Music and Madness - a Prohibition Era Playlist

In Osprey Games

If it wasn't for hustlers, gangsters & gamblers there'd be no Jazz. Wasn't middle-class who said Let's go hear Bird tonight.  Betty Carter

America, 1919. Concerned about the effect alcohol was having on the population, the United States Congress passes the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, and a year later the prohibition era begins. In their attempt to stamp out public drunkenness, domestic violence, and absenteeism from work, the US government inadvertently brought about a golden age for gangsters.

However, it wasn’t just America’s criminal underworld that benefited from prohibition. For those talented enough, the 1920s and 30s proved to be a golden age for jazz and swing. With performers and gangsters found in speakeasies across the country, it’s unsurprising that there was sometimes a little overlap; Fats Waller, a famous jazz pianist at the time, was bundled into a limousine at gunpoint and forced to play for three days at a party for Al Capone (ending the ‘ordeal’ with pockets stuffed with dollar bills and a taste for fine champagne).   

Mad Dogs with Guns provides you with everything you need for wargaming in the gangster era, but to add a little more flavour to your games stick our prohibition playlist on in the background. Turf-wars and smash-and-grab raids feel a lot more satisfying when accompanied by Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and some of the other greats from the 1920s and 30s.


Track list:

Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Fats Waller

Heebie Jeebies – Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five

Jubilee Stomp – Duke Ellington & His Cotton Club Orchestra

The Lady In Red – Pee Wee Russell feat. Louis Prima and his New Orleans Gang

Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing) – Benny Goodman

You Rascal You – Jimmie Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra

It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) – Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington

Minnie the Moocher – Cab Calloway

Anything Goes – Cole Porter

Probition Dirge – Ennio Morricone

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime – Rudy Vallee

Sugar Foot Stomp – Fletcher Henderson & His Orchestra

Red Hot Chicago – The Hot Air-Men

Prohibition Blues – The Missourians

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wold – Pinto Colvig, Mary Moder, Dorothy Compton, Billy Bletcher

Post Comments

Pete @ Osprey Games posted on 11 Jul 2017 11:38:42
Some great suggestions! Sounds like we might need to make another playlist, we've had plenty of ideas coming in from around the office.
C-Bone posted on 10 Jul 2017 01:14:35
Good list. I'd also recommend "St. Louis Shuffle" by Fletcher Henderson. Always sounded like a happenin' speakeasy to me, with a cops and robbers silent film car chase thrown in for good measure.
Then there's "Black and Tan Fantasy" by Duke Ellington. I know you included Morricone's "Prohibition Dirge" from Once Upon a Time in America, but Ellington's tune evokes similar imagery.
Finally, throw in "Daddy Won't You Please Come Home" by Annette Hanshaw. That came out about 1927, and makes me think of a big lug out on the town, while the long-suffering little lady waits for him at home--but for how much longer?

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