July 26, 2001
Through The Tulips With Me
When most people today think of this
song, they think of its late 1960s revival by Tiny Tim. What they
may not realize is that it was introduced by Nick Lucas in the 1929 motion
picture "Gold Diggers of Broadway." This recording that Lucas made
for Brunswick Records topped the best selling list for weeks. When
you listen to it, you will hear just how heavily it influenced Tiny Tim's
performance. Personally, I think this is an absolutely dreadful recording
- but because a lot of people find the Tiny Tim / Nick Lucas connection
interesting, I have decided to include it.
July 19, 2001
Tip-Toe Through The
Tulips With Me
Earl Lee and His Songsters
Here is what I would consider to be a much
better version of the song.
Over the past few of weeks, I featured
several recordings from Depression-era cardboard Hit of the Week records
which were made between 1930 and 1932. Starting this week, I will
once again feature selections from the more standard 78 rpm records of
the era. This week we go back to the "Roaring 'Twenties."
July 12, 2001
Jacques Renard and His Cocoanut
Harold Lambert, William Hillpot,
Born as Jacob Stavinski in Kiev, Russia, Jacques
Renard was raised in Massachusetts and trained as a classical violinist.
Instead of joining the symphony, however, Renard started his own dance
band which became very successful in the Boston area during the late 1920s.
During the 1930s, he focused much of his attention on network radio appearances
. For a while, he led the house band for "The Burns and Allen Show"
and for the "Eddie Cantor Show."
There were two famous Cocoanut Grove ballrooms.
One was located in the old Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles - the same hotel
where Robert Kennedy was later assassinated. Gus Arnheim's
Orchestra had a very successful association with the Ambassador and many
of his recordings are credited as "Gus Arnheim and His Cocoanut Grove
Orchestra." The other Cocoanut Grove was a popular nightclub located
in Boston where, on November 28, 1942, 492 people were killed in a fire.
I suspect - but do not know for certain - that, because of his work in
the Boston area at the time, the "Cocoanut Grove" referred to on
Renard's late '20s Victor recordings is the same nightclub where the tragic
fire occurred some 14 years later.
The Harold Lambert on the vocal is the same
person as the "Scrappy" Lambert featured on "Just One More Chance" from
my June 28 update. At the time, I mentioned that Lambert co-starred
with Billy Hillpot on a network radio program sponsored by Smith Brothers'
Cough Drops. Well, by coincidence, this same duo appears on
this week's selection.
July 5, 2001
For the past few of weeks, I have
been featuring recordings from Depression-era cardboard Hit of the Week
records - the same records that this section is named after. Here
is yet another.
My Baby Just
Cares For Me
Ted Fio-Rito's Orchestra
(Hit of the Week 1104)
In addition to being a bandleader, Ted Fio
Rito was a prolific songwriter with a number of hit tunes to his credit.
In the early 1920s he joined the Danny Ruso Orchestra, which soon became
known as the Ruso-Fio Rito Orchestra. The band operated out of the
Midwest and performed at the opening of Chicago's famous Aragon Ballroom.
After the Ruso-Fio Rito partnership broke up, Fio Rito went to the West
Coast where his band appeared at various high profile locations throughout
the 1930s. He remained active in the music business well into the
Sing About You
Hit of the Week Orchestra
Bert Hirsch, Director
Smith Ballew, vocal
(Hit of the Week 1152)
This was among the last of the standard length
records Hit of the Week released before the introduction of their new five
Born in Palestine, Texas in 1902, Smith Ballew
(photo) was a vocalist who was very
much in demand in the recording studios of the late 1920s and early 1930s
and recorded with a number of bands on a variety of labels. In the
early 1930s he fronted his own band which included future big band
era stars such as Bunny Berigan, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Ray
McKinley and Glenn Miller. He was also the host of radio's "Shell
Chateau" variety program - taking over the job from Al Jolson. Starting
in the mid-1930s, his focus shifted towards Hollywood where he stared in
several "singing cowboy" Westerns.
I have a bit of an interest in Ballew's career
because of his connection to Fort Worth, Texas - where I happen to live.
Ballew worked there briefly as a musician in 1926 and lived in the Fairmount
neighborhood on the city's South side. After he left show business
in the early 1950s, Ballew moved back to Fort Worth and became an engineer
at the Convair aircraft plant (now operated by Lockheed Martin).
He died in 1984 at the age of 82.
This recording sounds very dated - but charmingly