes and little bits of studio chatter add up to the complete Crosby experience, too, giving the recordings layers because of Bing’s nearly obsessive collection of his own work.
It’s hard to imagine where to start when amassing a collection of some 2,000 commercial recordings and a huge chunk of tracks recorded for broadcast. Crosby’s recorded legacy is among the most voluminous in music, so any attempt to gather rarities would be a challenge. So Rare does an admirable job, but, as is usually the case, many of the tracks here are rarities for a reason.
The first disc features some interesting insight into Crosby’s CBS radio show. “Just One More Chance” quickly drips into some studio chatter in which Bing banters about his first radio show. From there, a 1931 performance of “I’m Through With Love” keeps the party going.
The rendition of “Over the Rainbow” from Kraft Music Hall is an interesting rarity recorded by orchestra leader John Scott Trotter. Trotter recorded the music for his own purposes on a transcription recording machine and captured the tune, which was originally taken from a 1943 broadcast of The Wizard of Oz. Trotter’s machine also snagged a rendition of “As Time Goes By.”
The second disc packs more than its fair share of peculiarity, including a pair of golf songs (“Straight Down the Middle” and “Tomorrow’s My Lucky Day”) and a track dedicated to Crosby’s friends and fishermen called “Anthem of the Clams.”
All in all, So Rare: Treasures from the Crosby Archive provides a must-have glimpse at some of Crosby’s more interesting moments. These songs are far from conventional and that remains part of their appeal, as serious collectors will love hearing their favorite pop vocalist in less restrictive elements. Casual fans, however, probably won’t find much of interest here.
Article originally published as Music Review: Bing Crosby – So Rare: Treasures from the Crosby Archive at Blogcritics.org