posted 03/30/06 11:44 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
This album seems to get slighted. I had a copy of the LP when it first came out, bt never got the history of the album. The cover photo seems to be a stock photo and it is the one album Ken Barnes does not really discuss in his book. Don't know if it was planned or the remaining unissued tracks that were just assembled into an album. I have always liked it-Bing seems in good voice. Not a concept album just Bing singing some good tunes.
posted 03/31/06 01:24 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
The ill-chosen stock photo (from the '60s?) notwithstanding, this is one of my favorite late-period Bing LPs. It contains some of his most contemplative and incandescent performances--in my opinion, anyway--including "Children", "When a Child Is Born", "The More I See You", "My Resistance is Low", "The Woman On Your Arm", "The Only Way to Go", and the wistfully beautiful "What I Did For Love". Definitely a keeper. Not that there are any Bing records I wouldn't actually "keep!"
posted 03/31/06 03:09 AM Central Time (US) no email address given
Dear Joe, while "Beautiful Memories" was not a concept album as such, it was planned as a collection of mainly contemporary titles with some tracks left over from other sessions.
It was due to be recorded in London in the summer of '76 right after his first season at the Palladium. But at the last minute Bing called me to say that he couldn't make the sessions due to some unexpected business matters. Since the arrangements had been written and the orchestra booked, Bing suggested that we go ahead and record the backings. I said "But you hate singing to pre-recorded tracks." He said " Normally that's true. But you and Pete know my style,so I'm happy to trust you."
So we went ahead and laid down the tracks and I flew to Los Angeles in October and supervised the overdubs. Bing was terrific. He laid down ten tracks in three sessions, nine of which were part of the album ( "Seasons" was kept in abeyance for the next album ). To the nine titles we added
"Children" and "The Only Way To Go" ( from the January session in Los Angeles earlier that year ) and "Yours Sincerely" from the February '75 sessions in London. The package came together nicely and did very respectable business internationally.
posted 03/31/06 03:31 AM Central Time (US) no email address given
Jon, thanks for your kind comments re. "Beauitful Memories."
Just checking through the info. that I sent in reply to Joe's posting, I realise that Bing had recorded ELEVEN titles ( not ten). I overlooked "Come Share The Wine" - which was later used as a title for a compilation album.
While I'm on the subject of the U.A. sessions, I should say that "Children" (from the Jan 19 1976 L.A. session) is my own personal favourite of all the tracks that Bing recorded for that label. He only did one take and it was beautifully performed. As we listened to the playback. Bing stood with his face to the wall, not looking at anyone.
I thought that we should do one more for safety and suggested that Bing might like to hold the final note longer. Bing took out a handkerchief and dabbed his eyes and,as he turned around, he blew his nose and said "No, the hell with it. That's good enough. Let's move on." We all knew there had been tears in his eyes which is why he stood with his back to us.
I think it was one of the most heartfelt persomances of his entire career. Hal Shaper's'lyrics really got to him and he gave his all in that one take. So, as Bing suggested, we moved on.
posted 03/31/06 06:00 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
In my opinion the cover of Beautiful Memories was ever one of the more sympathic album jackets with a simple,but timeless design expressed with a very harmonizing use of colors-brown,gold-yellow,orange and the dark-blue suit and all concentrating in Bing´s blue eyes.This all spread a feeling of warmth and harmony and something of good vintage with all his" beautiful memories".Jon-I think the photo is from about the mid seventies(Bing was well illuminated),but watch his wrinkles and his "old" skin with his "vintage" colors,similiar as on Seasons cover but on BM make it with softer light.And if you look on many of Bing´s cruelfull (and unprofessional) designed LP and CD covers this one is a real ray of hope.In the record store where I bought this LP ,it topped out on the shop window on the side of dozens of other LP´s.Isn´t this a good effect and a little bit psychology on the way to sell a record?
