Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In the 1970s, I really enjoyed listening to the music of Randy Edleman.

I know he wrote “Weekend in New England” for Barry Manilow, and that his “Uptown Uptempo Woman” was a moderate hit.

So whatever happened to Randy? He never became as popular as I thought he deserved to be.
—Bob Drummond, New Haven, Conn.

DEAR BOB: A better way to phrase your last comment would be that Randy never became as popular as a SINGER as you thought he should be.

Between 1971 and '78, Edelman (note spelling) had a steady series of singles and albums, for five different labels.

Among them is his own version of “Weekend in New England,” issued several months before the Manilow track. Randy originally wrote this tune for himself, but, fortunately for him, Barry found it to his liking.

None of Edelman's records became hits in the U.S., but “Uptown Uptempo Woman” did crack the Top 30 in England, in October 1976.

Randy then turned to writing — especially film and TV scores — a craft at which he is extremely successful.

Just a few among his six dozen, or so, film credits that you will likely recognize are:

“Anaconda; Angels in the Outfield; Connie and Carla; Dennis the Menace; Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story; Dragonheart; Ed TV; Gettysburg; Ghostbusters II; Indian in the Cupboard; Kindergarten Cop; Last of the Mohicans; Leave It to Beaver; MacGyver; The Mask; Miss Congeniality 2; My Cousin Vinny; Shanghai Knights; Shanghai Noon; Twins;” and “While You Were Sleeping.”

DEAR JERRY: A friend and I have a friendly debate over Benny Goodman's theme song.

I say Benny's theme was “Roll 'Em,” and my friend says it was “Let's Dance.”

I agree that “Let's Dance” was a signature song for Goodman, after the success of the radio program by the same name. But I still contend “Roll 'Em” was his official theme song.

Who is right? Or are we both right?
—Marlin Mull, Brooksville, Fla.

DEAR MARLIN: All of this took place a few years before I started taking up space, but every reference source I checked sides with your friend. All my resources agree on “Let's Dance” being the answer.

Among them is Alice Rogers' definitive “Dance Bands and Big Bands,” which not only states that Benny Goodman's opening them was “Let's Dance,” but that his closing theme was, appropriately enough, “Goodbye.”

The King of Swing first recorded “Roll 'Em” in July 1937, for RCA in Los Angeles (Victor 25627). He then remade it in New York for Columbia eight months later.

“Let's Dance” comes from an October 1939 New York session (Columbia 35301).

As familiar as both tunes are to Goodman fans, it is interesting to note that neither of them charted — not for Benny or anyone else.

It is a good thing this debate is a friendly one.

IZ ZAT SO? Legendary among devotees of Dance Band and Big Band 78s, and music collectors in general, is Benny Goodman's 1937 recording of “Pop-Corn Man,” backed with “Ooooo-Oh Boom!” (Victor 25808).

Both sides feature vocalist Martha Tilton, a regular at the time with the Goodman orchestra.

About one week after the release of this seemingly routine single, Victor recalled and shattered as many of the discs as possible. They also destroyed the master recordings as well as their inventory of printed, though not yet applied, labels.

The rationale behind Victor's hostilities toward “Pop-Corn Man” is, to this day, not clear.

Since the lyrics are not objectionable, it is possible that either a rights issue or creative conflict arose — perhaps similar to the squabble in 1954 that doomed another RCA Victor release, “The Caine Mutiny” soundtrack LP.

About 10 copies of “Pop-Corn Man” escaped destruction and have become quite valuable, none of which are likely to change hands for much less than $1,000.

Shortly after the popcorn brouhaha, a replacement tune, “Always and Always,” came out as the new flip side of “Ooooo-Oh Boom!”

Often the most outlandish and unpredictable events give birth to collectibles.

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