A record I found some years ago in a remaindered record shop in East London.
"The Dark City Sisters were a group of session singers who came together to record an album and in the process popularized an innovative new style of singing. Rather than singing a common four-part harmony, the Sisters used five parts, which created a richer tone. Sometimes known as "vocal jive," this technique was subsumed under the umbrella term "mbaqanga," meaning, literally, dumpling, and figuratively, a homegrown style. ~ Leon Jackson, All Music Guide"
It puzzles me though that there are only three ladies featured on the front cover of this sleeve? No other information found on the interweb sadly though see they have a couple of compilations available on CD on Sterns and World Curcuit records.
From the sublime to the ridiculous. This double disc 45 that plays at 33 (& a third ) was bought in the Oxfam shop for a few pennies. It's not terribly interesting at first glance but I could not resist buying it for some reason. It has two sorts of water on one disc- a mountain stream and a small river going over stones. The other is two types of static! Ideal for some kind of Fluxus performance or for soundtrack of a film about robots perhaps. I've spared you the static and we just have the water which though rather monotonous is really quite soothing and transports you to a tranquil landscape in the hills somewhere. If you listen carefully you can hear birds chirping in the background.
I've had this LP on the Bahama Records label for some years now and just realised I hadn't featured it here which is an oversight. It was released in 1959 and the sleeve notes say-
"George Symonette, who is currently appearing at Blackbeard's Tavern in Nassau, has long been recognised as the Dean of Bahamian Entertainers. His infectious smile, his amiable delivery, his innaye sense of humour combine to make him the most popular of Bahamian musicians. George accompanies himself on piano and is a most affective solo entertainer. Frequently he is accompanied by the Goombay* drumming of "Peanuts" Taylor.... It is fitting that George Symonette should be the first Bahamian artist to appear in the new medium of stereo, which so ably presents the natural simplicity and inherent charm of his performance. Four of the selectionsin this album - Stranded, Coconut Fall On De Head De Eye Too BIg For De Belly and Calypso Island were written by Alice Simms of New York."
* When Calypso came to Nassau it gradually underwent an inevitable change. A true Bahamian beat, different in flavour, was introduced, and it was called the Goombay rhythm. Providing the basic beat are the long, deep toned goat skin covered drums, known as Goombat Drums.
Discover more about the music of the Bahamas HERE.
I'm afraid I know very little about Johnny Standley. All I could glean from the internet is that he travelled with his father's "tent shows" in the Mid West and this single, "It's In The Book", was his one "hit" in 1952. The second part of the song is taken from an advert for Granma's Lye Soap. No other recordings seem to be available. I found this EP in the local Oxfam shop for 99p. It's on the Capitol label. Johnny is accompanied by Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights. Johnny reminds me of a few other American comedy acts of the 50's like Jonathan Winters and Milton Berle etc. and his preaching style like that of the english eccentric Gerrard Hoffnung.
Back due to popular demand by me. This is an EP I found recently and have only just had the chance to rip the tracks using my new ION USB turntable ( from Santa ). Hopefully I can upload more vinyl now after being restricted to CD tracks for a couple of months.
"Ken Dodd was born on the 8 November 1927 in Knotty Ash on the outskirts of Liverpool, son of a coal merchant, Arthur Dodd and wife Sarah Dodd. He went to the Knotty Ash School, and sang in the local church choir of St. Johns Church, Knotty Ash. At the age of seven, he was dared by his school friends to ride his bike with his eyes shut.....and he did, for about 10 feet and the bike hit the kerb. Ken went flying open-mouthed onto the tarmac, resulting in his famous teeth of today.
He then attended Holt High, a Grammar School in Childwall, but left at 14 to work for his father. Around this time he became interested in showbusiness after seeing an advert in a comic entitled; "Fool Your Teachers, Amaze Your Friends - Send 6d in Stamps and Become a Ventriloquist!" and sending off for the book. Not long after, his father bought him a ventriloquist's dummy and Ken called it Charlie Brown. He started entertaining at the local orphanage, then at various other local community functions.
He got his big break at the age of 27. In September 1954 he appeared at the Nottingham Playhouse. A nervous young man, he sat in a local Milk Bar for most of the afternoon going over and over his lines before going to the theatre. Although he can't remember much of the actual act of that night. He did recall, "Well at least they didn't boo me off". But there wasn't much fear of that, as Dodd's act went from strength to strength, eventually topping the bill at Blackpool in 1958."