Children is one of the songs I have heard endless times on these times and is a favorite song of Bing´s late years unil now to me.Another song with grat magic for me is Bing´s intepretation of The Woman On Your Arm-very great in avery simple and minimal arrangement-I set the needle of my player very often back hearing that song again and again.What I Did For Love absolutely superb!And the "Christmas song" When A Child Is Born is much better and deeper than Mathis´ version-especially best and heart warming on the spoken part.Only with the title song I never got warm and I thought that it was no good opener for this LP-Bing seems to me not very familiar with the Cook/Flowers tune.
posted 03/31/06 10:17 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Dieter, the actual image itself of Bing isn't a bad one--I guess I find the harsh, mustard yellow of the backdrop in the photo a bit jarring, though it is nicely incorporated into the graphic design of the cover. And after all, this WAS the Seventies, when garish colors were the norm! In fact, that mustard yellow is the same hue that Bing's Pittsburgh Pirates wore on their uniforms at the time.
Overall, some of Bing's most visually pleasing album covers are from his '70s output: my favorites are "At My Time Of Life", "Seasons", and "That's What Life Is All About", with "A Southern Memoir" taking an honorable mention. They're not going to win any design competitions, but they're tastefully done, befitting their subject and his music, and they looked good at the time of their release, too. "Feels Good, Feels Right", which was a great album, unfortunately had one of Bing's most UNinspired cover designs.
posted 03/31/06 11:20 AM Central Time (US) no email address given
When my daughter and I were looking for a song for our father/daughter dance at her weding last October, I actually considered "Children" as a possibility.
But, in the end, I felt it was too serious for such a happy celebration, and decided against it.
posted 03/31/06 04:11 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Ken, thank you SO much for the gorgeous story regarding Bing's reaction to the playback of "Children". I often wondered, when listening to this track, exactly how reflective Bing might have allowed himself to be while performing/contemplating this lyric. - And now, I know. Of course there is the moment in the 1976 Christmas special when Bing sings the song. In that scene, he observes the hubbub centering around his wife and children's holiday preparations, then separates himself from the activity and offers the song in a sort of reflective reverie, as if thinking of Christmases - (and families?)- past. A profound moment. Thanks for the further insight.
Dieter and Jon:
I tend to agree with Jon (you ol' art director, you!) that the "Beautiful Memories" LP cover was not as cool as the music in it. As far as the vintage of the photo, I would tend to agree that it was 60s or, at the latest, early 70s, because of the fashion: Bing's jacket and tie are of the type he would have more likely worn in the 60s, and where are the distinctive "mutton chop" sideburns that Bing affected in the mid-70s? Otherwise, I do like the typeface used for Bing's name, and the colors don't bother me at all - It's just not as distinctive as the other Ken Barnes album covers, to me. The album itself, on the other hand, is delightful 70s Bing: My favorite is "Deja Vu" - a sumptuous arrangement, featuring Bing adapting beautifully to the contemporary rhythm section. I also love "A Little Love And Understanding".
|Greg Van Beek||
posted 03/31/06 04:18 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I think the cover photo on Beautiful Memories is one of the best poses on any of his newly recorded LP's during the 1970's. Certainly my favorite album cover of the period, it's anything but "ill-chosen". The yellow background compliments the dark brown LP jacket scheme. Bing looks the epitome of class in a double breasted suit, with a warm smile, sparkling deep blue eyes, and a neatly groomed hairpiece. I believe the photo dates to the 1970-73 period, as Bing hadn't yet started growing the longer sideburns he sported beginning in 1974.
Obviously this was a posed, professional studio shot, where as some of the other cover photos, like on "A Couple of Song and Dance Men", "At My Time of Life" and "Feels Good, Feels Right" seem to be no more than candid snapshots enlarged to fit the cover (what book WAS Bing reading anyhow on the "At My Time of Life" cover?). Bing even left the pencil stuck in his hat for the pose with Astaire!
