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View Full Version : HTOTW#4 "Just One More Chance' and other tunes from the Depression years.



Terry Porritt
19-12-2003, 06:09 PM
(HTOTW = Hot Tune(s) Of The Week), note the 's', with only one tune a week I dont have 200 years left to get through them.

Note: Most if not all of the websites that the links connect to use streaming Real Audio. If you dont have Real Player or one of its versions installed, then there are several solutions. The first is to either install Real One player here (http://www.real.com/freeplayer/?rppr=rnwk), or you may prefer an earlier Real Player version from here (http://www.oldversion.com/program.php?n=real), thanks Murray.p

Less invasive alternative players are UltraPlayer from here (http://www.ultraplayer.com/), or Real Alternative 1.11 from here (http://www.k-litecodecpack.com/), thanks JM.

Also note that since these links are to streaming audio sites the music may be interupted from time to time by net congestion.


The Depression started with the collapse of the Wall Street stock market in October 1929. Very soon the signs of the times such as 'the bread line', unemployment, trying to scrape a living, were reflected in the pop songs of the day. Many were 'cheer up' songs to try to encourage people, others were depressing to say the least, such as 'Gloomy Sunday' but others like 'Brother Can You Spare a Dime' were great songs. Two fine versions of this tune, one by Rudy Vallee and the other by Bing Crosby were hits of 1932. I cant find a streaming version, but the great Bing Crosby version can be downloaded from here (http://www.kcmetro.cc.mo.us/pennvalley/biology/lewis/crosby/brother.html) where the lyrics are also given.

Because many people couldnt afford to buy records, the Durium record company started to issue one sided cardboard backed records for 15 cents each. These were available as Hit of the Week from news-stands each thursday. The big sales pitch was that "these records have nearly twice the playing time of a standard record". That is, they played for about 5 minutes as against the 2m 50s to 3m 5s of a 10" 78rpm. However, as most pop tunes were composed with the 3 minute 78rpm time limit in mind, it is evident on some of these records that the bands were padding out the music to last the extra 1 1/2 minutes.
This 3 minute limit tended to persist for years after LPs arrived on the scene.

"Durium" was the name given to a plastic resinous substance invented by a Dr. Hal Trueman who bonded it to cardboard to make a flexible non-breakable record, it was also the name he gave to the record company he founded. I believe but not sure, that there were Durium companies in Europe and the UK too. There was a certainly a Durium Orchestra in the UK, with whom Al Bowlly recorded, but whether there was any connection with the American record company again I'm uncertain.
The surface noise on this and other flexible records was less than the brittle "shellacs", but with the weight of the pick-up in those days, the steel needle would easily plough into the record. It is amazing that any have survived 'til today.

I can remember a flexible red plastic 78rpm record being available in the UK in the 1940s/50s, but can't remember the name now.

This week we are visiting one of Dismukes sites for two of the tunes. Incidently, Dismuke is the sites owners 'non de plume', not his real name. It is a fabulous site with sub-sites, and he also has a station on Live365, quote: "Streaming the sounds of the 1920s and 1930s around the the world 24 hours a day, this is Radio Dismuke" (plug, plug) He has about 40 hours of 78 sides at the moment which are randomly selected without any repeats in that time!

First tune is 'Just One More Chance', this was also a hit of 1931, and again Bing Crosby made an exceedingly fine recording of it. ( I reckon he recorded just about every popular song of the day), this version however is played by the Hit of the Week Orchestra, with the vocal by 'Scrappy' Lambert. Listen to the ad. at the end for Hit of the Week records.

So click here (http://dismuke.org/Music/How/onemorechance.ram) to listen.

The next tune is 'I've a Million Dollar Baby', this was a hit in 1931 by the Boswell Sisters, they appeared regularly on Bing Crosby's radio show and many of their hits were recorded with the Dorsey Brothers orchestra. However, today, this version is by the Don Voorhees Orchestra.

