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Special Command Performance - AFRS Fourth Anniversary

August 20th, 2008

Well, I've only got a couple of shows for you this week, but this one's a doozy.

Direct for a set of Armed Forces Radio Service transcriptions, here's a special ninety minute edition of "Command Performance" from May 29, 1946, celebrating the fourth anniversary of AFRS.

The show is a compilation of excerpts representing all of the major series produced especially for personnel in the Army, Navy and Marines during World War II.  The program, introduced by Bill Goodwin and hosted by Bob Hope is framed by a "letter" that is a kind of retrospective of major events in the War.

Hope opens the show with one his topical monologues.  Then, after setting up the show with the "letter", we hear the following excerpts:

  • "Downbeat" featuring a couple of tunes from drummer Ray Bauduc (who played with the Bob Crosby Orchestra)
  • "Melody Roundup" with the Riders of the Purple Sage doing "New San Antonio Rose" and Abigail and Buddy performing a "hillbilly" version of "Begin the Beguine"
  • "Showtime" with Janet Blair singing Cole Porter's "I Love You"
  • "Mail Call" where Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy do a routine on Dickins's "Oliver Twist", introduced by Bill Goodwin
  • "GI Jive" hosted by GI Jill with the King Sisters singing "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano"
  • "Jubilee" where the Slim Gaillard Trio perform the hit novelty tune, "Cement Mixer (Put-Ti Put-Ti)"
  • a religions program with "Ave Maria" performed by the Bob Mitchell Boys Choir
  • "GI Journal" with Kay Kyser joining Jerry Colonna as the Journal's "star reporter", then "copy girl" Linda Darnell and Mel Blanc in character as Private Sad Sack in an extended comedy sketch that includes "The Life of the Sad Sack"
  • Fred MacMurray hosting a program reminiscing about the year 1935 where the King Sisters sing "I've Had My Moments"
  • "Words With Music", with Donald Crisp reading Thomas Hood's "I Remember"
  • "Command Performance" with Bill Goodwin, Bob Hope and Janet Blair in a parody of radio soap operas, "The Ups and Downs of Brenda Scuttlebutt, Girl Yo-Yo"; Fred MacMurray joins them for a sketch about an annoying little boy on the set of a Hollywood movie
  • "Purple Heart Album" with Francis Langford singing "We'll Be Waltzing Again"

If you've never listened to AFRS programming, which was produced especially for military personnel and not broadcast stateside, the show gives you a good idea of the range of shows that were a part of AFRS's schedule alongside their rebroadcasts of material from the major networks.  It's a really entertaining ninety minutes and an intriguing immersion into the popular songs, topical jokes and military culture of World War II.

The program was transferred from an original three-disc AFRS transcription set in near-mint condition.

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