Today is my birthday--number 28 for those keeping score at home--so I don't have much time for a long entry. But the Internet continues giving gifts and I feel like sharing a terrific one this morning. "Sounds Like Shellac" is a terrific blog, whose description reads as follows: "78's old vinyl and the life on an unemployed Audio Engineer. Sick of bad transfers and the underwater sounds of bad restoration? come on over and see what a pair of good ears and 20 years of tinkering can do!" Last week, the fellow from Australian who runs the blog posted a priceless document of the All Stars in their prime.
In April 1956, the group did a tour of Australia, where they were received like heroes. While there, Armstrong took part in a broadcast of "The Ampol Show," hosted by Jack Davey. This, to me, represented the greatest edition of the All Stars with Armstrong, Trummy Young, Edmond Hall, Billy Kyle, Barrett Deems and bassist Jack Lesberg, who literally just joined the band days earlier. The band had just done the long "Ambassador Satch" tour of Europe at the end of 1955, they came back to America to find out "Mack the Knife" was a hit, they almost immediately started filming "High Society" and they went on a very successful tour of the States with Woody Herman's band. Following Australia would be Armstrong's return to Europe, the famous trip to Africa and the "Chicago Concert"...and just everything up to June 1 of that year!
But the music is the most important thing and no other version of the All Stars produced more exciting music. "The Ampol Show" starts off with "Sleepy Time,"a fierce "Indiana" and a swinging "Someday You'll Be Sorry" before Armstrong partakes in some very funny interplay with Davey, including singing a chorus of "Sweet Sue." Just listen to Armstrong's answers to Davey's quiz...hysterical! The rest of the show is devoted to the All Stars and if some in the audience frown at the lack of "different" material, just listen to how this group attacks "Ole Miss"...it's positively scary. "Mack the Knife" was just released in Australia so naturally Pops had to do it, following it with a rocking "Bucket's Got a Hole In It," a song whose best versions always occurred with Hall in the band. Then Pops, always one to share the spotlight, featured Kyle on "Perdido," Hall on "Dardanella" and Trummy and himself on "Rockin' Chair" before taking things out with another smoking tune, "Royal Garden Blues."
To listen go the complete 48-minute show, click here and begin downloading. Or if that doesn't work, here's the full address:
And while you're there, don't hesitate to drop a small donation so "Sounds Like Shellac" can keep doing what it's doing.
As a gift from me, here's one more broadcast from the same trip. Six days later, the All Stars did a broadcast on "The Ford Show." It's only 15 minutes, but it features another ferocious "Ole Miss," a lovely "Kiss to Build a Dream On" and another "Mack." Just compare the two versions of "Ole Miss" to hear how much energy this band put into their performances and how they always made everything they played sound like it was being played for the very first time. You can listen to it here:
And speaking of Internet finds, here's a rare television interview of Pops that just appeared on YouTube five days ago. It's from just a couple of months later in 1956 with Armstrong talking about his recent trip to Europe:
And that's all for now. This week is nuts but I'll try to be back with some more entries real soon. Upcoming ones will focus on "Terrible Blues," "The Peanut Vendor" and another massive blowout on "Royal Garden Blues." Also, there's a small possibility I'll be at Birdland this Wednesday night to catch David Ostwald's Louis Armstrong Centennial Band. Til next time...