The Playlist • Helen Rowland on “Hit Of The Week” Records (1931)

Not the popular New York World columnist of the same name and period, but a now largely forgotten radio singer and actress. At the time these recordings were made, Helen Rowland was being featured with Don Voorhees’ Maxwell House Ensemble over station WJZ. In December 1932, she was hired to replace Rosalyn Silber in “The Rise of the Goldbergs” radio show, only to be unceremoniously dismissed after Silber reclaimed her spot several months later. A nasty legal scuffle ensued, spearheaded by Rowland’s mother, and in July 1933 she was called back to replace a reportedly ailing Silber. But it was a Pyrrhic victory at best, with word of the Rowlands’ strong-arm tactics quickly spreading among radio executives, and her career largely stalled in the later 1930s.

These selections are from 15¢ Hit of the Week records, the history of which is covered in detail in Recording the ‘Thirties, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.

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ERNO RAPEE’S ORCHESTRA w/ HELEN ROWLAND: River, Stay ’Way from My Door & Some Of These Days

New York: c. December 1931
Hit of the Week M-5-A-1 (mx. 1135 – C)

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PHIL SPITALNY’S MUSIC w/ HELEN ROWLAND: When It’s Sleepy Time
Down South

New York: c. December 1931
Hit of the Week A-1-2 (mx. 1186 – B)
Note: This transfer deletes the second track (“Sailing”), on which Rowland is not present.

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FREDDIE RICH’S RADIO BAND w/ HELEN ROWLAND: You Call It Madness

New York: c. November–December 1931
Hit of the Week M-2 (mx: see note)
Note: This transfer deletes the second track (“Auld Lang Syne”), on which Rowland is not present. All copies we’ve seen show M-218 (which probably is just a control number) in the mx-number position; mxs. 336, 364, and 1237 have all been reported in various works!

The Playlist • More Hit of the Week Favorites (1931–1932)

MSP_durium-covers_compositeYou can find a detailed history of Hit of the Week and Durium Products in Recording
the ‘Thirties, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.

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RUDY VALLEE & HIS CONNECTICUT YANKEES (vocal: Rudy Vallee)
Was That the Human Thing to Do?

New York: c. February 1932 (released March 1932)
Hit of the Week C-1-2 (mx. 1198 – B)

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ERNO RAPEE & HIS ORCHESTRA (vocal: Helen Rowland)
River, Stay ’Way from My Door / Some of these Days

New York: c. December 1931 (released December 1931)
Hit of the Week M-5-A-1 (mx. 1185-C)

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PHIL SPITALNY’ S MUSIC (vocal: Helen Rowland / Ensemble)
When It’s Sleepy Time Down South / Sailing

New York: c. December 1931 (released January 1932)
Hit of the Week A-1-2 (mx. 1186 – B)
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Note: This selection includes a racially derogatory term that is symptomatic of the era and does not reflect the views of Mainspring Press.