“Seven Years with the Wrong Woman.” Words and melody by Bob Miller (1932). Recorded by Maurice Winnick and His Orchestra, with vocals by Sam Browne and Elsie Carlisle, on May 16, 1933. Panachord 25527.
Personnel: Maurice Winnick-vn dir. Charles Price-another-t / 2tb / Harry Hayes-Harry Turoff-as / Percy Winnick-cl-ts-o / Bert Whittam -p / Bill Herbert-g / Tiny Stock-sb / Stanley Marshall-d / Max Bacon-sp (possibly -d also)
Transfer and video by Peter Wallace (YouTube)
“Seven Years with the Wrong Woman,” a comic hillbilly waltz by Memphis-born but New York-based Bob Miller, is the lament of an unhappily married man. The henpecked husband and the shrewish wife are perennial stock sources of mirth, and Miller’s encapsulation of the sentiments of the former attracted the attention of such American artists as Cliff Carlisle, Parker & Dodd, Frank Luther, Mac & Bob, and Jess Hillard. The success of the song is attested to by Miller’s having released a second song, “Seven Years with the Wrong Man,” a year later, in which he presented the same situation from the point of view of the fairer sex.
Sam Browne and Elsie Carlisle’s duet in Maurice Winnick’s recording of “Seven Years with the Wrong Woman” is an early example of the sort of song of bickering and vituperation for which they became well known (consider also the 1934 songs “What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander” and “I’m Gonna Wash My Hands of You”). The verses of the song are interspersed with spoken comic vignettes. The arrangement is whimsical, and it includes a bit of Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C Sharp Minor.”1 The comedy is at times rather dark (“Prisoner at the bar, you are accused of striking this woman with your fist. Why did you strike her with your fist?” “Because I couldn’t find a hammer”). The third speaker is Ambrose drummer Max Bacon, who liked to do comedy in a stereotypical Jewish accent whenever the chance presented itself.2
In 1933 there were other British treatments of “Seven Years with the Wrong Woman” by Jimmy Campbell and His Paramount Band (in a medley, with vocals by the Three Ginx), Roy Fox and His Band (with vocalists Jack Plant and Sid Buckman), Ray Noble and His Orchestra (with Al Bowlly), Billy Cotton and His Band (Alan Breeze, vocalist), Syd Roy and His R.K.Olians (with Ivor Moreton), and Jack Payne and His Band (with vocalists Billy Scott-Coomber, Bob Busby, Bob Manning, and Jack Payne himself).
- For a considerably more elaborate British dance band treatment of Rachmaninoff’s prelude, listen to Teddy Joyce’s recording of a Bob Busby arrangement of the piece. ↩
- Many thanks to Fred Finnigan for drawing my attention to Bacon’s considerable work as an independent comedian, and not just as Britain’s premier drummer. ↩