On the Track – Leon Redbone

The MARK’S VINTAGE VINYL page features something from Mark’s collection of recordings from over the years. Most of it is on vinyl – hence the name – though there will be a few entries from his CDs (remember those?).

On the Track, by Leon Redbone

  • Debut album by ragtime artist Leon Redbone released in 1975.
  • My first experience with Redbone was on Saturday Night Live – he was a frequent performer in the early years, with 4 performances in the first 8 seasons of the show. After watching him do his ragtime act on one of the shows, I bought On the Track and another Redbone album, Champagne Charlie (which fell victim to a serious warping when it was left out in the sun many years ago).
  • The album features Redbone playing his acoustic guitar and harmonica and singing old vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley standards. He is accompanied by session musicians playing jazz and orchestral instruments including tuba, clarinet, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, double bass and violin. His singing is more of a nasally growl and mumble – very distinctive and unique. Particular faves of mine are Ain’t Misbehavin’ (written in 1929 for the Broadway musical Connie’s Hot Chocolates), My Walking Stick (an Irving Berlin classic), Lazy Bones (a 1933 song by Johnny Mercer and Hoagie Carmichael) and Lulu’s Back In Town (from the 1935 film Broadway Gondolier). The final song on the album is Polly Wolly Doodle, which dates back to 1843.
  • Obviously, in the middle of the disco era, Leon Redbone was something different. Trust me – watch this video, and if you like old time music, you’ll love Leon Redbone. Here’s a grainy live performance of Lulu’s Back In Town.


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