My memories of the music that I heard when I was very young are surprisingly clear. One is that my mom loved Kay Starr’s “Wheel of Fortune,” and with no offense to anyone who likes the tune, the recording is a resounding case of utter dreck.
Fast forward a few years to my discovery of a set of mid-1940s recordings by Ms. Starr on a variety of 78s, many years later reissued on CD. “Stunning” is too mild a word to describe the quality of Starr’s voice, phrasing, sense of swing and improvisational skills. She is, quite simply, one of the great jazz singers of the decade.
Starr is not as well represented on film as one would like, although she appears in two Soundies, one of which is seen here. “Stop That Dancing Up There” is one of Alec Wilder’s lesser efforts and is not related to a song of the same title by Harry “The Hipster” Gibson. If a bit of musical fluff, it does describe the real problem of people on the swing shift wanting to get some sleep at a time that wartime production was in full operation 24/7.
Sharing the stage with Kay is Jimmie Dodd, future head Mouseketeer, and at the time an actor who often appeared in “B” films for Universal. The musical support is offered by Joe Reichman’s band, a society orchestra that included drummer Dave Robbins, who helps give a real lift to the recording. Harry James knew how good he was, and welcomed him into his band in the late 1940s and early 1950s.