Greg Poppleton

Listen to Gus Arhneim and Bing Crosby on live 1931 radio on this week's Phantom Dancer LISTEN

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15 November 2022

(Until 15 November)

Spike Jones – Phantom Dancer 15 Nov 2022

Greg Poppleton's Phantom Dancer swing jazz radio show

Spike Jones is this week’s Phantom Dancer feature artist. He was a US drummer, percussionist and bandleader specializing in spoof arrangements of popular songs and classical music. Ballads receiving the Jones treatment were punctuated with gunshots, whistles, cowbells, hiccups, burps and outlandish and comedic vocals. He toured the United States and Canada as “The Musical Depreciation Revue”.

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 15 November) and two years of Phantom Dancer mixes online at, at https://2ser.com/phantom-dancer/

POTS, PANS & DRUMS

At the age of 11 Spike Jones got his first set of drums. As a teenager he played in bands that he formed himself. His first band was called Spike Jones and his Five Tacks. A railroad restaurant chef taught him how to use pots and pans, forks, knives and spoons as musical instruments. Jones frequently played in theater pit orchestras. In the 1930s, he joined the Victor Young orchestra and got many offers to appear on radio shows, including Al Jolson’s Lifebuoy ProgramBurns and Allen and Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall.

From 1937 to 1942, Jones was the percussionist for the John Scott Trotter Orchestra,which played on Bing Crosby’s first recording of “White Christmas”.

He was part of a backing band for songwriter Cindy Walker during her early recording career with Decca Records and Standard Transcriptions. Her song “We’re Gonna Stomp Them City Slickers Down” provided the inspiration for the name of Jones’s future band.

PARODIES

Jones became bored playing the same music each night with the orchestras. Spike Jones found other like-minded musicians and they began playing parodies of standard songs for their own entertainment.

The musicians wanted their wives to share their enjoyment, so they recorded their weekly performances. One of the recordings made its way into the hands of an RCA Victor executive, who offered the musicians a recording contract.

One of the City Slickers’ early recordings for the label was a Del Porter arrangement of “Der Fuehrer’s Face”. The record’s success inspired Jones to become the band’s leader. He initially thought the popularity the record brought them would fade. However, audiences kept asking for more, so Jones started working on more comic arrangements.

RADIO

After appearing as the house band on The Bob Burns Show, Spike got his own radio show on NBC, The Chase and Sanborn Program, as Edgar Bergen’s summer replacement in 1945.

The guest list for Jones’s 1947–49 CBS program for Coca-Cola (originally The Spotlight Revue, retitled The Spike Jones Show for its final season) included Frankie Laine, Mel Torme, Peter Lorre, Don Ameche and Burl Ives.

Frank Sinatra appeared on the show in October 1948, and Lassie in May 1949. You’ll hear Lassie’s appearance on this week’s Phantom Dancer singing ‘El Barkio’.

In 1942, the Jones gang worked on numerous Soundies, musical shorts similar to later music videos which were shown on coin-operated projectors in small nightclubs, arcades, malt shops, and taverns.

The band appeared on camera under their own name in four Soundies.

TV & MOVIES

Jones saw the potential of television and filmed two half-hour pilot films, Foreign Legion and Wild Bill Hiccup, in the summer of 1950. Veteran comedy director Eddie Cline worked on both, but neither was successful.

The band fared much better on live television, where their spontaneous antics and crazy visual gags guaranteed the viewers a good time. Spike usually dressed in a suit with an enormous check pattern and was seen leaping around playing a washboard, cowbells, a suite of klaxons and foghorns, then xylophone, then shooting a pistol.

The band starred in variety shows, such as The Colgate Comedy Hour (1951, 1955) and their All Star Revue (1952) before being given his own slot by NBC, The Spike Jones Show, which aired early in 1954, and Club Oasis on NBC, in the summer of 1958; and by CBS, as The Spike Jones Show, in the summers of 1957, 1960, and 1961.

Spike Jones and his City Slickers also appeared on NBC’s The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford in the episode which aired on November 15, 1956.

In 1940, Spike Jones had an uncredited bandleading part in the Dead End Kids film Give Us Wings, appearing on camera for about four seconds.

As the band’s fame grew, Hollywood producers hired the Slickers as a specialty act for feature films, including Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), Meet the People (1944), Bring on the Girls (1945), Breakfast in Hollywood (1946) and Variety Girl (1947). Jones was set to team with Abbott and Costello for a 1954 Universal Pictures comedy, but when Lou Costello withdrew for medical reasons, Universal replaced the comedy team with look-alikes Hugh O’Brian and Buddy Hackett, and promoted Jones to the leading role. The finished film, Fireman Save My Child, turned out to be Spike Jones’s only top-billed theatrical movie

15 NOVEMBER PLAY LIST

Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney
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Community Radio Network Show CRN #562

