Various Artists

The Complete Hit of the Week Recordings, Vol. 1: 1930

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In 1930, Hit of the Week Recordings were both unique and popular. Made out of cardboard and only playable on one side, they sold for 15 cents. The performances were usually jazz-oriented dance music with the emphasis on melodic readings of the most popular hits of the period. The Archeophone label usually specializes in reissuing pre-'20s recordings, so this double-CD, Complete Hit of the Week Recordings, Vol. 1: 1930, is a rare chance for the company to deal with more "modern" music. The 46 selections on this two-fer have performances by the orchestras of Don Voorhees, Bert Lown, Vincent Lopez, Ben Pollack (with trombonist Jack Teagarden), Jan Garber, and even Duke Ellington ("Sing You Sinners" and "St. James Infirmary"), but are mostly by an "anonymous" group called the Hit of the Week Orchestra. A band of studio players, the group sometimes included trumpeter Bunny Berigan and trombonist Tommy Dorsey, and has short hot solos by those very capable musicians. But more important than individual spots was the chance for the Depression-era audience to acquire inexpensive recordings of such new songs as "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips," "Back in Your Own Backyard," "Get Happy," "I'm Confessin'," "Bye Bye Blues," and other now-obscure numbers. Innovations like the Hit of the Week Recordings series helped to keep the recording industry alive. As is typical of Archeophone productions, the booklet is definitive, the recording quality is superior, and the programming is very logical. The second volume in the series concentrates on the later, five-minute Hit of the Week Recordings of 1931. Lovers of early-'30s dance music, historic jazz, and musical history are well advised to acquire this valuable first volume.

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