Mickey McMickle, Charles Frankhauser, Zeke Zarchy, John Best (tp); Glenn Miller, Paul Tanner, Jimmy Priddy, Frank D’Annolfo (tb); Hal McIntyre, Wilbur Schwartz, Ernie Caceres, Tex Beneke, Al Klink (reeds) Chummy MacGregor (p); Jack Lathrop (g); Rollie Bundock (b); Maurice Purtill (d)’ Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton (vcl); Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan, (arr).
RCA Victor Studios, Chicago, IL – June 13, 1940, 1:00-5:25 PM
053130-1 When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano
(RE vcl, BF arr) Bluebird 10776
053131-1 A Million Dreams Ago ((RE vcl, BF arr) Bluebird 10768
053132-1 Blueberry Hill (RE vcl, BF arr) Bluebird 10768
053133-1 A Cabana In Havana (MH vcl, BF arr) Bluebird 10776
053134-1 Be Happy (MH vcl, BF arr) Bluebird 10796
053135-1 Angel Child (RE vcl, BF arr) Bluebird 10796
053135-2 Angel Child (RE vcl, BF arr) first issued on LP
On the road since the April 28th recording date, Glenn and the band now headed further west than they had ever been. After another week in the DC area, they turned the band bus up and down the East Coast on the spring college prom circuit, then south to North Carolina, up north to Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, arriving in Chicago on June 11. A studio session came two days later.
Glenn hadn’t recorded in Chicago’s Victor facilities since his Ben Pollack sideman days in 1928. One can wonder how he felt returning there as a top bandleader. It is too bad that the song selection for this date wasn’t better – three of the six numbers were not truly worthy of the hottest band in the land.
Personnel-wise, the main change was the loss of hot trumpeter Clyde Hurley, who left in early June. Hurley had not been particularly inspired by the band and soon was playing with Tommy Dorsey. Charlie Frankhauser replaced him and hung around for a while. Johnny Best took on most of the jazz solos.
Oddly, two of the songs on this date were revived successfully in the early rock ‘n roll years of 1956-57 – WHEN THE SWALLOWS COME BACK TO CAPISTRANO by Pat Boone and BLUEBERRY HILL by Fats Domino. Both had connections to Louis Armstrong. The composer of SWALLOWS, Leon Rene, has also written Louis’ theme song, WHEN Its SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH and Satchmo had recorded BLUEBERRY HILL in 1949. His slow, bluesy interpretation likely influenced Fats Domino to similarly revive it.
Getting back to Miller, WHEN THE SWALLOWS COME BACK TO CAPISTRANO is handled in typical Miller fashion. Ray Eberle sounds OK, if a bit less relaxed than on the previous session. A pleasant, though not particularly memorable rendition. The tune’s background is actually more interesting than the song itself, memorializing the yearly springtime return of the swallow flocks to the Mission San Juan Capistrano in California.
BLUEBERRY HILL was a top hit for Glenn, but truth to tell, is nothing special as a record. Composer Vincent Rose had been a well-known bandleader-songwriter in the 1920s, turning out WHISPERING, AVALON and LINGER AWHILE early in the decade. Fifteen years later, he caught fire again with THE UMBRELLA MAN and now, BLUEBERRY HILL.
Though he was reputed to be slower at turning out arrangements than Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan penned all the charts on this date, for the first and only time. A MILLION DREAMS AGO originated in the Dick Jurgens band, as had the earlier hit, CARELESS. It was composed by the same trio – bandleader Jurgens, singer Eddy Howard and lyricist Lew Quadling and proved to be nearly as popular.
After a lovely reed intro, Beneke plays the first chorus in a most mellow fashion. With above-average lyrics to work with, Ray turns out a fine vocal. Marion Hutton isn’t so lucky with her two songs, however. In interviews, she later complained that Ray got the good numbers and she was stuck with the “crap songs.” Two cases in point – A CABANA IN HAVANA and BE HAPPY.
In a Latin-swing vein, CABANA is an attempt to cash in on earlier hits, SAY SI-SI and especially, Johnny Mercer’s witty WEEK-END OF A PRIVATE SECRETARY (which Marion had sung on radio earlier in the year). Unusual in that era, the composers, Mabel Wayne and Tot Seymour were women. Wayne specialized in Latin-tinged songs like IT HAPPENED IN MONTEREY, IN A LITTLE SPANISH TOWN and RAMONA; lyricist Seymour was more eclectic, penning the words to swing tunes CROSS PATCH and NO OTHER ONE.
The words to A CABANA IN HAVANA are just wordy, not witty. Marion has a hard time getting them all out at a fast tempo. The only part of the disc that pleases is the section after the vocal, where Finegan’s writing and Beneke’s sax take some pleasant liberties.
As mentioned earlier, BE HAPPY is another mindless ditty, written by the unlikely trio of songwriter Henry Nemo, bandleader Louis Prima and Harlem arranger Edgar Battle. After the opening vocal, there is a nice passage for the trombones and a fine Beneke solo, but then Marion comes back to chirp another inane chorus. Oh, well – at least the whole record is only a fraction over two minutes in length!
Lastly, the “crap song” virus infects Ray Eberle, who is saddled with ANGEL CHILD, a tired-sounding number that might have been fresh in 1922. Not surprisingly, that’s when it was written by vaudevillians Georgie Price, Benny Davis and Abner Silver. Why this vintage non-hit was revived here is anyone’s guess. Maybe Glenn, who was getting into music publishing, had a hand in its reappearance?
After the session ended, once again the band went back on tour through the Midwest. A two-week July engagement at the Panther Room of Chicago’s Hotel Sherman was the only respite from a constant schedule of one-nighters. Recording sessions took a back seat, until the second week of August.