“Al who?” you may ask?

Al Trace is certainly not a name that resonates with many contemporary music fans. Working primarily in Chicago and the Midwest, Trace was popular on radio, record and the variety stage. Trace appears in a series of six Soundies produced in February 1944 – he is featured in two more later in the year – with the orchestra receiving featured billing on the ballads and patriotic songs; novelties were credited to his “Silly Symphonists.”            

            Trace began his musical career in the Chicago area playing drums (and occasionally singing) in small combos. He formed his first band in 1933 and was booked in France’s “Streets of Paris” pavilion at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. After the exposition closed Trace moved to Chicago’s Blackhawk Restaurant, replacing Kay Kyser and his Orchestra. Their next engagement was the Sherman Hotel, where Trace remained as the resident band for three years. Al Trace remained popular throughout the 1940s, playing dining and dance engagements in Chicago and New York.

            Let’s All Back the Attack is a patriotic piece written by Leo and Hector Richard, arranged for the band by John McGee.

In early 1944 the Allies were on the offensive, but there was to be no letdown on the home front, and bond sales were crucial to the war effort. This Soundie supports the sale of war bonds, although the direct appeal was removed from this post-war reissued of the film.

We have a contingent of the band on screen, with Trace doing an effective “talking vocal.” The focus of the Soundie, however, is the stock footage used to make the point that there is still a lot of work to be done. Producer William Forest Crouch would have obtained this material from the war department and he doesn’t pull any punches in selecting horrifying action shots.

This Soundie is not notable for the musical performance, but it does remind us that in this time of national crisis, Soundies were there in support of the American fighting men and women.