Somethin' Smith & the Redheads

Put the Blame on Mame

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Somethin' Smith & the Redheads picked songs from each of the first five decades of the 20th century for their album Put the Blame on Mame (the title song came from the 1946 movie Gilda, in which Rita Hayworth had pretended to sing it), but their approach to all of the material, as with their earlier recordings, derived from the late 1910s and '20s. The group was, essentially, a vaudeville act, or rather, since they were 1950s college students, a camp gloss on vaudeville. They might sing "My Melancholy Baby" or "Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home" with enthusiasm as Smith strummed his banjo and a string arrangement swooped in and out, but they were kidding such material in a good-natured way. All of this perhaps worked better on a nightclub stage than on a record, but the group was able to convey some of the high spirits of their act even in a recording studio, and the careful harmonies and well-worked-out arrangements were easier to appreciate on disc.