Saturday, October 24, 2020

THE SUCCESS AND FAILURES OF PROJECT RECORDS


Here is another great article from our contributor ModernBingFan0377...


Much in the same vein as a certain Francis Albert in the late 50s Bing would create his own record label mainly to issue out his recordings to other companies. His first project, however, promised much more than that it seems, How The West Was Won. Recorded for Project Records it would be released by RCA Victor, it featured many artists besides Bing including Rosemary Clooney and would go on to inspire the movie by the same name. Although I haven't got my hands on the album I've heard it is very good.

Bing would then go on to ruin a big chunk of it's potential by releasing a string a sing along albums which did good at the time, but did not have a good longevity. He did make up for these sing along albums though with 4 great LPs.

The first of these LPs is Bing & Satchmo. A Billy May orchestrated LP featuring Bing and Louis Armstrong. The only disappointing thing about the album is the lack of chemistry/ad-libbing seen in their radio duets and film duets. The good thing is though is the album becomes more replayable to some people due to the absence of these ad-libs. Billy May did some good Dixieland style arrangements and added to the quality of this album.

After this album of duets Bing would go onto create the ‘El Senor Bing’ album which featured some standards mixed in with some south of the border themed songs mixed together with Billy May’s Latin style of arranging here. I very much enjoy this album although it is divisive among some people. It is divisive because of the choice to make each track a medley of 2 songs, which in some cases can work rather well in my opinion, but I can see why one would think otherwise. One disappointing part though is the fact that the master tapes have apparently been misplaced making the CD release have to use the LP mixes.


This next Bob Thompson arranged and Malcolm Lockyer conducted album would feature Bing in a more traditional album, Holiday In Europe. Which is Bing’s European themed version of a travel album. The album was released in 1962 by Decca after being recorded in October of ‘60 and May of ‘61. It features European songs with some of the lyrics on some of the songs were written by Bing himself. He would overdub to the orchestral track on this album, but would still be a successful album quality wise. This album his been released by SEPIA last year with 14 bonus tracks including a session track. I find myself to enjoy this album quite a bit.

The last Project Records album would become the most famous one and the probably the best one. Bing’s I Wish You A Merry Christmas is probably Bing’s best studio Christmas album in contrast to Christmas Greetings and A Time To Be Jolly with a better set of songs than either of those. This time around Bob Thompson, Jack Holloran, and Peter Matz would arrange and conduct the tracks in July of 1962 with Bing recording the overdubs in October of 1962. Despite the variety of arrangers the tracks fit in together well. Bing’s voice is rich and records definitive versions of many of the songs on this album to me. It would be released by Warner but would later and is currently released by Capitol as Christmas Classics expanded with Bing’s Christmas single for Capitol, a Decca recording, and a shortened version of White Christmas from 1957. This would be Bing’s last sessions for Project Records.

I’m not sure if he just decided to stop recording for Project and leasing out the albums or what, but I believe it had to do with his short lived contract at Reprise. It seems he had plans to do more at Reprise besides the multiple collaboration album and Return To Paradise but nothing came into fruition before he left Reprise to become a free agent once again. Bing’s Project Records run would create 4 very solid albums with the rest being sing a-longs. This would be his most heavy recording schedule for many years until he would go to UA and start his albums with Ken Barnes...




Friday, October 16, 2020

REMEMBERING RHONDA FLEMING (1923-2020)

Rhonda Fleming, star of the 1940s and ’50s who was dubbed the “Queen of Technicolor” and appeared in “Out of the Past” and “Spellbound,” died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., according to her secretary Carla Sapon. She was 97.

Fleming appeared in more than 40 films and worked with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock on “Spellbound,” Jacques Tourneur on “Out of the Past” and Robert Siodmak on “The Spiral Staircase.”

Later in life, she became a philanthropist and supporter of numerous organizations fighting cancer, homelessness and child abuse.

Her starring roles include classics such as the 1949 musical fantasy “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” alongside Bing Crosby whom she later dated, 1957 Western “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” and the noir “Slightly Scarlet” alongside John Payne.

Her co-stars over the years included Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Burt Lancaster, Bob Hope, Rock Hudson and Ronald Reagan, with whom she made four films. Other notable roles included Fritz Lang’s “While the City Sleeps,” “Pony Express” and “The Big Circus.” One of her last roles was in the Don Adams farce “The Nude Bomb” in 1980, and she spoofed herself as “Rhoda Flaming” in 1976 comedy “Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywood” along a bevy of other vintage performers from Dorothy Lamour to Stepin Fetchit and Rudy Vallee.

Born Marilyn Louis in Hollywood, she attended Beverly Hills High and was discovered by the famous agent Henry Wilson while on the way to school, she told the Warner Bros. podcast. Wilson changed her name to Rhonda Fleming and she was then signed to a contract with David O. Selznick. Her first major part was as a nymphomaniac in “Spellbound,” and she said she was so naive she had to look up the word in the dictionary when she was cast.


In addition to cinema, Fleming made her Broadway debut in Clare Boothe Luce’s “The Women” and toured as Madame Dubonnet in “The Boyfriend.” In 1957, Fleming made her stage musical debut in Las Vegas at the opening of the Tropicana Hotel’s showroom. Later she appeared at the Hollywood Bowl in a one-woman concert with compositions from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. In 1960, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Fleming also routinely guest-starred on television in series including “Wagon Train,” “Police Woman,” “The Love Boat” and a two-hour special of “McMillan & Wife.” Along with Maureen O’Hara, she was bestowed the nickname of “Queen of Technicolor” for how well her red hair and green eyes photographed in vivid color.

