At the time of this recording, Bowie was in his Berlin period. Having left the glam era behind, he was experimenting with Brian Eno and atmospheric music. This recording (Sept. 11 1977) was one of the last things Bing Crosby did - he died of a heart attack a month after this; the show was aired a month later. In the same year, 1977, Bowie also recorded Peter and the Wolf (beautifully done as well), most specially for his young son, Duncan. Always a consummate artist, he continued to experiment with blurring gender lines, new musical language and cinema via feature films as well as music videos. His duet with Bing Crosby, like much of his work, remains a classic.
As a recording artist at least, I suspect Bing Crosby has become something of a forgotten figure. This is a shame, because Der Bingle, as he was once affectionately known, possessed one of the most glorious male voices of mid-20th Century popular music. Crosby's vocals warbled, crooned and swung, moving easily from high and playful to deep and profound, from bouncy jazz to brooding hymns. Borrow this one for Bing's signature versions of "O Holy Night," "Do You Hear What I Hear" and, of course, "White Christmas," the Irving Berlin instant classic he debuted in the 1942 musical "Holiday Inn."
Give this disc a listen also for "Peace On Earth/The Little Drummer Boy," Crosby's eyebrow raising 1977 duet with, of all people, Mr. Space Oddity himself, David Bowie. In the seventies Bowie was at his most flamboyant, steeped in glam rock/bisexual chic mystique. Who in the world thought to put these two artists of such wildly divergent style and reputation in a room together, let alone unite them to record a Christmas carol??? It boggled the mind! Yet somehow... it worked.
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