That being said, the Beautiful Memories album features Bing's finest vocals of the Ken Barnes era. "What I Did For Love" is exquisite...I'm sure, as Ken pointed out in his writings, that had Bing's single of the song been released to radio prior to the Johnny Mathis version, Bing surely would've had the big hit record of the song instead of Johnny in the UK.
Bing's vocal range is incredible on "The More I See You"; he was singing as good as, if not better than he did 25 years earlier. "Children" is sung with such sensitive feeling and a total understanding of it's message. His fondness for the song is further supported by the fact that he also performed it (albeit with very bad lip-synching and a very bad hairpiece) on his 1976 TV Christmas special. Having raised seven children, it's easy to see why this lyric touched him so.
"When A Child Is Born" is a modern day Christmas classic, featuring a moving recitation by Bing during the bridge, and "The Woman On Your Arm" is a powerful soliloquy masterfully executed by Bing. My personal favorite is the Ken Barnes/Pete Moore penned "Deja Vu", with it's sax-laced contemporary big band sound and clever lyrics.
Over all, a most pleasing album, and one that deserves to be reissued in itself on CD as it was presented on vinyl back in 1977.
posted 04/01/06 03:38 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Well, Greg, I guess there's nothing wrong with the picture on "Beautiful Memories", by any means. I think what I, and perhaps Jon, are feeling, is that there is less "connection" between the photo on this album and it's album's production, than in the case of the other Barnes-Moore albums. The Astaire, "That's What", "My Time", and "Seasons" packages all bear cover shots that were taken at the time of the album productions that they grace, while "memories" is obviously just chosen from past photos. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with the pic, a handsome one of Bing, but I would bet you money that it wasn't taken any later than 1969, at the latest. I suppose the only way to prove this is to find it elsewhere, with a date attached, or to find another shot from the same session. But a look at Bing's tie and button-down collar, as well as his face, which I believe generally photographed "older" than this by the 1970s, and one gets this feeling (or at least I do). I believe it's the randomness of the selection for the photo that might have made me feel over the years that there wasn't as much thought put into this cover as there was for the other albums from U.A. and Polydor. I love "that's What Life Is All About" cover and "At my Time Of Life" cover; they both seem very much "of their time", and I was always happy to see Bing involved in production that kept him up to date and modern.
Another interesting point about the "Beautiful Memories" portrait: I don't think I've ever seen any other picture wherein the front of Bing's hairpiece is combed in the way it is in this picture - combed back and then combed a bit forward - Check it out.....
And - I agree that "Feels Good - Feels Right", which is NOT a Barnes - Moore production, features a terribly designed cover: Good picture of Bing, mind you, but poorly centered and art directed, bad typeface, etc.... But the music is great!
posted 04/01/06 09:21 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
All the covers from the 70s are 'studio shots', speaking as an advertising person...some are more candidly posed and less 'dramatic' (ie, backgrounds)..and some are bland (ie, brown and yellow - not especially dynamic) ...But...we're talking Bing here, who, while generally amenable to turning on his smile for folks, wasn't a fussy man...and I readily accept that.
However, that voice...mmm...THAT is still the best!
posted 04/01/06 10:25 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Thanks, Arne, that is pretty much how I feel about the photo. As I said in an earlier post, I have no problem with the actual image of Bing--even though, to my taste, it's rather harshly lit, and the flat, bright yellow background prevents any chance of atmosphere or ambience. But, as you say, it definitely wasn't taken at the time the album was produced, much less taken specifically for the cover. I can picture an art director or graphic designer either pulling it out of a file drawer, or receiving it from Bing's "people" after having made a request for a suitable cover shot. "At My Time Of Life", on the other hand, was definitely a posed, art directed shot, very well done. Come to think of it, thematically and visually it would have made a great cover for "Beautiful Memories." But I don't want to take up valuable space with trivial quibbling--the existing design for cover of "Memories" is fine, and very much of its time. And, as Judy points out, it's really the music that matter...right?
|Greg Van Beek||
posted 04/01/06 12:35 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Here's another thought, re Beautiful Memories...
