DVD Article

Return of the Prehistoric Videos

Collection of soundies -- See what we think of videos that feature Gene Krupa, June Christy, and Nat ''King'' Cole

Back in the benighted pre-MTV era, in the late '30s and early '40s, short music-performance movies called ''soundies'' captured a number of all-time musical greats at the height of their powers. Some of the best of these precursors to music videos have been compiled on videocassette in Leonard Maltin's Movie Memories-Soundies: Vols. I-IV

Vol. I: The 1940's Music Machine With greats Louis Armstrong and Nat ''King'' Cole, as well as a jazzy teenage Doris Day, Liberace, and, of all people, a pre-stardom Alan Ladd. B

Vol. II: Singing Stars of the Swing Era Showcase of big band ''canaries'' — Anita O'Day, Helen O'Connell, and June Christy with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. B

Vol. III: Big Bands The best Basie band, Cab Calloway singing ''Foo a Little Bally-Hoo,'' Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, and — too bad — Lawrence Welk. B+

Vol. IV: Harlem Highlights A mini-history of black American pop, from Bill ''Bojangles'' Robinson to Louis Jordan's proto-R&B. B+

Originally posted Jan 11, 1991 Published in issue #48 Jan 11, 1991 Order article reprints