The Georgia Melodians

Georgia Melodians

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In 1996, Timeless Historical reissued 20 of the 27 titles known to have been recorded for Edison during the years 1924-1927 by the Georgia Melodians, a marvelously zippy little dance band that sounded a lot like the California Ramblers. Unlike most of the album covers in the Timeless catalog, this one's illustration is closely based upon an actual photo of the band. As for the contents, the producers chose to skip the Melodians' first seven recordings, so what you get here are 20 titles recorded between July 1924 and April 1926. To some listeners, this music may sound like vintage Max Fleischer cartoon soundtracks, with ooh-wacka-ooh brass and slap-tongue reeds that cross the line between authentic early jazz and rinky-dink hot novelty dance music. After two or three tunes, you might expect the salt-and-pepper shakers to get up and start dancing around. What distinguishes the Georgia Melodians in this musical realm is the fact that they played this type of stuff really well, and their recordings hold up nicely compared to works by some of their similarly slaphappy contemporaries. It's intriguing to note that Vernon Dalhart was the vocalist on "Red Hot Mama" and "Red Hot Henry Brown." Usually remembered as the surly singer of traditional airs and folk ballads like "The Wreck of the Old 97," Dalhart would hardly have seemed like a logical candidate for "hot" numbers like these. Thomas Edison was very fond of Dalhart and recorded him extensively because he enunciated so well that everyone could understand each word he emitted. His work with the Georgia Melodians appears to have been the closest Dalhart ever got to being a jazz singer.

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