Somethin' Smith & the Redheads were a novelty act of the 1950s, a trio of UCLA college students who had something in common with folk acts such as the Kingston Trio in that they brought a fresh, comic style to their nightclub show. But unlike the folkies, Smith and his two flame-haired cohorts were interested in taking light pop songs from the first five decades of the 20th century and performing them in bright harmonies and with their tongues just touching their cheeks, as Smith strummed a banjo, Saul Striks played a rinky-dink piano, and Major Short bowed a violin. It was the kind of lighthearted act that worked better on a small stage than it did in a recording studio, but Epic Records signed them up and they actually had a few hits, starting with their revival of Fats Waller's "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie" in 1955. That song is not included on this discount-priced CD reissue that combines their LP releases of 1956 and 1957, but their other Top 40 entry, a version of Ted Lewis' "In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town," is, along with another chart entry, "Heartaches," the old Ted Weems hit. On Come to Broadway, the group provides its own introductions to many of the songs, and on what used to be side two (now tracks seven through 13) they provide a tour of New York from the Bowery to Coney Island. Put the Blame on Mame ranges from '40s songs like the title track (featured in the movie Gilda) back to early in the 1900s for songs like "My Melancholy Baby." The arrangements are much beefed-up from the Redheads' club act, with strings and horns. The group's humor is not quite as upfront on record, but this music is still frothy fun of an innocent kind only the 1950s could have produced.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann