It’s time to hit you guys with another whatever-they-called-mashups-before-the-word-existed. This one takes popular songs of the time (as well as some old songs) and give them a ragtime/Dixieland flavor or, as the back cover proclaims: “In ’70s jargon, you know a tune is hot when hip dancers yell, ‘Get down on the floor and boogie!’ Well, disco ain’t seen nothin’ yet. As you spin these soaring good-time harmonies, old and new are joined together, the fingers on the banjo strings dip down low and your body will vibrate with a class sound that’s now better than ever.” Does it work? Well, here’s a sample for you to decide.
We’ll first feature the song “Oh Babe, What Would You Say?” originally written and performed by Hurricane Smith. This really isn’t too much of a stretch, since the song had an old-timey feel anyway. They only push the tempo a little bit.
Next we have “Those Were the Days,” made famous by Mary Hopkin (although the song was actually recorded as early as 1926). As you can see, the Ragtimers weren’t straying too far from the original here. They just take it from a wistful feel to more of a celebratory one.
Next we have the biggest hit from a group that played on nostalgia for a number of their songs, Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.” After hearing all three of these of these songs, I wonder if these guys could play any song at a slower tempo. I believe it was Steve Martin who said that you can’t play a sad song on a banjo, and that certainly seems to be the case here!
Finally, to show that they can play older songs just as well, here’s “Second Hand Rose,” which was originally done by Fanny Brice (and later Barbra Streisand). It’s nice but, for some reason, they feel the need to add these silent movie whistling noises in it. It seems pretty unnecessary to me, but your mileage may vary. (Obviously theirs did.)
If you’d like to take a listen to this entire album, you can find it over here. See you next time!