R. CRUMB & HIS CHEAP SUIT SERENADERS Chasin’ Rainbows (1976/1993) & Singing In The Bathtub (1978/1993)

Chasin’ Rainbows (1976/1993)
Singing In The Bathtub (1978/1993)
Kinda Makes You Wanna Hit A Back Alley Speakeasy

There’s something sacrilegious about hearing the 1920s music of R. Crumb (famed comic artist) And His Cheap Suit Serenaders on compact disc. After all, when this group of geek misfits first surfaced in the early 70s, their style of loose, Prohibition-era music was actually first pressed on 78rpm records, as a novelty, perhaps, but still befitting the atmosphere of the times. A true connoisseur of this era would likely judge our modern plastic equivalents – and their pristine sound – antithetical to the spirit of the music. And, they’d probably be right. Chasin’ Rainbows and Singing In The Bathtub are R. Crumb’s second and third albums, not-so-originally titled #2 & #3 when first issued on 33rpm vinyl in the mid-70s. These MP3 downloads, however, are from the 1993 CDs reissued by Shanachie Records. 78s, 33-1/3rds, CDs, MP3s… step by step we get further and further from the essence. As a dumb young rocker in the 70s, this all seemed like little more than cornball novelty music, with tap-happy banjos, wheezing rhythms and singing saw solos. In reality, this is an amalgamation of blues, dixieland and immigrant-inspired Americana, a music – and a time – that is lost (along with 78s themselves) to all but directors of period cinema and the true enthusiasts. There are surely finer practitioners of this lost art, but Robert Crumb and the boys do an admirable job. Hear some examples below. Zoot suits and reefer not included. You can find both Chasin’ Rainbows (HERE) and Singing In The Bathtub (HERE) at Amazon.

Chasin Rainbows
Alabama Jubilee (2:42)
Chasin’ Rainbows (3:19)
Fine Artiste Blues (3:07)
Hula Medley (4:06)
I Want A Little Girl (3:25)
Persian Rug (4:00)
Mysterious Mose (3:18)
Crying My Blues Away (3:32)
She Lived Down By The Firehouse (3:17)
Diane (3:03)
Make My Cot Where The Cot-Cot-Cotton Grows (3:34)
Moana March (3:07)

Singing In The Bathtub
Singing In The Bathtub (3:12)
Chile Blues (2:19)
Dream Of Heaven (2:57)
Suits Crybaby Blues (3:06)
Collier Medley: Ben Hur March & Napoleon March (3:18)
Shopping Mall (2:17)
Yearning And Blue (3:24)
Hula Girl (2:20)
Pedal Your Blues Away (2:47)
La Gima Polka (2:00)
Sing Song Girl (3:48)
Home (4:07)
My Gal Sal (2:59)
Hano Hano Hawaii (3:34)


  • Willard
    June 20, 2011 - 14:34 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • October 14, 2011 - 18:22 | Permalink

    This is great stuff. Amazing that I am the frist to say so here….
    Thanx, Willardo.

    • Willard
      October 14, 2011 - 19:43 | Permalink

      Actually, we’ve had comments issues with every rebirth we’ve had. There always seems to be clumps of them that just go away. Which is a bummer because some of the conversations were fun. Thanks for adding to the new batch.

  • Dave
    September 30, 2013 - 20:39 | Permalink

    Love the Serenaders! thanks,

  • Richard
    October 13, 2013 - 22:33 | Permalink

    Thank you kindly sir for all these treats!

  • Kelly
    September 4, 2014 - 12:05 | Permalink

    Could you re up singing in the bathtub? Thanks!

    • Willard
      September 4, 2014 - 13:40 | Permalink

      New link up, thanks.

  • LeSamourai
    September 7, 2014 - 04:20 | Permalink

    Thanks, Capt. Willard!

  • Willard
    September 7, 2014 - 08:44 | Permalink

    Thanks Slidewell.

  • N0nesuch
    September 7, 2014 - 09:58 | Permalink

    The East River String Band and group member John Heneghan’s “John’s Old Time Radio Show” (Crumb shows up a few times) are also well worth a listen. The Internet broadcast and downloads are available on this link.


  • chadkops
    September 7, 2014 - 14:15 | Permalink

    Thanks !!

  • Jonathan King
    September 7, 2014 - 17:48 | Permalink

    These are awesome discs, well played in my LP collection. I had the pleasure of seeing this lineup — sans Crumb, unfortunately — two or three times back in the day. Even before the death of Bob Brozman they were not quite themselves in recent years, but hell … who is? In 1991, my wife and I hired an offshoot of this band — Bo Trong & the Thin Men From Venus (organized by guitarist Bob Armstrong) — to play at our wedding reception. It was just fabulous — Armstrong stunned a ballroom full of noshing Jews to silence with a heartfelt saw solo during “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”

  • I-)
    September 8, 2014 - 12:03 | Permalink

    i saw them back in seventy sumpting – at the SVA and on bleeker street. nice! i was super intrigued by my first exposure to the musical saw.


  • laughinggravy
    September 8, 2014 - 20:28 | Permalink

    This is just marvelous material if you haven’t heard it yet. Favorites for years and somewhere in the accumulated piles o’crap around here I also have the first release, which includes a personal favorite ‘Fifty Cents’.

    • Willard
      September 8, 2014 - 20:51 | Permalink

      Slidewell kindly posted the debut, above.

  • September 12, 2014 - 07:24 | Permalink

    oh, i love that music!
    but how should this music be nearer to any kind of eccence than music they produce today, as willard states? which essence are we talking about?

    • Willard
      September 12, 2014 - 08:46 | Permalink

      The essence of prohibition-era Americana.

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