Let's face it, by the end of 1976 Bing was aging rapidly, looking very much like a man in his 70's. Compare his appearance on the 1975 Christmas special with Fred Astaire (taped in late November of that year) to the 1976 Christmas special -- especially the performance of "Children"-- (taped in July of '76) and you'll see what I mean. It's conceivable that United Artists, in choosing a cover photo for a contemporary-themed Crosby album, might want to feature Bing looking somewhat younger, within reason. Something bold and striking that would jump out at the consumer, and perhaps help boost sales. As we all know, album cover photos do help sell albums.
Or, perhaps Bing just didn't have the time to, or didn't care to do a photo shoot for the cover, forcing the use of a stock shot. Either way, the photo works for me. I think Arne is right, the pose does appear to be from 1969. I checked other studio publicity photos of Bing from that year and the BM shot does look compatible.
It IS the music that matters most, and Bing was in fine form vocally on all of the Barnes-Moore collaborations, as well as Southern Memoir and Feels Good and others. However there's nothing wrong with taking this in a different direction and having a discussion on Bing's album covers of the decade. No one is quibbling or criticizing anyone or anything, just expressing opinions. The valuable space on this message board has been taken up with far more trivial matters than album covers! Let's hear from others; what do you think were Bing's best/worst album covers of the '70s?
The At My Time of Life pose has always been a curiosity to me. It looks as if Bing was taken directly from the recording studio back to the hotel patio or foyer area. "Here Bing, why don't you put on this necktie, sit on this bench and make like you're reading this book so we can take your picture?" Granted it is posed, just not very inspired. It would've been far more effective, to me anyhow, if he had worn his hairpiece and replaced the cardigan with a sport jacket. And lost the book. If we could at least see the cover of the book; if the title or cover photo/design was something significant, it would make more sense.
For Feels Good, Feels Right, (which I know isn't a Barnes-Moore collaboration; I was speaking in general of Bing's albums of the 70's) it looks like Bing moved up to his hotel suite; like he's sitting in front of the window drapes of a hotel room. It is a nice photo of Bing, though, with a bright, warm smile.
Tom Sawyer, That's What Life Is All About, and Southern Memoir (along with BM) get my vote for the best covers of the decade. Bing looks good in his "True Love" captain's hat from High Society on Southern Memoir.
The worst? For me, it's gotta be Bingo Viejo. A leisure suit-clad Bing wearing an over-sized sombrero...a riot in itself! In fact, every single person I've ever shown this album cover to has broken out in laughter at the sight.
Seasons, showing an obviously frail Bing, makes one wonder what might've been, had Bing found the time to do the various poses for the different seasons as originally envisioned ('just shoot me as I am'). The four photos on the back of the album jacket were the scenes he was to have been projected in front of, in costume for each. Still, we're fortunate to have any professional studio photos of Bing at all at such a late date.
posted 04/01/06 04:42 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
The worst 70´s Album jackets are The Holyday Toast-the weak design for one of Bing´s Christmas albums is much frustrating,because Bing´s Merry Christmas/White Christmas LP cover is one of the best and most effective ever and certainly in world´s top charts of LP covers(I Wish You A Merry Christmas have also a lovely of the painted 60´s covers!). The other is Bing´s Live At The London Palladium-both jackets:the UA issue and the K-Tel issue.Maybe this is the the reason,that the K-Tel sets were in sell-out in Germany abouta half year after release in great piles for the worth of about less than 1$.And covers have had certainly an important part in that years to sell a record successfully,if the seller presenting them in a window or inside the store in a representive way and even if someone is searching the LP counters or shelves an eye-catcher was positive.From the Bingo Viejo issues is the London cover much more sympatico - also not really good - than the Anahuac cover, which was created against all of the simpliest design rules.The western world´s Polydor Seasons jacket is doubtless a big hit of it´s own-instead of the history of the photo session-and was beside Merry Christmas LP certainly Bing´s LP that presented far, far away most at store windows in Germany and is also today pictured from time to time in LP collectors books-also beside Bings most famous Christmas LP.The Seasons cover of "communistic" Germany´s Amiga label changed the design a little bit,using another photo from the session-Bing something more from the side with a bigger and even more sympathic laughing and more glancing in his eyes. It was fine-instead of a bad color printing-but not as perfect as the original cover design.The "soft painted" At My Time Of Live is something like a "still life" of Bing holding a picture book of oldtimer cars and is in that way many papers wrote at that time about Bing:lucky old Bing.The green-redbrown made this still life very harmonic.Only the cutten book left on the bank bother.Tom Saawyer:fine photo,but no designing imagination!Another fine 70´s cover is that one from Bing´n Basie.
