Alabamy Bound & Darktown Strutters Ball (Les Paul & Mary Ford)

A reasonably fascinating insight into a time when the unholy television-consumerism pact was still in metaphorical short trousers. Les Paul was American music’s one-man innovating starburst, crucial to the birth of the modern electric guitar and multi-track recording, as well as being a wildly entertaining master of his instrument. Mary Ford was a honey-voiced chanteuse, an able guitarist in her own right, and Paul’s comedy foil. She was also his wife.

In the early 1950s, the two starred in a series of comedic shorts filmed at their home, sponsored by halitosis-busting antiseptic merchants Listerine. They’re a portal into the saccharin-sweet white picket-fenced ideal of American respectability circa 1954 – a respectability which, like Victorian England’s before it, hid a fair amount of seediness. Continue reading “Alabamy Bound & Darktown Strutters Ball (Les Paul & Mary Ford)”

Cheek To Cheek (Fred Astaire)

Irving Berlin’s ode to synchronised movement-excused physical intimacy, made famous by its appearance in the 1935 Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers vehicle Top Hat. Astaire’s version is a gently huffing confection, eventually named the number one hit of the year if you can believe such a thing existed in 1935.