The Mills Brothers: Rhythm Saved the World


Rhythm Saved The World


The Mills Brothers


Chronological, Vol. 4 (Storyville 3013)

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Herbert Mills, Donald Mills (tenor vocals), Harry Mills (baritone vocal), John Mills, Jr. (bass vocal & guitar)


Composed by Sammy Cahn & Saul Chaplin


Recorded: New York, October 28, 1935


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

By the mid-1930s, the Mills Brothers' vocal imitations of instrumental sounds were wearing thin. Yet 70+ years hence, this track remains timely for its depressingly topical lyrics. "Diplomats talk through their hats," writes Sammy Cahn. "They claim guns win every war … [but] guns will never bring this country glory." Coming from Tin Pan Alley, such sentiments are startling. And indeed, resorting to form, this song ultimately stops short of being antiwar, holding instead that rhythm, by instilling "new life" in warriors, ensures their victory. While that may be a discomfiting prospect to fundamentalists who deem music sinful, it's doubtful that rhythm by itself will save the world. We also need melody and harmony—lots of harmony.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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