From the Vault...


Russ Morgan
"The Best Of Russ Morgan: Music In The Morgan Manner"

© Decca Records

Year of Release: 1972

track listing
  • Does Your Heart
    Beat For Me
  • Dance With A Dolly
  • Crusing Down The River
  • So Tired
  • There Goes That Song Again
  • Dogface Soldier
  • You're Nobody 'Til
    Somebody Loves You
  • I'm Looking Over A
    Four Leaf Clover
  • Forever And Ever
  • Somebody Else Is Taking My Place
  • You You You Are The One
  • The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine
  • Bye Bye Blackbird
  • Do You Ever Think Of Me
  • Linger Awhile/Stumbling
  • The Object Of My Affection
  • The Tennessee Wig-Walk
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo
  • Mockin' Bird Hill
  • Josephine
  • Put Your Little Foot
    Right Out
  • The Poor People Of Paris
  • Wabash Blues
  • So Long

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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    Russ Morgan
    "The Best Of Russ Morgan: Music In The Morgan Manner"

    Bandleader Russ Morgan has one thing in common with Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Elton John, U2, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Eminem: At least ONE #1 song to his credit. His song "Cruising Down The River" hit #1 in 1949. Actually, the song that reached #1 AFTER Morgan's version was the same song, by Blue Barron. His name may not have been as famous as other bandleaders of the time, such as Glenn Miller, Tommy/Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James and the likes, yet his music takes us back to a time where music was innocent. The only bad thing about it at the time, was World War II.

    Russ Morgan was a big band leader in the 1930s and 1940s. Musically gifted since the age of 7, his parents were of musical backgrounds. His father was a former musician, who played drums in his spare time. His mother played piano in a vaudeville act. Russ Morgan began his musical studies with the piano, and by age 14 he playing the trombone. His first band, the Scranton Sirens, were popular in the 1920s. The Dorsey brothers (Jimmy and Tommy) were bandmembers, of which Morgan had replaced Tommy Dorsey on the trombone. He had formed another band towards the end of the 1920s, with the help of the Dorsey brothers again.

    He started recording in 1930, for Okeh Records, and arranged Fletcher Henderson's orchestra. By 1935, he was in the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, and recorded with them. Also that year, he recorded for Brunswick Records. He had also been writing songs by this time. Yet, in the early '30s, he was in a serious car accident, that almost ended his career. After several months in the hospital, he started again in bands as he was arranger for bands, and leading orchestras.

    His biggest success was in radio, where he became the musical director for radio station WXYZ, in Detroit. His show "Music In The Morgan Manner was one of the most popular radio shows. He had also worked with bandleader Freddy Martin, as chief tombonist and arranger. He became musical director at Brunswick, and met Shirley Gray. They were married in 1939.

    He met Rudy Vallee while working for Brunswick, as Vallee was impressed of Morgan's musical knowledge. He advised him to start an orchestra of his own. Morgan appeared on Vallee's radio show, sponsored by Fleishman Yeast. Vallee would help Morgan's career on the right start, in New York City. In later years on, he would be musical director for NBC's Rinso-Lifebouy Show, and NBC's Phillip Morris radio series. He would work for CBS for two years also. He would become popular playing at many famous hotels and ballrooms, including cities in California, Chicago, New York, to name a few.

    Musically, four songs would achieve his biggest popularity: "So Tired," "Cruising Down The River," "Sunflower", "Forever And Ever." (The last song mentioned here would feature a group of brothers who were starting out -- The Ames Brothers.) He also co-wrote "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You." Decca Records achieved his most popular recordings.

    Throughout the 1950s he would continue his popularity, with recordings, appearances, tours, and movie work. His orchestra would be known as a "sweet band" through the decade, as he would join the likes of other bandleaders, such as Sammy Kaye, Guy Lombardo, Freddy Martin, and Lawrence Welk.

    Towards the end of the decade, he would include his sons Jack on trombone, and David on guitar. By 1965, he was booked for an eight-week engagement in Las Vegas. Instead of eight-week, it lasted 12 years, ending in 1977. Although he passed away in Las Vegas on August 7, 1969 at the age of 65, his son Jack took over the band, and continued on.

    Big Band music, typical and comparisons are on this Music In The Morgan Manner" compilation -- wonderful tracks throughout. A little bit of Jackie Gleason's bandleading sound starts off with "Does Your Heart Beat For Me." Yet on the track, (and like many), the vocal and musical style tends to sound a lot like that of Guy Lombardo's band. Other tunes comparing that to Lombardo to mention: the standard "Bye Bye Blackbird," "Do You Ever Think Of Me," "Linger Awhile/Stumbling," "The Object Of My Affection." The vocals on "Dance With A Dolly (With A Hole In Her Stockin'" tends to sound like Gene Autry (and with the complete song title, it does sound as if it could be a Country sounding song. More on Country in a bit...)

    "Cruisin' Down The River" would be Morgan's only #1 hit, and there are some other songs here that do sound a bit like it: "Forever And Ever," and "You, You, You Are The One."

    For those who enjoy the "traditional, typical Big Band sound," like that of Glenn Miller and many, there are these: "So Tired," "There Goes That Song Again," "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You," "Somebody Else Is Taking My Place," "Josephine," "So Long." Even the vocal style on "Put Your Little Foot Right Out" has more of a Big Band sound as well.

    "Dogface Soldier" is way different than your normal 1940s Big Band'er. It's more of a song you would hear about the war, as it was used in the film To Hell And Back -- the best seller novel by Audie Murphy. The movie/book was about World War II.

    Can't really explain it, or maybe it's comparing to Lombardo again, but these two tracks tend to sound like on the Novelty side, just a bit: "Hoop-Dee-Do" and "Mockin' Bird Hill." On that notion, is "The Tennesse Wig-Walk" Country? And/or how about Country Big Band on "Wabash Blues" ? The "swinging" style is heard here, yet I believe it was before it's time when "swing music" would later become a popular trend. "Happy Trails" .... (For those who wish to listen to a very interesting Country sound Big Band song -- Sammy Kaye's "Harbor Lights.")

    One of my favorite songs is here, yet the version I truly enjoyed was by Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy: "The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine" (also known as "In The Blue Ridge Mountain Of Virginia.") Good version here as well, yet Stan & Ollie's version will always stand out in my mind.

    The last two songs to mention were popular by other artists, as they both reached #1. "I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover" hit #1 in 1948. And just when the Big Band sound (or Easy Listening they would call it), just wouldn't exit the music scene yet in the early years of Rock & Roll, "The Poor People Of Paris" reached #1 in 1956.

    Good "sweet band" music throughout this compilation, those who enjoy the Big Band sound will enjoy Russ Morgan's music. He wasn't a well-known name, yet he did accomplish recording a #1 hit during the Billboard magazine history. Return to the innocent age of music, as these recordings were from the 1940s. No information was provided in the liner notes of this compilation, as it would have been extremely helpful. This is due to the fact that the name Russ Morgan wasn't as famous. It would be interesting to read his life story from the liner notes. No main website is found on Morgan. Yet, we can always learn more about him through Wikipedia and other websites that include him, and his music.

    © All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Decca Records and is used for reference purposes only.

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