Skeletons (1918) & Ghosts (1930)

Image from 1906 cover of Sunday Magazine of the Minneapolis Journal


“Skeleton Jangle”
Original Dixieland Jazz Band
(Victor 18472-A)  March 25, 1918


“Swamp Ghosts”
Wayne King and his Orchestra; Burke Bivens, vocal
(Victor 22600-A)  November 5, 1930


Since it is Halloween, here are recordings of a couple of songs with Halloween-appropriate titles in which the composer appears on the record.

Today it is commonplace for popular recordings to be performed by their composers. It was not as common in the days when the Tin Pan Alley publishers dominated the music industry and every record label would issue one or more versions of successful songs.

“Skeleton Jangle” is an early jazz recording from the pre-microphone era performed by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. The band’s first record from a little over a year earlier, featuring “Dixieland Jass Band” and “Livery Stable Blues,” is regarded as the very first commercially issued jazz record. It was so early that the band was credited as the “Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band” as the correct spelling of the new musical genre had not yet been settled.

The group’s leader was cornetist Nick LaRocca who was also the composer of “Skeleton Jangle.” I don’t know the story behind why he chose “Skelton Jangle” as the song’s title or whether it had anything to do with Halloween. But Halloween offers a good excuse to share a really nice early jazz recording that pre-dates the January 1920 cut-off for inclusion in Radio Dismuke’s playlist.

The Wayne King orchestra’s recording of “Swamp Ghosts” has a definite Halloween feel to it. The vocalist on the recording is Burke Bivens who also composed the song. A few years later he composed the song “Josephine,” which became one of Wayne King’s best-selling recordings.

“Swamp Ghosts” was also recorded by “Snooks” Friedman and His Memphis Ramblers and issued on the short-lived Depression-era Timely Tunes label under the pseudonym of the “Paramount Hotel Orchestra.” Unfortunately, that record is extremely hard to find, as are most Timely Tunes issues.

Wayne King’s “Swamp Ghosts” has been in Radio Dismuke’s playlist for a number of years. But Halloween was a good excuse for me to upgrade it with a new audio restoration made from a copy in better condition than the one the previous restoration was from, which was not in particularly good condition when I acquired it years ago. But that beat-up copy was how I first stumbled across the song.

And if you happen to be someone who actively welcomes trick-or-treaters, consider having Radio Dismuke playing in the background. Not only will it expose them to really cool music they aren’t likely to have heard before – you can spook them by truthfully telling them that the music they are hearing is being performed by dead people!

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Don Porto’s Novelty Accordion Band – 1935


“In The Days That Used To Be”
Don Porto’s Novelty Accordion Band; Fred Latham, vocal
(Eclipse 832-B)  1934


“Just A Memory Of You”
Don Porto’s Novelty Accordion Band; Sam Browne,vocal
(Eclipse 885 B)  1935


“The Man On The Flying Trapeze”
Don Porto’s Novelty Accordion Band; Sam Browne,vocal
(Eclipse 885 A)  1935


One of the regional sub-genres of 1930s popular recordings is British accordion bands. The early years of that decade saw an explosion in popularity for the instrument in the UK with people taking lessons through correspondence schools and even a magazine devoted to the instrument. Record manufacturers were, of course, eager to capitalize on the new craze.

Three of the most famous accordion bands on records, Don Porto and His Novelty Accordion Band, Rossini’s Accordions and Primo Scala and His Accordion Band were, in fact, pseudonyms for bands led by Harry Bidgood.

In the late 1920s, Bidgood was the principle music director for British Vocalion which manufactured the budget-priced Broadcast and Broadcast Twelve records. You can hear on Radio Dismuke a number of excellent dance band recordings by Bidgood’s band during this period under pseudonyms such as The New York Nightbirds, Al Benny’s Broadway Boys, Nat Lewis and His Dance Band and The Manhattan Melody Makers.

In 1932, when British Vocalion was purchased by The Crystalate Gramophone company, another producer of budget-priced labels, Bidgood stayed on with the combined company.

One of the labels Crystalate produced was Eclipse, eight-inch records with slightly narrower grooves that enabled them to have a similar playing time as conventional ten-inch records and sold exclusively through the British branch of the F.W. Woolworth dime store chain for a sixpence. Don Porto and His Novelty Accordion Band was the pseudonym used for Bidgood’s accordion-focused output on Eclipse.

