American Yodeling German

Hearing New Yorker Dawn McCarthy perform in London last year, it was a shock when she inserted full-blooded yodelling into her very modern songs about cruelty and confusion. McCarthy is reaching back to a vocal tradition that forms part of the story of the Germans and Swiss in America. Employed by many black singers in the 19th century, yodelling became a national craze of epidemic proportions in the 1 920s, largely due to the success of Jimmie Podgers and his "Blue Yodels". The Blue Yodel included in this golden age compilation is'No 9' -"Standing On The Corner", Rodgers is accompanied by Louis Armstrong on cornet and Lil Armstrong on piano. Other vocal acrobatic delights include the Cajun Guidry Brothers, Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys, and the weird.
(The Wire)

A component of American minstrel shows from the mid- 1800-s onward, yodelling is intrinsic to singing in Madagascar and Eastern Europe as well as its traditional association with Alpine song. In America, though, the technique was clearly imported and, characteristically, was first integrated into indigenous music by black entertainers. Yodelling records caught on in the first two decades of the 20th century. Several of these (properly cylinders rather than records, as cut for the Edison company) referenced Swiss and German themes and were sung by an early white yodeller, George P Watson, who would later record for Columbia and Victor. His lullaby "Sleep, Baby, Sleep" is the final track (and the earliest recording, from 1911) on a wide-ranging collection surveying the 'yodelling fever' which gripped American record buyers in the years prior to the Second World War. Issued by the German Trikont label, American Yodeling 1911- 1946 blends successful cormmercial releases with those cut by artists whose yodels were heard by a relative few. The style was associated with Country records, specifically those sung by cowboy characters like Roy Rogers ("Cowboy Herd Night Song") and Sons Of The Pioneers ("The Devil's Great Grandson"), irrespective of the yodelling cowboy actually being "one of the mightiest pop hallucinations of all time" according to Nick Tosches, in his illuminating history, Country. The Singing Brakeman, Jimmie Rodgers, was famed above all Country blue yodellers, imitated by black and white musicians alike; his "Standin' On The Corner (Blue Yodel No 9)" is here, as is the work of a Rodgers clone, Cliff Carlisle ("The Yodeling Hobo"), who extolled his own unsavoury mien with "The Nasty Swing". There may have been something to his declaration, as Carlisle was later covered by Elvis Presley. The "soft, precise" harmonies of The Delmore Brothers were inspired also by Jimmie rodgers. A quarter century later, the everly brothers would run to the bank with their sound.
the wire, may 2002

"An albumīs worth of yodelling! I can hear you running for the hills already. Fear not, thereīs not an alpine caller in sight. The American flatlands is closer to the mark. The loud piercing yodelling sound is a thing of expressive beauty."
( Simon Rowland, ROCK `Nī REEL)

"The album comes with extensive sleevenotes and 26 gargling falsettos, from the sublime to the ridiculous. The muck from the old 78s makes it sound even more weird and wonderful." Sylvie Simmons,

"Every track has something of interest, and overall it offers as entertaining an hour and a quarter as youīll find on CD this year."
(Ray Templeton, BLUES & RHYTHM)

"It shouldnīt have worked, but it did, superbly. An entertaining collection."
(John Clarke, THE TIMES)

"The historical importance of this disc cannot be over stated."

"Itīs a veritable whoīs who of early country (& western) music with some well selected excursions across the blues line. Among such stellar company itīs hard to pick favourites."
(Ian Anderson, FOLKROOTS)

American Yodeling
American Yodeling
From 1909 to 1940
last updated: 02.05.2002 | top