The great songwriter Irving Berlin
is just one of the incredible talents featured on Alexander's Ragtime Band
, a complete recording of the original 1938 radio broadcast. Listeners attempting to compile a "desert island" list that would be comprehensive in its inclusion of different musical periods might want to take a look at how many performers from the '30s are part of the cast of this show: Bing Crosby
, Connee Boswell
, Al Jolson
, Eddie Cantor
, and Guy Lombardo
among them. Mousy recording quality shouldn't be such an issue, since nobody goes to a desert island looking for hi-tech stereo sound. Seriously, the Vintage Jazz Classics line has made something of a speciality out of releasing radio broadcasts from this period, including a delightful alternative version of The Wizard of Oz. Few would argue that the entertainers from the '30s were some of the best in American history, and the difference between the film and radio versions of this type of material are fascinating. The spontaneous nature of the radio performances is always evident, the material simply sparkling, although governed by a well-organized script and the ability of the performers to deal with such a scenario efficiently and with great discipline. Some of the best moments inevitably are details that the "man with cigars" at the movie studios decided to trim. In addition, there is a great energy to be felt in the overall performance as these wonderful talents charge full steam ahead into the broadcast horizon.