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October 6, 2015

Soundies: The music videos of yesteryear

by Adam Finley, posted Mar 10th 2007 3:02PM

louis armstrongCall me a nerd, but I absolutely love big band music. Out of my rather small collection of about fifty vinyl albums, about fifteen of them are from the likes of Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, the Dorsey Brothers, and others. When my grandfather passed away a few years ago, he left behind a nice stack of records, and I snatched them all up rather quickly. That music has a timelessness to it that's rare in today's music industry where bands are shuffled through to make way for the next big thing.

The PBS documentary Soundies (check your local listings for airdates) takes a look at "music videos" from the '40s. These weren't the videos we know today, but rather "soundies," viewed through a special machine called a panoram. The documentary is hosted by pianist Michael Feinstein.

I wonder how the likes of Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway would have approached music differently if they lived in the music video age? I'm trying to imagine Calloway singing "Minnie the Moocher" in front of a greenscreen with sexy underaged dancers and rapid-fire editing. Something tells me he wouldn't have minded all that much.

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Fran Preve

I'm 62 years old, I've been into music for all those years, I have NEVER heard of a "soundie" before today. Again, THANK YOU PBS. And the Republicans want to stop government support to PBS. Ask me why I'm a democrat.

March 26 2007 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How can you mention big band music with
out mentioning the great "Chic Webb Orchestra"?

March 10 2007 at 6:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That sounds interesting. It'd be nice if my local affiliate had any info on it at all.

Its like they dont *want* people to watch PBS....

I guess Ill just have to scan the guide till I find it.

March 10 2007 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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