Bidgood’s best-known and remembered pseudonym for accordion records was Primo Scala, which he used on Crystalate’s Rex label as well as on Decca after that company acquired Crystalate in 1937 and into the 1950s on British Decca’s successor label, London Records. He also used that name on live radio broadcasts.

Accordion band recordings often featured popular hit songs of the day – but that was far from the case with the three songs featured here, two of which seem to be rather obscure.

The composer credit for “In The Days That Used To Be” is listed as somebody with the last name of Long and “Just A Memory Of You” is credited to Walton & Harcourt. I was not able to find any information about or mention of other recordings for either song.

Some of the low-priced record labels in the US maintained a staff of in-house composers who would turn out songs, usually issued on the flip side of a popular song, so that they could avoid the expense of the composers’ royalties that had to be paid on each copy sold. I don’t know if Crystalate followed such a practice, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

“The Man On The Flying Trapeze” is a famous song written by George Leybourne and Gaston Lyle that would have been in the public domain when these records were made as it was first published in 1867. The inspiration for the lyrics was Jules Léotard, a 19th-century French acrobat who is credited with inventing the art of trapeze. He was also the creator of the one-piece garment that bears his last name.


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Roy Fox And His Band – 1934


“Lonely Lane”
Roy Fox And His Band; Peggy Dell, vocal
(Decca F 3880 mx GB6520)   February 4, 1934


One of the more popular British dance bands during the 1930s was led by an American, Roy Fox. Also known as “The Whispering Cornetist,” Fox worked in the US during the 1920s with the Abe Lyman, Art Hickman and Gus Arnheim bands.  For a period he had his own band which recorded sides for Brunswick as Roy Fox and His Montmartre Orchestra. Fox also worked in motion pictures supervising the musical production department of the coincidentally named Fox Studios.

In 1929 his band was invited to London where it remained through late 1930 when the band members returned to America while Fox remained and started a new band with British musicians. Fox’s British bands included some of that country’s top musicians of the era and, for a while, included vocalist Al Bowlly.

The vocal on this recording is by Irish singer Peggy Dell, credited on the label merely as “with vocal refrain” as was common during this period. Decades later, in the 1970s, Dell’s career enjoyed a revival as a result of her own successful series on Irish television.

“Lonely Lane” is a Sammy Fein/Irving Kahel composition introduced by Dick Powell in the 1933 Warner Brothers film College Coach which also starred Ann Dvorak. The film was distributed in the United Kingdom under the title Football Coach, which is credited accordingly on the record’s label.

The label also makes note of the fact that, at the time of the record’s release, Fox and his band were enjoying an extended engagement at London’s famous Kit-Cat Restaurant.

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Joseph Samuels’ Jazz Band – 1921

“Spread Yo’ Stuff”
Joseph Samuels’ Jazz Band
(Okeh 4260 B mx S 7728 C)  January 1921


Here is a pre-microphone era 80 rpm recording that will be part of this week’s Radio Dismuke playlist update.

Joseph Samuels’ band recorded several hundred jazz and dance band sides between 1919 and 1925 for most of the American record labels in existence at the time, some of which were issued under various pseudonyms. He was one of the first white bandleaders to include black vocalists on recordings.

Other bands recorded “Spread Yo’ Stuff” and the Joseph Samuels band made two additional recordings of the song for Edison, one of which was released on a Blue Amberol cylinder record. The recording made for release in disc format was never issued but a test pressing still exists at the Edison National Historic Park.

Among the band members on this recording for Okeh (and most likely the Edison recordings as well) was one of the song’s co-composers, Jules Levy Jr., the son of the world-renowned late-19th century cornetist, Jules Levy Sr., who, among many other accomplishments, assisted Thomas Edison in demonstrating his newly-invented tinfoil phonograph. Levy Jr’s half-brother through one of his father’s previous relationships was actor Conway Tearle who was prominent on stage and screen from the turn of the century through the 1930s.

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Ragtime Echoes In The Jazz Age – 1920 & 1933


Rudy Wiedoeft
(Pathe 022492)   October, 1920


“Puppe und Kobold” (“The Doll and the Goblin”)
Bravour Tanz-Orchester
(Odeon O 11878 mx Be 10379)  June, 1933


By the end of the 1910s decade, ragtime started dying out in favor of jazz. But there were composers and artists who ran contrary to that trend.

One was composer and saxophone virtuoso Rudy Wiedoeft. Starting in 1917 with “Valse Erica,” he made solo recordings, many of which were of his own compositions that, even into the 1920s, were more ragtime than they were jazz.

