“On a Dreamy Afternoon” (1932)

“On a Dreamy Afternoon.” Lyrics by Robert Hargreaves and Stanley J. Damerell, with music by Montague Ewing (1932). Recorded by Ray Starita and His Ambassadors’ Band on September 15, 1932, with vocals by Elsie Carlisle. Four-in-One 7.

Personnel: Ray Starita-cl-ts dir. Nat Gonella-t / t / tb / prob. Chester Smith-cl-as-bar-o / Nat Star-cl-as / George Glover-cl-ts-vn / George Hurley-vn / Harry Robens-p / George Oliver-bj-g / Arthur Calkin-sb / Rudy Starita-d-vib-x

Ray Starita and His Ambassadors w. Elsie Carlisle – “On A Dreamy Afternoon” (1932)

“On a Dreamy Afternoon” was composed by Montague Ewing, who was known for his light music. The lyricists Hargreaves and Damerell (who sometimes used the joint pseudonym “Erell Reaves”) more frequently collaborated with composer Tolchard Evans, turning out such popular tunes as “Lady of Spain” and “If.”

Ray Starita’s version of “On a Dreamy Afternoon” was made in 1932, the last year of his recording career and one of the best, when his band included such greats as Nat Gonella and Nat Star. It was also the only year he used Elsie Carlisle as a vocalist, though he did so quite a bit, turning out excellent recordings of “Kiss by Kiss,” “Let That Be a Lesson to You,” and “I Heard,” amongst others. “On a Dreamy Afternoon” has music and lyrics that are mellow and atmospheric and showcase nicely the sweet quality of Elsie’s voice — this is definitely not one of her torch songs, and there is nothing particularly naughty in it — it is soothingly beautiful and romantic.

The recording in the YouTube video above is one of two takes of the song recorded by Ray Starita with Elsie Carlisle that day; the other appears on Sterno 1026:


Other versions of this song were recorded in October 1932 by Arthur Lally (Maurice Elwin, vocalist), Jack Hylton and His Orchestra (with vocals by Pat O’Malley; hear the unissued take 3 on jackhylton.com), and Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Hotel Orpheans, with Cavan O’Connor singing).

“He’s My Secret Passion” (1930)

“He’s My Secret Passion.” Composed by Arthur Young, with lyrics by Val Valentine (1930). Recorded by Elsie Carlisle with orchestral accompaniment (probably under the musical direction of Jay Wilbur) c. September 3, 1930. Imperial 2333.

Personnel:  ?Jay Wilbur dir. Jack Miranda-cl-ts / Eric Siday-vn / Harry Jacobson-p-cel / Len Fillis-g

Elsie Carlisle – “He’s My Secret Passion” (1930)

“He’s My Secret Passion” was written for a British crime drama called “Children of Chance” (1930) starring Elissa Landi and John Stuart. Elsie Carlisle’s September 1930 versions of the song appear on Imperial 2333 mx. 5464 with the take numbers -3, -4, and -5, and discographers Richard Johnson and Ross Laird have deduced from the high take numbers that recording spanned over more than one session. Elsie had begun to record for Imperial, where Jay Wilbur was musical director, the previous month after a four-month hiatus following the closing of Dominion Records (whose music Wilbur had also supervised).

One might reasonably call “He’s My Secret Passion” a torch song, insofar as it involves a longing lament over an unrealized romance, but the lyrics involve enough amorous boasting (e.g. “I’ll burn him up when I sit on his knee”) that perhaps the song transcends the genre. Elsie conveys her yearning with a slightly quavering voice, and her delivery becomes more confident as the argument of the lyrics becomes stronger. The studio band plays in a subdued and mellow fashion, nicely showcasing Elsie’s voice.

1930 saw British versions of “He’s My Secret Passion” (often turned into “She’s My Secret Passion,” as suggested in the original sheet music, when sung by male vocalists) by the Rhythm Maniacs (vocalist Ella Logan), Ambrose and His Orchestra (Sam Browne, vocalist), the Four Bright Sparks (vocalist Queenie Leonard, with Arthur Young on the piano), Harry Bidgood’s Broadcasters (Tom Barratt, vocalist), Bert Madison and His Dance Orchestra (Nat Star, again with Tom Barratt doing the singing), Len Fillis’s Phantom Players (vocalist Al Bowlly), and Jay Wilbur and His Band (with Les Allen as vocalist).

In America, the song was recorded in 1930 by Doris Robbins, Danny Yates and His Orchestra (with vocals by Smith Ballew), Lee Morse and Her Blue Grass Boys, Marion Harris, and in February 1931 by McKinney’s Cotton Pickers (with vocals by Donald King).

"The Idol of the Radio." British dance band singer of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.