Thursday, April 19, 2012


Oh those fabulous fifties…when people were so naive they didn't know what "double entendre" meant…and when corny wordplay got grins instead of grimaces. Previously, semi-sophisticated fellows such as Dwight Fiske and Charley Drew performed "party songs" in front of elegantly dressed drunks in expensive nightclubs. But in the 50's and 60's, Las Vegas lounges and bars all over the country were hiring whiz-bang entertainers to sing dumbed-down ditties. 78's that guys like Fiske sold secretly via his own label, were replaced by rude long-players that emerged from "under the counter" to get stocked in high-profile bins at respectable record stores.

It was basically the difference between Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello…the tradition of suit and tie Music Hall giving way to the baggy pants comics schooled in Burlesque. Bud Abbott called his style of comedy "lay it in their laps," and that's what simple-minded pun songs were all about, from "Everybody Wants My Fanny" (Benny Bell) to "The Biggest Kanakas In Hawaii" (Sophie Tucker), to "The Half-Fast Waltz," which was covered by every hack in the business.

Billy Devroe was based in Florida and was probably the only artist on the Tampa record label. He and his Devil-aires have not gotten much credit for being distinctive comic singers…and don't expect any here, either. But that's why they are the download choice for an example of easy listening lewdness…they are very much under-appreciated. Except by some record store owners who are charging $10 or $20 because of the record jacket, and not the vinyl inside. Most Devroe releases (along with Bert Henry and others) featured nudie cuties on the cover. But this won't last. Fewer and fewer people care about album jackets any more. They figure a jpeg of an album cover flashing on a computer screen is good enough. Here at the old blog, that thinking sounds half-fast.

THE HALF-FAST WALTZ Instant download or listen on line. No capcha codes, no demands to pay premium account money to thieving Kim Dotcom-types in foreign countries.

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