Monday, April 10, 2006

Still on a birthday kick

Today is the post-mortem natal day of (screen) ghostest with the mostest dubber for the stars, Peg LaCentra (1910-1996). She sang for Susan Hayward in Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman. It drives me crrrrazeee when folks just call it Smash-Up. Doesn't it you? Or maybe you don't really care. But I digress as is my wont.

Among others, LaCentra also sang for Ida Lupino in Road House. Did some band singing, too. Primarily with Artie Shaw. But Shaw, it is said, never really liked singers; considered them a necessary evil. From Shaw she jumped to Benny Goodman's band for a brief time, but he didn't like anyone, and so LaCentra lasted only a few months there. In his excellent liner notes for the 2002 CD reissue of the bulk of LaCentra's recorded work, 45 tracks on two CD's, writer-reissue producer Ted Ono makes the above strong cases for the ultra-obscurity of LaCentra.

It is interesting and, in fact, downright noble that Ono's Baldwin Street label would go to the trouble of releasing a project such as this. But inasmuch as he considers Peg LaCentra "one of the most distinctive song-stylists of the Swing Era," obscurity notwithstanding, I guess he didn't have much choice. Still there appears to be a slim profit margin here. For Ono adds, "I believe that this is a significant release for jazz vocal collectors around the world even if there are only about 3,000 of us left." "Only," perhaps, but at what I would imagine to be at least 3.00 profit per disc, that's like having your idealistic cake and eating a slim slice of it, too. And, most likely, he won't end up burning in Bad Record Producer Hell, forced to listen over and over for an eternity to a tape loop of the inchoate brayings of a Jessica Simpson or somesuch. But I digress.

LaCentra was married to the actor Paul Stewart (Citizen Kane, etc.).


Alex Gildzen said...

I seem to recall she did some stage work as well.

Anonymous said...

i guess i'm one of the 3,000 then--really wishing someone would release a compilation of all the songs Peg "ghosted" for Lupino, Hayward, et al during her heydey. If you have any influence here---