Wednesday, October 5, 2016

SHG: Kenny Ball: "Midnight in Moscow"

Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen: “Midnight in Moscow”
Entered the chart on: 2/17/62
Peaked on: 3/17/62
Weeks at #2: 1
Song at #1: “Hey! Baby” by Bruce Channel

Oh, honestly! Were we really so starved for talent over here that we had to import our Dixieland jazz from across the Atlantic Ocean? Actually, I do believe Kenny is in fact the first British act we’ve covered here at Second Hand Goods (at least directly, there was David Rose conducting the orchestra for Connie Francis on “My Happiness”).

This is another record from my parents’ collection. I was obsessed by this song as a kid, though I can’t say particularly why. Something about it intrigued and fascinated the junior version of me. Let’s see if it holds up.

All right, for those following along at home and wondering why this is called “Midnight in Moscow,” it’s adapted from an old Russian folk song. And I was absolutely not kidding about the Dixieland jazz thing. The accompaniment is drums and a freaking banjo! The rest is horns, horns, horns! Kenny and his trumpet lead the charge but we also get a muted trombone (which gets a solo and a raunchy glissando in the final head repeat, which has someone in the band yelling with delight!) and some wailing clarinet.

I have to say, for whatever reason, this still does it for me. It sounds utterly bizarre amidst all the R&B, early rock and dance craze records that surrounded it, and maybe that’s what appeals to me so much. Whatever, it’s fun, and I make no apologies for my enjoyment.

Rating: 5


  1. I'm 60. I don't know if I've ever heard this song before. I agree. It's really Dixieland. I half expect Pete Fountain's clarinet to make an appearance. I actually like it, despite the title. But #2? I guess it's still pre-Beatles.

  2. Believe me, when Beatlemania happens on SHG, you’ll know it! Yes, this is pre-Beatlemania. And Kenny Ball wasn’t even the first Britjazz to enter the Billboard charts. That would be Chris Barber with “Petite fleur” in 1959. And I don’t know if I’d call it “jazz,” but Acker Bilk and his clarinet went all the way to #1 in ’62 with the easy-listening smash “Stranger on the Shore.”