1944 (Decca 23353-A mx L 3423)
Ethel Smith – Tico Tico]
“1 Lero Lero /2 Bem Te Vi Atrevido”
1944 (Decca 23353-A mx L 3425)
Ethel Smith – 1 Lero Lero 2 Bem Te Vi Atrevido]
“The Parrot (On The Fortune Teller’s Hat)”
1945 (Decca 23462-A mx 72963)
Ethel Smith – The Parrot]
1946 ( Decca 23549-B mx 73291)
Ethel Smith – Dinorah]
These particular recordings have a certain sentimental value to me. They come from a four 78 rpm album set entitled Ethel Smith Souvenir Album. The very first 78 rpm record purchase I made when I was a child was that album which contained three of the four original records plus a different Ethel Smith record that was not part of the album set. I purchased them in a charity garage sale and paid a grand total of ten cents for all of them. I still have the album book but all of the records in it managed to get broken over the years. Last year I obtained another copy of the album set with all four of the records. I can’t say that the Ethel Smith records were what spurred my interest in vintage recordings – a program on a local radio station is what started that. But I thought the records were very cool because someone told me that they were “antiques” and because I finally had something to play using the 78 rpm speed on my turntable which I had previously used only to make “normal” speed records sound funny.
Ethel Smith was an organist who became popular in the 1940s. Her recording of “Tico Tico” – a song which she performed in the 1944 MGM film Bathing Beauty – sold over a million copies. You can watch a clip from Bathing Beauty on YouTube of Smith performing “Tico Tico” at this link.
Which local radio program spurred your interest in vintage recordings?
Mine was the Ronnie Renfro Show on KQUE in Houston.
It was a four hour weekly radio program on KERA-FM the “public radio” station in Dallas hosted by the late Jim Lowe. Apparently there were radio hosts in other markets named “Jim Lowe” including one in New York. This Jim Lowe is the one who was, for years, associated with the old WRR-AM in Dallas and who was also the voice of “Big Tex” at the State Fair of Texas. Lowe’s program was devoted to big band music – but he also played music from the 1920s and early ’30s. Much of the music was supplied by “Charlie The Collector” who, in later incarnations of the program on KAAM, was co-host with Jim. Unfortunately, at some point after I discovered the program, KERA abruptly cancelled it along with all of it is other “specialty” programs in favor of a format where people could expect to hear the same thing no matter when they tuned in. That was very bad for me because it was the only access I had to the music – there was no Internet and the “widest common denominator” stuff played on other stations had zero appeal to me. And being just a kid, I was not in a position to acquire much in the way of recordings on my own. So I had to make do with cassette tapes I had made of the program, my own then tiny collection and some LP reissues I borrowed from the library – all of which got played over and over again. Finding a “new” recording from the period was a big deal for me. A kid who finds himself in that position today has it SO much better – there’s more of the music available on the Internet than most people will ever have time to listen to and it is easy to find and interact with others who share that interest. For those whose tastes and interests lay outside the “widest common denominator” the advent of the Internet has been nothing short of revolutionary.
I just purchased a record collection that had Glenn Miller’s face on the cover, but inside we’re four albums of Ethel Smith. Got this at an antique store. Did Glenn Miller arrange Ethel Smith’s songs and he got his face on the cover instead of her. Or did the wrong records get put in the album. Are the records of value?