Archive for the ‘1938’ Category

Saturday Single No. 726

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

There are a very few tracks in the digital collection here that have been recorded on February 27, maybe ten. (Of the 82,000 mp3s pulled into the RealPlayer, I have that depth of information on maybe ten percent.)

And a quick look at the February 27 tracks offers one that came to me via the series called When The Sun Goes Down, a set of eleven CDs issued between 2002 and 2004 featuring vintage music from the Victor and Bluebird labels.

The Hall Brothers recorded the song “Constant Sorrow” in Charlotte, North Carolina, on this date in 1938. The song, of course, is better known these days as “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” after being featured in the 2000 movie O, Brother, Where Art Thou?, but there had been somewhere around forty versions of the song recorded and released before that. And since the movie came out, according to Second Hand Songs, at least another thirty-five versions of the song have been recorded and released.

The Hall Brothers’ version – Roy Hall took the vocal and played guitar while his brother Jay Hugh added guitar and Steve Ledford added fiddle – was among the earliest recorded. The first version, again according to Second Hand Songs, came from Emry Arthur, whose take on the song was released on the Vocalion label in May 1928. The next version listed was recorded by the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys in 1951.

As to the Hall Brothers’ version. for whatever reason, neither the Victor nor Bluebird label released the 1938 track, leaving it dormant for sixty-six years. And since I’m dabbling in vintage music these days, the Hall Brothers’ 1938 take on “Constant Sorrow” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 490

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016

Following on yesterday’s success in checking a date through the years, we’re going to go looking this morning for tunes recorded on April 2. There are a just a few for which we have that information, so we’ll see what we want to choose for a featured single.

Andy Kirk was a multi-instrumentalist band leader who formed his Clouds of Joy in 1929 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He moved the band’s headquarters to Kansas City in 1936, and five of Kirk’s recordings showed up in the 1940s on what would now be considered the Billboard R&B chart. On April 2, 1936, Kirk & His Twelve Clouds of Joy recorded the familiar tune “Until The Real Thing Comes Along.” Based on what I see at Second Hand Songs, Kirk was among the first to record the song.

Still in the 1930s, we land on “Aces’ Breakdown” by a Cajun band called the Four Aces, recorded on April 2, 1938, at the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. The track came my way as part of the lost fourth volume of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, released in 2000, finishing the work Smith had started after the release of the first three volumes in 1952. “Aces’ Breakdown,” writes Dick Spottswood in the liner notes, “includes an old polka, usually called ‘Flop Eared Mule,’ as part of a dance medley.”

Staying in the South but moving ahead eighteen years, we learn that it was on this day in 1956 that Johnny Cash recorded perhaps his most famous record, laying down “I Walk The Line” at Sun Studios in Memphis. The record spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard country chart and went to No. 17 on the pop chart. Cash also recorded the B-side to the single, “Get Rhythm” the same day.

That’s not a lot to choose from, of course, and I see no point in featuring “I Walk The Line” this morning. Kirk & His Clouds of Joy did a nice smooth job on “Until The Real Thing Comes Along,” but it doesn’t scratch any itch this morning, and Cash’s B-side is just okay.

So, perhaps by default but also because I’m in the mood for old and raw this morning, here are Boyce Jones on the violin, Floyd Shreve and Dewey Landry on guitars, Tony Gonzales on drums – the Four Aces – supplemented by, perhaps, Robert Thibodeaux on piano with “Aces’ Breakdown,” today’s Saturday Single.

Instrumental Digging: 1900-1949

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Having caught the instrumental bug with Tuesday’s post about Paul Mauriat’s “Love is Blue,” I’ve continued in the past few days to dig into A Century of Pop Music, Joel Whitburn’s cataloging of the top records for each of the hundred years from 1900 through 1999. I wondered which instrumentals had ranked highest in the year-end listings in each of the decades of those hundred years.

So I did some digging in the book and at YouTube to satisfy my curiosity, and I thought I’d share the results here. We’ll look at the years from 1900 to 1949 today, and early next week, we’ll pick up the much more familiar years of 1950 through 1999.

There won’t be any in-depth commentary here today, because I really wouldn’t know what to say about, for example, Paul Whiteman, whose name shows up a couple of times in the 1920s. I know a very little about Artie Shaw, who shows up in the 1930s, and I know a bit more than that about Glenn Miller, who had (utterly unsurprisingly) the highest ranking instrumental of the 1940s, but I thought it better to leave this as simply a listing.

I will note that, again unsurprisingly, the music generally becomes more interesting to my ears the closer we get to mid-century. The one exception to that might be “Dardanella,” from 1920, which is a charming piece of music (and I found the photos used in the “Dardanella” video embedded below to be fascinating).

Here, then, are Billboard’s highest ranking instrumental from each decade’s year-by-year listings. Each record is also, I believe, the most popular instrumental of its decade (with the exception of the two Whiteman records listed below, which ranked second and third for the decade of the 1920s), but I’m not entirely sure; I’ve cross-checked the lists in Whitburn’s book, but I could have missed something. I’ve added in parentheses each record’s ranking for the decade if it showed up in Whitburn’s listing of that decade’s Top 25.

“The Stars and Stripes Forever” by [John Philip] Sousa’s Band, No. 7 in 1901*.

“Poor Butterfly” by the Victor Military Band, No. 3 in 1917 (No. 32).

“Dardanella” by Selvin’s Novelty Orchestra, No. 1 for 1920 (No. 2).
“Wang Wang Blues” by Paul Whiteman, No. 1 for 1921 (No. 24).
“Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” by Paul Whiteman, No. 1 for 1923 (No. 18).

“Begin the Beguine” by Artie Shaw, No. 3 for 1938** (No. 20).

“In the Mood” by Glenn Miller, No. 1 for 1940 (No. 3).

I believe the videos all offer the original recordings, though I cannot be certain as there could be multiple versions. For example, Miller and his band seem to have recorded “In the Mood” several times, and Miller’s band also recorded the song after Miller’s death in 1944. I’ve dug through my library and compared versions, and I think that the version of “In the Mood” linked here is the original version, recorded in August 1939. I would not swear in court the same for the other tunes.

*I could not find a video at YouTube that offers the 1901 version of “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” There are versions of the march from a recording session in 1911 and from a few other years available there. One thing I learned about the 1901 version – at several websites and forums – is that the recording is credited to “Sousa’s Band” and not to “John Philip Sousa” because Sousa disliked recording and was rarely present to conduct when his band and his works were being recorded.

**“Good-night, Sweetheart” by Wayne King, the No. 2 record for 1931, is listed by Whitburn as an instrumental, but the listings also credit Ernie Birchill for a vocal. I gave it a listen, and the record does close with a vocal, so that’s a rare error by Whitburn.

Amended slightly after first posting.