Greg Poppleton

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03 October 2023

(Until 03 October)

The Revelers 1920s Radio Pioneers

Greg Poppleton's Phantom Dancer swing jazz radio show

THe Revelers were an American quintet (four close harmony singers and a pianist) popular in the late 1920s and early 1930s. They made the first known record of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” in 1923 and are this week’s Phantom Dancer feature artist.

Thank you for subscribing to 2SER during this year’s radiothon. You help keep this show and volunteer-powered community radio on air. Good luck in the major prize draw.

The Phantom Dancer is your weekly non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV every week.

LISTEN to this week’s Phantom Dancer mix (online after 2pm AEST, Tuesday 3 October) and weeks of Phantom Dancer mixes online at, at https://2ser.com/phantom-dancer/

THE REVELERS

The Revelers’ recordings of “Dinah”, “Old Man River”, “Valencia”, “Baby Face”, “Blue Room”, “The Birth of the Blues”, “When Yuba Plays the Rhumba on the Tuba”, and many more, were popular in the United States and then Europe in the late 1920s.

In August 1929, they appeared in the Netherlands with Richard Tauber at the Kurhaus, Scheveningen and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

All of the members had recorded individually or in various combinations.

The quartet, organized in 1917, performed under the name The Shannon Four or The Shannon Quartet before changing their name to The Revelers in 1925.

The original Revelers were tenors Franklyn Baur and Lewis James (and occasionally Charles W. Harrison substituting when Baur or James was unavailable), baritone Elliot Shaw, bass Wilfred Glenn (who had popularized “Asleep in the Deep” on records), and pianist Ed Smalle. Smalle was replaced by Frank Black in 1926.

The Revelers (with Black at the piano) appeared in a pioneer movie musical, The Revelers (1927), filmed in Warner Bros.’ sound-on-disc Vitaphone process which you can watch below.

The group performed the entire nine-minute set in one continuous, uninterrupted take, with the camera in a fixed position. A second short, filmed the same day with another three songs, awaits restoration.

Franklyn Baur was replaced by Frank Luther and then James Melton (later a Metropolitan Opera tenor).

The Revelers were stars on radio and in vaudeville, as well as in the recording studio. On radio they were regulars on The Palmolive Hour (1927–31).

They had recording contracts with Columbia Records and Victor (later RCA Victor) but made extra money by moonlighting under pseudonyms.

Columbia promoted them as The Singing Sophomores and Brunswick Records called them The Merrymakers.

The group also adopted the names of their radio sponsors: The Eveready Revelers, The Palmolive Revelers, The Seiberling Singers, The General Motors Brigadiers, and The Raleigh Rovers.

Although The Revelers stayed current, making a point of including the latest popular songs and show tunes in their repertoire, their sound seemed increasingly old-fashioned. Their listening audience gravitated toward the top soloists of the early 1930s, like Bing Crosby, Arthur Tracy, and Russ Columbo.

James Melton left the group in 1933 to embark on a concert career.

The last Revelers record for Victor was released in January 1934, after which Lewis James and Elliot Shaw left.

Senior member Wilfred Glenn continued to make live appearances with a male chorus billed as The Revelers. The group returned to the recording studio only once, to record a program of 10 traditional religious songs for Decca in 1938.

Frank Black became prominent as Dr. Frank Black, music director at NBC and recording-company executive.

James Melton’s CBS network radio program, Harvest of Stars, brought back Lewis James, Elliot Shaw, Wilfred Glenn, and Frank Black for a Revelers reunion on April 11, 1948.

The German group The Comedian Harmonists formed in 1927 after hearing some records of The Revelers. According to Douglas Friedman’s book The Comedian Harmonists (2010), both groups appeared on the same bill at the Scala in Berlin in August 1929 and became good friends.

3 October PLAY LIST

Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney
LISTEN ONLINE
Community Radio Network Show CRN #619

107.3 2SER Tuesday 3 October 2023
12:04 – 2:00pm (+10 hours GMT)
National Program
5UV Adelaide Monday 2:30 – 3:30am
5GTR Mt Gambier Monday 2:30 – 3:30am
3MBR Murrayville Monday 3 – 4am
4NAG Keppel FM Monday 3 – 4am
2MIA Griffith Monday 3 – 4am
2BAR Edge FM Bega Monday 3 – 4am
2BRW Braidwood Monday 3 – 4am
2YYY Young Monday 3 – 4am
7RPH Hobart Monday 3 – 4pm
3VKV Alpine Radio Monday 6 – 7pm
7MID Oatlands Monday 3am – 4 and 6 -7pm
2MCE Bathurst Wednesday 9 – 10am
1ART ArtsoundFM Canberra Friday 10 – 11am
and Sunday 11pm
Reading Radio (QLD) Friday 1am – 2
2RRR Ryde Friday 11am – 12
2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm
5LCM Lofty FM Adelaide Friday 1 – 2pm
6GME Radio Goolarri Broome Saturday 4am – 5am
Denmark FM (West Australia) Saturday 10 – 11am
Repeat: Wednesdays 10 – 11pm
7LTN Launceston Sunday 5 – 6am
3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am
3BBR West Gippsland Sunday 5 – 6pm
2SEA Sapphire Coast Eden Sunday 9 – 10pm

