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The California Ramblers 1925-1928

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Album Review

In 1999, the Timeless label released a 25-track collection devoted to the California Ramblers, that great Midwestern unit that managed to cut more records during the '20s than virtually any other hot dance band. Incredibly, this collection's playlist has only two titles in common with Biograph's trailblazing California Ramblers albums, which have been reissued by Collectables as New York Jazz in the Roaring Twenties, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3. This means that all three could co-exist in the same personal stash of gloriously arcane, jazz-inflected pop music with almost no redundancy. The songs on the Timeless collection are burnished emblems of that charming and restless intersection of jazz and pop that characterized the decade following the First World War. Bouncy topical routines like "Singapore Sorrows," "Ya Gotta Know How to Love," "She Knows Her Onions," "Yes She Do (No She Don't)," "I Love the College Girls," "Vo-Do-Do-De-O-Blues," "Make My Cot Where the Cot-Cot-Cotton Grows," "Nothin' Does-Does Like It Used to Do-Do-Do," and Sam Coslow's puerile novelty, "I'm Just Wild About Animal Crackers," are pleasantly complemented by slightly more substantial numbers such as Walter Donaldson's "Changes," Rodgers & Hart's "The Girl Friend," Jack Pettis' "Stockholm Stomp," and Goldkette/Beiderbecke/Trumbauer banjoist Howdy Quicksell's "The Pay Off" and "Pardon the Glove." For quantity and quality, this is the best single-disc California Ramblers collection, although the New York Jazz in the Roaring Twenties, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 on Biograph/Collectables still offer the best selection of all. Get all three discs and you'll be set for life.


Formed: 1921 in United States

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s

Two major myths surround the California Ramblers band that recorded for the Edison record company in the mid-'20s. First, despite the fact that both Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey served tenures with the group, this was not the Dorsey Brothers' college band immortalized in their Hollywood biopic. Secondly, the group was not from California (by all reports they never even played in that state), but formed in Ohio by banjoist Ray Kitchenman in 1921. The California Ramblers were one of the very first big...
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