His recording of “Velma” featured here, which he made for the Pathe label in October 1920, was among the first 78 rpm records I acquired as a child (though, as was the case with many records from the pre-microphone era, it was, in fact, recorded at 80 rpm). Wiedoeft made records for most of the American record labels in existence during that period and, besides Pathe, he recorded “Velma” for both Edison and Brunswick.

Though he was largely forgotten by the time of his death in 1940, from the late 1910s into the 1920s he enjoyed enormous celebrity through his appearances in vaudeville, on records and on radio. He was largely responsible for introducing the public to and popularizing the previously somewhat obscure saxophone which had a major impact on the popular music of the Jazz Age and beyond.

One aspiring teenage musician, whose first name was Hubert, was so impressed upon hearing one of Wiedoeft’s recordings that he switched instruments to the saxophone and sent off multiple fan letters before finally receiving a reply. He was so infatuated that he changed his professional name to “Rudy.” By the end of the 1920s, that teenager had become a big celebrity in his own right: bandleader, crooner and radio star Rudy Vallee.

Wiedoeft’s brother, Herb Wiedoeft, was also a musician and had an excellent dance band on the West Coast until he died in a traffic accident in 1928. A number of recordings by the Herb Wideoeft Orchestra are in Radio Dismuke’s playlist. But, somehow, this recording of “Velma” will only be the station’s third Rudy Wiedoeft recording – an oversight I will be correcting as I do have additional Wiedoeft records and have a standing order to myself to set them aside as I come across them.

The second recording featured here is an example of novelty ragtime, a new genre that Zes Confrey’s “Kitten on the Keys” helped popularize in the early 1920s. Unlike earlier ragtime compositions, which were primarily sold through sheet music intended for amateur musicians to play on parlor pianos, novelty rag compositions often had complex arrangements intended for professional musicians and were sold to the general public in the form of performances on piano rolls and phonograph records.

While the genre is sometimes referred to as “novelty piano,” full orchestra arrangements were occasionally performed by American dance bands throughout the 1920s. But novelty ragtime’s greatest popularity and where, in my opinion, the very best performances by dance bands were recorded, was in, of all places, Germany during the early and mid-1930s.

The two German bands that most prominently recorded it were Hans Bund’s Bravour Dance Orchestra (issued in England under the name Jack Bund) and Otto Dobrindt’s Piano Symphonists, although there were recordings by other bands as well. A number of novelty ragtime songs were written during that period by German composers, as was the selection featured here “Puppe und Kobold” (“The Doll and the Goblin”) by Jose Armandola, a pen name for German composer Wilhelm August Lautenschläger.

You can also hear two novelty ragtime recordings by Otto Dobrindt’s Piano Symphonists in this posting from August 2018.


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Edward Mitchell 1944-2023


It is with enormous sadness that we announce the passing of Edward Mitchell. Eddie has been an important part of Radio Dismuke for many years. He was on the board of Early 1900s Music Preservation, the organization that now operates Radio Dismuke. Those who have listened to the New Year’s Eve and Texas Record Collectors’ Party broadcasts over the years will know him as “Eddie The Collector.” He was part of every such broadcast since our first one in December 2005. A good number of the selections heard on Radio Dismuke come from 78 rpms in Eddie’s collection that he made available for me to digitize and restore for the station. And, on a number of occasions, he made his home in Waco, Texas available as a place for us to record the broadcasts.

The broadcasts we recorded at Eddie’s house were just as much social occasions as they were about the mere practical task of recording a broadcast. Very often they were a reunion of fellow collectors who had not seen each other since the previous broadcast. I would always drive to Waco the evening before the broadcast to get all of the equipment set up and spend the night in Eddie’s guest room. The participants in the broadcast would arrive late morning and we usually went someplace in one of Eddie’s antique cars for lunch. But on some occasions, we didn’t get around to actually recording the broadcast until late afternoon and it would be late evening before we finished.

The Eddie that one heard on the broadcasts was very much the Eddie that one knew in person. Many of the records Eddie introduced on the broadcasts had a story behind them, if not about the musicians and the recording session, then about how he came to acquire the record. I believe Eddie started collecting 78 rpms sometime in the 1950s. He frequently spoke about one of his early collector friends, R. E. M Gottlieb, who began collecting 1920s records during the 1920s when they were brand new and, by the time Eddie knew him, had amassed a large and significant collection. Eddie knew a lot of collectors. Very often Eddie could tell about which old-time collector he had gotten a record from, what record he had to give up in exchange for it or he had some anecdote about where he found the record.

