Song(s) of the Week: the Pickens Sisters and the Mills Brothers

It was some time in the late 1960s that I bought a compilation album that featured among its tracks a 1931 recording by the Mills Brothers of ‘Sweet Sue’. I’d listened to it a number of times before it dawned on me that what I’d thought to be musical instruments were actually not–they were vocal imitations of the instruments.

Over the intervening years I’ve heard many more recordings of vocal harmony groups imitating the sounds of musical instruments, a bit of a trend in the 1930s of which the Mills Brothers were the undoubted champions. So, music lovers, here’s a little treat from the Pickens Sisters … pay attention to the ‘trumpets’ from 1m30s.

And, to round off, here’s a very special treat: ‘Caravan’ by the Mills Brothers, one of my favourite recordings of all time in what must be one of the most ‘feel-good’ pop videos ever made.

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