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Greatest Hits and More

Art Mooney

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Album Review

Art Mooney had a simple and effective formula for success: make recordings of old-fashioned melodies that everybody knows really well, using a bevy of loud and All-American singers, a well-oiled big band, accordion, glockenspiel and a banjoist to create an atmosphere invoking hot dogs, cotton candy, boiled sweets, beer buckets, ice cream, corn dogs, peanut shells and sawdust. Mooney, who is said to have patterned his instrumentation after a vaudevillian parade ensemble known as the Philadelphia Mummers, sold a lot of records for MGM during the late 1940s and early '50s using well-worn tunes with singalong titles like "Baby Face," "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover," "Five Feet Two, Eyes of Blue," "Toot Toot Tootsie" and "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake." Mooney's star vocalists were Betty Harris, Madelyn Russell, Cathy Ryan, Alan Brooks and Bud Brees. By far the weirdest record Mooney ever made was "Doo De Doo on an Old Kazoo," an almost alarming novelty featuring a team of vocalists who deliver the stilted lyrics with heavy-handed simplicity and take an instrumental chorus with kazoos wedged firmly in their mouths. Although it's all in fun, if the playback volume is raised to maximum output levels, some might find these harmonizing kazoos just a wee bit demonic. Mooney's music took a long time to find its way onto the digital reissue format. Released in 2007, Sepia's Greatest Hits and More filled a perceived gap in the 21st century musical marketplace. This bracing collection also includes a taste of Mooney's motion picture soundtrack recordings. They are not instrumentals, of course, but feature the signature Mooney ensemble vocalists, whose bright tonalities, concise diction and formidably wholesome harmonies were used in several Hollywood flickers including George Stevens' Giant" and David Miller's The Opposite Sex, which were both premiered in 1956.

Biography

Born: 1911 in Lowell, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s

Bandleader Art Mooney enjoyed enormous popularity during the late '40s and throughout the 1950s, mainly by selling the public recordings of songs they already knew, often performed in the classic old-time popcorn-and-candied-apple singalong tradition. Born in Lowell, MA, in 1911, Mooney taught himself to play the tenor saxophone, hired in with a touring dance orchestra, and spent several years scuffling on the road as a sideman with various itinerant bands; he eventually...
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Greatest Hits and More, Art Mooney
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