by Hans Eekhoff
(from the liner notes of The Original Memphis Five, Napoleon's Emperors, The Cotton Pickers 1928 – 1929 on Timeless Records)
Napoleon's Emperors was an enlarged version of the Original Memphis Five. The two titles for Victor feature
Joe Venuti aand Joe Tarto, respectively on violin and bass; adding them to the band made it sound twice as big as a result. Mean To Me was a big hit, made popular foremost by singer Ruth Etting, whose recording
(coupled with Button Up Your Overcoat, another famous tune of the day) sold over a million
the band turns it into a fine 'hot dance' version with outstanding Jimmy Dorsey on both alto sax and clarinet backed by the unmistakable drumming of Stan King. My Kinda Love too is excellent, again without a vocal which leaves
room for solos by the Dorseys, Venuti, Lang and Signorelli.
Gettin' Hot, recorded nine days later, is just that. After an unsuspecting 20 bar intro by piano and violin the band starts off
in a minor key with unbelievable drive. After that the theme, in a major key, begins with a very careful ensemble soon going
on full strength, backed by King's driving drumming and Tarto's tuba. All bandmembers then take solos before the romping
As a complete contrast Anything is very modest and quiet with virtually straight solos by Napoleon and Jimmy Dorsey
backed by a solemn rhythm section. Eddie Lang's solo is again proof of his extraordinary talents.
You Can't Cheat A Cheater is played in a nice medium tempo and, like the previous two titles, composed on the day by the bandmembers. Solos are by Lang, Jimmy Dorsey, Napoleon and Tommy Dorsey. Although Phil Napoleon's brother
Ted has always been mentioned as the drummer on this session, the snare-drum figures leading into the fast eight bars at the
end are again typical of Stan King.
If you would like to order the Timeless Records' CD of The Original Memphis Five, Napoleon's Emperors, The Cotton Pickers 1928 – 1929 you can do so through Worlds Records or direct from Timeless Records.