From the Record Shelves #185

Darkness on the Delta

LP RCA Victor RD-7643

“By one of the truly outstanding dance orchestras of the big band epoch,” it says on the cover. And I’m quick to agree.

But I’m not sure why, because they do things that I normally don’t like. The singers are acting, trying to sound sorry or singing so to speak with tears in their eyes, and if I have that in focus it seems like the whole band is trying to move us with fake sentiments. But still, I love it!

It may have something to do with these years 1932–1934, when the depression was so hard to bear. It may also be that it is a Chicago Orchestra and that the “toddlin’ town” is different from New York.

But maybe it is just the sonority. The sound of the recordings is great, and so are the transfers, and Isham Jones had, above all, a very well-balanced orchestra with top arrangements.

I first recorded this LP on reel-to-reel tape when I was about 18 years old and found this copy in Paris recently, and with every listening I’m more addicted. It’s a very good compilation as well, and it’s hard to choose one tune, but it became this one that also had a life within the New Orleans Revival. Eddie Stone, who is singing, doesn’t possess a beautiful voice, but you recognize him, and that is “personality.”