Saturday, August 17, 2013
"Ain't We Got Fun," "Swanee," "Sharp Shooting Sheik," "Tico-Tico," and other shellac gems!
It seems like an eternity since my last 10" 78 rpm post, but it's only been four months. Which, I suppose, would be an eternity to, say, a bug with a two-month life span. Speaking of bugs, I have now conquered all or most of the audio bugs plaguing my all-in-one PC. The solution: a Roland Duo-Capture MK2 audio interface, which acts as an external sound card, thus bypassing my PC's inadequate audio set-up. Which, oddly enough, means vastly improved antique audio from my 78s. Don't know if you'll hear the difference or not, but I sure do.
We start with Earl Fuller's Ain't We Got Fun, from 1921, the bandleader's last year on disc. Olympic was a third-rate label, as you will hear here (hear here?). The performance is nice, but not nearly as interesting as Fuller's marvelous 1917-1919 recordings for Columbia. By contrast, Gene Rodemich's superb version of George Gershwin's Swanee is cutting edge in style and audio quality, even though it was made two years earlier (on the far superior Brunswick label). (Please forgive the two seconds or so of worn grooves at the start.) We leap to the electrical era with 1927's Sailin' On, yet another pop-songification of Dvorak's Largo theme from New World Symphony, nicely sung by Lewis James, who, per NPR's version of pop music history, rates as a zero for having not sung like Bing. Then, Guy Lombardo sounding quite unlike Guy Lombardo (as he often did on Columbia in the late 1920s) and much more like Red Nichols, Irving Aaronson, Ted Weems, and Coon-Sanders. That is, hot. Guy is followed by the moderately hot To-Night's My Night with Baby (1926), one of the first Fred Waring dance sides I ever owned, and still one of my favorites.
What, no polkas? Yes, of course, we have polkas--three of them, in fact, and all from 1945, and all with the kind of titles I go out of my way to find. Namely, Fanny Farmer's Rooster, Sharp Shooting Sheik, and Roll Your Own. All with "(Polka)" following the titles. And they are polkas to the max.
We finish with two sides (guesstimated year: 1953) by accordion virtuoso Joe Spano, who is quite famous in accordion circles but, as far as I can determine, not much known outside of same. There are many master performers and arrangers in that category, alas. So it's a treat to feature him. After listening to Joe's accordion (with backing) arrangements of Tabu and Tico-Tico, my brain can't imagine hearing them in any other musical setting. The performances are that good.
Click here to hear: Ain't We Got Fun
Ain't We Got Fun--Earl Fuller's New York Orch. (Olympic 15116; 1921)
Swanee (Gershwin)--Gene Rodemich's Orch., 1919 (Brunswick 2026; 1919)
Sailin' On--The Columbians (Vocal: Lewis James) (Columbia 1120-D; 1927)
Waitin' for Katy--Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians (Columbia 1395-D; 1928)
To-Night's My Night with Baby--Waring's Pennsylvanians (Vocal: Tom Waring)
Fanny Farmer's Rooster (Polka)--Juke Box Serenaders (Columbia 12238-F; 1945)
Sharp Shooting Sheik (Polka)--Same
Roll Your Own (Polka)--Same (Columbia 12263-F; 1945)
Tabu--Joe Spano, Accordion, w. Bob Harvey's Orch. (Linden 39)