This is an EP I found recently in a charity shop by David Davis who reads three of Edward Lear's "Nonsense Songs". It's on the Delyse label and dated 1964. David davis it seems was a firmiliar voice on children's programmes on the radio during the 50's and 60's but I have no recollection of him myself.
Wikipedia says of Edward Lear -
"He id not keep good health. From the age of six until the time of his death he suffered frequent grand mal epileptic seizures, as well as bronchitis, asthma, and in later life, partial blindness. Lear experienced his first epileptic fit while sitting in a tree. Lear felt lifelong guilt and shame for his epileptic condition. His adult diaries indicate that he always sensed the onset of a fit in time to remove himself from public view. How Lear was able to anticipate his fits is not known, but many people with epilepsy report a ringing in their ears or an "aura" before the onset of a fit.
In 1846 Lear published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks which went through three editions and helped popularise the form. In 1865 The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple-Popple was published, and in 1867 his most famous piece of nonsense, The Owl and the Pussycat, which he wrote for the children of his patron Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby. Many other works followed.
Lear's nonsense books were quite popular during his lifetime, but a rumour circulated that "Edward Lear" was merely a pseudonym, and the books' true author was the man to whom Lear had dedicated the works: his patron the Earl of Derby. Adherents of this rumour offered as evidence the facts that both men were named Edward, and that "Lear" is an anagram of "Earl"."
A treat for Xmas from the Korn Kobblers who include one amusing festive novelty song on their "A Real Earful" CD which is probably still available somewhere. Some great song titles include "Don't Shoot The Bartender He's Half Shot Now" and "I'm My Own Granpa".
"The Korn Kobblers, America's most nonsensical band, were discovered by the King Of Korn himself, Guy Lombardo, when they were playing at the Old Vienna in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the summer of 1939. When the Ballantine Inn at the World's Fair in 1940 was opened, Guy spoke to the managers of the spot about the Korn Kobblers. On Guy's recommendation, the six merry madmen were booked into the Inn for two weeks-and remained there until the close of the Fair. From there, they went into the Flagship in Union, New Jersey. After a one-nighter and theatre tour, they returned to the Flagship, where they stayed until they opened at Rogers Corner (now Madison Square Garden) in New York City in October, 1942.
World War II saw Nels replaced by Sam Zakin and Harry replaced by Eddie Grosso. At the time of disbanding in 1954 all the originals, except Harry, were back with the group. Hal Marquess filled in for Howard at times (and was the drummer with Charlie's band after the disbanding of the Korn Kobblers).
1945 and 46 saw the Korn Kobbler's calling Jack Dempsey's Nightclub home. The group moved back to the Flagship (the home of their radio show) during the winter season and toured in the summer.
During the 1948-49 television season the boys were on Kobb's Korner on CBS, Wednesday evenings.
These boys are the most amazing outfit in the musical world! Their jugs, washboards, automobile horns, tonettes, whistles, mouth harps, duck quackers, etc., have made more people laugh than any other band in the country – and that's one thing we can use at all times!"
"At The Meeting OF The Earth And The Air" is the rather ponderous title of a stunning new CD by the poet Roger Stevens and some friends who have breathed new life into some old songs Roger and his art school chum Ralph Emmett wrote when they were students in the 60's.
Roger says on the sleeve-
" I met Ralph Emmett on the first day of art college in 1968. He found me a room in a house he was staying. We'd both brought our guitars, both wrote songs and both loved the Beatles. So it was inevitable that we'd both spend the next three years writing songs together. We played them over and over again into a tape recorder. When we left college we lost touch, but I've been carrying that box of tapes around ever since.
Now that I have the technology to convert music from analogue to digital, I copied around thirty of the songs to CD. The next logical step was to take a bunch of songs and re-record them, in a way that we dreamed of recording them nearly forty years ago.
I think the songs stand up pretty well. They're teenagers songs, ofcourse, heavily influenced by the Beatles, The Incredible String Band and countless other sixties bands."
Roger is joined on the CD by Rob Barrett & Karen Moses - Lead Vocals. Toni Berry - Flute. Michael Whitehead - Tabla and Tibetan Bell.
This tribute to Captain Beefheart came out on the Imaginary Records label in the 80's. Bands contributing include XTC, The Scientists, Sonic Youth, The Screaming Dizbusters etc.
"Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet on January 15, 1941, in Glendale, California, U.S.) is an American musician and visual artist, best known by the pseudonym Captain Beefheart. His musical work was mainly conducted with a rotating assembly of musicians called the Magic Band, which was active from the mid-1960s through to the early 1980s. Van Vliet was chiefly a singer and harmonica player, occasionally playing noisy, untrained free jazz-influenced saxophone and keyboards. His compositions are characterized by their odd mixtures of shifting time signatures and by their surreal lyrics, while Van Vliet himself is noted for his dictatorial approach to his musicians and for his enigmatic relationship with the public. Van Vliet joined the newly formed Magic Band in 1965, quickly taking over as bandleader. Their early output was rooted in blues and rock music, but Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band (as they were called, collectively) gradually adopted a more experimental approach. 1969 saw the release of their best known album, Trout Mask Replica, which was produced by Van Vliet's childhood friend Frank Zappa and is today regarded as a challenging but groundbreaking and influential masterpiece by some. Van Vliet released several further albums throughout the 1970s, but his group was beset by shifting line-ups and a lack of commercial success. Towards the end of that decade he settled with a group of younger musicians, and his three final albums, released between 1978 and 1982, all received critical acclaim. Van Vliet's legacy is one of limited commercial success, despite a devoted following; however, his influence on later punk and new wave and other genres and musicians has been described as "incalculable"."
I was lucky enough to find this in the market today for a couple of quid. I was first attracted by the title "Any Old Iron" which is a good old cockney knees-up number from the music hall days - Peter Sellers did a nice version of it amongst others. Also on the album a mixture of old and new songs which remind me of Chas 'N' Dave and Joe Brown etc. Great versions of Maybe It's Big Horse I'm A Londoner and End Of Me Ol' Cigar. Not much found on the internet but this CD is still available I think and well worth it if you a fan of cockney songs or blues sung in an East London accent! Also playing on the CD are Tony Ashton - piano and hammond organ, Dave 'Wild Leg' Williams - guitars and mandolin and Dan Brown - bass, euphonium and tuba- amongst others.
Found this CD in a street market back in the 90's. Its a tribute to the Rutles who in turn were a tribute to the Beatles. Made in the Netherlands on the Shimmy Disc label and featuring lots of obscure punk and new wave bands . Bands like- Galaxie 500, The Pussywillows, Joey Arias and King Missile etc. All songs written by Neil Innes. Not sure if it's still available. Great cover art that mimics the Stones and Beatles sleeve art by Sheena Dupius.
Found at a charity market yesterday for a pound. A great little compilation and taster of South African music by some firmiliar and not-so-firmiliar names. Released in 2001 but still available if you look for it. On ARC music label.
This eleven peice Zulu church choir from Kwa Zuma, is led and produced by Thomas Maseko, who is the bass player of the band. The choir isd a community affair consisting of Thomas, his wife and daughter and members of his wife's family as well as neighbours and friends.
This group, consistin g of Sente Buthelezi and Mhlonipheni Hadebe, hails from Nkandla in Zululand. The music is traditional Zulu. The track "Malume" concerns a man who wants to get married and therefore has to pay a "labola" ( the dowry ) for his loved one. He turns to his father as he does not have enough cattle, but his father, unable to help, sends him to his uncle. The song communicates his embarrassment over this predicament.
The word Molahlehi means "the lost one". In 1986 producer Les Goode had a call from an unkown South Sotho singer, wanting to record ten numbers. He arrived with his accordion and a Sotho drummer and put the ten tracks down, explaining to Les that he would return shortly to record the songs into master form. Two years went by and not a word was heard from the artist. The tracks were bought to Reamusic where Clive Risko was impressed by the music and the album was re-mixed with additional instruments and released the album which became a big success and gave the artist the name "Molahlehi". The radio made many announcements for "the lost one" but to date he has still not been found.
Stanley Holloway (born Stanley Augustus Holloway) was born on the 1st October 1890 in London, England, UK and died on the 30th January 1982 in Littlehampton, England, UK.
"He tried to make a go of his first job as a clerk in a Billingsgate fish market, but the call of the theatre was loud and strong. Originally planning an operatic career, Holloway studied singing in Milan, but this came to an end when World War One began. Finishing up his service with the infantry, Holloway headed for the stage again, making his London premiere in 1919's Kissing Time. His first film was The Rotters (1921), and the first time the public outside the theatres heard his robust voice was on radio in 1923. Holloway toured the music hall-revue circuit with his comic monologues, usually centered around his self-invented characters "Sam Small" and "The Ramsbottoms."
