First there was Billy "Uke" Carpenter. He sang, played the ukulele, and sometimes broke out in a "Popeye" voice, though there still weren't "Popeye" cartoons. Carpenter made his last records in early 1931. Then there was Billy Costello, who sometimes recorded as "Red Pepper Sam," and did wind up as the first voice of the famed sailor. Costello's recording of "Dinah" is part of the eighth "Big Broadcast" collection, which includes more on my "Carpenter is Costello" theory.
It's not a bad song. Solid pedigree: lyricists Joe Young (he wrote "Dinah") and Charles Newman, whose birthday is celebrated tonight, and composer James V. ("You Made Me Love You") Monaco. But that's not why it didn't find its way into "The Big Broadcast." I'd have played it if I knew where it was. 1920s and 30s records are thick with pseudonyms, with the same recording credited to a variety of artists on a range of labels.
First, "With a Song in My Heart," the Rodgers & Hart standard introduced in "Spring is Here," won't be heard on this week's "Big Broadcast." Had I thought of it, I could have played it last Sunday as a "Valentine's Day" selection. But I didn't. No exuse. Still, it's nice to hear a contemporary recording of the song complete with the verse. It's performed by the Biltmore Trio, who were featured with Earl Burtnett's band in Los Angeles. Formal cast recordings didn't exist at this time, though you may find the odd number from a show by a cast member, like Helen Morgan's "Bill" from "Show Boat." One of the biggest songs of 1933, "Stormy Weather," was introduced in the "Cotton Club Parade" by Ethel Waters accompanied by Duke Ellington. Waters and Ellington were signed to different labels, so Waters made her "Stormy Weather" (minus Duke) for Columbia, and Ellington made his as an instrumental on Brunswick. We'll hear Duke's tonight. "Stormy Weather" was written by Ted Koehler and Harold Arlen, and Arlen made his own "Stormy Weather" (he was a fine singer) on Victor. Beyond that, there were easily a dozen more versions all made within a few months of mid 1933.
Last Sunday, there were ten birthday salutes. Tonight, three. Not "famine" exactly, but challenging. What makes it tougher is that none of the trio are songwriters, which have variety built in. And, outside of one record, there's no crossover among singer Irving Kaufman, cornetist Wingy Manone and band leader Anson Weeks.
Quoting my "Big Broadcast" Volume 9 notes, "Beautiful Love," from The Mummy, is heard "...as Zita Johann soaks up Universal Studio's faux Egyptian panorama." The song took four writers, including Haven Gillespie, who's being saluted on tonight's show. There are nine more birthday celebrations, including Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson, an early influence on Fats Waller and composer of "Charleston," my friend Dolly Dawn, and Herman Hupfeld, who I never met, but left us "As Time Goes By."