post # 17
Firehouse Five plus Two – Alabama Jubilee bw Tuck Me To Sleep In My Old Kentucky Home
When I was a kid I would watch a show on television called ‘You Can’t Do That On Television’. I still think that was a cool show (much better than most of the stuff my kid has to choose from these days), but one of my absolute favorite things about it was the whacky, frenetic instrumental music of the theme song. Many years later I learned that the interesting style of music is called Dixieland Jazz. Much more recently, I’ve learned that Dixieland is actually just the modern name for the original form of Jazz music from New Orleans; Dixieland was used to differentiate that original style from later versions of Jazz. I’ve found in the last couple of years that Dixieland Jazz records can be some of the best music available for dirt cheap from thrift shops and record stores. The music is often loud and obnoxious, fast paced, and played with phenominal musicianship while not being overly pompous like a lot of Big Band Jazz, nor is it gag-inducingly sappy or cheesey like orchestral music from the 20’s through the 60’s often is.
On the A-side of this record, we have The Alabama Jubilee, which is just such a great tune. It’s one of those songs that makes me buy any record I can find that has a version of it. The best part about it is that I’ve yet to hear two versions of the song that sound the same – it seems to be a tune that bands love to embellish and put their personal twist upon. This version by the Firehouse Five plus Two is one of my favorites. Every stanza is different than the last; at least one instrument is soloing throughout most of the song; it’s filled to the brim with foot stomping, hand clapping and caterwauling, it’s played fast and tight and is uplifting and funny and infectious and I just fucking love it already!
This mid-tempo song has a great old-timey feel and is just fantastic to bop along and whistle along to. I had never heard of this group before I found this record, but since I recently found their 20th anniversary LP and this webpage I’ve learned the following interesting factoids: these guys were in fact a group of Walt Disney animators who, in the late 40’s, started playing old time Jazz for fun. Eventually, they rode around to their many gigs in an old fire engine and wore fire fighting outfits, and according to their multi-talented leader, Ward Kimball, they “spearheaded” the Dixieland Jazz revival of the 50’s.
Goood Time Jazz was apparantly an important and influential independent Jazz label during the 50’s and 60’s, and The Firehouse 5 where their flagship group. It is certainly very rare for all of the players to be listed by name on the label of a 45, so that’s pretty cool.
Here’s a video I made for Alabama Jubilee: