About this Recording
8.120842 - HITS OF THE 1930s, Vol. 2 (1931-1933)

Hits of the 1930s
Vol. 2: 1931-1933 Original Recordings


After the boisterous high times that were the Roaring Twenties, the Thirties were an indescribable shock. The Great Depression gripped America. Hitler, Mussolini and Franco made the headlines. Breadlines, soup kitchens, hobo jungles and Hoovervilles. Busby Berkeley, King Kong, Fireside chats, Radio City and radio …

1931 - Banks may have been failing in the United States (more than two thousand did), but skyscrapers were rising: work began on Rockefeller Centre, and the Empire State Building opened on 1 May. The tallest building in the world with 102 floors, it cost fifty-four million dollars. The price of bootleg liquor finally began to drop, and Massachussets presented the first resolution to end Prohibition. Bridge was the latest pastime, along with listening to free entertainment on the radio. The daily misadventures of Amos'n'Andy were so popular that movie theatres had to pipe the programme into the auditorium or risk losing their audience every evening at 7. And while the audience flocked to NBC, CBS would try out new talent such as Kate Smith and Bing Crosby opposite them.

Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth was a bestseller in 1931 and a Pulitzer Prize winner the following year. On Broadway, the hits included Noel Coward's Private Lives, The Band Wagon with Fred and Adele Astaire, and George and Ira Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing, the first musical comedy to win a Pulitzer Prize. At the movies, the favourites included Charlie Chaplin's City Lights, The Front Page, Min and Bill, Street Scene and Delicious.

1931's musical favourites included a rhumba (The Peanut Vendor), a jazz classic full of drug culture references and nonsense lyrics (Minnie The Moocher), oblique references to economic conditions (I Found A Million Dollar Baby and Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries) and a couple of enduring standards (Out Of Nowhere, Dream A Little Dream Of Me).

1932 - Aviation was again in the news, directly and indirectly. Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic, 20-21 May. James G. Haislip set a new transcontinental record on 29 August flying from Los Angeles to Brooklyn in just over ten hours. And the 19-month-old son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh was kidnapped and found dead. Jack Sharkey fought Max Schmeling on 21 June and won the championship on a decision. Radio City Music Hall opened its doors on 27 December, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President. The name of his predecessor in the White House, Herbert Hoover, was already being attached to shanty towns (Hoovervilles) and newspapers used for covering (Hoover blankets).

Popular books in 1932 included Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road and The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. On Broadway the hits were Dinner at Eight, Face the Music, Gay Divorce and a revival of Show Boat. Double features became an attraction to lure movie-goers; the hits included Bill of Divorcement, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Grand Hotel and The Big Broadcast.

Potatoes are cheaper, tomatoes are cheaper, now's the time to fall in love – so went the lyric of a popular song introduced by Eddie Cantor that year. But such were the conditions of the recording industry at the time that Cantor wasn't signed to any label and didn't get around to recording the song for another decade. Fortunately, it was popular with dance bands such as the swinging one led by Gene Kardos. A tribute to Home by radio bandleader Peter van Steeden was another 1932 hit, while the song that most epitomized the unwitting victims of the Depression, Brother Can You Spare A Dime, was immortalized by Bing Crosby. Rudy Vallee's recording of Home appeared on a paper-based Hit of the Week disc and sold for less than a quarter, while most records were still priced – and not selling – at seventy-five cents.

1933 - President Roosevelt made the most of the headlines that year with his inauguration, his 'bank holiday' 4 to 14 March, his Fireside Chats and 'New Deal' policies. Adolf Hitler was also in the news, coming to power 30 January as Chancellor of the Third Reich. Federal relief started in May, The Lone Ranger began its long radio run in November, and Prohibition finally ended in December.

The year's books included God's Little Acre by Erskine Caldwell and Hervey Allen's Anthony Adverse. Caldwell's Tobacco Road became a smash hit on Broadway, setting a new record of 3,182 performances. Other Broadway successes were Ah, Wilderness!, Murder at the Vanities, As Thousands Cheer, Roberta and Let 'em Eat Cake. Among the memorable movies in 1933 were Forty-Second Street, Flying Down to Rio, Gold Diggers of 1933, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, King Kong, and Marie Dressler in Tugboat Annie.

1933 gave us some unforgettable music, including Stormy Weather, It's Only A Paper Moon, Night and Day (introduced the previous year and featured again when Gay Divorce was filmed as Gay Divorcee), and another Depression anthem, Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf.

