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Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security

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Atomic Cocktail: Slim Gaillard Quartette [1946]

Quite possibly the ultimate Atomic Platter, Slim Gaillard’s unforgettable jazz vocal composition celebrates, with impeccable cool, the wonders of a radioactive cordial (“the drink you don’t pour”). Not only does the song neatly encapsulate the immediate impact the Bomb had on the culture, but it was also cut on the Atomic, Inc. label, whose logo features a figure swaying in a blast wind. What more could the Cold War music obsessive ask for?

Atomic Cocktail, with its admiring lyrics for an atomic-powered drink, is emblematic of the first wave of naïve Bomb songs. Recorded in December of 1945 while Hiroshima and Nagasaki still glowed, the attitude of this comical tune mirrors the blissful ignorance of the western world to the true horror unleashed on Japan. Additionally, the lyrics “push a button, turn a dial, your work is done for miles and miles” reflects the popular notion of the day that the Bomb had ushered in a carefree new era of easier living—not to mention killing—through science. It is rare that such a catchy song is so historically significant, but that’s why it leads off this collection of irradiated music.

Gaillard, who was best known for his scat singing (dubbed "Vout"), recorded five other sides on the Atomic, Inc. label including the wonderful Tee Say Malee (the B-side to Cocktail) which contains these throwaway nonsense lyrics: "Atomic records, Atomic Voutie, Atomic records, Atomic explosion-o-reenie." Bulee “Slim” Gaillard was born in 1916 in Detroit and found his first fame as part of the Slim and Slam duo (with bassist Slam Stewart) whose biggest hit was 1939’s Flat Foot Floogie. Upon Gaillard’s return from military service in World War II he settled on the West Coast and recorded for Atomic and several other labels. He also played guitar for Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Jack McVea and appeared in a number of movies including Sweetheart of Sigma Chi, Stairway for a Star and Go, Man, Go! Late in life Gaillard relocated to the United Kingdom where he became a fixture on the talk shows. The master of the Atomic Platter died in 1991
LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
Atomic Cocktail: Slim Gaillard Quartette [1946]

It's the drink that you don't pour
Now when you take one sip you won't need anymore
You're small as a beetle or big as a whale-BOOM-Atomic Cocktail.

Splashes ice all around the place
When you see it coming, grab your suitcase
It'll send you through the sky like airmail-BOOM-Atomic Cocktail.

You push a button, turn a dial
Your work is done for miles and miles
When it hits-it's bound to shake 'cause it feels just like an earthquake.

That's the drink that you don't pour
When you take one sip you won't need anymore
You're small as a beetle or big as a whale-BOOM-Atomic Cocktail.

Atomic Cocktail: Slim Gaillard [1946]
Words and music by Slim Gaillard
Atomic, Inc. [ Hollywood, CA.] A-215-A
Recorded 12/15/45 | Length: 2:39 | 78RPM

Performed by The Slim Gaillard Quartette:
Slim Gaillard-Lead Vocals, Guitar
"Tiny" Brown-Bass, vocals
Dodo Marmarosa-Piano
Zutty Singleton-Drums

CATEGORY: SONGS: ATOMIC[ 2 | COMMENTS | Apr 02, 06 | 11:54 am ]

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