FATS WALLER SOUNDIES: ‘YOUR FEETS TOO BIG’

Last Friday I posted about a beautifully restored jukebox that was equipped to show films of the bands performing the songs in the jukebox. These films, known as ‘soundies’, are a great preservation tool as far too little film of performers of the day exist, especially black performers who were rarely hired to be in Hollywood films. And so we come to the above ‘soundie’, a filmed performance of the great Fats Waller doing his hit novelty song ‘Your Feets Too Big’. Waller was my first jazz hero–I suspect he was a lot of kids first introduction to the music as he was a welcoming, warm and funny performer whose outsize personality naturally would appeal to children. There’s precious little of Fats on film. He appeared in three Hollywood movies–‘Stormy Weather’, ‘King Of Burlesque’ and ‘Hooray For Love’. But in 1941 he banged out four of these soundies for jukebox purposes and they have survived and found a home on Youtube. The recording of the song is not the one that was commercially issued by Victor–it seems to have been made specifically for this film. I’m assuming Fats is lip-syncing and he does a fine job of it. The production, such as it is, is minimalistic and basic. Just Fats singing, some ladies sort of dancing, and a glimpse of his clarinetist Gene ‘Honey Bear’ Sedgewick taking his solo. But Fats’s comedy, his charm and his ebullience are all there and are a delight to behold.

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