W.C. Fields - His Only Recordings... Plus 8 Songs by Mae West

These two beloved comedians of the early and mid twentieth century were in films, on radio and early TV. The material here is 'gentle' humor, devoid of the bite and political cast of most modern comics. Is that good? Judge for yourself; we'll let you decide. Suffice to know that this was the biggest selling album in our early history, and we're proud to offer it for the first time on CD. At sixty-six, on December 25th, 1946, W.C. Fields passed away. A page ad in the Hollywood Reporter of Dec.27th placed by friends, read: The most prejudiced and honest and beloved figure in our so-called "Colony" went away on a day that he pretended to abhor Christmas. We loved him, and peculiarly enough he loved us. To the most authentic humorist since Mark Twain, to the greatest heart that has beaten since the middle ages W.C.Fields, our friend. W.C. Fields and Mae West were immortal film stars from the 1930s whose comedy routines focused on, respectively, drinking alcohol and sex. Fields' only recording session and eight songs by West from the time period are combined on this reissue of a unique and formerly rare album. W.C. Fields created a character who loved to drink, made wisecracks under his breath, barely tolerated a domineering wife, was bedeviled by pets, and somehow always ended up on top.

He was born William Claude Dukenfield in 1880. Dropping out of school early, Fields left home when he was a young teenager. He struggled for years while trying to break into show business, succeeding by teaching himself to become a masterful juggler. His act was very popular on vaudeville. Fields hit the big time when he was signed to the Ziegfeld Follies in 1915. He also worked in George White's "Scandals" and starred in the 1923 play "Poppy," often ad-libbing his lines since he had difficulty remembering the script. Fields appeared in a few silent films and did more work on Broadway before moving to Hollywood in 1930 where he spent the rest of his life appearing in movies. By 1934 he was a full fledged movie star, and his memorable character was often hilarious. "The Old Fashioned Way," gives one a rare glimpse of his juggling while, "It's A Gift," was one of the most coherent and beloved of his movies. Other W.C. Fields films included a strong role in "David Copperfield" and such movies as "The Man On The Flying Trapeze," "Poppy," "You Can't Cheat An Honest Man," "The Bank Dick" and "Never Give A Sucker An Even Break." His drinking eventually caught up with him and Fields passed away on Christmas 1946 at the age of 66.

Mae West was born in 1893. She appeared in amateur contests from the age of seven. By 1907 she was performing regularly in vaudeville. West appeared on Broadway as early as 1911 and first hit it big in 1918, dancing the shimmy in the revue "Sometime." She began writing her own plays including one called "Sex." It resulted in her being arrested on morals charges and spending eight days in jail in 1927, earning her a great deal of publicity. In 1932 Mae West was signed by Paramount Pictures. Quickly becoming a sex symbol and star, her double entendre comments made her a sensation. She also sang in many of her films and, although she did not have a great voice, her personality came through. West's film career came to an end in 1943 (other than a few later comebacks) but she had a successful nightclub act for years and was a household name until her death in 1980 at the age of 87. This unique CD has two classic routines by W.C. Fields which may have been his final performances, dating from 1945-46.  "The Temperance Lecture" and "The Day I Drank A Glass Of Water" are full of very funny statements and nonsensical stories dealing with alcohol. Mae West, who was ironically a teetotaler, is featured on eight songs from 1947, often accompanied by a good pianist or organist, and in a few cases a band. A fine trumpeter is heard on "Come Up And See Me Sometime," which is named after her trademark line. The subject matter of other songs deal with a potential lover who moves too fast, "Slow Down." one who moves too slow, "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" and other humorous sexual situations. While the lyrics are very subtle for the 21st century, at the time they were considered quite outlandish. W.C. Fields and Mae West only worked together in the 1940 film "My Little Chickadee" but they prove to be a perfect fit on this entertaining CD. These two beloved comedians of the early and mid twentieth century were in films, on radio and early TV. The material here is 'gentle' humor, devoid of the bite and political cast of most modern comics. Is that good? Judge for yourself; we'll let you decide. Suffice to know that this was the biggest selling album in our early history, and we're proud to offer it for the first time on CD.


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The Temperance Lecture The Day I Drank A Glass of Water Frankie & Johnny My Man Friday Page 54 That's All Brother Pardon Me For Loving And Running Put It Off Until Tomorrow Slow Down Come Up And See Me Sometime

Additional Info

Additional Info

Format: Jazz Record
Soloist/Artist W.C. Fields, Mae West
Instruments Music and Musicians
Composer W.C. Fields, Mae West
Accompanist/ Conductor No


Customer Reviews (2)

"Classic!"Review by Big Toots
Proscenium 22 W.C. Fields … his only recordings Plus 8 Songs by Mae West

A wise man once said that talent is a matter of breaking barriers. When one thinks about that axiom, both W.C. Fields and Mae West, legendary celebs of an earlier time, certainly broke both barriers and molds. Fields, for example, ran away from home at eleven, was homeless throughout his adolescence, took up juggling (practicing as much as 16 hours daily!) and ultimately became a vaudeville and Hollywood star. For a good part of his life, he was near-illiterate, but, eventually became obsessed with books, especially those of Charles Dickens. West, of course, used her looks, buxomness and slick double entendres to raise the concern, if not, ire of prudish censors. She broke the dishes long before bad girls Madonna and Lady Gaga were a twinkle in someone’s eyes.

With this unique recording – not a novelty, but, more of a showcase of the pair and the times – we encounter Fields delivering two lengthy, comedic monologues. (“The Temperance Lecture” and “The Day I Drank a Glass of Water”). Fields, of course, played up the role of booze-hound both on stage and in real life. His “oratory” as relates to the “Devil’s Drink” is, as you’d expect, over the top, highly faux-dramatic, and filled with satiric and metaphoric overtones. The famed Fields inflections, especially as the non-Shakespearean lines conclude are a hoot. On the first cut, Fields is accompanied by a background honky-tonk pianist. On the “Water” cut, W.C. is accompanied by none other than guitar great, Les Paul (in whose studio the recording was made). His two tracks are 100-proof enjoyable and are verboten at any AA meeting, I’m sure.

West, no Edith Piaf vocally, “talk-sings” 7 selections accompanied by various ensemble types. The material is haute-vaudevillian (“Frankie and Johnny,” “That’s All Brother”) with obvious burlesque and double-entendre shadings (“My Man Friday,” “Slow Down,” “Come Up and See Me Sometime”). One can almost visualize West hair hive-high and zaftig as they come, strutting her stuff as she barrels through a selection. A consummate performer, emanating from an era when prudes outnumbered sybarites, West was a performing revolutionary. Today’s so-called Pop Divas certainly owe her a nod – or at least a thank you for giving them the idea to use provocative costuming and those muscle men as part of the act.

Barrier breakers both, Fields and West provide a fun time here. Drink up, it’s show (us how) time!
(Posted on 6/27/2015)
W.C. Fields, Mae WestReview by Simon Sez
This is certainly an unusual album. While W.C. Fields and Mae West were both in the movie My Little Chickadee, on this record they are heard separately.

W.C. Fields, who otherwise did not make any records, does two comedy routines (“The Temperance Lecture” and “The Day I Drank A Glass Of Water”) from the mid-1940s that are funny and about his love for liquor. Mae West often sang in her movies and she made a few records along the way. Her eight songs that are here include “Come Up And See Me Sometime.” This unique album will interest fans of the two Hollywood legends.

Simon Sez: W.C. Fields does two comedy routines and Mae West sings on His Only Recordings Plus 8 Songs By Mae West (Proscenium 22).
(Posted on 5/6/2014)

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