One of the reasons why we often got a late start on recording the broadcasts at Eddie’s house was because he would take us to see and visit various interesting historic buildings in Waco. Eddie grew up in Waco and moved back there from Dallas when he retired. Because he developed an interest in the 1920s at an early age, he could vividly remember the stories he heard from his parents and family members who lived during that era. Riding through Waco with Eddie was always fascinating. He would point out buildings along the way and tell stories about what had been in them decades earlier. There is a street in Waco lined with large, beautiful mansions from the late 19th and early 20th centuries – and for a great many of them Eddie could talk about the families who had lived in them decades earlier. Spending time around Eddie was always enjoyable, not just because he was a very friendly person but because he could talk about so many different and interesting things. He also had, at times, a devilish sense of humor that I enjoyed. We will be doing a tribute to Eddie later this year during our New Years broadcast and I will share a couple of examples.

After we recorded the broadcasts I would usually stay a second night in Eddie’s guest room so that I wouldn’t have to pack up the equipment and drive back to Fort Worth at a very late hour. The next day, before I packed up the equipment, I would often spend a couple of hours making transfers of his records that I enjoyed on the broadcast as well as others that he would pull out for inclusion on the station. Eddie very much enjoyed sharing the music in his collection with others. I know that he would enjoy the fact that the treasures from his collection that let me transfer for Radio Dismuke will continue to enchant and delight new generations of listeners who discover the music for the first time. He also shared his collection through a YouTube channel in which he featured videos of his records playing on his vintage phonographs. You can find the bulk of them by doing a YouTube search for user name Victrolajazz. A couple of years ago, Eddie somehow lost access to his account and began uploading videos under a second user name, jazzvictrola7104

Finally, a bit about the photo I included. On one of the visits to Eddie’s place, he showed us a photo that had been taken of his father sometime during the early 1930s by an old-time street photographer in downtown Waco near the old Kress dimestore. Such photographers would take snapshots of people walking by in the hope that they would want to buy a copy. Eddie mentioned that the Kress building was still standing and its awning was still intact, though it had been shortened at some point. So we decided to try and reenact the photo with Eddie (wearing the yellow polo shirt) playing the role of his father and our fellow collector friend Christian playing the role of the other man in the vintage photo. We were able to get Eddie and Christian in the exact same spot as the historical photo but I had difficulty finding the same spot and angle as the original photographer. I have a lot of photos of Eddie. But I think this photo and the premise behind it captures his personality.

All of us here at Radio Dismuke/Early 1900s Music Preservation and the many vintage record collectors and vintage music fans who knew him are going to miss him enormously.

– Dismuke

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Radio Dismuke – Recent New Selections



The new selections added in this week’s playlist update include 78 rpm records that Eddie The Collector played on Radio Dismuke’s recent New Year’s broadcast, a sampling of which you can hear below. 


Noble Sissle And His Orchestra;  Noble Sissle, vocal.
September 10, 1929 (HMV B 5709 mx 30 1029)
“Sleepy Chinese”
The Castilians
July 29, 1927  (Brunswick 3686 B)
“A Shady Tree”
The Okeh Melodians; Vaughn DeLeath, vocal
September 16, 1927   (Okeh 40905 mx 81448)
“Get ‘Em In A Rumble Seat”
Horace Heidt Orchestra
February 14, 1928  (Victor 21311 A mx 42004)
“Butter Finger Blues”
Chas Creath’s Jazz O Maniacs
May 2, 1927  (Okeh 8477 mx 80 823)
“Camp Meeting Day”
Noble Sissle And His Orchestra; Noble Sissle, vocal
September 10, 1929  (HMV B 5709 mx 30 1028)
“Original Two Time Man”
The Cotton Club Orchestra
April 28, 1925 (Columbia 374 D mx 140475)

Both of the recordings presented here by Noble Sissle and His Orchestra, “Miranda” and “Camp Meeting Day” were recorded in London and, unlike some of Sissle’s other British recordings, were not issued in the USA.  Between 1927 and 1931 Sissle and his band worked in the UK and Europe where they enjoyed a high level of success. He returned to the USA for an opportunity to have a network radio program on CBS.  Sissle had an important and lengthy career that spanned from the ragtime era in the early 1910s through the late 1960s.  An excellent overview of his life story, based on recollections by his son, Noble Sissle Jr. can be found in this article on The Syncopated Times website.

