Bing Crosby

Through The Years, Volume VIII (1954-1955)

Who can go wrong when they put a Bing Crosby CD in their player? Crosby’s post-humus release Through the Years (Volume VIII) from Sepia Recordings is a nostalgic collection of ballroom swing and cocktail jazz with beads of country western, spiritual blues and Americana. Accompanied by pianist Buddy Cole on several tracks, Crosby’s bovine vocal grazing lures the listener while bolstering a sensitivity in his pitch and sensual strokes that brings meaning to the phrase “a singer who touches the soul.”

When people think of Bing Crosby words like traditional and classic come to mind and Through the Years evinces that image. The swooning horns and keys of “Mexicali Rose” melt into Crosby’s caressing strokes and paddle along in “I’ve Got a Pocketful of Dreams” with the shuffling strides of the brushed drums. The tingling chimes of the vibraphone sauntering across “That Sly Old Gentleman” shimmer like glittering stars around Crosby’s vocals, while stimulating a country western intonation along “Alla En El Rancho.” The silky smooth embers of “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” project a moonlit resonance and segue to the elegant piano versing of “Only Forever.”

The album goes deeper into a selection of tracks with silky smooth traction like “Lullaby,” “I Can’t Escape From You” and “Pennies from Heaven.” The up-tempo pulse driving the horns in “All She’d Say Was Umh Hum” and “She Is The Sunshine of Virginia’ produce a swing jazz ambling, which shifts to a continental boogie woogie rhythm in “Blue Skies/ I’d Rather See A Minstrel Show/ Mandy.” The pacifying current of “Who Gave You the Roses” is shaded in bluesy tones transitioning into a choir of soft, wavy strings in “Peace Prayer of Saint Francis.”

Crosby, who is also known for his spirituals, recorded a number of tracks adorned in meditative motifs and harking a prayer-like sonorous. From his repertoire, the album includes “Blessing of St. Francis” augmented by voluminous strings and horns and “The Land around Us” suspended in symphony-imbued vocals. The billowing strings of “The Search Is Through” are placed in the company of the Hawaiian accented “Jim, Johnny and Jonas” as the spiritual vibe of “Angel Bells” circle gracefully around Crosby’s vocals when he extols, “When you’re near I hear sweet angel bells / You’re divine and you’re mine / That’s why I hear angel bells.”

It’s fair to say that Bing Crosby’s voice never dies as Through the Years reminds folks that some traditions are meant to stay. His relaxing strokes are contagious and never cease to put the listener in a heavenly state of mind.

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Susan Frances