In 1991, Fleming and her late husband Ted Mann of Mann’s Theaters established Rhonda Fleming Mann Clinic for Comprehensive Care for Women with Cancer at UCLA in memory of her sister Beverly, and in 1992, she founded the Rhonda Fleming Mann Resource Center at UCLA. She opened the Reflections boutique to help cancer patients with items including wigs and prostheses.

She also supported Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., where she established the Rhonda Fleming Carlson Inspiration Garden in 2014.


Her other charitable efforts include being an ambassador of Childhelp, dedicated to the care and treatment of victims of child abuse, and P.A.T.H. (People Assisting the Homeless), where she established two Rhonda Fleming Family Centers.

After her sister Beverly died of cancer, she became a supporter of cancer research and with her then-husband Ted Mann of Mann Theatres, established the Rhonda Fleming Mann Clinic for Women’s Comprehensive Care at UCLA Medical Center. She also supported the Rhonda Fleming Mann Resource Center for Women with Cancer at UCLA. To further research and treatment for women’s cancer, she created The Rhonda Fleming Mann Research Fellowship at the City of Hope Hospital.

Her sixth husband, Darol W. Carlson, died in 2017.

Fleming is survived by her son, Kent Lane, granddaughter, Kelly Harman (Morgan Harman), granddaughter, Kimberly Coleman, as well as well as great-grandchildren, Wagner Harman (Lindsay Harman), Page Harman, Linden Harman, Lane Albrecht, Cole Albrecht and two great-great grandchildren, Ronan and Kiera Harman. She is also survived by step-children, Candace Voien, Cindy Jaeger, Jill Lundstrom and Kevin Carlson...



Wednesday, October 14, 2020

BING'S DEATH: 43 YEARS AGO

In this photo, Bing tees off on the La Moraleja golf course near Madrid, Spain, on the afternoon of Oct. 14, 1977. He finished 18 holes of golf -- carding an 85 -- and, with his partner, club president Cesar de Zulueta, defeating 2 Spanish golf pros, Manuel Pinero and Valentine Barrious...


After his final putt Bing bowed to acknowledge the applause of some fans and remarked ""That was a great game of golf, fellas." As he was walking to the clubhouse about 6:30 he collapsed from a massive heart attack. Bing made no attempt to break his fall and landed head-first on the red-brick pavement, producing a large bruise on the left side of his forehead. "We thought he had just slipped," said one of his golfing companions. "Bing had shown no sign of fatigue. He was happy and singing as he went around the course." His 3 golfing companions carried Bing the remaining 20 yards to the clubhouse where a physician administered oxygen and adrenalin without success.

Bing's funeral began at 5 a.m. Oct. 18, 1977 at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California. Bing's will specified that only his wife and 7 children should attend, but Kathryn invited Bing's siblings as well as Bob Hope, Rosemary Clooney and Phil Harris. The ABC reporter who covered the funeral, Geraldo Rivera, noted the early morning hour was when the blue of the night met the gold of the day...



Friday, September 25, 2020

Monday, September 21, 2020

Friday, September 18, 2020

AUDIO ASPIRIN: THE BREEZE AND I

Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday, September 7, 2020

BINGO VIEJO

Bingo Viejo is a 1975 vinyl album recorded by Bing Crosby at his own expense during two sessions in 1975 at United Recorders, Hollywood. "Viejo" means "old" in Spanish. He was accompanied by Paul Smith and his Orchestra. Crosby, who called the LP his "Mexican album", leased the tracks to the English branch of Decca following negotiations with producer Geoff Milne and the album was issued on Decca's London label.

He also leased the tracks to a USA based label called Anahuac. They remixed the tracks and used some alternate takes (tracks 6, 7, 9 and 10). Bing Crosby himself felt that this improved the album and he wrote to his friend Leslie Gaylor in a letter dated July 11, 1977."The Bingo Viejo record has been remixed and it sounds much better than ever it did before. I don’t know what they did to it but they brought up the vocal a little more and cut down on the background, which made it sound a little more intimate and a little more personal."

The album has never been issued on CD.

The UK magazine The Gramophone reviewed the album saying: "Bingo Viejo" by old Bing Crosby himself is a typically warm Crosbyian salute to south of the border with ten songs sung in English and Spanish which will undoubtedly please his numerous adherents of either tongue. The numbers are mostly familiar ones like Green Eyes, Besame Mucho, Frenesi and The Breeze and I, and the arrangements are less than impressive, particularly the messy accompaniment for Amapola, which almost undermined the Old Groaner’s customary vocal serenity."

Record producer, Ken Barnes, felt that the album was a less successful effort than A Southern Memoir and he considered that the "main fault lies in the choice of some of the songs—notably ‘The Breeze and I’ and especially ‘Spanish Eyes’ which were clearly too rangy for any septuagenarian to sing, although sing them he does...





TRACKS:
1. "Maria Bonita"
2. "Green Eyes"
3. "Amapola"
4. "Bésame Mucho"
5. "Cuando calienta el sol"
6. "Eres tú"
7. "La Borrachita"
8. "Frenesí"
9. "Spanish Eyes"
10. "The Breeze And I"


                                  



Monday, August 24, 2020

BING AND THE FILM CAMERA

Here is an great print advertisement that I just discovered. Bing is promoting a film camera. This came out around 1956 when Bing was starring in his last Paramount movie... Anything Goes!



Friday, August 7, 2020

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: BING IN THE 1970s

Unfortunately for the whole world, Bing Crosby died in 1977. However, he was very present in the 1970s and made a lot of appearances and recordings in his final years. Here are some great photos from that decade...