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A Merry Christmas with Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters ()

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Since Bing Crosby's recordings have been reissued prolifically on an endless series of legitimate and unofficial CD releases, it is worth noting that one reissue series continues to stand head and shoulders above the others in terms of organization and sound quality. Crosby recorded for Decca Records exclusively for 20-plus years from the mid-'30s to the mid-'50s, a period that coincided with his commercial heyday. Starting in 1996, MCA Records, owner of the Decca catalog, hooked up with the most prominent Crosby fan club, the U.K.-based International Crosby Circle, and specifically with its U.S. representative F.B. (Wig) Wiggins, on a series of reissues including Top o' the Morning: His Irish Collection, Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters: Their Complete Recordings Together, Bing Crosby's Gold Records, The Voice of Christmas (a two-disc set followed by the single-disc highlights version, The Very Best of Bing Crosby Christmas), and Academy Award Winners & Nominees: 1934-1960. A Merry Christmas with Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters joins this distinguished list. It must be acknowledged that Crosby and the Andrews Sisters actually made only six holiday recordings together and that these tracks have previously appeared on both Their Complete Recordings Together and The Voice of Christmas. Wiggins has added to those six with seven other Crosby selections and seven Andrews Sisters cuts, mixing up the sequencing. The joint recordings include such favorites as "Twelve Days of Christmas," "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," "Jingle Bells," and "Here Comes Santa Claus," and as usual the sisters blend well with Crosby, lead singer Patty Andrews making a wonderful duet partner for the crooner. On their own, the sisters perform "Christmas Island" and "Merry Christmas Polka," both of which were chart entries for them, with the backing of Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians. The Crosby solo selections are not among his best-known seasonal recordings (those can be found on The Very Best of Bing Crosby Christmas); all but one find him accompanied by a vocal group, which gives the tracks a consistency with the Andrews Sisters tunes. This must be one of Crosby's few Christmas albums not to include "White Christmas," but that doesn't keep it from being an excellent addition to his and the Andrews Sisters' holiday catalog. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi Hide synopsis

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