The archetypal cockney geezer and heavy who used to pop up on TV sit-coms throughout the 50's 60's and 70's. Typecast as the East End thug in Hancock's Half Hour to The Benny Hill Show etc. he could always be relied upon to look the part even if his dialogue was limited to "Yus!" "Cor Blimey!" and "Do you want a punch up the froat?" He made several novelty records, none of which were big hits as far as I know. One with Hilda Baker was a terrible version of "Your The One That I Want" that John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John had a big hit with. On these two tracks he's backed by Chas 'N' Dave.
"b. Alvin Henry McBurney, 1 July 1908, Oakland, California, USA, d. 24 February 2004, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. An accomplished guitarist, Rey learned to play several stringed instruments as a teenager growing up in Cleveland, most notably the banjo. He started his professional career on this instrument in 1927. Rey played guitar with various dance bands, including those of Phil Spitalny, Russ Morgan, Freddy Martin and Horace Heidt, before forming his own band in the winter of 1938/9. With Heidt, Rey had been featured on the steel Hawaiian guitar and also on an early form of electronically amplified guitar. He continued to play guitar in his own band, and also brought from Heidt the vocal group the King Sisters, one of whom, Luise, he married. Rey toured extensively in the early 40s and eventually became popular with dancers across the USA. His orchestra, which was the house band for Mutual Broadcasting during this period, featured comedy, lots of vocals and highly competent musicianship. All this, allied to the unusual effect Rey created by miking Louise King's vocals through the guitar amplifier, helped to build a following for the band and they enjoyed national hits with "Deep In The Heart Of Texas", "I Said No", and "Strip Polka". "
A cassette I found last week in a charity shop for 60 pence. It would be churlish not to share two tracks here. The King Sisters remind me a bit of the Andrews Sisters.
"Tiny Tim already had something of a cult following around New York when he appeared in the film You Are What You Eat. This led to a booking on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, an American television comedy and variety show, which turned out to be his big break. Other appearances on the shows of Johnny Carson, Ed Sullivan, and Jackie Gleason followed, and he made a name for himself as a novelty performer. Apart from his extraordinarily high falsetto voice, his appearance—long curly hair, large nose, tall stature (he was six feet one inch), and clutching his relatively tiny ukulele—helped him stand out from the crowd. In 1968, his first album, God Bless Tiny Tim, was released. It contained a version of his signature song, "Tiptoe Thru The Tulips", which was a hit when released as a single. The other songs displayed his wide-ranging knowledge of the American songbook, and also allowed him to demonstrate his baritone voice, which was less often heard than his falsetto. On one track, a version of "I Got You Babe", he sang a duet with himself, taking one part in falsetto, and the other in the baritone range. "On the Old Front Porch" extends this to a trio, including a boy (Billy Murray), the girl he is courting (Ada Jones), and her father (probably Murray again). Another notable song was a cover of "Stay Down Here where You Belong", written by Irving Berlin in 1914 to protest the Great War. It is a powerful condemnation of those who foment war. (The comedian Groucho Marx also used this song as part of his own act, at least in part to irk the patriotic Berlin, who in later years tried in vain to disown the song)."
"The Coasters were one of the few artists in rock history to successfully straddle the line between music and comedy. Their undeniably funny lyrics and on-stage antics might have suggested a simple troupe of clowns, but Coasters records were no mere novelties -- their material, supplied by the legendary team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, was too witty, their arrangements too well-crafted, and the group itself too musically proficient. That engaging and infectious combination made them one of the most popular early R&B/rock & roll acts, as well as one of the most consistently entertaining doo wop/vocal groups of all time.
The Coasters grew out of a successful Los Angeles doo wop group called the Robins, which had been recording since 1949 and working with Leiber & Stoller since 1953. Atlantic Records acquired the Robins in 1955, when the Leiber & Stoller composition "Smokey Joe's Cafe" was becoming too big a hit for their small Spark label to handle; its success scored the duo an independent contract with Atlantic as producers and composers. Amid uncertainties over their new major-label arrangement, the Robins split up that fall; lead tenor Carl Gardner (a more recent addition) and bass Bobby Nunn formed a new group, the Coasters (named for their West Coast base), which maintained the Leiber & Stoller association -- an extremely wise move. The initial Coasters lineup was completed by baritone Billy Guy (a gifted comic vocalist) and second tenor Leon Hughes, with guitarist Adolph Jacobs figuring prominently on their recordings through 1959. Their first single, "Down in Mexico," became a Top Ten R&B hit in 1956, epitomizing the sort of humorous story-song Leiber & Stoller were perfecting. The Coasters hit again in 1957 with the double-sided smash "Young Blood"/"Searchin'," both sides of which reached the pop Top Ten. The follow-ups weren't as successful, and it was decided that both the group and Leiber & Stoller would move their operations to New York, where Atlantic was based. As a result, Nunn and Hughes left the group in late 1957, to be replaced respectively by bass Will "Dub" Jones (ex-Cadets, of "Stranded in the Jungle" fame) and second tenor Obie Jessie (for a very short period), then Cornell Gunter (ex-Flairs)."
