sampling of great, strange and lousy couplings
by Christopher Doty
his fame in the music industry, Guy Lombardo rarely enjoyed the company
of guest stars in the recording studio. This is doubling puzzling when
you consider Jack Kapp, the head of Lombardo's label, pioneered the practice
of twinning his talent pool in the 1930s.
list only covers Lombardo's commercial recordings. It does not included
parings on radio, film or television)
Who? This deservedly forgotten singer provided the vocal on the Royal
Canadian's first hit record, Charmaine. There lies one of his few claims
to fame. Incredibly, Vaughan's mewly whining didn't prevent him from making
records well into the 1930s. Maybe he worked cheap.
The Two Black
Oh, I am so glad these sides were never issued. The Crows were George
Moran and Charles Mack, two white guys who recorded a series of droll
but hopelessly racist comedy routines in a heavy southern Negro drawl.
In March of 1928 they were accompanied by the Royal Canadians on four
rejected numbers. To quote the Crows: "Even if that was good I wouldn't
Two sides recorded in 1931:
River, Stay 'Way From My Door and Too Late. Kate was a pretty moral young
lady - she once refused to have sex siren Mae West in the same room with
her. Chances are the sweet sounds Royal Canadians made them one of the
few suitable accompanists for her singing.
In December of 1932 Jolson had not made a record in over two years when
he walked into the studios of the American Recording Corp. to wax five
sides - two of them with Lombardo: Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody
and April Showers. Unfortunately, Jolson's bravura signing style was at
odds with the band's bleating sax section. The result produced what critic
Will Friedwald calls "the most unintentionally hilarious record of
Jolson would not
make another record for 13 years when he was signed by Decca. We can be
grateful the company did not rejoin Jolie with label mate Lombardo.
Oddly enough, Crosby and Lombardo worked together at the beginning and
end of their superstar years. In 1933 Crosby was paired with Lombardo
for three sides: You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me, Young and Healthy
and You're Beautiful Tonight Dear. When these selections were first released
on LP in 1978 producer/annotater Michael Brooks noted how the listener
is "engulfed by that sax section which is like being smothered by
a giant placenta." How would he know?
Twenty one years
later both men enjoyed one of their last chartings with a Frank Sinatra
cover: Young at Heart. Save for reissues of White Christmas and Auld Lang
Syne, neither man would attain the heights of pop music they had scaled
in the 1930s and 1940s.
Patty, Maxene and La Verne helped Guy cruise to another million seller
with Christmas Island, proving that the Royal Canadians weren't just for
New Year's Eve. In a possible reference to Lombardo's Canuck roots, the
chorus of the song goes "Aloha - eh!" The disc's flip side was
Winter Wonderland - which became a seasonal standard. Prior to this 1946
hit, Guy and the sisters had first recorded a year earlier and would reunite
in 1951 for Play Me a Hurtin' Tune. Lombardo did.
Comedian Jimmy Durante once joked he wanted to marry this popular chanteuse
- just to give her a last name. She waxed five titles with the Royal Canadians
in 1945 and 1946 including such standards as June is Bustin' Out All Over
and The Gypsy.
The future star of South Pacific and Peter Pan cut two unremarkable sides
with the band in 1947: Come to the Mardi Gras and Almost Like Being in
Despite their mutual admiration, Armstrong and Lombardo recorded just
two sides: Mumbo Jumbo and Come Along Down - both penned by Carmen Lombardo.
The numbers are from the 1966 Jones Beach musical Mardi Gras which featured
here for an on-line discography of Lombardo's work