Fred Waring

Fred Waring, Vol. 1: Collegiate Years

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Years before being established as the definitive mom & apple pie glee club, Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians were a combination sweet-to-hot dance band and vaudevillian variety show with glee club overtones. Nobody has gone through all of the Victor recordings made during the heyday of this funny little band, but the T.O.M. (The Old Masters) label made a heroic effort with two entertaining and insightfully annotated albums of some of their best works in chronological order. Although the Pennsylvanians made their first acoustically recorded sides in 1923, this first volume begins with their earliest electrical recordings dating from the spring and autumn of 1925, and follows the group's evolution through December of 1928. While the popular "Collegiate" and its spin-off "Collegiate Blues" might seem like essential vintage ivy league humor, "Freshie" stumbles into the sociopathic realm of jocular bullying and hazing. The juiciest tracks on this compilation are the exciting and very danceable "Wob-A-Ly Walk," a thrilling rendition of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings' "Farewell Blues," and the rousing "Any Ice Today, Lady?" with its racy refrain: "How about a piece of ice today?"

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