Saturday, May 26, 2007

78s fRom HeLL - - Listening in on Phone Chatter: Janette Davis - Hold The Phone, (and on line two) Stan Boreson & Doug Setterberg - The Telephone

Here's a couple of minor novelty records from the fifties. They both feature a bit of 'chipmunk-esque' sped-up voices, used in this case to approximate the sound of someone chattering rapidly on the other end of a telephone line.

The fun bit of intrigue comes in deciphering what the manic little gibberish is actually saying (especially in the first example).

Janette Davis worked for many years on radio and TV with one-time entertainment king Arthur Godfrey.

She was his primary singing star on Arthur Godfrey Time (1946-1957) and Arthur Godfrey and His Friends (1949-1957).

She helped foster much of the new talent, and often engaged in behind the scenes coaching with many of the performers who appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts.

In 1956, Godfrey made Janette Davis the producer of his program, in response to declining ratings.

She immediately instituted several improvements for the benefit of the performers, including a west coast audition facility (in addition to the one in New York) and better production values. It helped for a time, but in 1958 CBS cancelled the program, and Janette retired to private life.

Some years later, Arthur Godfrey was interviewed on NBC by Tom Snyder. After noting the amazing list of performers who'd been discovered on or had come through the Talent Scouts show, Tom complimented Arthur on his "gift" for spotting talent. Godfrey refused to take the credit, and said; "It wasn't me. I was just very lucky to have people around me who had that gift. Especially
Janette Davis!"

Archie Bleyer had worked for CBS radio in the 1940’s as an orchestra conductor, before becoming the musical director on the Arthur Godfrey Show.

In 1952 he founded the Cadence record label, initially as a vehicle for recording pop singer Julius La Rosa after Godfrey had publicly banned LaRosa from appearing on his show.

Bleyer left Godfrey's employ in 1953, at which point many more artists signed with Cadence, producing many popular records throughout the 1950's and into the sixties.


Janette Davis and Archie Bleyer's 'Hold The Phone' was released on the Columbia label in the Spring of 1952.

Davis sings into the telephone about her romantic new boyfriend while her friend Helen (Davis' voice sped up) chatters in response on the other end of the line - - except that in fact it turns out that Helen is discussing another topic entirely.

I had lots of fun using the 'scrubber' tool in my sound editing software to carefully piece together what gossipy Helen had to say.

Here it is, the individual sentences strung out through the background of the entire song:

"Wanna hear the truth about Arthur Godfrey?
"Arthur Godfrey doesn't wear any pajama tops.
"He doesn't wear any pajama bottoms either.
"You'll never guess what Godfrey really wears when he goes to bed.
"I got this information direct from a bellboy at the Lexington Hotel.
"He says all Godfrey wears is a strap."

"But have you heard the rumor about Archie Bleyer?
"But don't repeat this to a living soul.
"It's a vicious rumor and it's all over town.
"Everybody's saying that Archie Bleyer wears a girdle.
"I happen to know that story is a big lie.
"Archie Bleyer rolls his stockings at the knee, just like anybody else."

"Say, did you know Archie used to play the piano?
"That's how he got to be a band leader himself.
"He had to leave his job with the orchestra, though.
"One day, the boss said something real mean to Archie that he wouldn't take back.
"I got this straight from Archie's old boss.
"He looked him right in the eye and said, 'Bleyer, you're fired.'"

"The boys in the band have a new game.
"It goes this way: they ask each other questions.
"Yesterday, Remo* put this one to Johnny ______."**

*(Remo Palmieri, electric guitar)
**(hard to make out. could be John Mintz, clarinet. might be Johnny Parker, trumpet)

"This is some sort of a rumor about Archie Bleyer, the leader of the band.
"'If Archie walked 8 hours a day at the rate of two miles an hour, how long would it take him to get to Texas?'
" Johnny said, 'I don't know, but it's a swell idea!'"

Listen to: Janette Davis - Hold The Phone (click for audio)

The hidden chatter in Stan Boreson and Doug Setterberg's old 78 isn't nearly as juicy as the previous, but the record's still a goofy bit of trivial ephemera.

Boreson & Setterberg first teamed up in 1956, combining the individual 'Scandahoovian' comedy routines they'd each been previously performing as solo acts.

They were based out of Seattle, Washington, where they had a local TV show for a time, in addition to the records they put out.

The records were mostly parodies of popular songs performed in dialect. The team had basically picked up where similar performer Harry 'Yogi Yorgesson' Stewart had left off.

'The Telephone', released on Kapp simultaneously on 78 and 45, likely appeared in 1957 or '58 following on the heels of pop singer Jimmie Rodgers' chart-topping version of 'Honeycomb', which it parodies. (FYI, Rodgers was another alumnus of Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts.)

The background phone chatter here is used very sparingly. The recorded voice has been reversed as well as sped up.


It sounds very much like a quite random snippet of dialogue sampled from a TV drama or a radio program.

The woman's voice is faded up in mid-sentence:

"...But more than that. I want a job that's - - that's important, too. I want to work *with* people."

- - And then the second example picks up mid-way through the first, repeating the first half of the statement:

"...I want to work *with* people, not just for them."

Listen to: Stan Boreson & Doug Setterberg with the Gene Boscacci Trio - The Telephone (click for audio)

And that's it. Enjoy!
Anyone who can prove the origin of the mystery monologue gets a prize.
Anyone who can prove that Arthur Godfrey slept in only a strap doesn't.

1 comment:

FresnoDick said...

This is one of those songs I enjoyed in the past but had forgotten about. Thanks for bringing it back!

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