Saturday, November 1, 2008

The chill of an early fall

I finally had to turn the heat on here at Rancho Yesteryear—something I’m normally loathe to do, as I’m pretty much part polar bear—but Athens has been experiencing some slightly chilly nights of recent…though I don’t want the weather gods to get the idea that I’m pissing and moaning. With the onslaught of fall, for some odd reason I always seem to think of old-time radio, and with the kick-off of November, First Generation Radio Archives is only to happy to come to the rescue.

Their Premier Collection this month (one of two, I might hasten to add) is a sixth—I say, sixth—volume of vintage Fibber McGee & Molly quarter-hour broadcasts from 1954 and 1955, and if you’ve never had the pleasure of listening to any shows from their five-days-a-week format…well, operators are standing by. These shows—many not heard in nearly fifty years—are simply a treasure, and because FGRA is offering forty broadcasts on a ten-CD set for mere shekels, you’d be a fool to let this bargain slip through your fingers. Phil Leslie, who studied at the feet of Fibber & Molly’s creator, Don Quinn, still puts a snap in the show’s collective undies with sharp writing—assisted by Ralph Goodman, Leonard Levinson and Joel Kane, of course. (I particularly like the Prudential Home Insurance commercials included with these shows—it’s nice to know that the McGees could still vigorously plug their sponsor in the same vein as Johnson’s Wax and Pet Milk.)

FGRA also has a second Premier Collection submitted for your approval: a second volume of big band broadcasts from AFRS’ popular One Night Stand. These releases, among the most popular of First Generation’s products, are an absolute must for lovers of the big band sound…and feature the orchestras of Harry James, Xavier Cugat, Shep Fields, Cab Calloway, Woody Herman and many more. With the improved audio fidelity that comes from the painstaking restorative efforts of the Archives, these shows are a joy to listen to.

Finally, from the Radio Legends wing of FGRA—twenty additional five-part adventures from the man “with the action-packed expense account”: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: Volume 3. These are culled from the quarter-hour, five-day-a-week format (1955-56) and star the man considered to be the best of the Dollars, Bob Bailey. (Of course, I’m still holding out for Edmond O’Brien—if anyone would care to join me, I’m the sweaty fat guy at the bar wondering if someone slipped a mickey into my drink.)

Old-time radio and fall (the burning of leaves, the taste of apple cider and donuts, etc.) have always seemed to go hand-in-hand together for me, and I can’t think of a better way to pass the time checking out the latest releases from First Generation Radio Archives. Order up a set (or two) today and see if you don’t agree.


burlivespipe said...

I've been looking (but not busting out) for the Bickersons. Are these available somewhere? I thought Ameche and Langford were hilarious together.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...


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