posted 04/01/06 04:59 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Interesting discussion on album covers. Oddly enough, a lot of Bing's 1960s and earlier covers seem to be illustrations. Then, in the '70s, we had more actual photographs of Bing on the cover.
I've always thought the worst '70s album cover was "Seasons." He looks so terrible, I think they should have found another one. I remember seeing him on TV in '77 thinking, "he looks bad."
I like the "Feels Good, Feels Right" cover because he has a good smile and because the hat he's wearing looks very "Bing"-ish. I also thought the "That's What Life Is All About" cover was nice. Bing sure looked a lot better in '75 than he did in '77. I know he fell of the stage in '77, but something else must have been going on as well.
"Bingo Viejo" is indeed a ridiculous cover, and while I like "Southern Memoir," it's too bad that, to my knowledge, this album has never been issued in the USA.
posted 04/01/06 05:07 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I forgot to mention that I think the cover to the '50s album "Some Fine Old Chestnuts" -- the 12 inch version of this album -- is hilarious. I love Bing dressed up as a nut vendor.
posted 04/01/06 05:39 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Just to underline the comments I made RE: "Feels Good Feels Right" cover for David Foe -
I agree that the picture of Bing is wonderful - my rating the cover as less than successful is not about Bing's appearance, but about the way the cover is designed/art directed. Akwardly placed photo, uncentered and unframed, complete with dull, community-flyer style font for the title and name "Bing". - Just poorly handled, I think.
I recall seeing two other shots, both clearly from the "Seasons" cover shoot. One of them is in Ken's great book, "The Crosby Years", with Bing looking far better than in the one that is on the album. He has his eyes open wide, with a big high-energy smile and attitude. He looks twenty years younger - and far healthier than in the shot used for the album. However, he looks anything but "reflective" in this pose, so the shot probably would have been inapropriate for the cover of this album. Another pose, once again from this very same shoot, I've only seen once, in a small local newspaper, and no where else. In it, Bing has his hand to his hat, in slight profile, he looks relaxed, happy, and wise. It would have been excellent for the cover, but somehow this pose slipped through the cracks....
posted 04/01/06 06:38 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
It seems to me-reading too earlier discussions on this board-that the Seasons cover photo is not much loved by a group of hard Crosby fans,that´they wanted Bing´s face(and age) fixed on a special period of his career.But everyone have a history of life and aging made a people not ugly(against all is said in our world of ever dynamic,ever young people).And hands and faces telling us much about life.Old humans are lucky,if they let not terrorize from a youth culture and lives the possiblities and merits of their age.And I Bing was able to do it in his late years and was also much interestest on new things-this was the right way.More problems Bing seem to have had in the early 50´s-something like a midlife crisis.And the Seasons photos are fine realistic portraits of old Bing,who liked- instead of paines-to live very much in the present,doing much of plans of recordings,films and concerts also he felt in someway,that his death was very near.
posted 04/01/06 08:21 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
David, and anyone else who may be interested,
The decline in illustrated Bing LP covers, and the rise of photographed ones reflected the slow demise of the use of illustrators in general, beginning in the late 1950s, and included not only LPs, but also magazine covers, ads, movie posters, etc. This was primarily due to improvements in color photography reproduction in print, though in Bing's case it may have had something to do with his availability--or lack of--for cover photo shoots. There seem to have been a lot of illustrations used for his '60s LP covers, in comparison to those of the previous decade.
