Dismuke's Hit Of The Week
Previous Selections
June 2001

June 28, 2001

For the past couple of weeks, I have been featuring recordings from Depression-era cardboard Hit of the Week records - the same records that this section is named after.  Here is yet another.
Just One More Chance           
Hit of the Week Orchestra
Bert Hirsch, Director
Scrappy Lambert, vocal                      1931
(Hit of the Week 1158)

This five minute Hit of the Week features an opening announcement advertising the record's extended playing time.  At the very end is a plug for the next week's record "at your newsstand."

Bing Crosby's plaintive rendition is probably the most well remembered version of this tune - and deservedly so.  But I kind of enjoy hearing it played in dance tempo on this recording. 

Scrappy Lambert made a ton of records in the late 1920s and early 1930s with a wide variety of bands.  He also performed on a musical radio program sponsored by Smith Brothers Cough Drops.  Billy Hillpot was cast as "Trade" and Lambert played the part of "Mark."   The characters names came from the words "Trade Mark" which appeared below the famous drawing of the bearded brothers on the label.

June 21, 2001
Last week I mentioned that the later five minute Hit of the Week records were often broken into two "tracks" each featuring a different selection.   This week's selections have been taken from such tracks - each from a different Hit of the Week disc.

Rudy Vallee and Orchestra                         1932
(Hit of the Week D-2-3)

Rudy Vallee was by far the biggest name star to record for Hit of the Week - and some issues even included his photograph on the reverse side.  Thanks in large part to his popular radio variety show, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Vallee was one of America's most well known entertainers.  He was also considered to be a "heartthrob" by millions of young ladies - in much the same way that Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley would be to later generations.

This particular recording was recorded in March 1932 and hit the newsstands on April 14. "Lovable" was the second track on the record - the first being "By The Fireside."  Vallee's band was called "The Connecticut Yankees" though, for some reason, it was simply referred to as "and Orchestra" on this particular record.  I have other Vallee Hit of the Weeks that list the band's name. Furthermore, "The Rudy Vallee Discography" by Larry F. Kiner makes no mention of a different band being used for the recording session. 

River, Stay 'Way From My Door       
Erno Rapee's Orchestra
Helen Rowland, vocal                           1932
(Hit of the Week M-5-A-I)

I do not know much about Erno Rapee except for the fact that, during the early 1920s, he was the director of the Capital Grand Orchestra out of the Capital Theatre in New York City.  A friend tells me that he also worked out of New York's Roxy Theatre.  I also know that he was born in 1891 and died in 1945.

Based on the few recordings I have heard, I have become a fan of Helen Rowland's vocals.  I think her  style was very suited for the times.  Today, she is sadly forgotten. You can also hear her singing "Let's Have Another Cup O' Coffee" by going to this section's December 21. 2000 update.

This selection was the first of two tracks on the record- the second being "Some of These Days" which also featured a Rowland vocal.

As The Backs Go Tearing By            
Freddie Rich's Radio Orchestra              1931
(Hit of the Week l-1)

This track is rather short - only about 1 minute 15 seconds long.  The tune is a Dartmouth College fight song.  The longer first track on the record was "I'm Just A Dancing Sweetheart."

June 14, 2001
Note:  While things remain busy for me at work, I am ready to resume weekly updates.  Sorry for the two month absence.  I can't think of a better way to get this section of my site going again than with  a recording from an actual cardboard Hit of the Week record.  In fact, to make up for being gone so long,  all of the recordings I will feature over the next four weeks will be from old Hit of the Weeks.  Not only are the records unique and  fascinating historically,  they  are an excellent source of great Depression era music.
Sing A New Song / My Extrardinary Girl       
Hit of the Week Orchestra                         1932
(Hit of the Week E-4-F-I)

When Hit of the Week introduced its longer playing record, it made a big deal about featuring "five minutes of continuous music - almost twice the playing time of the average record."  The key word is "continuous."  Because they are one-sided, a five minute Hit of the Week contains about the same amount of music as a standard 10 inch two sided 78 rpm record. 

The earlier five minute records usually featured one selection - and on these, you can sometimes almost hear the arranger trying to stretch the tune out to fill up the entire side.  Aparently, the longer selections did not prove to be especially popular as later Hit of the Weeks  - such as this week's selection - were very often split into two sections or "tracks" featuing different tunes. 

"Sing A New Song" is a typical early 1930s  "beat the Great Depression with a smile" song.  If the feel good lyrics weren't enough to  put a smile on people's faces, then the cheerful tune and peppy xylophone heard throught the recording probably did the trick.

"My Extraordinary Girl" is also very typical of the era - except for the odd musical effects heard during the vocal.

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