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Frank Crumit - A Gay Cabellero
His 25 Finest 1925-1935
Frank Crumit (vocals, ukulele, guitar) with various accompaniments
RETROSPECTIVE RTR4317 [79:32]

We’ve largely been here before. This disc is patterned after ASV Living Era CDAJA5457 called ‘The Gay Caballero’ (note the change in the definite article) released in 2003, with the exception that this new one has the addition of the recording of The Girl Friend.

The songwriter and singing actor Frank Crumit worked his way up the Vaudeville hierarchy ended up with over 250 78s to his name in his heyday between 1919 and 1941. His songs reflect the particularities of American life and are put across with the relish of a real raconteur. These parlando gems – of which Abdul Abulbul Amir and Ukulele Lady are two of the most popular - date from the mid-30s though the droll I Married the Bootlegger’s Daughter goes back to 1925. Standards, established or emerging, were always a strong component of his repertoire. He takes I’m Sitting on Top of the World and sings it straight with the piano backing of Frank Banta before, half-way through, getting out his uke to typically vigorous effect. He latched onto the genius of Rodgers and Hart early – The Girl Friend and Mountain Greenery, specifically – and was a fine Gershwin singing actor, as S’Wonderful shows but could dust down a traditional favourite too, as well as raising a smile with his tales of over-eating beauties or diving head-first into the vo do de oh do of Crazy Words, Crazy Tune.
 
He was a fine arranger of traditional songs such as Frankie and Johnny (good Andy Sannella clarinet and Nat Shilkret at the piano). I doubt The Song of the Prune would pass muster nowadays but Little Brown Jug, complete with Nat Shilkret’s little orchestra, goes well. There are tales of golfing woe (Donald the Dub), cautionary tales (Down by the Railroad Track) and a duet with his soubrette wife Julia Sanderson (together she and Crumit formed ‘The Singing Sweethearts’) on Would You Like to Take a Walk?This well-filled disc ends with a couple of 1934-35 Deccas; The Pig Got Up and Slowly Walked Away, which was banned by the BBC for its filth (it’s not at all filthy in point of fact), and There’s No One with Endurance like the Man who sells Insurance (a song that never goes out of date).

With sympathetic transfers and notes this single disc selection can be warmly recommended.

Jonathan Woolf

Contents
A Gay Caballero
Abdul Abulbul Amir
Ukulele Lady
I Married The Bootlegger’s Daughter
I’m Sitting On Top Of The World
Thanks For The Buggy Ride
The Girl Friend
Mountain Greenery
Get Away, Old Man, Get Away
Pretty Little Dear
High, High, High Up In The Hills
Crazy Words, Crazy Tune
Frankie And Johnny
’S Wonderful
The Song Of The Prune
Granny’s Old Armchair
Little Brown Jug
Donald The Dub
Down By The Railroad Track
What Kind Of A Noise Annoys An Oyster?
Three Little Words
Would You Like To Take A Walk?
(With Julia Sanderson)
They’re Always Together
The Pig Got Up And Slowly Walked Away
There’s No One With Endurance Like The Man Who Sells Insurance

 

 




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