Ignored, Maligned, and Forgotten Music

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Boogie Woogie Reveille

Legbamel Not-Pop

For the first time a post here on The NPJ was inspired by something I wrote for One Step Forward, my blog on the English language, about reveille. I thought I'd long ago posted Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B) if only because I do have a fascination with The Andrews Sisters. Finding that I'd failed to do so sent me on a lengthy trip through the various versions.

The song itself tells the story of a guy that plays boogie and gets drafted. He gets down so hard playing reveille in the morning that the Captain recruits a whole band to play with him and they make “the company jump eight to the bar”. Apparently he plays a boogie woogie taps at night to put them to sleep, as well.

Naturally, the Puppini Sisters have recorded their own cover, closer to ten to the bar than eight, as they speed up so many of their great swing versions. Bette Middler did a widely-known and heavily-swung cover of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy as well, as did many big bands of the forties and fifties. I've included a live version from The Osmonds below and the short En Vogue twist that includes the ladies changing it to the hip hop boy playing reverie, which makes no sense, lovely voices notwithstanding.

I don't know the name of the male vocalist on the Woody Herman track here. I picture him standing in front of one of those old-fashioned microphones in a studio somewhere, full three-piece suit, drawling it out, but still cool enough to get down a little when the brass really starts wailing. But The Young Ambassadors come across as so shrill that I imagine them as a bunch of high school kids more excited about recording than loving the song.

I also tucked in a couple of instrumental versions, one from Empire Brass and the other a somewhat subdued take from Tim Zimmerman and the King's Brass. I don't know what empire or king either purports to represent but both do a good job showing how a strong melody doesn't need lyrics to work. I started with an actual reveille call, pure bugle with nothing to mar its dulcet tones, so that you'll understand what they're talking about, and ended, as seemed appropriate, with Taps just as clean.

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