Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man

1993: Legacy/Sony/Columbia 52855

  1. Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man

    Bud Freeman & His Orchestra, Red McKenzie, vocal, Chicago, 3 December 1928

  2. Masculine Women, Feminine Men

    Merritt Brunies & His Friars Inn Orchestra, Lew King, vocal, Chicago, 2 March 1926

  3. Help!

    Earl Gresh & His Gangplank Orchestra, New York, 22 September 1925

  4. The Right Kind of Man

    Golden Gate Orchestra, “Jim Andrews,” vocal, New York, 24 September 1929

  5. He’s My Kind of a Man

    The Flamingo Melodians, Bill Coty, vocal, New York, 15 May 1930

  6. He’s So Unusual

    Fred Rich & His Orchestra, The Rollickers, vocal, New York, 15 November 1929

  7. The Man I Love

    Sam Lanin’s Famous Players, “George Beaver,” vocal, New York, 9 December 1927

  8. I Want To Be Bad

    Ray Ventury & His Collegians, Edoard S Foy, vocal, Paris, 16 May 1929

  9. Gay Love

    Bing Crosby, New York, 27 September 1929

  10. Am I Blue?

    The Travelers, Irving Kaufman, vocal, New York, 19 June 1929

  11. Can’t We Be Friends?

    The Georgians, Johnny Morris, vocal, New York, 22 November 1929

  12. In My Little Hope Chest

    The Clevelanders, “Rodman Lewis,” vocal, New York, 17 February 1930

  13. He’s a Good Man To Have Around

    Dick Cherwin & His Orchestra, Billy Murray, vocal, New York, 27 September 1929

  14. I Got Rhythm

    Harold Lem & His Orchestra, Smith Ballew, vocal, New York, 29 October 1930

  15. What Wouldn’t I Do for That Man?

    Frankie Trumbauer & His Orchestra, Smith Ballew, vocal, New York, 19 October 1929

  16. But I Can’t Make a Man

    The Travelers, Wes Vaughn, vocal, New York, 7 November 1930

  17. The One That I Love Loves Me

    Meyer Davis & His Orchestra, Scrappy Lambert, vocal, New York, March 1929

  18. Buy, Buy for Baby

    The Columbians, Irving Kaufman, vocal, New York, 5 November 1928

  19. He’s My Secret Passion

    Danny Yates & His Orchestra, Smith Ballew, vocal, New York, 23 October 1930

  20. Love for Sale

    The Hotchkiss Dance Orchestra, The Kissing Bandits, vocal, New York, 1 April 1931

  21. Can’t Do Without His Love

    Joe Haymes & His Orchestra, Phil Dooley, vocal, New York, 23 June 1932

  22. Hold Your Man

    Will Osborne & His Orchestra, Will Osborne, vocal, New York, 29 June 1933

  23. Puh-LEEZE! Mr Hemingway

    Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, Carmen Lombardo, Larry Owen, & Fred Higman, vocal, New York, 7 September 1932

  24. Come Up and See Me Sometime

    Cliff Edwards, New York, 13 October 1933

  25. Beach Boy

    Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra, Bob Lawrence, vocal, New York, 29 June 1934

The liner notes on this “Art Deco” series release are kind of a mess, half documentary and half (irrelevant) editorial. The editorial part is largely a brief essay on Gay identity in popular music…except that only a couple of tracks on this CD have any such thing, and those only in a mock-the-limp-wrists way; particularly unhelpful is writer Michael Musto’s attempt to tie this all to Gay Liberation and 1980s/1990s pop music and, worse, to then make THAT all about dance clubs, and practically crediting Madonna for it all on top of that.

What Musto does rightly hint at, but then abandons to push his pop-culture agenda, is a brief explanation of the charm and thrill of the rest of this CD’s tracks: how they can serve to fill an unmet need of men for whom popular music didn’t provide such romantic fluff as the straight folks got. I suppose that applies as much to the men of the day (most of these tracks date from a few years right around 1930) as to us later chaps who’d love to have a corny old tune for our swain to croon (or to serenade one with). When you don’t have pop-culture representation, the alienation can be very dispiriting; so these tracks, even though they obviously weren’t intended as same-sex-love odes, provide a sort of vicarious satisfaction.

Personally, I kind of include Frank Sinatra’s recording of “Don’t Cry, Joe” (which I have on Disc 4 of the generally lackluster “Best of the Columbia Years” box set) as a cousin of this family; although the lyrics aren’t gender-specific with regard to the singer (“Joe” is presumably a male soldier, although I suppose that could be lit a bit differently, too, for that matter), and it’s assumed that the singer is a fellow soldier merely sympathizing and advising “Don’t cry, Joe; let her go, let her go, let her go,” I confess I enjoy hearing the song with the notion in place that Sinatra’s singing with a bit more of a consoling tone for his pal than just advising that “aw, dames are a dime a dozen—get another”…rather, that he’s stepping up to the plate to walk his pal over to behind the grandstand, as it were, where Joe will soon happily forget ALL about that dame.

But that’s just me.