The recording of “Sleepy Chinese” by Mexican composer Rubén Darío Herrerais is anything but sleepy. While not jazzy, it has a very peppy, bouncy and rather charming arrangement.  The Castilians was one of over 60 recording pseudonyms used for Louis Katzman’s in-house studio orchestra during his years at Vocalion and Brunswick Records.  After having worked as an arranger and conductor for Edison Records starting in 1915, Katzman joined Vocalion in 1922 and remained after the label was purchased by Brunswick where he was eventually promoted to Music Director and, later General Manager.  During the 1920s and 1930s, he directed bands for a number of network as well as local New York City radio programs.  Two takes from the recording session were issued. The instrumental version featured here was intended for release in Germany but was issued in Brunswick’s USA popular series.  A second version with a Spanish vocal was also issued for Spanish-speaking markets.

“A Shady Tree” features a sparkling arrangement performed by the Okeh Melodians, a recording pseudonym for the Sam Lanin Orchestra with a vocal by Vaughn DeLeath. Known as “The First Lady of Radio” she became the first female vocalist to perform on radio in 1920 and, during a 1928 experimental broadcast, the first female vocalist to perform on television.  She also recorded hundreds of sides for Edison, Brunswick, Okeh, Victor and Columbia and is heard regularly on Radio Dismuke.  Largely forgotten today, she was an artist who, in my view, deserves to be better remembered.

During the 1910s and 1920s, America’s love/hate relationship with the automobile was a favorite and presumably profitable topic for Tin Pan Alley songwriters. Usually, they poked fun of their reliability or celebrated them as an opportunity for romantic encounters.  “Get ‘Em In A Rumble Seat” does the latter. The song was well suited for novelty groups such Harry Reser’s Six Jumping Jacks and the Happiness Boys, both of whom recorded it.  This version by the Horace Heidt Orchestra is a dance band arrangement that features only abbreviated lyrics.  Heidt is best remembered for his later band, Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights, which was popular on radio broadcasts during the late 1930s and 1940s.  But, as demonstrated in certain passages on this recording, his 1920s dance band which recorded for Victor between 1927 and 1929 was often quite jazzy.

Charles Creath was a black jazz artist who began his career playing in traveling circuses and leading bands on Missississippi River riverboats.  “Butter Finger Blues” was his own composition and was recorded in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Cotton Club Orchestra, after a few name changes, was eventually taken over by Cab Calloway.  It was formed in 1923 in St Louis as Wilson Robinson’s Syncopators.  In 1925, under the direction of violinist Andy Preer, it became The Cotton Club Orchestra as a result of being selected to be the house band for the famous Harlem nightclub of the same name. After Preer died in 1927 and Duke Ellington Orchestra took over as the club’s namesake band, it became The Missourians under the direction of vocalist Lockwood Lewis. Cab Calloway assumed control over the band in 1930. “Original Two Time Man” is a Walter Donaldson composition.  This recording was made several months before Columbia switched over to the new electrical recording technology and thus has the lower fidelity that is inherent in acoustic-era recordings.

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Radio Dismuke – New Selections 6/27/22



Here is a sampling of some of the audio restorations being added to Radio Dismuke’s playlist this week.

“The Flippity Flop”
B A Rolfe And His Lucky Strike Dance Orchestra; Billy Murray, vocal
June 28,1929   (Edison 14033 L mx N 989 C)
“Piccolo Pete”
Arthur Fields And His Assassinators; Arthur Fields, vocal
September 25,1929  (Edison 14075 R mx N 1154)
“Huggable Kissable You”
California Ramblers; Ed Kirkeby, vocal
April 25,1929  (Edison 14005 L mx N 870 A)
“When You’re Counting The Stars Alone”
California Ramblers
September 13,1929 (Edison 14072 R mx N 1128 A)
“Waiting At The End Of The Road”
Phil Spitalny’s Music; The Paull Sisters, vocal
August 13,1929  (Edison14058 L mx N 1070 B)

Among the recordings being added to Radio Dismuke’s playlist this week are these extremely rare recordings that I had intended to add a few years ago but, instead, were overlooked on a hard drive!

All of these recordings are from rare Edison Needle Type Electric discs that were part of a remarkable vintage record collection donated to Early 1900s Music Preservation a few years back.  Because of the records’ rarity, I immediately transferred all of the Edison discs to a hard drive so that the records themselves could go into secure storage as quickly as possible and minimize the need to physically handle them.   I then did the audio restoration work on the transferred recordings whenever I had an opportunity to do so over a period of multiple months.  Somehow, a handful of the transfers ended up getting overlooked and were never added to the station!  (Fortunately, since that time, I have modified the filing system I use when I do audio restorations so that I can more easily see which transfers have and have not been restored).

