Friday, September 16, 2011

Music | Jane Russell Sings! Part 1

With Jane Russell being the first star to have her films explored in the Filmography Project, I have been doing some research on the other parts of her career as well. One thing I am glad to have come across is the long list of songs recorded by Jane. Now I know it isn't hard to realize that she was a singer, but I don't think many people know she had a music career, maybe it was a small one, but nonetheless she had a music career. She released a few albums and even had a single perform pretty well on the charts. This is the first of a two part post about those albums and Jane's other ventures into music...

Jane's first venture into music was in the late 1940's. She had been signed to a 7 year contract at the age of 19 by Howard Hughes, but her debut film, The Outlaw, was held up for many years by the Hays Office. When the film finally made its way onto the silver screen, it never lived up the hype setup by the publicity the many years previous. Jane Russell was a popular movie star, without any movies under her belt. She was loaned out by Hughes to make Young Widow while waiting for The Outlaw to be released, but this film did little to nothing to advance her career.
While waiting for her film career to go somewhere, Jane put together a nightclub singing act. She debuted at the Latin Quarter Club in Miami Beach, Florida. While it didn't do anything to help her movie career, she did bring in a $15,000 salary for the one week engagement. In January 1947, after losing his lead singer, Kay Kyser invited Jane to make an appearance on his College of Musical Knowledge radio show. When she was so well liked on the show a 12 week contract was written. She even went with Kyser to Columbia to record two tracks with him ['As Long As I Love' & 'Boin-n-n-ng'].

The Outlaw was finally nearing its release in 1947 when Columbia approached Jane to record her own album. The result was an 8 track album titled 'Let's Turn Out The Lights.' The album found Jane cooing suggestive bedroom ballads such as 'Do It Again' and 'Body and Soul.' On two of the tracks, 'Let's Turn Out The Lights' and 'Two Sleepy People', she was teamed up with Bob Lowery to deliver bits of dialogue where it is suggested that there are other things to do before retiring to bed.

The album was reissued with the Kyser tracks she recorded at Columbia as well as two other unreleased tracks. The unreleased tracks, 'The Gilded Lady' and 'Reckless', were from the film Montana Belle. The songs were never released when they were recorded in 1949 because Hughes delayed the film's release until 1952. Years later, Russell put down the record calling it "horrible and boring to listen to."

While I can hardly agree with her views on the album, I must say it isn't something to listen to if you are trying to do anything but relax. The torch style ballads are beautifully sung and a joy to listen to. Album highlights for me include 'A Hundred Years From Today' and 'As Long As I Live.' The album is available on the web, but if you go on iTunes, you can find the tracks as apart of a few of the Jane Russell albums they offer.

View part two of this article here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Craig, thanks so much for posting this. I've long thought that Jane's other talents - her singing - always got overshadowed by either her physical attributes and/or her co-stars, like MM in GPB but I never knew she had a recording career.