Thursday, August 09, 2007

Flogging, Blogging...

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I'm very familiar with the McKinney's Cotton Pickers' version of Never Swat a Fly, which features Bill Coty singing the first verse (and some great solos, but we know that!). The two other versions I posted (both from syndicated radio shows of the period) both had an extra verse I was unfamiliar with.

I wondered just how many verses to this song there really were, so I checked some of the song lyric sites on the Web. I noticed that all of the sites that mentioned the second verse (apparently there's a version by the Abe Lyman band that has the second verse, but I don't have it) all have these lines:

Never spray a nit
With a great big can of Blitz

Blitz? What's that? Lightning in a can? I know Blatz Beer, but not Blitz (although I heard there was a Blitz beer in Washington State at one time). I'm sure the lyric in question is really about a can of Flit, a permethrin-based insecticide made by Standard Oil. It makes far more sense to me. And 1930 (the year of the song) is about two years into a long-running advertising campaign for Flit, featuring the artwork of Theodore Geisel, alias Dr. Seuss. You can see more Flitwork here: .

Anyway, I wondered how someone might confuse the "F" and "B" these ears there's quite a bit of difference. And then I remembered the controversy over Eddy Duchin's 1938 Ol' Man Mose...the record was banned in the UK for the supposed use of a naughty word. The granddaddy of all naughty words, actually. The Dreaded Effenheimer.

Patricia Norman sings that Mose is dead and has kicked the buck, buck bucket. But there are indeed moments in the record that it sounds like she's else. Does she? I'll leave the verdict up to you.

For what it's worth, the author of the Wikipedia entry on Duchin thinks she does. He also says that's the earliest use of the word on record...he's obviously never heard Lucille Bogan's 1935 record of Shave 'Em Dry. If you haven't heard it, it's something else indeed...absolutely filthy lyrics backed by some great blues piano (played by Walter Roland) You can find that cut here: .

{Now there's a recently issued CD by Archeophone, Actionable Offenses, containing cylinder recordings from the 1890s that are guaranteed to raise eyebrows. That can be found here . Oh yes...two good friends of mine worked on that project...they know who they are. Glad to see the album selling as well as it is, guys!}

I guess that if you were recording at 78 rpm, in addition to watching your p's and q's, you had to really watch your b's and f's.

It occurred to me that Ol' Man Mose is considerably hotter than the usual pleasant, if somewhat bland, style of society dance music that Duchin usually performed. The flip side, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, is pretty hot too.


Now for some unfinished business: That weird-sounding short audio excerpt at the end of my last post was recorded in Bucharest in 1930. It was part of that Brunswick Radio stash I mentioned before. Did anybody hear the cymbalom in the background? That was a little clue for the recording's location...if someone mentioned Hungary or Vienna (cymbaloms are sometimes found there too) I'd have given him an Honorable Mention (and a Komodo Dragon). Those sandwiches will have to age a little longer...until someone answers one of my quiz questions correctly. I hope the winner is another fan of Bob & Ray.

Here's the recording again, but with the spoken intro by Vincent Sheehan, host of the Plymouth World Tour show.

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