When I discovered that there were still a few Needle Type Electric transfers I had not yet restored, it was, on one hand, exciting as it isn’t very often one gets to work with such records.  Being able to digitize and restore so many historic yet outstanding recordings was an amazing experience.  I had been under the impression that there were no more left in the queue for me to restore so finding that there were, in fact, a few more felt wonderful.  On the other hand, because of both their rarity and quality, my original intention was to add them to the station as quickly as possible so that they could be enjoyed by the audience.

Edison Needle Type Electric records were a last-ditch effort by the Thomas Edison company to save its record business after years of declining sales.  Unlike the quarter-inch-thick Edison Diamond Discs that required special playback equipment and, by the late 1920s, were increasingly perceived as being old-fashioned, the new Needle Type Electric discs were conventional 78 rpm records that could be played on standard steel needle phonographs. 

Unfortunately, for Edison, the effort was too little too late.  The new records were introduced to record stores in July 1929 and were only issued through October 1929 when Thomas Edison, over fifty years after he had invented the phonograph, made the decision to close his record and phonograph business just a few days before the stock market crashed.

All of the songs presented here were quite popular in 1929 and one can hear various versions of them performed by other artists in Radio Dismuke.  Edison’s records were well-engineered and their fidelity was usually quite good for their era.   All of the bands on these recordings are outstanding and do a great job of capturing the spirit of the closing months of the “Roaring Twenties.” 

Sadly, due to the marketplace misfortunes of the Edison company, very few people at the time had the opportunity to enjoy these performances.  Thanks to the 21st-century technology and the generosity of Early 1900s Music Preservation’s donor they will get to enjoy a far greater audience through Radio Dismuke than they did  93 years ago when they were new.

The Flippity Flop” by B. A. Rolfe and his Lucky Strike Dance Orchestra was part of the very first shipment of the new Needle Type Electric records that shipped out to dealers in early July, 1929.  The song was originally introduced in the 1929 film The Dance of Life. B. A. Rolfe was a film producer turned bandleader.  At the time of this recording his New York City-based band had its own network radio program The Lucky Strike Dance Hour sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarette brand.  The vocal on the recording is performed by a recording pioneer, Billy Murray, who began making records back in the late 1890s.  During the 1900s and 1910s he was very much in demand for his ability to project his voice loud enough to be picked up by the acoustic recording horns of the pre-microphone era while doing so in a conversational style.  With the advent of electrical recording in 1925 Murray’s popularity began to wane in favor of the new style “crooners.”  Nevertheless, he continued to make records into the early 1940s.

Piccolo Pete” by Arthur Fields And His Assassinators was one of the issues that shipped out to dealers on October 22, 1929 – the very last shipment of Edison records to go out before the company suspended operations of its record and phonograph division.   Arthur Fields was a prolific vocalist on records from the 1910s through the 1930s.  “Piccolo Pete” is a novelty song that was a huge 1929 hit for the Ted Weems Orchestra.  If the band on this recording sounds like recordings you might have heard by the Fred Hall band, the reason is that it mostly consists of musicians from that band, including Hall himself on piano. Fields was a close associate of Fred Hall and was the vocalist on many of Hall’s recordings – including a recording of “Piccolo Pete” by Fred Hall And His Sugar Babies on the Okeh label.  Fields also performed with Hall’s band under the pseudonym of The Home Towners on Cameo, Banner and other dime store labels.

The California Ramblers featured some of the era’s to jazz musicians and recorded hundreds of sides under its own name for multiple record labels. Its director, Ed Kirkeby, who can be heard as the vocalist on “Huggable Kissable You,” also arranged for the band to appear on hundreds of more records under various pseudonyms.  If this version of “Huggable Kissable You” sounds somewhat familiar to regular Radio Dismuke listeners, it is probably because the band also made a recording on Columbia that is featured on the station under the pseudonym of Ted Wallace and His Campus Boys with a vocal by Smith Ballew.  Of the two, the Edison version presented here is a bit jazzier.

The California Ramblers’ recording of “When You’re Counting The Stars Alone” was also part of the October 22, 1929 shipment to dealers that ended up being the final shipment of records by Thomas Edison’s record company.