The overall change from illustration to photography can be dramatically traced by viewing the chronology of Time magazine covers:
Time actually held out longer that most, having for years been associated with its cover art, created by many illustrators and artists over the years. Nevertheless, cover illustrations for Time are now virtually a thing of the past.
TV Guide, which featured primarily color photos on its covers in the 1950s, actually provided something of a renaissance for illustrators beginning in the 1960s, and continuing into the 1980s, during which time the ratio of illustrated covers became higher than before. One of their favorites was Richard Avedon:
The transition can be seen in movie posters, and even video/DVD covers; in the Eighties and early nineties, a large percentage of VHS, Beta, and Laserdisc packaging featured non-photographic artwork. By the late '90s, heavily Photoshop-retouched photographs were being used, as they still are today on DVDs and Theatrical release posters. Heads of stars are seemingly arbitrarily placed on the bodies of unknown models, with results that should be embarrassing...only nobody seems to mind.
Bob Peak was one of the most successful movie poster artists, and his work should look familiar to anyone over 30:
In case the above is NOT more than you wanted to know, you may find this online gallery of the art of illustration interesting:
Just to turn this back in a Bing-related direction, here's a familiar portrait by everyone's favorite illustrator, Norman Rockwell:
posted 04/01/06 10:08 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Interesting info from Jon. I hadn't considered this, and of course it's true. It's too bad illustrations have fallen so out of favor. You look at magazine ads, such as Life in the 1940s, and they're full of illustrations.
And Arne, it looks like they shot the "Feels Good Feels Right" cover picture right at the recording studio.
Speaking of '70s albums, I still regret that Bing didn't live long enough to make that planned album with violinist Joe Venuti, who had quite a few 1970s albums himself.
posted 04/02/06 03:08 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
yes, David, the proposed Venuti-Bing album is mourned at my house... I am a huge fan of Joe, and a late-in-life meeting of these two venerable genius artists would have been heaven. It was to be one of the contracted Polydor follow-ups to "Seasons", if I remember correctly, after the proposed Hope-Crosby LP.
As far as "Feels Good" being taken at the studio... Well, it certainly has that look about it, but if you examine the portfolio of studio shots on the back of the LP (most any of which, enlarged, would have been an improvement as a front cover, I think) you'll see that he's dressed differently, with a different hat, even, from the front pic. But who knows? Anyway, I think Bing is wearing that (front cover) hat in a few other photos I've seen. Without checking, I think I remember it from the Clambake shots in early '77 with President Ford? I'll have to look again.
I don't think it's a matter of people being averse to seeing pics of Bing as an older man... It's just that he looks positively unhealthy in that Seasons cover. He was, in fact, three days away from a massive, fatal coronary (although he looks much better in other poses from the same day's photo shoot).
My favorite "Portrait Of The Artist As An Old Man" appears in the 1974 issue of "San Francisco" magazine, which contains an extensive and revealing interview with Bing. The article's front page includes a sensitive, yet revealing close-up photo of Bing. Quite a study, and a beautiful portrait.
posted 04/02/06 11:52 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
It's too bad that time ran out on Bing, because his proposed album of Noel Coward tunes would really have been wonderful.
posted 04/02/06 01:22 PM Central Time (US) no email address given
The photographer for "Seasons" said Bing was in a bad mood during the photo session and just wanted to be done with it. The photographer didn't know that Bing's flat had been burglarized the previous night and that Bing had been suffering from a cold and an aching back from his fall the previous March.
posted 04/02/06 01:59 PM Central Time (US) no email address given
My thanks to Joe, Jon, Arne, Dieter, Greg, Judy and everyone for bringing "Beautiful Memories" into focus. The cover shot was indeed supplied by Bing Crosby Enterprises and was not taken exclusively for the album.
