Shuffle Along 1950: Reviews
Rare Archival Recording
“If you have any interest in American musical theater get these discs and settle down for an afternoon of good listening and reading.”
Cadence Magazine, Annual Print Edition, 2019.
Harbinger Records has and continues to put out material of interest and often overlooked by students of American music. Two such items are: EUBIE BLAKE & NOBLE SISSLE SING SHUFFLE ALONG [Harbinger Records 3204] and SISSLE & BLAKE’s SHUFFLE ALONG 1950 [Harbinger Records hcd 3402]. The earlier [#3204] is made up of rare 78 RPMs and arranged to effect the whole show. This material that is nearly 100 years old is excellent. Number 3402 is a producers acetate used to sell investors on the production. Sissle narrates the play with enthusiasm and Blake plays piano throughout.
This CD is excellent and the material is quite rare, vintage material—some of which found its way to Harrison and Biograph Records and other labels dealing with antique music. Shuffle Along had an uneasy time trying to get produced on Broadway, the play was an historical sensation in the early 1920s and finally was revived in 2016 to modest reviews and closed 2 months later. What really sells these 2 productions are the extensive liner booklets, 20 pages which outlines the joys and sorrows of putting on the play. Blake was very proud of this music and played it often at parties and get togethers where he is shouting out verbal accompaniment. If you have any interest in American musical theater get these discs and settle down for an afternoon of good listening and reading.
“Shuffle Along 1950 contains the entire demo of Shuffle Along plus a rather intriguing nine-minute disc (also never out before) called “A Tribute To Ruth King” that documents a musical party. With Sissle as MC and Blake on piano, the program features composer W.C. Handy singing and playing cornet on his “St. Louis Blues,” Sissle and Blake performing “Bandana Days” and “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” Madeline Green singing “It’s A Hit,” Billy Banks performing Blake’s “Memories Of You,” and Ruth King (on piano) dueting briefly with Blake. All in all, this is a fascinating disc.”
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“Harbinger’s new release, Sissle & Blake’s Shuffle Along of 1950, was also produced by Ken Bloom (with
executive producers Peter Shambarger and Steve Ramm). What’s offered this time around is a restoration
of the aforementioned demo, recorded in 1950 to attract potential investors for the show’s revival on
Broadway. Each song on the demo is proceeded by an introduction, with Sissle describing the plot and the
stage settings. Sissle also sings most of the songs, sometimes in a duet with Charlotte Holloman, while
Holloman is joined by Laverne Hutchinson on “Love Will Find a Way” and “Alone With Love.” Eubie
Blake provides the piano accompaniment throughout.”
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