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GENE AUSTIN The Voice Of The Southland

His 26 Finest 1925-1933

RETROSPECTIVE RTR 4370 [77:46]

1. My Blue Heaven (3:32)

2. When My Sugar Walks Down The Street (2:40)

3. Yes, Sir, Thatís My Baby! (2:45)

4. Tonight You Belong To Me (3:31)

5. Yearning Just For You (2:40)

6. My Melancholy Baby (3:26)

7. My Bundle Of Love (2:12)

8. The Lonesome Road (3:39)

9. Five Foot Two, Eyes Of Blue (2:46)

10. Ramona (2:53)

11. Bye-Bye, Blackbird (3:06)

12. Girl Of My Dreams (2:38)

13. Ainít She Sweet (2:38)

14. The Voice Of The Southland (2:53)

15. Just Like A Melody Out Of The Sky (2:54)

16. St. Louis Blues (3:23)

17. Jeanine, I Dream Of Lilac Time (2:56)

18. Iíve Got A Feeling Iím Falling (2:48)

19. Carolina Moon (2:54)

20. Ainít Misbehaviní (3:01)

21. When Your Lover Has Gone (2:48)

22. Please Donít Talk About Me When Iím Gone (2:25)

23. Love Letters In The Sand (2:58)

24. A Ghost Of A Chance (2:57)

25. Everything I Have Is Yours (2:52)

26. Did You Ever See A Dream Walking? (2:49)

 

Gene Austin (1900-1972) was an immensely popular singer and recording artist during the Roaring Twenties and early thirties. He was one of the first crooners, and his smooth and relaxed tenor voice was well-suited for the early electrical microphones that were coming on the scene. Gene was born Lemuel Eugene Lucas in Gainesville, Texas and grew up learning the songs of local singing cowboys. After his family moved to nearby Louisiana, his early music education included the folk melodies and rhythms of the black sharecroppers. Besides singing, Gene was also a fine songwriter, an excellent pianist, and even appeared in several movies. This disc contains 26 of his tunes recorded between 1925 and 1933. The majority of these were recorded for RCA Victor, and the last three appeared on the Banner Record label.

Geneís biggest hit recording was My Blue Heaven, recorded in September 1927 with Nat Shilkret and his Orchestra. Written by Walter Donaldson and George Whiting, the song sold more than 5 million copies and became the all-time best seller before White Christmas. Geneís light, casual singing style is echoed by a cello and fits perfectly with a tinkling piano background. In 1924 Gene teamed up with Jimmy McHugh and wrote When My Sugar Walks Down The Street, which he recorded the following year as a duet with Aileen Stanley. Aileen was a popular singer and comedienne, and the two singers create an entertaining number complete with vaudeville effects and bird calls. Gene and Nat Shilkret combined their songwriting skills and created the beautiful tuneThe Lonesome Road, which appeared in the 1929 film Show Boat. The song has become a multi-genre classic, recorded over 200 times in jazz, gospel and even dance versions. In addition to Geneís fine singing, he also whistles a verse, and is accompanied throughout by a slow, driving tempo from the string rhythm section.

Iíve Got A Feeling Iím Falling was written by Fats Waller and Harry Link and appeared in the 1929 film Applause. Gene is accompanied by Leonard Jay and his Orchestra, and features his friend Fats on piano in a lively arrangement with some interesting background guitar effects. One of my favorite songs on this disc is Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?, written by Harry Revel and Mack Gordon. It appeared in the 1933 film Sitting Pretty, featuring Ginger Rogers and Jack Haley. The lively tune features Gene accompanied by a first-class trio: guitarist Coco Heim, Johnny Candido on bass, and Gene himself on piano.

Geneís autobiography is titled Gene Austinís Olí Buddy, and provides an interesting read and a glimpse into his adventurous and colorful life story, including his 5 marriages, various associations and business dealings, and his songís inductions into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

This music was compiled by Ray Crick, and Martin Haskell performed the audio restoration and remastering. A 12-page booklet comes with this disc, with notes and comments by Ray Crick.

The sound quality is very good overall.

Bruce McCollum


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