“Peter, Peter.” Music by Rudolf Nelson, words by Friedrich Hollaender (1929). Recorded by the Rhythm Maniacs with vocalist Maurice Elwin on November 28, 1929. Decca F-1608 mx. FMB-719-2.
The transfer that I am sharing on the forty-seventh anniversary of Maurice Elwin’s death is a little unusual. The record that it is taken from is unfortunately very worn, but it is rare enough that I thought it worth the trouble to clean the audio up as best I could. What makes “Peter, Peter” so special is that Elwin sings it in German.
This is not the “Peter, Peter” song by Jimmy Campbell, Reg. Connelly, and Harry Woods that Elwin would eventually record with the Savoy Hotel Orpheans in 1933. It is, rather, a 1929 Rhythm Maniacs version of the Rudolf Nelson composition most famously recorded by Marlene Dietrich simply as “Peter” in 1931. The refrain is:
Peter, Peter, komm zu mir zurück! Peter, Peter, warst mein bestes Stück. Peter, Peter, ich war so gemein. Später, später sieht man erst alles ein. Peter, Peter, come back to me. Peter, Peter, you were my pride and joy. Peter, Peter, I was so mean. Later, only later does one understand everything.
As a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, Elwin may have learned to sing in any number of languages associated with high culture. “Peter, Peter” does not appear to have been his only German recording, for that matter; my discography lists several that he is supposed to have made with the Rhythm Maniacs in 1929-1930. That said — can my German readers confirm my sense that Elwin flubs the final line?