Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I can really relate to those who say everyone looks at them like they are nuts when they mention a certain old song.

I get that reaction when I describe a very unusual version of “Stormy Weather” that got played on the radio in the early '60s. Now I'm hoping you will prove my memory is right.

Unlike the hundreds of recordings of “Stormy Weather,” the great Ethel Waters among them, this mysterious doo-wop rendering is part serious and part downright goofy.

For example, after the traditional opening, “I don't know why there's no sun up in the sky, stormy weather,” the lyrics unexpected shift to something about pork chops that taste like leather. Really!

Then they go back to the usual “keeps raining all the time, since you went away,” etc., etc.

After a bit the subject reverts back to food (i.e., apple pie, starvation, etc.)

And so it goes, back and forth.

What is this atypical yet likeable song? Please don't tell me I really am nuts.
—Joni Boatman, Hopkinsville, Ky.

DEAR JONI: Psychiatric evaluations are available here but there is a charge for that service. There is no fee for resolving your stormy situation.

This abnormal rendition of Ted Koehler and Harold Arlen's 1933 “Stormy Weather” is by a Virginia group named the Leaders.

Though it did not chart nationally, their “Stormy Weather” single (Glory 235) did receive air play is scattered markets, especially New York, Boston, and Los Angeles.

You shouldn't have any trouble finding a copy, as I often see it online. Sellers usually ask in the $20 to $30 range for this 45.

DEAR JERRY: Being a transplanted Brit, I find it easier to buy old C&W albums on this side of the Atlantic.

That being the focus of my collection, I'd like to know the first C&W LP to make the US charts.
—Chris Martin, Hendersonville, Tenn.

DEAR CHRIS: There are two different answers to this question, depending on whether we talking about an “album” or an “LP.”

Before introduction of the 10- and 12-inch LP (long-play) format, record albums came in binders holding several singles — either 45s or 78s.

In that format, Eddy Arnold is the first C&W artist with a charted album. His “All Time Hits from the Hills” (RCA Victor P-195) boarded the charts in January 1948.

This binder has six songs on three 78s. In 1952, they added two more tracks, making eight, and reissued that same title as a 10-inch (LPM-3013) album.

The first charted long-play album is “Chet Atkins at Home” (RCA Victor LPM-1544). Though released in late 1957, it didn't chart until June 1958, but it still preceded “The Fabulous Johnny Cash (Columbia CL-1253) by about six months.

Those are the first and second C&W LPs to chart in a decade when ONLY three made the nation's album charts.

The third, “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs (Columbia CL-1349), by Marty Robbins, came along in 1959.

Not considered here are country or western themed albums by artists who are not really catagorized as C&W. In this group are acts such as the Everly Brothers, Norman Luboff Choir, and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Keep in mind also that this information is based on the same generic Best Selling LPs survey also used for pop, rock, easy listening, soundtracks, original casts, comedy, etc., etc. The Country and Western music industry didn't have its own LP chart until January 1964.

IZ ZAT SO? Hundreds of records of “Stormy Weather” exist; however, very, very few can be considered hits.

Five versions — one original and four covers — made the Top 10 in 1933.

Three-fifths of those five are Brunswick issues. With their labels noted, these artists are: Leo Reisman and Orchestra, with Harold Arlen (Victor); Ethel Waters (Brunswick); Guy Lombardo and His Orchestra (Brunswick); Duke Ellington and His Orchestra (Brunswick); and Ted Lewis and His Band (Columbia).

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