Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Red & Struggie go Nagasaki

This came up in conversation today, as it quite rightly should...

Nagasaki was knocked out by Tin Pan Alley stalwarts Harry Warren and Mort Dixon in 1928, quickly getting covered by all and sundry, perhaps due to it's ambiguous lyrical content and jaunty melody that could easily be riffed upon.

Here's the Mills Brother's doing just that, nearly ten years after the songs debut, and three years after Red & Struggie (the above artistes) performed what, for me, is far and away the definitive film version. (It can be found, in glorious condition, on the DVD for 1934's Dames)

Harry Warren remains a name to conjure with, having penned songs familiar to any film fanatic through their debut in the great pre-code Busby Berkeley extravaganzas from Warners, and subsequent, constant exposure in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies for the next 25 odd years. "We're In the Money", Lullaby of Broadway", "42nd Street", "I Only Have Eyes For You", not to mention "Jeepers Creepers", "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" and the "Chattanooga" chuffin' "Choo Choo". Mort Dixon's contributions might have been a little less illustrious, but he also wrote "Bye Bye Blackbird", so he probably did a lot better than you.

But what of powerhouse performers Red & Struggie themselves? They were a 1930s nightclub act and, apart from a return appearance in the 1936 Vitaphone reel Red Nichols & His World Famous Five Pennies, that's pretty much all I can tell you about them.

Sadly, Nagasaki itself was later the location the second atomic bomb was duly dropped by the US, effectively ending World War II, which I'm sure you'll agree is a pretty depressing way to end what was supposed to be a lighthearted blog entry.