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Bob Haring’s Velvetone Orchestra: Love

April 23, 2010

Bob Haring’s Velvetone Orchestra

Recorded in 1923

Bob Haring had a lot to do with the sound of popular music in the 1920s. You’ve probably never heard of him, but back then he was perhaps the most respected peddler of stock arrangements. (The top bands could afford their own specialty arrangements, but the thousands of ordinary dance bands across the country made do with store-bought arrangements, which they might alter here and there to fit their own particular talents.)

Haring was also a prolific recording director, but no one knows just how prolific, because most of his work was done under pseudonyms. He did, however, record a few sides under his own name, and the ones for Cameo (a bargain label for five-and-ten stores) used the interesting gimmick of adding flutes to the reed section, giving the band its velvet tone as advertised.

The gimmick works: it gives the band a distinctive sound without lapsing into bad taste. Haring was an arranger who knew how to sell a song, which is how he made his reputation, and this is unusually classy dance music. The sound of the acoustical Cameo record is pretty good, too, comparing favorably with the big labels. Listen especially to the second chorus, the one after the verse: Haring pulls all the orchestral colors out of his crayon box, but in a subtle enough way that the dancers never notice how hard he’s working.


From → Hot Dance

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