Friday, February 28, 2014

Bill Gale - Let's Polka!

Cover design by Alex Steinweiss
"Who can resist the twinkling two-four tempo of the Polka?" So begin the liner notes for this album. Who indeed, especially when they are as well-played as here? More's the pity, that I can find out so little about the artist who presents these specimens of the dance. All I can establish with certainty is that his real name was Wasyl Gula, of Ukrainian ethnicity (that beleaguered country of late), that he fronted a number of different polka bands throughout his career, both under his birth name and under his Americanized name as Bill Gale, and that he also composed quite a number of polkas (including two in this album). The band here contains not only the expected accordions and clarinets, but also some surprising instruments like slide whistle and xylophone (quite startling it is to hear the latter instrument break into a virtuoso riff in the middle of Smetana's "Bartered Bride" Polka!). Irresistible, too, is the inspired silliness of the "Laugh Polka," and the nautical overtones of the "Goofy Gob" Polka (one of Mr. Gale's own). Here are the particulars of the set:

Let's Polka
Bill Gale and his Music Makers
1. Clarinet Polka
2. Smetana: Bartered Bride - Polka
3. Bell Polka
4. Laugh Polka
5. Helena Polka
6. Goofy Gob Polka
7. Beer Barrel Polka ("Roll Out the Barrel")
8. Gypsy Polka
Recorded March 25, 1941
Columbia set C-56, four 10-inch 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 71.31 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 39.46 MB)

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