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FRANK CRUMIT A GAY CABALLERO

Singer and Entertainer His 25 Finest 1925-1935

RETROSPECTIVE RTR 4317

TOTAL PLAYING TIME: [79:32]

1. A Gay Caballero (2:56)

2. Abdul Abulbul Amir (2:54)

3. Ukulele Lady (2:57)

4. I Married The Bootlegger’s daughter (3:08)

5. I’m Sitting on Top Of The World (2:50)

6. Thanks for The Buggy Ride (3:03)

7. The Girl Friend (3:16)

8. Mountain Greenery (2:59)

9. Get Away, Old Man, Get Away (3:01)

10. Pretty Little Dear (2:57)

11. High, High, High Up In The Hills (3:26)

12. Crazy Words, Crazy Tune (3:17)

13. Frankie And Johnny (3:30)

14. ‘S Wonderful (3:28)

15. The Song of the Prune (3:34)

16. Granny’s Old Armchair (3:27)

17. Little Brown Jug (3:24)

18. Donald The Dub (3:36)

19. Down By The Railroad Track (3:21)

20. What Kind Of Noise Annoys An Oyster? (2:58)

21. Three Little Words (2:42)

22. Would You Like to Take A Walk? (2:46)

23. They’re Always Together (2:44)

24. The Pig Got Up And Slowly Walked Away (3:02)

25. There’s No One With Endurance Like The Man Who Sells Insurance (2:41)

Frank Crumit (1889-1943) was a popular and well-loved American singer and composer who made his mark in the entertainment world as a vaudeville star and radio entertainer. Born in Jackson, Ohio, he first performed on Broadway in the 1918 musical Betty Be Good. Frank began making records in 1919 for American Columbia using the acoustic or “horn” method of recording. His first release, My Gal, came in May 1920. Frank had an easy, relaxed singing style and pleasant tenor which unfortunately was not always well-captured with the horn. Some of his early records tended to sound a bit distant and thin, as the acoustic method generally favored a stronger, richer voice. Frank began recording for Victor Records in 1923. When Victor introduced their new Orthophonic electronic recording process in 1925, Frank put away the horn and switched to the microphone, which greatly improved the tone, resonance and quality of his recordings.

Frank recorded over 100 songs in his career and had over 31 hit records, with 25 included on this disc. He specialized in novelty songs, and composed some zany ones himself. Frank wrote The Song of the Prune with Harry De Costa and recorded it in April 1928 for Victor Records, accompanying himself on guitar and joined by the talented team of violinist Lou Raderman, clarinetist Andy Sannella, pianist Ed Smalle, and Jack Shilkret on the piano accordion. Frank teamed up with co-writer Billy Curtis to compose the bouncy classic What Kind Of Noise Annoys An Oyster?, recorded in November 1930 for the Victor label. He is accompanied by Leonard Joy and His Orchestra and mandolinist Tony Colicchio. His biggest hit was the title track A Gay Caballero, composed in 1928 by Frank with co-writer Lou Klein and recorded on the Decca label in 1934. Another of his hits, Abdul Abulbul Amir, was recorded during the same session. The two were released together as Decca F 5385, and sold more than four million copies. One of my favorites in this collection is Would You Like To Take A Walk, written by Harry Warren, Mort Dixon and Billy Rose for the 1930 musical Sweet And Low. The charming give-and-take duet is sung by Frank and his wife Julia Sanderson. The two were known as the Singing Sweethearts and had their own radio show in New York City for many years.

This is a fine collection of tunes, a mix of seldom-heard novelty tunes, standards and a few from the world of vaudeville that are hard to label. They are all enjoyable. A 10-page booklet is included, with notes and comment by Peter Dempsey. Music was compiled by Ray Crick, and restored and remastered by Martin Haskell.

Bruce McCollum

See also review by Jonathan Woolf