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We All Scream for Ice Cream!

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Album Review

Fred Waring did not invent the sweet dance orchestra, the collegiate hot dance band, the glee club or the electric blender, but he did invest enough effort, time and money in each of these entities to revolutionize both popular entertainment and food processing during the 1920s, the Great Depression, the Second World War and the Eisenhower Era. In 2002, the Jasmine reissue label brought out a compilation containing 24 recordings made between 1925 and 1932 by Waring & His Pennsylvanians, a variously sugary, sentimental, funny, irreverent and exciting little ensemble. In addition to the rigorously sophomoric "Collegiate," highlights include the irresistibly hot instrumental "Does My Sweetie Do — And How"; the famous "I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream"; a cheerful, bouncy rendition of Irving Berlin's "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy," and a profoundly romantic rendering of Arthur Schwartz's "Dancing in the Dark" that reveals the almost cosmic scope of Howard Dietz's lyrics. There is also a beautifully arranged 1928 remake of "Sleep," a gentle waltz first recorded by this group five years earlier and subsequently used as their theme song for many decades. Despite his ultimately wholesome reputation, Waring inaugurated the '30s by waxing the first recording ever made of "Love for Sale"; radio airplay of this record, which featured cheeky vocals by the "Three Waring Girls," was quickly forbidden because of Cole Porter's cynical lyrics depicting the world as seen through the eyes of a hooker, or in this case, three of them. The broadcasting ban was obviously a turning point for Fred Waring. A shrewd businessman, he deliberately began steering his ensemble into safer, more commercially stable territory in 1932 with the almost unbearably wholesome "A Picnic for Two." As if to bid farewell to misbehavior, the Pennsylvanians also recorded "Rhymes," a giddy orgy of naughty limericks and self-conscious humor. Throughout the '30s, Waring & His Pennsylvanians performed over the radio rather than in recording studios. Gradually they mutated into a squeaky-clean glee club, whose carefully sanitized, rigidly arranged routines had little in common with the music heard on this compilation.

We All Scream for Ice Cream!, Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians
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