First up is Musicart 316/317: Don Valino with the Celebrity Singers and the Magictones performing There’s A Fire In My Heart backed with our old friend Phyllis Moore (again accompanied by the Celebrity Singers and the Magictones) with Damisela.
Issued on both 45 and 78 rpm, the otherwise-unknown tenor Don Valino performs There’s A Fire In My Heart with the overblown passion and histrionics you would normally associate with a 30s musical. It’s dreadful, but not hysterically so – unlike the B-side. The many duff notes played by the organist on Damisela – my assumption is that the player is either Leonard MacClain (the cinema organist who cut several sides for Musicart) or (much more likely) Grace herself – but particularly those at 1’09”, 1”46” and 1’51” have me in hysterics.
The A-side of the second single (Musicart 320/321), Why Can’t It Be Only Me by Richard Rossiter and the Nightingales is a typical GPC dirge: tuneless, and – like There’s A Fire In My Heart - at least twenty years too late for the audience. It’s worth noting that There’s A Fire In My Heart and Damisela were released in 1954, the same year that Bill Haley recorded Rock Around the Clock and Elvis recorded That’s Alright Mama. Why Can’t It Be Only Me and The Space Ship Blues were issued the following year, the same year that Little Richard recorded Tutti Frutti and Chuck Berry issued Maybelline. Grace was a woman resolutely stuck in her own particular era.
The Space Ship Blues is performed by ancient vaudeville act The Romany Sisters (accompanied by the grandly-named ‘Instrumental Quartette’) and sees the return of Grace’s favourite instruments, the Solovox and that godawful village hall piano that appears on so many of her recordings. Again, bum notes abound. And don’t let the sudden end of The Space Ship Blues confound you: that’s exactly as it appears on the pressing. The Romany Sisters had been performing in vaudeville for decades by the time they came to record this spectacularly awful rubbish and must have been in their 60s (or possibly older) at the time.