Saturday, March 18, 2006

RadioLulu

I've recently finished a long-planned overhaul of RadioLulu, the online radio station of the Louise Brooks Society. For those who haven't already tuned-in, RadioLulu is a Louise Brooks-themed station broadcasting music of the 20's, 30's and today. This internet-only station, launched in 2002, can be found at www.live365.com/stations/298896 

Most significantly, I've lowered the playlist format from 56 kbps/22 kHz/st mp3 to 32 kbps/32 kHz/st mp3PRO. While this lessens the sound quality a bit, the switch now allows 56k modem users to listen to the station. Previously, only those with DSL or cable could tune in. Welcome modem users! The lower bit rate also means smaller mp3 file sizes, and a savings on disc space. Thus, I was able to add more songs. A lot more songs. (Broadcasters are limited to 100 megs of storage.) RadioLulu has now doubled in size. The current playlist now includes 120 tracks and more than 6 and 1/2 hours of programming! 

A number of songs featured on RadioLulu bear some relation to Louise Brooks, such as the rarely heard theme song to Beggars of Life (sung by the Troubadors), and Brooks' favorite Gershwin tune, "Somebody Loves Me." FYI: Brooks and Gershwin were acquainted. And Gershwin wrote "Somebody Loves Me" for the George White Scandals of 1924, in which Brooks appeared. Interestingly, the version heard on RadioLulu is by Tom Patricola - who also appeared in the 1924 Scandals.

RadioLulu features music from five of the actresses' films, as well as Maurice Chevalier's much loved 1929 recording "Louise." Right now, there are three versions of "Je N'ai Qu'un Amour C'est Toi," the theme song to Prix de Beaute. Two are vintage recordings, one by Hélène Caron and one by Marthe Coiffier. (I have yet to find an mp3 of Berthe Sylva's recording of this haunting melody. Can anyone send me one?) The other version of "Je N'ai Qu'un Amour C'est Toi" is by Les Primitifs Du Future, a contemporary French group featuring the comix artist Robert Crumb. Other tracks include recordings by Brooks' co-stars and friends, such as the actors Adolphe Menjou and Noah Berry, the torch singer Libby Holman, and the actress Tallulah Bankhead. Also featured on RadioLulu are later day tributes like OMD's "Pandora's Box (It's a long, long way)" and Soul Coughing's "St. Louise Is Listening" as well as Brooks-themed songs by contemporary performers Ron Hawkins (formerly with Lowest of the Low), Sarah Azzarra, Jen Anderson, Paul Hayes, John SaFranko, and Marillion.

The vast majority of music heard on RadioLulu dates from the 1920's and 1930's, and rare recordings of singing silent film stars are one of the station's many highlights. RadioLulu plays tracks by the likes of Pola Negri, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, Joan Crawford, Ramon Novarro, Dolores Del Rio, Lupe Velez, and Bebe Daniels. Some of the other film and recording artists heard on RadioLulu include Marlene Dietrich, Josephine Baker, Lillian Harvey, Camilla Horn, Dorothy Lamour, Rudy Vallee, Jean Harlow and Grace Moore (Brooks appeared in a Grace Moore-Cary Grant film). There is even a rare, vintage recording of a German song about Greta Garbo. And a couple of tracks by the great 1930's Warsaw cabaret artist Hanka Ordonowna.

On RadioLulu, you'll also hear Jazz Age crooners, torch singers, dance bands, standards, showtunes, and some real hot jazz!  And what's more, you're unlikely to find a station that plays more tracks with "Lulu" in the title than the always eclectic and always entertaining RadioLulu! Hey, where else are you going to hear "Lulu" from the hard-to-find 1972 album Twiggy and Girlfriends? (Yes, that Twiggy! And there's even a pre-Tiny Tim version of "Tip Toe Thro' the Tulips" recorded in Germany in 1930.) Do give a listen. You're bound to hear some things you haven't heard before.

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