Saturday, July 09, 2011

A dozen silly sides (from Harmony and Diva)

I'm finally getting around to writing again...

I've been quite busy with side projects and have had some weird problems with my scanner. It took the following picture

and promptly gave up the ghost. I've deleted, downloaded and reinstalled new software and drivers for the scanner (several times), but nothing seems to work.

So...I'll use the one picture I have for the time being. Someday, more scans will appear.

This odd old Diva 78 was part of a recent project. I was digitizing some old Columbia dime-store material...sides published under the Harmony and Diva labels (and Velvet Tone, too...but the sides included here aren't on that label). While I was recording these sides, I was struck by how many of them were of silly little novelty songs that few people remember. I thought I'd share some of the sillier ones with you...

Let's start off with the battered Diva above, shall we?

150615-3 Kitty From Kansas City Milt Coleman Diva 3185-G
150616-3 Around The Corner Milt Coleman
Diva 3185-G
NYC, 30 June 1930: Milt Coleman, vocal; unknown band.

There's an amusing film clip of Rudy Vallee singing Kitty From Kansas City here

The above pair of sides are the only electrically-recorded songs in this post. The next ten were recorded using the old acoustic method.

Here are four really odd songs by Marion Try Slaughter, better known as Vernon Dalhart. Dalhart recorded under several pseudonyms, "Al Craver" seems to have been used exclusively for Columbia's 15000-D Old Time Tunes (country) series, and the Harmony labels used Mack Allen, especially on the novelty these:

147055-5 The Frog Song Mack Allen (Vernon Dalhart) Harmony 783-H
147056-4 Sing Hallelujah Mack Allen (Vernon Dalhart)
Harmony 783-H
NYC, 4 October 1928: Vernon Dalhart, vocal & harmonica; Adelyne Hood, vocal; possibly William Carlino, banjo; unknown, guitar.

148443-1 Ain't Gonna Grieve My Mind Any More Mack Allen (Vernon Dalhart) Harmony 903-H

148444-1 King Of Borneo Mack Allen (Vernon Dalhart) Harmony 903-H

NYC 16 April 1929: Vernon Dalhart. vocal; Adelyne Hood, vocal & piano; unknown, fiddle; unknown, banjo; unknown (Dalhart?), whistling.

I can imagine some of my audience wondering why Harmony was still recording acoustically as late as 1929 (most of the other labels switched over to microphones by 1926 or so). It all goes back to Harmony's parent company, Columbia. In 1923, they started releasing records using their "New Process" of recording and pressing. In 1925, the New Process was already obsolete, replaced by the new syste
m installed by Western Electric. So, rather than completely scrapping the expensive equipment that was less than two years old, the Powers That Be (er, Were) decided that the older equipment could be used to produce cheaper records for the five-and-ten-cent stores. That's why almost all of the Harmony/Diva/VelvetTone records were acoustic (although those by Annette Hanshaw and a few other artists were all electric). Finally, they switched over to electrical recording exclusively in late 1929.

144037-3 Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong Joe Candullo Orch Diva 2409-G

Go Wash An Elephant (If You Wanna Do Something Big) Joe Candullo Orch Diva 2409-G

NYC, 18 April 1927: Joe Candullo, violin & conductor; Izzy Friedman, clarinet & saxes; others (2 trumpets; trombone, 2 saxes; rhythm section) unknown; Irving
Kaufman, vocal.

The vocal on Frenchmen was credited to "Pierre LaFond," but it was our old friend Irving Kaufman. I rather like the opening quote of Gounod's Funeral March For a Marionette (the theme from Alfred Hitchcock Presents) at the beginning of Elephant.

One of the most popular downloads from This Humble Blog is The Whoopee Hat Brigade by The Six Jumping Jacks, a (contractual) pseudonym for Harry Reser's band. They specialized in performing "nut jazz," silly songs with hot solos and strange instrumental effects...and most of their sides have vocals by drummer Tom Stacks.

This pair has Red Nichols sitting in:

142240-1 I'm Just Wild About Animal Crackers Seven Wild
Men (Harry Reser) Harmony 193-H
142241-2 The Lunatic's Lullaby Seven Wild Men (Harry Reser) Harmony 193-H

NYC 24 May 1926: Harry Reser, banjo & conductor; Red Nichols, cornet; Sam
Lewis, trombone; Larry Abbott. clarinet & alto sax; Norman Yorke, tenor sax; Jimmy Johnston, bass sax; Bill Wirgis, piano; Tom Stacks, drums & vocal.

Ken Gillum sings and plays another version of The Lunatic's Lullaby (complete with the verse and a second chorus!) in a 1931 The Two Daffodils radio show here....

...listen to the whole show! It's a hoot!

The Rust discographies give a generic personnel listing for the's probably similar to the last record, but Nichols isn't present. Larry Abbott's comb-and-paper is quite audible, though...

143265-2 (Cock-a-Doodle I'm Off My Noodle) My Baby's Back The Night Club Orch (Harry Reser) Harmony 345-H

143267-3 Oh How She Could Play A Ukulele The Night Club Orch (Harry Reser) Harmony 345-H

NYC, 6 January 1927: Harry Reser, banjo & conductor; featuring Larry Abbott,
comb & reeds; Tom Stacks, drums & vocal.

Well, that's it for now...hope these sides tickled your funny bone.

Oh, I made a CD of these (and a few other amusing American records) and gave it to the British Ambassador of Mirth and Merriment, Neil Innes.
I hope he and his lovely wife enjoyed some of it between gigs.

He was on an extensive tour of the States and Canada. His records (especially with the Bonzos and Rutles) have been favorites of mine for the last 35 years or so...the disc was a token of thanks for the many smiles and belly laughs this gentleman has bestowed.

That's the Ego-Warrior salute, by the way...


Ravel said...

Not much people commenting... But I'll thank you for all yr efforts with these 78 rpm! I love to discover them!
Good work!

Ravel said...

Just found out: Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong send us to another song. :-)

ZorchMan said...

Thanks, Ravel...The Frenchmen are back! Don't know how I missed the flubbed link!

And thanks for the comment! 100 downloads from this posting and you're the first (and only) one to say anything!

Feedback makes blogging worthwhile!

Ravel said...

My pleasure! I come see you every week! Fact is that I am having problems with Blogger/Google to put comments recently. Have no idea why...
My encouragements to you!
Ravel, Montreal, Quebec, Canada