Incidently the "in a five and ten cents store" in the lyrics refers to the F.W.Woolworths stores, no, not the supermarkets around today. In those days Woolworths sold absolutely everything 'under the sun', from hardware to cosmetics, clothing and toys, and were cheap.
I used to buy shoe leather, steel tips and studs, etc from there in the days when I used to mend and re-sole my leather shoes and boots. (The Porritts had been shoemakers for generations going back to early 1700s, so I must have inherited those shoe making/mending genes)

Enough, let's listen, click (http://dismuke.org/Music/Electric6_98/seventeen.ram).
This record is a "raw" 78rpm with no processing, so it gives an indication of the surface noise of the 'Durium' record, somewhat lower than a standard shellac 78.

For very short clips of Bing singing these songs visit this Amazon record site (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/recs/radio/krex/-/album/B000002OPK/102-5-9348922#)607538


Ted Lewis had a popular orchestra through the 20s and 30s, and he was still around with his orchestra in the 1950s. Some jazz critics have called him corny, nevertheless he was a very popular musician and entertainer, played clarinet, and engaged some hot musicians of the day including Muggsy Spannier and a young Benny Goodman for a while, Jimmy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, Fats Waller, Manny Klein, the list is endless, neither did he pretend to be other than an entertainer.

His singing, well, it's different, but I like it and it grows on one. His depression tunes were generally 'cheer up' ones, maybe reflecting his obviously joyous nature.

This next tune from the Red Hot Jazz site 'Dip Your Brush in Sunshine' again from 1931, has some 'hot' cornet and clarinet, vocal by Ted Lewis, and you can hear him refer to Muggsy and Benny.
click here (http://www.redhotjazz.com/songs/lewis/dip.ram)

Another cheer up song from Ted Lewis is 'Heading for Better Times', listen carefully to the words and you will hear 'co-prosperity' mentioned, this is probably? a reference to Japans answer to the depression, their 'Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Ok, so all aboard the sunshine special and let's head for better times all aboard (http://www.redhotjazz.com/songs/lewis/headingfor.ram).

Just one more feel good song from Ted Lewis, the Al Dubin and Harry Warren tune 'The Gold Diggers Song' from Gold Diggers of 1933 show, listen (http://www.redhotjazz.com/songs/lewis/thegolddiggerssong.ram).

( For a bit of movie nostalgia, and to find out what gold diggers actually were, there is some info here (http://www.moviediva.com/MD_root/reviewpages/MDGoldDiggers1933.htm) about The Gold Diggers.

We will finish on a more sombre note with a plaintive song from the famous Ruth Etting. Ruth Etting very much controlled was by her mobster husband,and promoted as Americas' Sweetheart. She finally parted from 'Moe the Gimp' Snyder after falling for her accompanyist, and in a rage the Gimp shot him, but not fatally, and the Gimp was imprisoned. Ruth divorced him and settled down with her lover.

'Ten Cents a Dance'is a song that describes how a girl could scrape a living during The Depression as a hostess in a seedy dance hall. The link also gives a short run down on Ruth Etting, the picture of her is not very good.
Ruth Etting (http://78turntable.freeyellow.com/a11.html).

Next HTOTW (maybe mid-January, we'll see) will feature Ettings' great rival Annette Hanshaw, my favourite female vocalist of all time.

Murray P
19-12-2003, 06:51 PM
Thanks TP. Great insight into the times.

The last link, to Ruth Etting's Ten Cents a Dance, doesn't get me to a ram file. Do you have a direct link?

Cheers Murray P

Terry Porritt
19-12-2003, 08:56 PM
No Murray, the Ruth Etting link is a play only as far as I know. There is a player at the top of the web page with a Real logo and play/stop/pause controls, and it should start automatically. As far as I know the ram file itself is not user accessible.

Bazza
19-12-2003, 10:34 PM
Terry, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of the early music years. It is amazing, and would be an education to some young ones here, if they care to look.

Although my interest is in the 40's & 50's music, I've enjoyed & learn't about the early years music. Keep them comming Terry.

Murray P
20-12-2003, 12:34 PM
Ok TP. My setting must be blocking it. This machine is set up like Fort Knox plus I killed the more onerous settings in Real Player. I get a Flash logo (the one you get when flash isn't enabled). I'll try to get it elsewher, hate to miss one.

Cheers Murray P