The latest acquisition to the family library is this swingin’, 6-LP Reader’s Digest box set, Swing Hits. Featuring Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and of course, Glenn Miller, this amazing gift was a thoughtful and welcoming gesture from the in-laws, and was actually owned by my wife’s grandfather. Many thanks for this great gift set! Rest assured, she’ll be well taken care of. Here’s to a swingin’ weekend, kids!
Mom and pop Dorsey must have been proud parents. Jimmy, older brother to Tommy, enjoyed an immensely successful career as band-leader and musician (clarinet and saxophone). He teamed up with his brother in the late 20s and early 30s to form The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. The commercially successful brothers would go separate ways on separate labels, and would each find several years of critical acclaim. The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra would reunite in 1945, and again in 1954 to perform on Jackie Gleason’s Stage Show, a successful weekly hit television show centered on The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra (at this time, a new incarnation from the original). Both brothers would be dead by the end of 1957, but with the power of music, their legacy lives on.
Time Life Records kept its swingin’ stride with 1970’s The Swing Era: The Music of 1936-1936, a three LP compilation of Jazz / Swing ensembles from the mid-1930’s. The label’s second of 14+ in The Swing Era series, this gem comes complete with a 72-page, fully historical and entertaining, photo-filled booklet. The Swing Era: The Music of 1936-1937 features a bunch of Benny Goodman, some Red Norvo, a bit of Bob Crosby, a dash of Chick Webb, and a healthy dose of Tommy Dorsey.
File this mistake under, “adolescent oversight.” This is as much an edition for collectors as the New Edition is a rival for most influential band of the 80s. You see, in 1997, big band music was big; at least it was where I grew up. It was a nostalgic glimpse into a well thought-out hoax, perfect to rival the Macarena and Aqua’s Barbie Girl. Commercial radio was sick-to-your-stomach-painful in the late 90s, and my overexcitement for something… ANYTHING different proved to be the better of me.
I had, in my faded understanding, neglected to grasp the fact that Great Hits of the Great Bands wasn’t a proper, cohesive release. I’d recently contemplated offering it up to the corner thrift if it weren’t for the sentimental value it (lethargically) held, but instead, I’ll keep it show the very simple, yet painful fact that very, very little has changed in the past 17 years.
As a wide-eyed and furrow-browed youngster, I was a huge fan of Swing Music. While attending the local tech college, certain courses were required that involved physical movement (you see, it was Wisconsin, and in the winter we’d have to constantly move around to keep from freezing to death), i.e. racquetball, swimming, and the newly added Swing dance class.
It was 1997, and every 18 year old worth his weight in overzealous ambitions was an enormous fan of the 1996 classic, Swingers… and I was certainly no different. I owned the soundtrack, the DVD, and of course, several quote spilled posters that littered the walls of my shared 3 bedroom apartment on Madison’s west side. I wanted to be a Swinger (in the film’s sense, not the 1970’s shag carpet sense), and my semester learning the lively and energetic basics of Swing was arguably one of my best months of post high school education, regardless if I’ve forgotten all the moves.
Fast-forward a good 6 or 7 years to a little record shop in Ventura, CA (no need to move around there, the temperature seldom drops below 55). I became friends with the owner and I was given a quality deal on 13, 3 LP box sets celebrating the Swing era. The series is titled, quiet appropriately, The Swing Era, with each set focusing on 3 to 5 year chunks. Currently on the platter is 1930-1936 and features a lot of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Casa Loma. This, as well as every other set includes a 64-page hard cover book focusing on the intricacies throughout the era during that set’s well, set of years.
I may never again do the Lindy Hop, but with 78 sides of quality Swing spanning the genre’s entire history (13 sets of 3 LPs each x 2 sides), I’ll certainly have the material handy if the jittery bug should ever bite again.
1958 was a riveting year for RCA Victor Records, and this (Moon juiced) insert proves that the late 50s were a swinging, boisterous time for the 2nd oldest recording company in the United States. This prolific insert promotes everything from Frank Sinatra & Tommy Dorsey, to Perry Como, to the twins… you know the twins, Jim and John Cunningham (apparently Teenagers Love the Twins… who knew?), to the King, Elvis Presley, to a personal favorite, Glenn Miller, and finally to a little album called, My Favorite Hits, which is simply described as, “Mickey Mantle picks his favorites.” This last little number just made my Discogs Wantlist.
It’s enthralling to write about (barely touch upon) 1958 while listening to 1987’s Love an Adventure by Pseudo Echo, but things need to be kept into perspective, am I right?
In conclusion, here’s a little Thursday, mid-morning (or Friday, early morning in Australia) mind-melting math for you to digest:
Love an Adventure: 1987 – (minus) My Favorite Hits: 1958 = 29 year gap
Present Day: 2013 – (minus) Love an Adventure: 1987 = 26 year gap
If you’re like me, and you remember the Funkytown residing Pseudo Echo, than you, my friend, are old… you’re welcome.