The cover pics on "That's What Life is All About" and "At My Time of Life" were both taken on the same day at the house of photographer,Pierre Tubbs. The first ( with the brown suit at the organ ) was taken in the lounge and the second ( with the book ) was shot in the conservatory. The whole session was over inside one hour.
As for the "Seasons" session ( which I also attended ), I can absolutely confirm that Bing was not at all unpleasant to the photographer. He had not been informed that the session had been planned as a multi-costume affair. His time,on that day was at a premium, and he expressed his regret to the photographer that he could not spare the time. He did,however, pose for several shots and was as politely professional as time would permit. The only miserable person at that session was the photographer.
That particular day was a very heavy one for Bing. His flat had been burgled the night before yet he did his last recording session in the morning ( which included an interview with Alan Dell ), the photo session followed this after which he was due for a meeting at the Dorchester.
He did his best to accomodate everyone despite a severely aching back. This man was a professional to the last.
By the way, I agree that the photo selected for the "Seasons" cover was certainly not my choice. If and when Universal are able to issue this album on CD, I can promise everyone it will have a much more appropriate cover shot.
Once again, my thanks to everyone for their kind interest.
|Greg Van Beek||
posted 04/02/06 02:07 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
...and also Bing had an appointment immediately after the photo shoot with record producer Geoff Milne to discuss plans for the proposed London/Decca label album of Noel Coward songs Ron mentioned.
|Greg Van Beek||
posted 04/02/06 02:26 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Many thanks, Ken, for providing insight into those photo sessions. I found it most interesting that the photos for That's What Life Is All About and At My Time of Life were both taken on the same day. Now I understand why Bing coupled the dark brown pants with the bright red cardigan (and necktie)! He evidently just replaced the sport jacket with the cardigan, added the golf hat, and moved to a different room of the house for the At My Time of Life pose (which, at the time, was a yet untitled album, since the title track wouldn't recorded until January of 1976). We're lucky to have you here, Ken, to provide these new revelations!
posted 04/02/06 04:55 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Ron, Bing sang a Noel Coward medley on his last British tour (HLYCD-003), perhaps to get familiar with some songs for his planned album. Joe Venuti was at high spirits at that time,perhaps better than the last two or three decades - only the last month before his death (I believe July 1978). Joe played someway unconcentrated. The Venuti album was planned - I believe as the Hope duet songs - for Bing´s 7th Polydor LP. The Coward album should be one of six recordings for Decca. Other plans for Decca were an LP with Busby Berkeley material, again a sing-along (Bing seemed to have liked this format instead of many of his fans), an LP in that of Bob Crosby Bob Cats and a Huckleberry Finn LP. Bing was full with plans at the end of his life, although he didn´t feet well and performed some of his last concerts under great pain.
posted 04/04/06 02:03 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
At the Crosby tournament at Pebble Beach in January of 1977, Uncle Bing looked great. I played a practice round with him at Cypress the week before, we walked all 18 with caddies, no problem.
Then he fell into the orchestra pit at the Ambassador |Hotel in LA during a concert in March. He was in the hospital for two weeks, wrenched his back and was in terrible pain. Mary Rose saw him in the hospital and said the fall "aged him twenty yearsa overnight." She said he looked like a frail old man in his hospital room.
I never saw him again after January 1977. But the way Mary Rose saw it, he never really was the same after the fall.
posted 04/04/06 10:11 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
The "paintings" of Bing on the "Bing's Hollywood" series of LPs are all very good.
That being said I prefer photos of Bing and Frank as well as other singers I like on LP record covers to illustrations.
The quality of British LP covers was always superior to the US. Like Ken Barnes they always used high quality photos on their glossy covers. British EP's also always had great photos. I recently was gifted with a copy of "Mr Crosby and Mr. Columbo".