Looking ahead: dust storms, drought and Dillinger, coming up in 1934.

David Lennick, 2006



The Peanut Vendor (Moises Simons)
Don Azpiazu & His Havana Casino Orchestra; Antonio Machin, vocal
Victor 22483, mx BVE 62152-3
Recorded 13 May 1930, New York

Dream A Little Dream Of Me (Gus Kahn–Wilbur Schwandt–Fabian Andree)
Ozzie Nelson & His Orchestra; Ozzie Nelson, vocal
Brunswick 6060, mx E 36081-A
Recorded 16 February 1931, New York

Minnie The Moocher (Cab Calloway–Irving Mills–Clarence Gaskill)
Cab Calloway & His Orchestra; Cab Calloway, vocal
Brunswick 6074, mx E 36212-A
Recorded 3 March 1931, New York

Out Of Nowhere (Johnny Green–Edward Heyman)
Bing Crosby with orchestra
Brunswick 6090, mx LA 983-A
Recorded 30 March 1931, Los Angeles

I Found A Million Dollar Baby (In A Five-And-Ten Cent Store) (Billy Rose–Mort Dixon–Harry Warren)
The Boswell Sisters with Victor Young's Orchestra
Brunswick 6128, mx E 36826-A
Recorded 22 May 1931, New York

Home (Peter van Steeden–Jeff & Harry Clarkson)
Rudy Vallee & His Connecticut Yankees; Rudy Vallee, vocal
Hit of the Week A-3-4, mx 1191-C
Recorded January 1932, New York

River Stay 'Way From My Door (Mort Dixon–Harry Woods)
Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians; Kate Smith, vocal
Columbia 2578-D, mx W 152032-1
Recorded 8 December 1931, New York

(Potatoes Are Cheaper, Tomatoes Are Cheaper) Now's The Time To Fall In Love (Al Sherman–Al Lewis)
Gene Kardos & His Orchestra; Dick Robertson, vocal
Victor 22865, mx BS 70951-2
Recorded 13 November 1931, New York

We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye (Harry Woods)
Annette Hanshaw with orchestra
Melotone M-12471, mx 12199-A
Recorded 16 August 1932, New York

Let's Have Another Cup Of Coffee (Irving Berlin)
Phil Spitalny's Music; Helen Rowland & The Eton Boys, vocal
Hit of the Week D-3-4, mx 1206-A
Recorded April 1932, New York

Brother Can You Spare A Dime (E. Y. Harburg–Jay Gorney)
Bing Crosby with Lennie Hayton's Orchestra
Brunswick 6424, mx B 12502-A
Recorded 25 October 1932, New York

Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries (Lew Brown–Ray Henderson)
Rudy Vallee & His Connecticut Yankees; Rudy Vallee, vocal
Victor 22783, mx BS 70156-1
Recorded 7 August 1931, New York

Night And Day (Cole Porter)
Leo Reisman's Orchestra; Fred Astaire, vocal
Victor 24193, mx BS 73977-1
Recorded 22 November 1932, New York

It's Only A Paper Moon (Harold Arlen–E. Y. Harburg)
Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra; Peggy Healy, vocal
Victor 24400, mx BS 77645-1
Recorded 11 September 1933, New York

Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf (Frank Churchill–Ann Ronell)
Henry Hall & The BBC Dance Orchestra; Les Allen and Band, vocal
Columbia CB 669, mx CA 14060-1
Recorded 16 October 1933, London

Annie Doesn't Live Here Any More (Joe Young–Johnny Burke)
Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians; Carmen Lombardo & Trio, vocal
Brunswick 6662, mx C 616-1
Recorded 27 September 1933, Chicago

Stormy Weather (Harold Arlen–Ted Koehler)
Leo Reisman's Orchestra; Harold Arlen, vocal
Victor 24262, mx BS 75329-1
Recorded 28 February 1933, New York

The Gold Digger's Song (We're In The Money) (Harry Warren–Al Dubin)
Dick Powell with orchestra
Banner 32786, mx 13386-1
Recorded 25 May 1933, New York

The Last Round-Up (Billy Hill)
George Olsen & His Music; Jim Morrison, vocal
Columbia 2791-D, mx W 152436-2;
Recorded 11 July 1933, New York

Forty-Second Street (Harry Warren–Al Dubin)
Don Bestor & His Orchestra; Dudley Mecum, vocal
Victor 24353, mx BS 75323-1
Recorded 26 February 1933, New York

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