This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
You must remember this…
Well, if you're like me, you'll remember Dooley Wilson performing the first song. However, it had been around for some time before Dooley made it a classic. It was first recorded by JACQUES RENARD and his orchestra with vocal by FRANK MUNN.
After hearing this one I'm struck at how much better Dooley's version was. We are looking at 1931 though, and this is one of those from that year – Rudy Vallee was the other. As Time Goes By.
You knew that BING CROSBY would be present today, so I won't disappoint you.
I'm very familiar with this song as my dad was a fan of Bing. He had a five album set of the crooner (these were unusual back when I was a kid, it's really only in the era of CDs that multiple albums became common). I became very familiar with all the songs as we didn't have very many records back then. One of the songs on that collection was I Found a Million Dollar Baby.
Far and away the most famous song of CAB CALLOWAY is Minnie the Moocher.
He pretty much had to perform it everywhere he went. 1931 was the year he recorded it for the first time. Here is what the original sounds like.
There was a rather good British science fiction TV series in the nineties called Goodnight Sweetheart. It used the song of that name as its theme. It was performed by RAY NOBLE and his orchestra, with vocal refrain (that phrase was used a lot at the time) by AL BOWLLY.
That's Ray in the white suit and Al on the left.
Although the series was not a comedy, it didn't take itself too seriously, unlike most of that genre, that's why I liked it. Anyway, here is that song.
Here is the finest blues singer in the first half of the century. You need no prompting from me to know that I'm talking about BESSIE SMITH.
It seems that she's in a bit of a quandary since her man done gone. Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl is that way she says it, and boy, does she say it well.
Way back, indeed in 1931, WAYNE KING (with vocal refrain by ERNIE BURCHILL) performed Dream a Little Dream of Me.
People of a certain age will recall Mama Cass's version of the song. She did it much better than these folks, but she wasn't around in 1931 so we have to go with this other version.
THE MILLS BROTHERS are another group I would pretty much automatically include in a column. They perform the famous song Tiger Rag.
As it said on the label: “No musical instruments or mechanical devices were used in this recording other than one guitar”. So, all those things that sound like instruments are just them doing mouth noises. It's far from the best thing they ever did, but even lesser Mills Brothers is worthy of hearing.
Here's another song that will be familiar to you, but perhaps not by FRANKIE TRUMBAUER with ART JARRETT and trio on vocals.
I have no idea which is Frankie and which is Art. I'll leave it up to you to imagine.
The song has been recorded by hundreds of performers over the years, many of whom did it better than these folks. However, they are the ones we have for this year. The song is Georgia On My Mind.
At last, we have LOUIS ARMSTRONG.
Louis was having a fine old time with this one, nothing serious, not innovating or anything like that. He was just having a good time saying that I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You.
Is it just me, or does RUSS COLUMBO sound awfully like Bing? Could do worse, I suppose.
Russ really didn't give Bing a run for his money in the long term as he died at the ridiculously young age of 26 in a "shooting incident" when he was visiting a friend of his. Before that (of course, before that) Russ recorded You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love).