Date Added: 11 Nov 2009
Comments: Click the picture to listen to this album at Vinylicious!
Summary: NOTES ABOUT JOLSON…
by Budd Fielding White
An amazing thing has happened in the entertainment business—specifically in films, radio and records, which constitute a large chunk of it—something that, by all the odds, all the predictions of the wiseacres, shouldn’t have happened at all! A star who was the toast of yesterday’s generation has swept today’s generation just as completely off its feet. Al Jolson has never been more popular than he is right now, never more widely acclaimed a truly great entertainer, fully thirty-five years after the brothers Shubert first installed him in New York’s Winter Garden Theatre and starred him there.
The snowball of Al’s tremendous new popularity began accumulating its present astounding proportions in August of 1946, when Decca did an album of “songs he made famous, featured in the Columbia Picture, ‘The Jolson Story’” (Decca Album No. A-469). The picture, released in October of that year, featured a comparatively unknown youngster by the name of Larry Parks who catapulted himself to stardom with his almost unbelievably accurate portrayal as Jolson. Parks’ grasp of the famous star’s vibrant personality, mannerisms, and even the way in which he spoke, were so nearly Jolson himself that many people thought Parks actually sang the songs in the picture. It was, of course, the inimitable Jolson voice that they heard, “dubbed in” to perfection.
And it was the Jolson voice that they kept on clamoring for. “The Jolson Story” was a great picture and a box-office smash, and immediately after it began to be shown throughout the country, record dealers were deluged with demands for Decca Album No. A-469, Al singing songs from the film. To date—within less than a year of its release—it has become one of Decca’s biggest selling albums of all time, one of the few to reach the million sales mark.
Partially due to the impact of the colorful movie-story of his life, and partially because of people’s reawakened awareness of the fact that seldom, if ever, has an entertainer packed his wallop for sheer magnetism and ability to “sell” a song, Jolson became again the man of the musical moment.
You could walk along Broadway and, from any of a score of record shops, hear Al Jolson’s rich baritone singing the surprise hit from “The Jolson Story,” Anniversary Song, on Decca Record No. 23714. As a single, the disc hit the million mark all by itself—and the song became the nation’s No. 1 hit for many months.
Al extended his triumphal return to the entertainment world to radio. Invited to appear as a guest on Bing Crosby’s show for Philco, Al proved so welcome to listeners that he was invited back on the program four times. He sang solos, sang duets with Bing Crosby and traded quips with him; once joined Bing and John Charles Thomas in an uproarious “minstrel show” broadcast starring the threesome; and once co-starred with Bing and Irving Berlin in a program devoted to the great composer’s songs.
Jolson and Crosby clicked together the way Crosby and Hope do as a team, on the air and on records—witness their duet on Decca Record No. 40038, wherein the Jolsonian and Crosbian voices blend to tell of Alexander’s Ragtime Band and The Spaniard That Blighted My Life.
And so a great star has come back into his own—to prove again that he is one of the greatest singing comedians of ‘em all.
This second Decca album of Jolsoniana offers still more of the selections from “The Jolson Story”—other than those included in album number A-469—in addition to several other songs that will always be identified with the name, Al Jolson.