The Revelers were an American quintet (four close harmony singers and a pianist) popular in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The Revelers' recordings of "Dinah", "Old Man River", "Valencia", "Baby Face", "Blue Room", "The Birth of the Blues", "When Yuba Plays the Rumba on the Tuba", and many more, became popular in the United States and then Europe in the late 1920s. In August 1929, they appeared in the Netherlands with Richard Tauber at the Kurhaus, Scheveningen and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
All of the members had recorded individually or in various combinations. The quartet, organized in 1918, performed under the name The Shannon Four before changing their name to The Revelers in 1925. The original Revelers were tenors Franklyn Baur and Lewis James, baritone Elliot Shaw, bass Wilfred Glenn, and pianist Ed Smalle. Smalle was replaced by Frank Black in 1926. The group (with Black at the piano) appeared in a short movie musical, The Revelers (1927), filmed in the sound-on-disc Vitaphone process. This one-reel short film, recently restored by "The Vitaphone Project," shows the group performing "Mine", "Dinah", and "No Foolin'". A second short, filmed the same day with another three songs, awaits restoration.
The Revelers were stars on radio and in vaudeville, as well as in the recording studio. On radio they were regulars on The Palmolive Hour (1927–31). Ring Lardner observed, "Under any name, they sound as sweet." Lardner outlined his "perfect radio program" for The New Yorker magazine, and found a place for The Revelers along with Paul Whiteman and Fanny Brice.
They had a recording contract with Victor (later RCA Victor) but made extra money by moonlighting under pseudonyms for other labels (such as "The Singing Sophomores" on Columbia Records and "The Merrymakers" on Brunswick Records). An example of what The Revelers sounded like is "I'm Gonna Charleston Back to Charleston" on the CD "The Roaring Twenties" (ABC 838 215-2) from the series "Robert Parker's The Golden Years."
The German group The Comedian Harmonists formed in 1927 after hearing some records of The Revelers. According to Douglas Friedman's book The Comedian Harmonists (2010), both groups appeared on the same bill at the Scala in Berlin in August 1929 and became good friends.
The Revelers were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.
Appearances in other media
- "'Boardwalk Empire' recap: 'Same dogs, different bone'". nj.com, September 14, 2014.