Reissue Production: Jeff Alexson & Tom Diamant
Graphic Design: Elizabeth Weil
Cover photo hand tinting: Stan Wolf
Cover photo taken by Robert Stinnett at a live performance in 1948 at Maple Hall in San Pablo, California
Musician’s notes by Tiny Moore
Other notes by Tom Diamant & Jeff Alexson
Catalog Number: LP: F-16, Cassette: C-16, CD: K-16
Side One: Nancy Jane, Mission to Moscow, Dinah, Lone Star Rag, Cotton Patch Blues, Sweet Jennie Lee, I Hear You Talkin’
Side Two: The Girl I Left Behind Me, Straighten Up and Fly Right, Little Betty Brown, Nobody’s Sweetheart Now, Black Out Blues, What’s the Matter With the Mill, Jumpin’ at the Woodside.
This was the first release and was to give an overview of what was to come. From the traditional sounding twin fiddle western swing , to the hot jazz vocals, blazing hot instrumentals, to old time Texas fiddle tunes. Each track was chosen so that all the musicians on the series would have a moment to shine.
The album started out with Nancy Jane an unissued cut from the transcriptions. This was chosen because in 1932 Bob Wills and Milton Brown, along with Derwood Brown and Sleepy Johnson, recorded the first two songs ever issued that Bob Wills played on, Sun Bonnet Sue and Nancy Jane (issued under the name of the Fort Worth Doughboys). Bob had recorded earlier, in 1929, two fiddle tunes that were never issued and the masters have been lost. Kaleidoscope purposely put this cut as the first tune to pay tribute to Bob’s first recordings and to start with a tune never heard before since it had been recorded.
Also, included in the album was Black Out Blues. This four and a half minute blues was the last song recorded at the December 30, 1947 session and the last Tiffany Transcriptions song ever recorded. It was also the last studio recording of Tommy Duncan with Bob Wills (until their reunion recordings for Liberty Records in 1960). The next night, New Year’s Eve, they played at the Havana Ballroom in Oakland. On January 1, 1948, James Petrillo, head of the musicians union, imposed his second ban on recording that lasted through most of 1948. By the time the ban was lifted Bob Wills had fired Tommy Duncan.
But the track that took everyone by surprise was Mission To Moscow which was given the coveted side one, track two position (there was a belief among some record producers that track two was a more important position than track one on an LP, the idea being, by the time you cued up the LP, dropped the needle and went back to your chair to listen you had already missed a good portion on track one. But by the time track two came along, you were relaxed and ready to really listen) . Composed by Mel Powell and originally performed by the Benny Goodman Orchestra as a big band number, the Playboys took Mission to Moscow to another level. It has since become something of a standard for modern western swing bands. A few big bands still do the Mel Powell/Benny Goodman arrangement, but most modern recordings are based on the Bob Wills Tiffany Transcription version. (Click here to hear the Benny Goodman Original on YouTube. If you want to investigate more, listen to all the versions on YouTube, there are some good ones!)
A few other facts: The back photo was from the actual Tiffany Transcriptions recording session of September 6th, 1947.
On the original Kaleidoscope CD the track indexing is incorrect. Lone Star Rag follows Dinah without a separate track index. Therefore track four on the CD player index is actually the fifth song Cotton Patch Blues, and all subsequent songs are one track off.