Sunday, October 31, 2010

Crisco Presents the Mills Brothers discovered

A few months ago I posted a contribution, entitled Crisco Presents The Mills Brothers about a rare and missing original Mills Brothers promo disc for Crisco, the all vegetable shortening which digest so easily, which should have been released on a small cardboard Durium recording early 1932. It was first reissued on a Ristic album ( Ristic 51) and later adopted from that first album on several lp's and cd's.

As the discographer of the (paper and online version) Hit of the Week-Durium Discographies ( and particularly the Durium Advertisement and Custom Records Discography) I wondered if the "original" record still existed, as I'd never seen a scan of the original label. Wasn't it strange that this small record seemed to have disappeared since its release in the 1930s, most likely in large quantities, and reissued for the very first time in the 1970s on a ten inch Ristic album - but never seen again since that post-Ristic period? I posted a call and last week Jerry Zolten responded that he had a copy, just recently found, of the original record. Great!


CRISCO PRESENTS THE MILLS BROTHERS (Durium) ( April 1932) ( photo courtesy; Jerry Zolten).

……. PRESENTS THE MILLS BROTHERS [g-(male) vo4] John Mills vo g, Herbert Mills vo, Harry Mills vo, Donald Mills vo.
Recorded in New York City, ca Apr. 1932
5108 (A) E (Goodbye Blues)
Originally released unnumbered on a small 4-inch cardboard Durium record.
Contemporary issues: RISTIC 51 / MFC–9 / S.H. 2044 / JSPCD 301 / JSP 902 / MUSIC BOX THEATRE vol 3 / NOSTALGIA ARTS NOCD 3010
(source: Durium Advertisement and Custom Records discography - Hans Koert)

The matrix number is 5108, but the take number is B ( and not A) as was listed in my discography. It is of course possible that several takes were used.


The sound track:


Crisco, the all vegetable shortening which digest so easily presents the MILLS BROTHERS singing their famous theme song GOODBYE BLUES. There's no tuba, saxophone, trumpet or trombone. The only instrument used is a guitar. All effects are achieved vocally. Unknown six month ago, the MILLS BROTHERS today are internationally famous for having introduced a new rhythm and a new type of vocal harmony. We invite you to tune in and hear them at 7.15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time every Tuesday and Thursday evening over the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Jerry wrote: My copy was acquired at an estate auction a couple of months ago. It was in a box unprotected with a number of unrelated items, but I do have an interest in the Mills Brothers, more so than Duriums in general - and so bid on and won the box. Believe I tossed everything but the Durium disk. Had a tough time playing it when I got home. It just didn't want to stay stationary on my turntable and so had to delicately tape the disk in place...but, as you see, it did play...and I was thrilled with the content...that early Mills Brothers sound that I was hoping for. Jerry Zolten also shared us some details that might be of some importance: As to the Mills Brothers, I live not too far from the Central Pennsylvania town of Bellefonte where they had family ties. Some years ago, I had an opportunity to buy a family piano which, I was told, they had stood around as youngsters when they were just learning.

Thanks Jerry for sharing this with us.

The Mills Brothers, originally billed as Four Boys and a guitar, was a group that performed in the vaudeville circuit and they became famous because they could imitate all kinds of instruments, like the trumpet, trombone and the tuba or bass with their voices: There's no tuba, saxophone, trumpet or trombone. The only instrument used is a guitar. All effects are achieved vocally. In one of their first 1931 recordings for Brunswick they recorded the Tiger Rag. In the next fragment, part of the 1932 film The Big Broadcast you can see how this sound imitating works and sounds. One of their first hits was the Goodbye Blues, here, in a very short fragment of that same The Big Broadcast from 1932.
Goodbye Blues became their signature tune and that's the reason why this tunes was the opening tune for the Fleischer Screen Songs cartoon I Ain't Got Nobody, a kind of karaoke avant la lettre, which includes a sing-along bouncing ball fragment. The Screen Songs cartoon, a typically Fleischer mix from filmed fragments and cartoon comics, starts with a filmed Goodbye Blues. Later in the film you'll find Some Of These Days - Tiger Rag - I Ain't Got Nobody ( Don't sing to loud - mind the neighbours) and finally the Tiger Rag again with a great scat fragment - all hits from the early 1930s Mills Brothers Quartette (sic). The music throughout this cartoon is furnished by the Mills Brothers Quartette. They employ no musical instruments of any kind – except the guitar. There is no tuba, no trumpet and no saxophone. As this film was released on the 17th of June, 1932 the recordings for these fragments must have been made in the same period as the Crisco commercial ( spring 1932).


Isn’t it great to learn that the artists in Max Fleischer’s team seem to have had prophetic talents too, by introducing the first “television-set”!


Thanks Jerry for sharing this record label. Good to learn that it is still around.

This contribution will also be published at the Keep Swinging blog in Dutch.

Follow the Keep swinging blog contribution at Twitter: KeepSwinging

Hans Koert

keepswinging@live.nl

4 Comments:

Anonymous John L. said...

Hello Hans!

I was delighted to see an actual PICTURE of the label of this extremely scarce 3” HotW promotional disc on your website. I can offer a little bit of information, if I may – the radio announcer you hear on this side is ANDRE BARUCH, who later married big-band singer Bea Wain. Bea is still alive at, I believe, 92 or 93 years of old; Baruch passed away sometime in the 1990s.
Thanks for having such a great site!

Best wishes,

John Leifert
(New York City) (US)

November 02, 2010  
Blogger The Daughter of the Paper Doll said...

Re: the Durium disk
So nice to hear such nice things said about such fine gentlemen, I am so very glad that you enjoy The Mills Brothers. I am delighted to learn that you made such an unusual find and that you were so pleased with the sound. The way that you described taping the cardboard sounds like fun, albeit a jolt to your nerves, bravo!
I wish I’d read that in 2010 perhaps I could have spoken with Bea Wain wow, rather than miss an opportunity, who has her contact info? I heard some who knew music and her say they considered her to be the best vocalist of her time. I had long visits with Diva Josephine Baker well into her 70’s and she still sizzled so I’d be honored to meet Ms. Wain.
Back to TMB, reading this in 2012 begs me to question, I hope you don’t mind, where is the Durium disk now, do you still have it? And will you please tell me all about that piano as well.

August 13, 2012  
Blogger The Daughter of the Paper Doll said...

Re: the Durium disk
So nice to hear such nice things said about such fine gentlemen, I am so very glad that you enjoy The Mills Brothers. I am delighted to learn that you made such an unusual find and that you were so pleased with the sound. The way that you describe taping the cardboard sounds like fun, albeit a jolt to your nerves, bravo!
I wish I’d read that in 2010 perhaps I could have spoken with Bea Wain wow, rather than miss an opportunity, who has her contact info? I heard some who knew music and her say they considered her to be the best vocalist of her time. I had long visits with Diva Josephine Baker well into her 70’s and she still sizzled so I’d be honored to meet Ms. Wain.
Back to TMB, reading this in 2012 begs me to question, I hope you don’t mind, where is the Durium disk now, do you still have it? And will you please tell me all about that piano as well.

August 13, 2012  
Blogger Hans Koert said...

You can contact me directly at my e-mail address.

August 13, 2012  

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