Friday, February 23, 2007

Radio Curiosities: "Dinah"

I'm going to start an informal tradition of posting notable or odd songs that I come across while listening to old radio programs. I already have seven CDs chock full of discoveries -- so I'll never run short of material -- but I'm always finding new stuff that makes me say "wow!"

Today's offering is "Dinah," broadcast on November 29, 1942, during the "Command Performance" show. Notable in its ability to draw the biggest names, "Command Performance" is a great place to dig up musical gems from the past.

"Dinah" is an old standby, but take a look at the performers on this version:
  • Tommy Dorsey: Trombone
  • Count Basie: Piano
  • Lionel Hampton: Vibraphone
  • Spike Jones: Drums
  • Dinah Shore: Vocals
How often do you think THOSE people got together to jam? Throw in Bob Burns playing his "bazooka" and you have a performance simultaneously sublime and ridiculous.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. The vibraphone is exquisite, the bazooka bizarre, and Shore a revelation to someone who grew up in the 1950s and was subjected to her belting out "See the U. S. A. in your Chevrolet" every week on her TV show.

Look forward to future installments.


Anonymous said...

'40s bands are giving me renewed respect for the cool, crisp vibraphone...I don't know what it looks like (a xylophone?) but it sure sounds great!

I'm sorry that you were soured on Dinah Shore. By listening to her on "Command Performance," I'm seeing (in real time) her blossoming from marginally-popular "girl singer" in bands, to the newly-minted and largely unexplored realm of "female solo artist."

Part of her rise to stardom was no doubt due to her almost ridiculous sexy-texy accent, and her down-home (apparent) lack of pretense. When "the boys" were fighting overseas, hearing a gal from The South must have evoked a headier sense of Home than, say, hearing Ethel Merman. Especially when that Southern Gal sang croony songs about waiting for her man to come home. Sigh!

Anonymous said...

My favourite joke from "On the Town." Jules Munshin has just accidentally destroyed an enormous dinosaur reconstruction at the museum.

Two police officers (possibly tall) are sitting in their cruiser:

DISPATCHER: Calling all cars, calling all cars. Report to museum to investigate collapse of dinosaur.

COP ONE: Awww, that's too bad!

COP TWO: What?

COP ONE: That's my favourite singing star, that Dinah Shore.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's neat. Can't get to that page you referenced, but the Bazooka seems like a cross between a bass clarinet and a trombone, with a dash of kazoo. Definitely a novelty instrument, but he sure could play it.

Anonymous said...

If you go to Wikipedia, search for "Bazooka (instrument)". Click on the "Slide Bazooka" external link at the bottom of the page, and you get construction tips for building one yourself (if you really WANT to make a noise like that!)

It's speculative -- because allegedly Burns "tended to destroy his instrument on stage at the end of each gig" -- but builders of the modern Bazooka claim it sounds like the real thing.

Anonymous said...

I was able to access that bazooka article, and unfortunately, my eyes lit on a paragraph that began, "My bazookas are three feet in length..."--which of course led to gales of internal, and quite juvenile, laughter.

That "On the Town" joke must have led Bob Clampett years later to include a dinosaur character named--you guessed it--in a "Beany and Cecil" episode. She had quite a set of pipes too.

TV relentlessly unsexed Shore, as they tried to do to almost everyone during that decade. And while she had become uncool by the 1950s, she was far better than Perry Como and Lawrence Welk. Como's comatose style was perfectly spoofed on SCTV when Gene Flaherty as Como was brought out for a song reclining in a bed. We were so ready for rock and roll.


Anonymous said...

I may have to try building one someday. I've never been much of a brass player, but what the heck - I'm up for a challenge.

Anonymous said...

"Perry Como -- Still Alive!" Definitely one of the funniest SCTV moments of all time. I love the interviews with the audience afterward: "I thought he was a little too enthusiastic, but I still love him!"

The 1950s did seem to be the age of Unsexing the Female in Popular Culture. Here in Canada we had Juliette ("our pet")

Since the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is so stingey with their television and radio archives, however, I have yet to actually see or hear her or her contemporaries. And the CBC website clips are always in some weird codec that my computer doesn't understand.

Anonymous said...

I hope you do, Eli...2007 may be the long-awaited Year of the Bazooka Renaissance!