The Japanese also had great photos on their LP covers.
posted 04/04/06 12:55 PM Central Time (US) no email address given
Howard, Bing's fall was actually off the stage of the concert center at the Ambassador College (not hotel) campus in Pasadena. I don't know why this location was chosen for Bing's 50th anniversary CBS broadcast. Ambassador College was founded by Herbert W. Armstrong, whose Worldwide Church of God prospered until scandal brought it down. The first major scandal was Herbert's son, Garner Ted, a married man who was caught diddling the college students ad libitum. At the time he was the voice of the organization's TV and radio broadcast "The World Tomorrow." Garner Ted's serial philandering led to his banishment and his aging father took over the broadcasting chores. Herbert, however, turned out to be a Jim and Tammy Baker, living a lavish lifestyle off the tithings of his devoted followers. Mike Wallace exposed this in one of the "60 Minutes" episode from the '70s after Bing's death. The Church began to splinter and fade and finally disintegrated after Herbert's death. The campus where Bing made his last televised American performance was closed. I don't know who owns the campus today or what it is used for. Garner Ted moved to Big Sandy Texas and still broadcasts weekly on cable TV. According to court records he is still as libidinous as ever; his massage therapist accused him of attempted rape a couple years ago.
posted 04/04/06 04:36 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
I also remember that, at some point following Bing's 1977 special there, Gene Kelly did a TV special from the same venue. Possibly there were others. I suppose the venue was simply "for hire", and was recognized by the pros as being a superior facillity, despite the controversial ownership.
Another "Beautiful Memories" association:
I recall an interviewer asking Bing in the mid-seventies about the comparitave qualities of "old" vs. "new" songs (for the millionth time), and in this instance, Bing replied that the "forms" are different, and sometimes hard to grasp for an "old gaffer" such as himself (his words). That quote always made me think about "A Little Love and Understanding", a track from "Beautiful Memories": Clearly, this song features one of the "new" songwriting forms Bing was tackling, and yet, how beautifully he pulled it off, sounding totally natural and at ease with this very modern piece, and yet very "Bing". - Despite his comments, his instincts and abillity to learn "new tricks" was sharp till the end.
|Greg Van Beek||
posted 04/04/06 05:47 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Bob Hope also did a TV special from the Ambassador College Auditorium in Pasadena, in 1980, titled "Hope, Women, and Song". It, ironically, was also sponsored by Kraft as was "BING!" in 1977. The special ended with a musical tribute to Bing by the cast, and an appearance by Kathryn Crosby onstage with Bob, accepting a check for the same charity fund from which Bing's 1977 concert at that venue benefited.
posted 04/04/06 09:32 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Arne: I agree. Bing in the mid-seventies was very receptive to recording "new" songs. He was far more receptive than Sinatra who did no albums at all during that same period.
posted 04/05/06 09:22 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Another of the "new" songs Bing sung in this Pasadena concert together with Paul Anka-Anka´s composition of "She´s My Lady".This (too) short duet demonstrates how sure and fine Bing could handle such modern material,whatever he have ever said on different interviews.
posted 05/08/06 09:32 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
"The proposed Venuti-Bing album is mourned at my house.. "
Sorry for jumping in late for this discussion but it is so true Arne. It's mourned in my house too. You introduced my to Joe Venuti's wonderful violin playing and have been a fan ever since. The Venuti-Bing album would have been great celebrating a friendship that has lasted more than 50 years.
posted 05/09/06 03:51 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Hi, Greg. Is that true? I "introduced" you to Venuti's music? I don't remember that, but if so, how very cool of me! Well, I've known you for a long time, so I guess I'm entitled to my senior moments.
It's a cultural crime that the Universal Music beancounters haven't seen fit to re-issue the beautiful Crosby-Venuti Decca masterpiece "Ain't Doin' Bad Doin Nothin'" b/w "Ida, I Do" from 1947, so full of laid-back masterful swing and musicianship, all wrapped up in quintessential Crosby charm and philosophy.