Songs of the Night Playlist and an Outtake

Taxi, by Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra (Ryan Barna Collection)

Taxi, by Joseph C. Smith’s Orchestra (Ryan Barna Collection)

In our last installment, we gave you a taste of what is coming on our double-CD overview of the career of bandleader Joseph C. Smith and his Plaza Hotel outfit. Today we’re publishing the full playlist and giving you one of the songs that didn’t make the final cut.

Smith made his first recordings on September 25, 1916—four tracks, two of which were issued and two that were rejected. Both of the accepted takes are here, 10-inch “Money Blues” and 12-inch “Songs of the Night.” Then, in January 1917, he began a rigorous recording schedule that, with the exception of the first few months of 1918, didn’t let up until March 1922. Then he jumped labels and had sporadic recording dates through about March 1925, his final session.

Here’s the playlist, with some notes interspersed throughout. Selections are 10-inch discs, except where noted:

CD 1

  1. Songs of the Night—Waltz (12-inch)
  2. Money Blues—Fox Trot (this and #3 were Smith’s first released disc)
  3. I’ve a Shooting Box in Scotland—One-Step (first recording of a Cole Porter song)
  4. Havanola—Fox Trot (12-inch)
  5. Poor Butterfly—Fox Trot (this and # 6 are a double-sider)
  6. Allah’s Holiday—Fox Trot
  7. St. Elmo—One-Step (12-inch)
  8. Dance and Grow Thin—Fox Trot (an early attempt, contemporary with ODJB, by Victor to include some “jazz sounds”)
  9. Missouri Waltz (12-inch) (Smith’s breakthrough recording)
  10. Calicoco—Fox Trot (this and # 11 the first and only sides for Columbia, Nov. 1917)
  11. When You Come Back—One-Step
  12. Smiles—Fox Trot (vocal refrain by Harry Macdonough, a double-sider with # 13)
  13. Rose Room—Fox Trot (the Art Hickman classic, in medley with “My Oriental Rose Bud”)
  14. Mary—Fox Trot (vocal refrain by Harry Macdonough, Charles Hart, Lewis James)
  15. Hindustan—Fox Trot
  16. Rockin’ the Boat—Fox Trot (xylophone by George Hamilton Green)
  17. Head Over Heels—Medley Fox Trot (12-inch) (pianos by Hugo Frey and Frank Banta)
  18. Mickey (by the Joseph C. Smith Trio, vocal by Henry Burr)
  19. Dear Old Pal of Mine—Waltz
  20. Somebody’s Sweetheart and Good Morning, Judge—Medley One-Step (12-inch)
  21. Rainy Day Blues—Fox Trot (undocumented vocal, but see below)
  22. Coo Coo—Fox Trot
  23. The Vamp—Fox Trot (vocal refrain by Harry Macdonough, Billy Murray)

CD 2

  1. Who Did It?—One-Step
  2. Peggy—Medley Fox Trot (pianos by Hugo Frey and Harry Akst)
  3. Yellow Dog Blues—Medley Fox Trot (laughing trombone solo by Harry Raderman; undocumented laughter, but see below)
  4. Happy—One-Step
  5. Lovely Summertime—Waltz
  6. That Naughty Waltz
  7. Karavan—Fox Trot (saxophone solo by Rudy Wiedoeft)
  8. Ching-a-Ling’s Jazz Bazaar—Medley Fox Trot (12-inch) (pianos by Hugo Frey and Frank Banta, vocal by Billy Murray)
  9. Love Nest—Medley Fox Trot
  10. Alice Blue Gown—Waltz
  11. Sally—Medley Fox Trot (12-inch) (pianos by Hugo Frey and William Bergé)
  12. I Lost My Heart to You—Medley Fox Trot (xylophone by Teddy Brown)
  13. Why, Dear?—Fox Trot (pianos by Hugo Frey and Frank Banta)
  14. It’s You—Fox Trot
  15. Stealing—Fox Trot
  16. Three O’clock in the Morning—Waltz (made most famously by Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra)
  17. While Miami Dreams—Fox Trot
  18. Rose of Stamboul—Medley Waltz (the last of Smith’s domestic Victors)
  19. Where Is the Man of My Dreams—Fox Trot (this and #s 20 & 21 for Brunswick, 1923-24)
  20. Sweetheart of Sigma Chi—Waltz
  21. Stella—Fox Trot (the Jolson song)
  22. It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo! (this and #s 23 & 24 for Canadian Victor, 1924-25)
  23. Driftwood
  24. I Like You Best of All (vocal by Joseph C. Smith. “I like pie, I like cake . . . but I like you best of all!”)

The records come from the collections of Ryan Barna, Bryan Wright, Peter Doyle, and Archeophone Records.

Now note on the very last selection who is providing the vocal: it’s Smith himself. This is important, as it acts as a Rosetta Stone for us. A handful of pieces in the Smith canon feature undocumented vocals—basically just some guy warbling or shouting a few notes during a refrain, as on “Rainy Day Blues,” or laughing, as on “Yellow Dog Blues.” But with the identification of Smith on “I Like You Best of All,” we now know who is singing on the other records. It’s Smith in all cases.

A couple of other tracks that Smith “sings” on that are not included on the CD are “Me-Ow” (the first to feature Smith singing, recorded Sep. 9, 1918) and “Taxi.” Not everything we would have liked to include on the CD will fit, so some things had to go. Today, enjoy the flavor of what’s to come by listening to one of these omitted cuts, “Taxi.” Written by Mel Kaufman, the song was recorded by Smith and his orchestra on Oct. 22, 1919.

As you know, acoustic records don’t have a lot of low end signal, but what is there needs to be brought forward. In the remastering process, it’s been a challenge to build up a foundation of the bass information without having a “boomy” lower midrange. See what you think of the results. And watch out for the whistles on “Taxi”! Even after manually attenuating them, they’re still pretty stark!

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