Waiting At The End of the Road” comes from the 1929 King Vidor film Hallalujah.  Russian-born Phil Spitalny is best remembered for his “All-Girl Orchestra” which he formed in 1934.  But in the 1920s he had a top-notch dance band that issued records on both Victor and Edison.   After Edison shut down, Spitalny, along with the Paull Sisters featured on the recording here, made records for Hit of the Week, a label that attempted to reignite record sales during the very worst period of the Great Depression by issuing low-priced single-sided cardboard discs that were sold through newsstands.

If you enjoyed these recordings, you might want to check out previous postings here and here about a couple of other extremely rare Needle Type Electric records that were part of the same donation.  Regular listeners to Radio Dismuke are likely to recognize the recordings but might not be aware of their fascinating history.


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Radio Dismuke – New Selections 3/23/22


Here is a sampling of some of the audio restorations being added to Radio Dismuke’s playlist this week.

“My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now”
Bernie Cummins And His Hotel Biltmore Orch;  Bernie Cummins vocal
October 6, 1928 (Brunswick 4083)
“I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song”
Ray Noble And His New Mayfair Orchestra; Al Bowlly, vocal
July 5, 1933  (HMV B 6375 mx 30 10882)
“Potpourri Aus Der Operette Ball Im Savoy”
Marek Weber Und Seine Orchester;  Die 5 Songs, vocal
Circa. Dec. 1932/Jan. 1933 (HMV EH 817 mx 62 1022)
“Down By The Front Door Gate”
The Rhythm Band
October 22, 1928 (HMV B 5562 mx 8 831)
“Moonlight Saving Time”
Ambrose And His Orchestra
June 9, 1931 (HMV B 6030)
“Laughing At The Rain”
Ambrose And His Orchestra
May 25, 1931 (HMV B 6009 mx 30 6223)
“Now’s The Time To Fall In Love”
Ambrose And His Orchestra
January 19, 1932 (HMV B 6140 mx 30 8072 B)
“Charleston Cabin”
Fry’s Million Dollar Pier Orchestra
April 3, 1924 (Pathe 036122)

Our featured selections begin with an impressive recording of “My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now” by the Bernie Cummins Orchestra from the collection of Eddie The Collector – a recording he played a few months ago during Radio Dismuke’s annual New Year’s broadcast.

“I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song” is performed by Al Bowlly, Britain’s top crooner in the 1930s, accompanied by an upbeat arrangement by the Ray Noble Orchestra. The song originally appeared in the film Gold Diggers of 1933.

“Potpourri Aus Der Operette Ball Im Savoy consists of selections from Paul Abraham’s jazz operetta Ball Im Savoy. The show’s December 23, 1932 premier has been referred to as the last great cultural event of the Weimar Republic. A little over a month later, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany which had an immediate and tragic impact on the top people associated with the production as well as the stars of this recording, all of whom were Jewish.  Despite being well-received, the production was eventually forced to close due to audience members being harassed by mobs of Brown Shirts. Before he was forced to flee, Marek Weber led one of Germany’s most popular bands, recording everything from classical and salon music to jazzy arrangements of popular songs. The vocal group on this recording, The 5 Songs, also known as the Able Quartet, could easily be mistaken for the better remembered Comedian Harmonists. But the group actually pre-dated the Comedian Harmonists and, as with the Harmonists, was inspired by the American recording group The Revelers. Four of the group’s five members survived the Holocaust, though two of their wives were murdered in the concentration camps. One of the group’s members, Jószef Balassa, disappeared during the war and his fate remains unknown. You can read more about The 5 Songs/Abel Quarte here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

“Down By The Front Door Gate” is a peppy recording by The Rhythm Band, a British group led by American musician George Fischer (nee George Fischberg). Fisher was a member of the San Francisco-based Art Hickman Orchestra and came to England as a member of a touring unit of the Hickman band. By the late 1920s he was fronting his own band at London’s stylish Kit-Kat Club. Many years later Fisher worked as Marlene Dietrich’s piano accompanist.

“There Ought To Be A Moonlight Savings Time” is performed Bert Ambrose and his Orchestra, one of Britain’s most popular dance bands from the late 1920s into the early 1940s.

“Laughing At The Rain” and “Now’s The Time To Fall In Love, also performed by Ambrose And His Orchestra, feature good examples of “cheer up” type lyrics that American Tin Pan Alley music publishers put out in response to the Great Depression.

“Charleston Cabin” was recorded in 1924, a year before the record labels began their transition to using microphones instead of old-fashioned acoustical recording horns. Despite the recording’s fidelity being more primitive than the other featured selections, it provides an enjoyable performance from a period when the Charleston dance craze was very much the latest rage.