Set 1
Russ Morgan Orchestra
Does Your Heart Beat For Me (theme) + Doin’ the Prom
Russ Morgan Orchestra
Trocadero
KHJ Mutual – Don Lee LA
AFRS Re-broadcast
3 Sep 1945
Cuddle
Russ Morgan Orchestra (voc) Russ Morgan
Trocadero
KHJ Mutual – Don Lee LA
AFRS Re-broadcast
3 Sep 1945
The Cakewalk
Russ Morgan Orchestra
Trocadero
KHJ Mutual – Don Lee LA
AFRS Re-broadcast
3 Sep 1945
I Can’t Believe It But It’s TrueRuss Morgan Orchestra (voc) Margery Lee
Trocadero
KHJ Mutual – Don Lee LA
AFRS Re-broadcast
3 Sep 1945
Set 2
Western Swing
Open + Dinah
Lightcrust Dough Boys (voc) Bashful
‘Lightcrust Flour Show’
KTHS Hot Springs
Arkansas
30 Apr 1936
Limehouse Blues
Lightcrust Dough Boys
‘Lightcrust Flour Show’
KTHS Hot Springs
Arkansas
30 Apr 1936
Leave the Pretty Girls Alone
Lightcrust Dough Boys (voc) Buddy
‘Lightcrust Flour Show’
KTHS Hot Springs
Arkansas
30 Apr 1936
Lightcrust Flour Song (close)
Lightcrust Dough Boys
‘Lightcrust Flour Show’
KTHS Hot Springs
Arkansas
30 Apr 1936
Set 3
The Revelers
Open + Dinah + The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down
The Revelers (piano) Frank Black
‘The Magic Key’
WJZ NBC Blue
3 Jul 1937
Lindy Lou
The Revelers with Frank Black and Orchestra
‘The Magic Key’
WJZ NBC Blue
3 Jul 1937
Talking Through My Heart
Frank Black and the Magic Key Orchestra
‘The Magic Key’
WJZ NBC Blue
3 Jul 1937
Stars and Stripes Forever + Close
The Revelers, Frank Black and the Magic Key Orchestra, the Edwin Franco Goldberg Band
‘The Magic Key’
WJZ NBC Blue
3 Jul 1937
Set 4
Shep Fields all Reed and Rhthym Swing
Open + Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby
Shep Field and his New Music (voc) Tommy Lucas
‘One Night Stand’
Copacabana NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
9 Aug 1944
A Kiss to Remember
Shep Field and his New Music (voc) Meredith Blake
‘One Night Stand’
Copacabana NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
9 Aug 1944
16:00 On The Clock + Harlem Nocturne
Shep Field and his New Music
‘One Night Stand’
Copacabana NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
9 Aug 1944
Copaca Boogie
Shep Field and his New Music (voc) Meredith Blake and Band
‘One Night Stand’
Copacabana NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
9 Aug 1944
Set 5
Cab Calloway
Minnie the Moocher (theme) + Rhythm Cocktail
Cab Calloway Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Club Zanzibar NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
16 Jul 1946
Kabla
Cab Calloway Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Club Zanzibar NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
16 Jul 1946
The Great Lie
Cab Calloway Orchestra‘One Night Stand’
Club Zanzibar NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
20 Jul 1945
Rosemary
Cab Calloway Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Club Zanzibar NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
20 Jul 1945
Set 6
Australian Trad Jazz
Unreasonable Woman’s Blues
The Southern Jazz Group
Comm Rec
Sydney
1 Jun 1950
Tiger Rag
Graeme Bell
3AW Melbourne
1949
Emu Strut
The Southern Jazz Group
Comm Rec
Sydney
1 Jun 1950
I Can’t Sleep
Graeme Bell
3AW Melbourne
1949
Set 7
Cocoanut Grove
Me
Gus Arnheim Orchestra (voc) Dave Marshall and Loyce Whiteman
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
1931
Sugar
Jimmy Grier OrchestraRadio Transcription
Los Angeles
1932
Under the Palms
Gus Arnheim Orchestra (voc) Donald Novis
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
1931
You Knew You’d Hurt Somebody
Jimmy Grier Orchestra (voc) Margaret Lawrence
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
1932
Set 8
Modern Jazz
This Can’t Be Love
Dave Brubeck
Aircheck
Jan 1954
Intro + The DukeDave Brubeck
Basin Street
WCBS CBS NYC
Feb 1956
Love Walked In
Dave Brubeck
Basin Street
WCBS CBS NYC
Feb 1956
All Gigs
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
2SER Radio 107.3 Sydney
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