Dismuke's Hit Of The Week
Previous Selections
July 2001

July 26, 2001

Tip-Toe Through The Tulips With Me      
Nick Lucas                                             1929
(Brunswick 4418)
When most people today think of this song, they think of its late 1960s revival by Tiny Tim.  What they may not realize is that it was introduced by Nick Lucas in the 1929 motion picture "Gold Diggers of Broadway."  This recording that Lucas made for Brunswick Records topped the best selling list for weeks.  When you listen to it, you will hear just how heavily it influenced Tiny Tim's performance.  Personally, I think this is an absolutely dreadful recording - but because a lot of people find the Tiny Tim / Nick Lucas connection interesting, I have decided to include it.

Tip-Toe Through The Tulips With Me        
Earl Lee and His Songsters                      1929
(Broadway 1293-B)

Here is what I would consider to be a much better version of the song. 

July 19, 2001
Over the past few of weeks, I featured several recordings from Depression-era cardboard Hit of the Week records which were made between 1930 and 1932.  Starting this week, I will once again feature selections from the more standard 78 rpm records of the era.  This week we go back to the "Roaring 'Twenties."
Mary Ann         
Jacques Renard and His Cocoanut Grove Orchestra
Harold Lambert, William Hillpot, vocal         1928
(Victor 21234-A)

Born as Jacob Stavinski in Kiev, Russia, Jacques Renard was raised in Massachusetts and trained as a classical violinist.  Instead of joining the symphony, however, Renard started his own dance band which became very successful in the Boston area during the late 1920s.  During the 1930s, he focused much of his attention on network radio appearances .  For a while, he led the house band for "The Burns and Allen Show" and for the "Eddie Cantor Show."

There were two famous Cocoanut Grove ballrooms.  One was located in the old Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles - the same hotel where Robert Kennedy was later assassinated.   Gus Arnheim's Orchestra had a very successful association with the Ambassador and many of his recordings  are credited as "Gus Arnheim and His Cocoanut Grove Orchestra."  The other Cocoanut Grove was a popular nightclub located in Boston where, on November 28, 1942, 492 people were killed in a fire.  I suspect - but do not know for certain - that, because of his work in the Boston area at the time,  the "Cocoanut Grove" referred to on Renard's late '20s Victor recordings is the same nightclub where the tragic fire occurred some 14 years later.

The Harold Lambert on the vocal is the same person as the "Scrappy" Lambert featured on "Just One More Chance" from my June 28 update.  At the time, I mentioned that Lambert co-starred with Billy Hillpot on a network radio program sponsored by Smith Brothers' Cough Drops.  Well, by coincidence,  this same duo appears on this week's  selection.

July 12, 2001
For the past few 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.
My Baby Just Cares For Me
Ted Fio-Rito's Orchestra             1930
(Hit of the Week 1104)

In addition to being a bandleader, Ted Fio Rito was a prolific songwriter with a number of hit tunes to his credit. In the early 1920s he joined the Danny Ruso Orchestra, which soon became known as the Ruso-Fio Rito Orchestra.  The band operated out of the Midwest and performed at the opening of Chicago's famous Aragon Ballroom.  After the Ruso-Fio Rito partnership broke up, Fio Rito went to the West Coast where his band appeared at various high profile locations throughout the 1930s.  He remained active in the music business well into the 1950s.

July 5, 2001
I Wanna Sing About You
Hit of the Week Orchestra
Bert Hirsch, Director
Smith Ballew, vocal                      1931
(Hit of the Week 1152)

This was among the last of the standard length records Hit of the Week released before the introduction of their new five minute discs.

Born in Palestine, Texas in 1902, Smith Ballew (photo) was a vocalist who was very much in demand in the recording studios of the late 1920s and early 1930s and recorded with a number of bands on a variety of labels.  In the early 1930s he fronted his own band which included  future big band era stars such as Bunny Berigan, Jimmy Dorsey,  Tommy Dorsey, Ray McKinley and Glenn Miller.  He was also the host of radio's "Shell Chateau" variety program - taking over the job from Al Jolson.  Starting in the mid-1930s, his focus shifted towards Hollywood where he stared in several "singing  cowboy" Westerns.

I have a bit of an interest in Ballew's career because of his connection to Fort Worth, Texas - where I happen to live.  Ballew worked there briefly as a musician in 1926 and lived in the Fairmount neighborhood on the city's South side.  After he left show business in the early 1950s, Ballew moved back to Fort Worth and became an engineer at the Convair aircraft plant (now operated by Lockheed Martin).  He died in 1984 at the age of 82.

This recording sounds very dated - but charmingly so.

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