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Radio Dismuke – New Selections 2/2/22



Here is a sampling of some of the 78 rpm audio restorations that were added to Radio Dimuke’s music library this week and which began airing on Wednesday.


“By A Lazy Country Lane”
Ted Wallace & His Campus Boys
March 18, 1931 (Columbia 2441 D mx 151434)
“Warum lachelst Du Mona Lisa”
Polydor Tanz-Orchester; Marcel Klass, vocal
1931  (Polydor 24131 mx 40987)
“My Sunshine Is You'”
Jack Hylton And His Orchestra; Richard Crooks, vocal
November 11, 1931 (Victor 36048 B)
“You’re All I Need”
Smith Ballew And His Orchestra; Smith Ballew, vocal
May 7, 1935 (Conqueror 8528 A mx 17488)
“At Last I’m Happy”
Ted Lewis And His Band; Ted Lewis, vocal
January 12, 1931 (Columbia 2408 D mx 1151197)
“Blue Again”
Benrus Radio Orchestra; Paul Small, vocal
January 1930 (Hit Of The Week 1126)
“Teddy Bear Blues”
The Virginians
November 17, 1922 (Victor 18992 A)

Our featured selections begin with a pleasant, upbeat version of “By A Lazy Country Lane” by the Ed Kirkeby band performing under the pseudonym of Ted Wallace and His Campus Boys.

“Warum lachelst Du Mona Lisa” is from the 1931 German film Der Raub der Mona Lisa (The Theft of the Mona Lisa). The song was written by the prolific Austrian composer and conductor Robert Stolz.  The recording presented here is on a Polydor disc that does not provide credit for the vocalist. Through some online research, I have been able to determine that it was Marcel Klass as this recording is identical to the one issued on the Grammophon label by the Lajos Barany Tanz Orchester crediting Klass for the vocal.  During this period Deutschen Grammophon used the Polydor label to issue records in countries outside of Germany where, for trademark reasons, it was unable to issue records under its own name.  I have not been able to identify the actual band on this recording as “Lajos Barany” was a recording pseudonym that was used both by the Paul Godwin and Ilja Livschakoff orchestras and possibly others. 

“My Sunshine Is You” is another Robert Stolz composition – a rather pretty tango written for the 1930 German film  Ein Tango für Dich/A Tango For You.  This 12-inch 78 rpm is one of a number of “concert arrangements” the Jack Hylton Orchestra recorded that featured an enlarged orchestra and longer playing time than the band’s more typical dance band fare.  While this recording was made in London, it features an American vocalist, Richard Crooks who was a star at New York’s Metropolitan Opera – though here he does not sing in an operatic style.

“You’re All I Need” is yet another song written by Austrian film composers, the team of Walter Jurmann and Bronisław Kaper.  Jurmann already had hit songs to his credit and had worked with Kaper in Germany when the two were forced to flee in 1933 after the National Socialists came to power.   A year later they came to the United States after being offered a contract with the MGM film studio where they wrote songs for a number of successful films.  This one comes from the 1935 film Escapade.  Several bands recorded this song but I think the version here by the Smith Ballew orchestra was the nicest – I especially enjoy the jazz violin passages after Ballew’s vocal.  This recording is from the final months of Ballew’s career as a bandleader before he moved Hollywood where he starred in a number of singing cowboy Western films.

Ted Lewis’ vocal and his band’s peppy arrangement on “At Last I’m Happy” transforms the song into a nice Depression-era “cheer up” style recording.

This recording of “Blue Again” comes from a cardboard Hit of the Week record.  The one-sided records were sold at newsstands and magazine counters and priced at 15 cents.  The Benrus Radio Orchestra was a pseudonym for the Sam Lanin Orchestra.  Benrus was, and still is, a brand of watches.  My guess (and that is all it is) is that the pseudonym perhaps referred to a Benrus sponsored radio program for which Lanin might have provided the house band.

Teddy Bear Blues” is a recording I played a few weeks back on Radio Dismuke’s annual New Year’s broadcast as part of the program’s tribute to the 100th anniversary of the year 1922.  This performance is by The Virginians, a small, hot jazz-oriented group comprised of musicians from the Paul Whiteman orchestra.  This performance was captured through an acoustical horn as the use of microphones for recording was still a little over two years into the future.  But, despite the primitive technology, this performance holds up remarkably well 100 years later.


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