107.3 2SER Tuesday 15 November 2022
12:04 – 2:00pm (+10 hours GMT) and Saturdays 5 – 5:55pm
National Program
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
3VKV Alpine Radio Monday 6 – 7pm
7MID Oatlands Monday 6 -7pm
6GME Radio Goolarri Broome Tuesday 12am – 1am
2SEA Eden Tuesday 6 – 7pm
2MCE Bathurst Wednesday 9 – 10am
1ART ArtsoundFM Canberra Friday 10 – 11am
2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm
5LCM Lofty FM Adelaide Friday 1 – 2pm
Denmark FM (West Australia) Saturdays 10 – 11am
Repeat: Wednesdays 10 – 11pm
7LTN Launceston Sunday 5 – 6am
3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am
3BBR West Gippsland Sunday 5 – 6pm

Set 1
Buddy Moreno 
You’re the Top (theme) + Who Cares?
Buddy Moreno (voc) Len Cleary Quartet
‘Top Tunes’
WBBM CBS Chicago
1950
Miserlou + Take the A Train
Len Cleary Quartet
‘Top Tunes’
WBBM CBS Chicago
1950
Careless
Buddy Moreno (voc) Len Cleary Quartet
‘Top Tunes’
WBBM CBS Chicago
1950
The Glory of Love + CloseBuddy Moreno (voc) Len Cleary Quartet
‘Top Tunes’
WBBM CBS Chicago
1950
Set 2
Dixie Swing from ‘The Voice of Labour’ WCFL Chicago 
Open + Chinatown My Chinatown
Jack Kelly’s Swing Ensemble
WCFL Chicago
1942
My Melancholy Baby
Jack Kelly’s Swing Ensemble
WCFL Chicago
1942
Exactly Like You
Jack Kelly’s Swing Ensemble
WCFL Chicago
1942
Tangerine + Runnin’ Wild + Theme
Jack Kelly’s Swing Ensemble
WCFL Chicago
1942
Set 3
Count Basie 
Open + Blue Room
Coleman Hawkins
London House
WBBM CBS Chicago
19 Jun 1963
All the Things You Are
Coleman Hawkins
London House
WBBM CBS Chicago
19 Jun 1963
 
 
 
Set 4
Spike Jones 
El Barkio
Spike Jones and his City Slickers (voc) Eileen Gallagher and Lassie.
‘Spike Jones Show’
KNX CBS LA
28 May 1949
Our Hour
Spike Jones and his City Slickers (voc) The Sportsmen Quartet (Bill Days, Max Smith, Marty Sperzel and Gurney Bell)
Comm Rec
Los Angeles
1947
 
 
 
 
 
 
Set 5
Selling Coffee 
Open + I’m Breezin’ Along with the Breeze
Skip Farrell (voc) The Manor House Quintet
‘Manor House Party’
WMAQ CBS Chicago
20 Jan 1948
Now is the Hour + Pennies From Heaven
Skip Farrell (voc) The Manor House Quintet
‘Manor House Party’
WMAQ CBS Chicago
20 Jan 1948
When Day is Done
The Manor House Quintet
‘Manor House Party’
WMAQ CBS Chicago
20 Jan 1948
My How the Time Goes By + I Just Kissed Your Picture Goodnight + Close
Skip Farrell (voc) The Manor House Quintet
‘Manor House Party’
WMAQ CBS Chicago
20 Jan 1948
Set 6
Martha Tilton 
If It’s The Last Thing I Do
Martha Tilton (voc) Benny Goodman Orchestra
‘Camel Caravan’
WABC CBS NY
16 Nov 1937
Gotta Get Some Shuteye
Martha Tilton (voc) Benny Goodman Orchestra
‘Camel Caravan’
WABC CBS NY
7 Feb 1939
Hurry Home
Martha Tilton (voc) Benny Goodman Orchestra
‘Camel Caravan’
WABC CBS NY
3 Jan 1939
A Home in the Clouds
Martha Tilton (voc) Benny Goodman Orchestra
‘Camel Caravan’
WABC CBS NY
14 Feb 1939
Set 7
Tommy Dorsey 
I’m Getting Sentimental Over You (theme) + You’re Driving me Crazy
Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (voc) The Sentimentalists
‘Spotlight Bands’
Blue Network
29 Jan 1945
Hawaiian War Chan
Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (d) Buddy RichPalladium Ballroom
KNX CBS LA
26 Nov 1944
Song of India
Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Blue Network
12 Feb 1945
Losers Weepers
Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
‘For the Record’
WEAF NBC NY
17 Apr 1944
Set 8
Dave Brubeck 
Perfume Counter
Dave Brubeck
‘Symphony Sid Show’
WJZ ABC NYC
Dec 1953
Intro + The Duke
Dave Brubeck
Basin Street
WCBS CBS NYC
Feb 1956
Love Walked In
Dave Brubeck
Basin Street
WCBS CBS NYC
Feb 1956
All Gigs
12:04 pm - 2:00 pm
2SER Radio 107.3 Sydney
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