Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Beatles: The Sheik Of Araby [1962]
Art Tatum: The Sheik Of Araby [1937]

This chestnut was written in 1921, with lyrics by Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler and music by Ted Snyder. (Ted Snyder is the man who gave Irving Berlin his start in show business, hiring Irving as a song plugger in 1909. Now that's old school.) The song was popularized by Eddie Cantor, who performed it in the 1922 Schubert stage show Make It Snappy. It was a hit before your mother was born.

The Beatles version was recorded on New Year's Day, 1962, as part of their audition for Decca records. Recorded at the Decca studios at 165 Broadhurst Gardens, London. With Pete Best on drums. Taken from this CD. George Harrison said the Beatles's version was inspired by Joe Brown, although as far as I can tell Joe's version didn't surface on record until this live version from 1963, which, as it happens, is rather different from the Beatles arrangement.

Art T's version was recorded on November 29, 1937 in New York City, and released on Decca records. (Unlike the Beatles, Art apparently passed his audition.) Taken from this CD. For more stride piano stylings, dig this Fats Waller version.


Anonymous said...

Love it, Emmett.

Didn't know that about the Beatles' Decca audition. The Art Tatum version, especially, is cool as fuck ! Great sheet music illustration.

Anonymous said...

Wow. It was only a few days ago I got this song on my mind and had to turn on my copy of the Betales Anthology 1, where their version of this is featured.

Nice to hear some more versions.

Private Beach said...

The Beatles toured with Joe Brown in their early days, so they probably heard him perform the song live. They remained friends over the years, and he was one of the performers at George Harrison's memorial concert.

Sheridan Dupre said...

you love your art tatum, don't you?

Emmett said...

Thanks for the historical background, Private Beach. I've also read that Joe B. was the best man at George's second wedding. So clearly they were kindred spirits.

Anonymous said...

Art Tatum is Decca 2052A for those that are interested

follow the numbers :D

Thanks for the cool tunes. Art Tatum (ahem) rules.