“Tell Me Over Again.” Music and words by Jack Strachey. Recorded in London on June 5, 1930 by the Rhythm Maniacs under the musical direction of Arthur Lally with vocalist Maurice Elwin. Decca F-1814 mx. MB-1457-2.
Personnel: Arthur Lally-cl-as-bar dir. probably Norman Payne-Bill Shakespeare-t / Jock Fleming or Ted Heath-tb / Danny Polo-cl-as / Joe Jeanette-cl-ts / Claude Ivy-p / Joe Brannely-bj / Spike Hughes-sb / Bill Harty-d / Rudy Starita-vib-x / Maurice Elwin-v
Jack Strachey was a successful songwriter who would eventually compose the music for “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” (1936). 1 His two titles on Decca F-1814 (“Tell Me Over Again” and “I’ll Be the Same”), however, are rather obscure, and these Rhythm Maniacs recordings are, as far as I can tell, the only evidence that the songs were ever written. I find the scarcity of musical treatments baffling, as both songs are pleasantly atmospheric, but perhaps only Decca musical director Arthur Lally saw the songs’ potential. It is also possible that the Rhythm Maniacs’ musical arrangements are what appeals to me so strongly.
“Tell Me Over Again” is a waltz, a genre of music often deprecated by record collectors hooked on heady foxtrots said to be of “jazz interest.” The “waltz sides” turned out by the best British dance bands, however, can be very elegant; they simply appeal to a different aesthetic. The waltz rhythm of “Tell Me Over Again” contributes the quality of a soothing lullaby, and the Rhythm Maniacs’ pace is noticeably measured.
Maurice Elwin’s gentle vocal highlights the delightfully cryptic refrain, which asks the singer’s interlocutor to “[t]ell me over again” without ever coming out and saying what he wants to hear (presumably “I love you” or something to that effect). Elwin, a high baritone, is given the opportunity to show off his considerable range in this piece. His delivery suggests not just the tone of sincerity that he was famous for, but also considerable tenderness.