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ClassicsOnline Home » HITS OF THE 1930s, Vol. 1 (1930): Happy Days Are Here Again!
By John Puccio
HITS OF 1930 Original Recordings
If the 1920s had been one long binge of bootleg booze and making whoopee, 1930 was the Morning After, the start of a hangover that had officially begun with the stock market crash of 29th October, 1929. Apple vendors were on street corners in major American cities, and the jobless rate in Britain rose to two million. In Germany, after years of runaway inflation, Adolf Hitlers National Socialists won more than six million votes in the September election, putting them in second place. And in the USSR, Joseph Stalin instituted the Collective Farm.
In 1930, scientists predicted that man would land on the moon by the year 2050. And C. W. Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto, from reckonings made by Percival Lowell in 1914. DuPont chemists discovered Nylon, which would be introduced to a waiting world in 1938, and 1930 also saw the marketing of frozen peas.
Radio had not yet become the home of the great comedians, but dance bands and crooners were holding wide audiences, as were current events and cultural achievements. When the Five-Power Naval Conference opened 21st January in London, the inaugural address by King George V was broadcast throughout Europe, Japan, Australia, India and the United States, reaching as many as 100,000,000 people. 11th March brought the funeral services of former U. S. president William Howard Taft into millions of homes, and the same day heard Admiral Byrd, in Dunedin, New Zealand, and New York Times owner Adolph Ochs, ten thousand miles away in Schenectady, New York, greet each other via radio. Part of a performance of Beethovens Fidelio was broadcast from Dresden and picked up by American radio stations on 16th March, and Boston radio station WEEI was transmitting daily television programmes for those few with receivers.
Broadways successes in 1930 included The Green Pastures, Grand Hotel, Strike Up The Band, Fine And Dandy, Girl Crazy and Threes A Crowd. The big films of the year included All Quiet On The Western Front, Anna Christie (Garbo talks!), Hells Angels, The Blue Angel, The Rogue Song, The King Of Jazz and The Love Parade. Sinclair Lewis became the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and 1930 also saw the deaths of D. H. Lawrence and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
And there was still music to be had on phonograph records. Victor, Columbia and Brunswick still dominated the field, Edison having closed its record division immediately following the stockmarket disaster. As the Depression went on, there would be fewer and fewer buyers willing to part with seventy-five cents for a song that could be heard for free on the radio, but one enterprising company introduced a high quality inexpensive paper-based disc called "Hit Of The Week", which was sold at news-stands for fifteen cents. Although the company was in trouble by 1932, it sold millions of records during its short existence. Bert Lowns "Bye Bye Blues" comes from one of these paper discs.
The songwriters were ready to cheer everyone through the bad times. Happy Days Are Here Again, Bye Bye Blues, Puttin On The Ritz, On The Sunny Side Of The Street and Beyond The Blue Horizon led the "cheer up" brigade, with Ten Cents A Dance one of the few tributes to the hard realities of the times. New hit tunes were coming out of Hollywood films: You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me (The Big Pond), Puttin On The Ritz (introduced by Harry Richman in the film of the same name, and also a Fred Astaire favourite), Beyond The Blue Horizon (Monte Carlo), It Happened in Monterey (The King Of Jazz). Rudy Vallee was leading his Connecticut Yankees and crooning through a megaphone, although his two big hits in 1930 were the sprightly college tributes to Betty Co-Ed and the University of Maines Stein Song (originally written in 1910). Another up-and-coming crooner, having just left the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, was Bing Crosby, singing with Gus Arnheims Orchestra before launching his phenomenal solo career. Al Jolson was a hit on the silver screen, but recorded only four sides in 1930, and would have only one more session in 1932 before a thirteen-year drought. Paul Whiteman and Fred Waring were still the popular bandleaders theyd been throughout the 1920s, recently joined by Guy Lombardo. Ted Lewis was moving from the jazz world into the realm of being a personality. Ben Selvin was one of the biggest-selling bandleaders on record in the 1920s, but his was a recording orchestra, while bandleader-songwriter Isham Jones, George Olsen, and duo-pianists Victor Arden and Phil Ohman also led highly successful orchestras
By 1931, the recording industry would be almost extinct, as the Depression grew deeper. Motion pictures would survive, and Radio would thrive.
David Lennick, 2002
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