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The Greatest Hits of Polka

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Album Review

Polka went public with Lawrence Welk and The Lawrence Welk Show in the mid-'50s, and 50 years later, not all that much has changed. This time warp is apparent, and to fans of the genre, will be welcomed on Jimmy Sturr's The Greatest Hits of Polka Sturr, in fact, might be the perfect leader to fill-in for the departed Welk, his son even, carrying on the tradition of champagne music. Nearly everything — the song choices, the cheesy background singing, and the joyful beer hall cadence — might've been borrowed from Welk's television programs. For non-fans, it's impossible to understand how these renditions of "Beer Barrel Polka" and "Charlie Was a Boxer" could be appealing — how they were ever appealing — to anyone. Part of the problem is that polka, like commercial folk music from the late '50s and early '60s, is hopelessly out-of-sync with the current mood of cynicism. Songs like "Tic Toc" and "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" are happy songs from an era when most folks (especially white middle class men folks) were optimistic about the future. The Greatest Hits of Polka will probably have its greatest appeal, then, to an audience who never got hip to the pessimism that began growing rapidly during the '70s (around the time that Welk's show was canceled). ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Born: September 25, 1941 in Florida, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Clarinetist, saxophonist, singer, and bandleader Jimmy Sturr is easily one of the most popular modern-day polka practitioners, with more than 100 albums to his credit since the 1960s. After extensive touring and recording, Sturr came into his own during the '80s and '90s, dominating the Grammy Awards' Best Polka Album honors and setting a record for the most consecutive nominations in any category. Looking beyond the standard outlets for polka music (Polish ethnic clubs, weddings, etc.), Sturr's...
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