Boogie Fever no. 16-20

E-mail this post

Remember me (?)

All personal information that you provide here will be governed by the Privacy Policy of More...

Dick Haymes: “You’ll Never Know” [July 17, 1943]
You're shitting us, right? WWII sentimentality can excuse (or at least explain) plenty, but this is the damn near milk-on-toastiest thing I've ever heard--Haymes is like a parody of Bing Crosby that forgets it's a parody about a quarter of the way through, around the time you forget that the record is playing. I cannot imagine any more bleached-white recording ever topped the R&B charts (for a month! a month!), and glancing down the long list I don't think one has unless you skip ahead to 1985 for "We Are the World," which compared to this is a 50-minute Fela jam with special guest Ludacris. A landmark. Ugh. 1

Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra: “Don’t Cry, Baby” [August 14, 1943]
Begins brassy (literally/figuratively), downturns into a croon that's out-understated by a delicate piano solo that still gets a few winks in, then the corny cornet wah we've been waiting for since the thing started. Restate chorus and fanfare out. Generic, which is not an insult. Not a compliment, either, granted. 6

Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra: “A Slip of the Lip (Can Sink a Ship)” [September 25, 1943]
For all we hear about Ellington being the superlative genius of his field (i.e. all of American music), what's striking about the records included in this survey is how typical of their fellows they are--Duke made pop records, three-minute wonders and made-to-orders, and whatever quirks are in them subside in the face of their basic task, i.e. getting asses in seats and/or on the floor. This one feels lesser to a relative Ellington novice like myself--it's easy to figure it was a number one based on its title phrase and lyric ("Shhh--don't talk too much"), WWII propaganda incarnate. Does it swing? Well, duh. 6

Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra: “Sentimental Lady” [October 2, 1943]
This isn't the first all-instrumental no. 1, but it's interesting in that it's the closest to what we might think of today as "pure," non-pop jazz to get there so far. As the title suggests, this is a mellow ballad, the melody voiced nearly totally on the lead instrument (alto sax, played by either Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwick, or Harry Carney), a melancholy sob that's as close to the jazz ideal as any no. 1 hit from its era or any other. 7

King Cole’s Trio: “All for You” [November 20, 1943]
Cocktail trio has a round, moves carefully through slow number--delicate, precise, endlessly flexible. Vocally, Cole is at the top of his game here--he's a smoothie, sure, but he's also sharp-edged, a lyric salesman who knows how every extra he'd be happy to throw in for free if you buy right now works, a discursive pianist who sticks to and adores the melody. Plus he's got a guitarist who loves the scales he dances around. 8

This is the end of the original run of reviews from the original Boogie Fever blog. Life-stuff (new job, new town, new place hopefully without much pain involved) will take over from here but as soon as I am able I shall attempt to continue the project. Thanks to all of your for your patience.