This was a 80 cents. Sooner or later, I had to post a Polka album so why not from one from the “America’s Polka King”?
Frankie Yankovic, born in 1915, was the best known purveyor of Slovenian style Polka. Born to Slovene immigrants in Davis, West Virgnia, his family moved to the Cleveland area in order to flee the law, who had knowledge of his father’s bootlegging activities. After learning accordion at a young age, he began his career on radio and at local functions. Over time, he would release over 200 albums which I imagine all sounded pretty similar. He sold 30 million records, had at least two Gold singles that I could find, and won a Grammy for the now defunct Polka category. Until his retirement in 1994, Yankovic was playing up to 300 shows a year. He would die in Florida in 1998 at the age of 83.
Frankie’s Webpage with a Biography which expounds on the above
Here is an interesting story I found out about Yankovic. Not only did he fight in WWII, he was at the Battle of the Bulge. While fighting, his group of about a dozen soliders got separated from the rest of the force. When they were found by his platoon, his group had nearly frozen to death. Yankovic suffered frostbite to his feet and hands. It was so bad that doctors wanted to amputate in order to prevent gangrene from setting in. This would mean the end of Yankovic’s career and so he adamantly refused. After a steady regiment of penecilin and other drugs, color began to come back and eventually, he was able to move his appendages again. For therapy, he played accordion in the hospital. When he got out of the hospital, he was assigned to special services which let him perform for troops, including performing for General Patton and his Third Army.
Also, it should be noted that while Frank Yankovic is no relation to Weird Al Yankovic, the two have performed together. Below is a grainy, yet excellent clip of the two: Frankie Goes to Hollywood. At the end of it, they perform the 1986 Grammy nominations for song of the year.
This album is a collection of some of his biggest numbers recorded live from his WEWS-TV show in Cleveland. Included are “Beer Barrel Polka”, “Just Because”, “Tic Tock Polka” and “Hu-La-La-La-La”. I admit while this is technically very good, it all starts to sound the same to me. My apologies to al the polka fans out there.
For a sample, I went to “Pennsylvania Polka”. Sound familiar? It was played at the start of every day, ad nausea, in Groundhog Day. Of course, that was the point of the movie.
While I admit that this is a high point of Slovenian style music, a much as I try, I can not fully get behind polka. I have to sadly say Meh. But I do have a new found respect for Yankovic after learning about his WWII action.