Thursday, August 03, 2006
More swing from the thrift store
Starting off tonight's edition, a double-side of the original Dusty Fletcher version of Open The Door, Richard. This is a two-parter on the National label, the first part I have occasionally heard on some of the R&B shellac or Americana radio stations, but I have never heard the second part (which is just as funny, in my opinion). I do know that Louis Jordan has covered this, along with a few other performers, but the original still stands up there proudly.
Moving right along, here are four sides by that legendary Southern Gentleman, Mr. Phil Harris. The first side is one of his classics, Woodsman Spare That Tree. This isn't the later RCA release, this is the earlier (and better, again my opinion) ARA release. A lot of his ARA stuff was re-recorded for release on RCA Victor, but the ARA material just seemed to have more spunk and energy than the RCA sides did. The back side, Bump On-The-Head Brown, bears this out, as it is typical of one of Phil's anecdotal stories about life in a smaller Southern USA town. Even though the songs weren't written by Phil, he sung 'em like he had wrote 'em, sho'nuff.
Next we go to Phil and (I believe) his young daughter. Yes, folks, it's the ARA pressing of One-zy Two-zy. Proof that using children in a record CAN be a good thing. She's devilishly cloying and you can tell that she has Daddy wrapped all around her little finger (as all little girls do so well with their fathers). I have the RCA version of this somewhere, I'll have to compare it with this, the original, to see if it got sweeter or if it just got sappier.
The back side, Some Little Bug, shows us that things haven't changed too much in the infectious culinary arts department, only the names have been changed to protect the board of health. Nice number, and it'll have you looking at that McDOnalds burger twice before chomping it into oblivion.
We'll wander off into Western-land now, with another ARA pressing, that by Smiley Burnette. Catfish Take A Look At That Worm will strike a chord into all who practice the art of trying to catch dinner from a lake, pond, or stream. Sometimes, dinner refuses to co-operate! But it is a nice little Western string band interlude to while away the hours, and hopefully not scare away the fish.
The back side of this one, is a song that actually Phil Harris could have recorded and pulled it off. Peg-Leg Bandit is a story about a small time varmint and how his karma bites him in the fleshy parts of his anatomy. There's a moral lesson here, but the song is too fun to worry about that... Smiley Burnette shows up in a lot of late 40s western music radio programs, a lot of them are out there on the net, and are worth looking up if you're into the genre. Some very good country swing listening!
Now, for Waltz Time. These two were not in the greatest of shape when I found the disc, but I managed to get a somewhat noise-free encode (you should have SEEN the GOONK that came off the record cleaning brush!)... the D'orsay Dance Orchestra, electrically recorded on the Harmony label (at that time a Columbia pressing), performing Cuban Love Song, with Jack Miller on the vocals. Nice little waltz to break up the dance card for you. The back side, another number in 3-4 time, is Tell Me With A Love Song, this time with Bobby Dix doing vocal duties. These were done in the late 20s-early 30s (I need to check Ty's online disography), but showed that waltzes could be done with flair and panache, and that not all things were hot-cha swing jazz.
I found this curiosity in the stacks, played it, and decided to share it with you. Collins H. Driggs was apparently an organist of some repute and reknown. His stylings on the Hammond aren't too shabby, either, as witnessed by his renditions of Hindustan and Loch Lomond. Recorded on the Enterprise label out of Los Angeles (I assume in the late 40s?), Collins had a guy on trap drums with brushes as his only backup, and I assume it is he that is also playing the celeste. You may think that organ music was specifically for the skating rink, but this stuff actually has a decent swing factor.
Let's get back to the swing, big band style now... Jan Savitt was one of the leaders who never got to the level of Benny, Artie, Glenn, Tommy, Jimmy, or Woody. Not to say that he didn't have some players with good chops! He also had some nice tight arranging on hand as well, as witnessed by Lovelight in the Starlight. His band, the Top Hatters, are backing Carlotta Dale's vocals well and fine in this number, and I'm sure that many a nightclub attendee and their parners danced the night away to things as good as this. This was from teh pre-war era, as the Bluebird label was teh one with the musical staff on it, not the later one that Glenn Miller sides are usually seen with.
Bon Bon takes over the microphone on the back side, singing Moonshine Over Kentucky. Swinging a little harder, but still getting the job done, with some very nice solo work in here as well. Only wish I had a personnel list....
OK, crescendo time... Woody Herman. Another great bandleader of the 40s. Took his craft well into the late 70s with many editions of his Thundering Herd. Swung his butt off. I know this, because I got to see a lot of the later Herd shows when Woody brought them through the northwestern US. This recording is somewhat earlier, because, even though it is on Columbia, it has no mention of the Herd on the label. But it swings right along, anyway! Woody picks up the microphone and sings about that southern Mecca, Atlanta, GA. The band has fun with this one too, and the pressing quality is short of miraculous. The Columbia engineers brought their A-game when they recorded this one, and it shows.
Where it REALLY shows how hard Woody could drive his outfit is on the back side, Wild Root. This swings right up there with the best of them, and the recording is just soooo pristine that you can almost hear the walls shake from the energy. This is one for the jumpin'-wailin'-jivin' hepcats and hepkittens to tear up the pinewood with, baby!
Get out there and SHAG IT!
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