“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
“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.” 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
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.