"Clarence Eugene "Hank" Snow was born on May 9th, 1914 in the sleepy fishing village of Brooklyn, Queens County, on Nova Scotia's beautiful South Shore, just down the tracks from Liverpool.
As a boy, Hank faced many difficulties and shortcomings. He had to face the trauma of his parents' divorce at just eight years old and he was forced to stay with his grandparents. He then had to deal with an abusive grandmother who forbid him to see his mother. He regularly sneaked out at night and walked the railroad tracks to Liverpool where his mother was living. Not willing to return to his grandmother, who would often beat him for visiting his mom, he would sometimes seek shelter in Liverpool's railway station, now home of the Hank Snow Country Music Centre.
Both his parents had musical talent and Hank picked up his basic guitar-playing skills from his mother. In 1926, Hank went to sea as a 12-year-old cabin boy on fishing schooners based out of Lunenburg to escape his abusive step-father and never returned to school. With his first earned income he bought his first guitar, a T. Eaton Special for $5.95. While at sea, Hank would listen to Jimmie Rodgers on the radio and began to imitate him and entertain the crew. It wasn't long before Hank had picked up his own style.
He entertained friends and neighbors and quickly developed excellent skills as a musician and entertainer at kitchen parties and neighborhood picnics.
His professional career started at CHNS Radio in Halifax in 1933 where he had his own radio show. He changed his name to "Hank, The Yodeling Ranger" because it sounded more western. Throughout the 30s and 40s he toured the Maritimes and Western Canada playing at county fairs and local radio stations."
Sad news today that Ivor Cutler passed away last Friday aged 83. We had the pleasure to have tea with him a couple of times about 14 years ago when he was still getting around London on his bicycle despite terrible arthritus in his hands. He was very kind to us. He bought some of Hazel's badges and I think he saw her show of tea leaf inventions at the Royal Festival Hall where he would often go to sign books in the bookshop there. Anyway we got a phone call from him after we sent some badges and postcards and got a nice reply and invite to tea which we duly accepted. He was then living in a tiny and cluttered flat in North London. He treated us to one song on his wheezy harmonium and said " I cant do anymore - my hands seize up!" He gave Hazel some vocal lessons as he was concerned about her Black Country vowels. Also a list of sounds to repeat written on a peice of paper ( we still have it somewhere). The postcard above came around that time. The back is shown below. He was also very kind in phoning up Walker Books to get them to see my illustrations and Hazel's inventions which he thought they would like for the comic they were producing at the time called SNAP which Ivor contributed to on occasion. It was through his intervention that I got my first work in print. He said " People were kind to me when i was first starting out so now I'm helping you."
Lots of Ivor's songs on the web so no need to put any here. Just go to the links at the side and follow your nose. Go out and treat yourself to his records, CD's and wonderful books.
I found this yesterday i the Oxfam shop in Chester. I have a couple of steel band Lp's already and didn't really want anymore but one of the songs caught my eye as it was the name of my son, "Archie". So I bought it and wasn't surprised to find it sounded much like the ones I have already. Nevermind, here are two tracks to give you an idea of what the album sounds like. The rest of the tracks are similar renditions of old favourites like Do Re Me , the old Oscar Hammerstein chestnut and even Handels' Messiah! This is what it says of the liner notes-
"In 1947, when pan music was in it's infancy, the band was formed, with instruments collected from the backyards and dumps. Sp persistent were the members to aquire the new art, that complaints were made to the authorities about the weird sounds made by the group, as they practised and paraded on the streets at night. However, the Govenor, the late Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, championed their cause, and so the HELL'S GATE STEEL BAND was born. True success for the band came in 1964, when they emerged winners of the Antigua Steel Band Competition. To the amazement of the audience they played Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus". Thier prize was an all expenses paid trip to New York's World Fair."