Holloway's entree into talking pictures was with a 1930 film version of his stage success, The Co-Optimist. The British film industry of the '30s was more concerned in turning out "quota quickies" so that Hollywood would send over an equal number of American films, but Holloway was able to survive in these cheap pictures, occasionally rising to the heights of such productions as Squibs (1935) and The Vicar of Bray (1937). In 1941, Holloway was cast in one of the prestige films of the season, George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara; this led to top-drawer film appearances throughout the war years, notably This Happy Breed (1944), The Way to the Stars (1945) and Brief Encounter (1947). Though he'd had minimal Shakespearian experience, Holloway was selected by Laurence Olivier to play the Gravedigger in Olivier's filmization of Hamlet (1947), a role he'd forever be associated with and one he'd gently parody in 1969's Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.
Gaining an American audience through repeated showings of his films on early-'50s TV, Holloway took New York by storm as Alfred P. Doolittle in the stage smash My Fair Lady - a role he'd repeat in the 1964 film version (after James Cagney had turned it down), and win an Oscar in the bargain.
Continuing his activities in all aspects of British show business -- including a 1960 one-man show, Laughs and Other Events -- Holloway decided he'd take a whack at American TV as the butler protagonist of the 1962 sitcom Our Man Higgins. It's difficult to ascertain the quality of this series, since it had the miserable luck of being scheduled opposite the ratings-grabbing Beverly Hillbillies.
Stanley Holloway perservered with stage, movie, and TV appearances into the '70s; in honor of one of his two My Fair Lady songs, he titled his 1981 autobiography Wiv a Little Bit of Luck.
Will Hay still makes me smile despite the ancient jokes and ham acting. I never get tired of watching "Oh , Mr Porter" one of his best films from the 40's.
"Will Hay was born on the 6th December 1888. With his supercilious sniff and overall air of pompous ineptitude, Will Hay was one of the great British character comedians of his time. A former bookkeeper, Hay began his music-hall career in 1909, performing a sketch in which he impersonated a seedy, incompetent schoolmaster.
He was a genius who created a genuinely original persona which worked on a number of variations including the tattered shifty teacher, barrister, prison governor or stationmaster which was perhaps his masterpiece. In whatever circumstances, he was always required to deceive both superiors and inferiors, the latter proving sharper at detecting the radical incompetence beneath his seedy dignity. Accompanied by fat boy Graham Moffitt and toothless old codger Moore Marriott he created a comic oeuvre as endearing and enduring as any in British cinema.
In 1931, Will was elected 'King Rat of the Grand Order of Water Rats', which gave him great pride and a opportunity to acquaint himself better with like-minded fellow artistes within the exclusiveness of the club. The club was a charity organisation who fund raised for the less fortunate. In 1933, Hay applied his astronomical skills and discovered a white spot on Saturn. He published his findings in his 1935 book Through My Telescope. For this achievement, he was made a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He even gets a mention in Patrick Moore's biography.
Running second in popularity only to George Formby at the British box office, in 1940 Hay put his film-making on hold. During the war, his specialist knowledge was so good that he gave up acting to teach astronomy and navigation to the Royal Navy Reserve Special Branch as a Sub lieutenant. One wonders how he could be taken seriously after several years of portraying an exceptionally incompetent teacher.
He worked at Elstree, then Gainsborough, then Ealing; the Gainsborough period was the most consistently successful. Just as Tony Hancock, in some ways a descendant of Hay, would later cut himself off from sidekick Sid James, Hay felt impelled to break up the partnership with Moffatt and Marriott and was, likewise, never quite the same again, although ‘The Goose Steps Out for Ealing’ (1943) was an effective anti-Nazi piece of slapstick. His classic movies include ‘Oh Mr Porter’, ‘Where’s that Fire’ and ‘Ask a Policeman’."
Some more comedy profiles now by popular demand. First up Ted Ray who I remember from the steam radio of the 50's in "Ray's A Laugh".
"Ted Ray (November 21, 1905 – November 8, 1977) (real name Charles Olden) was a popular English comedian of the 1950s and 1960s. Charlie Olden was born in Wigan, Lancashire in 1905. His parents moved to Liverpool within days of his birth, and Liverpudlians therefore tend to regard him as a local of their city. As a major radio personality and comedian of the 1940s and 1950s he regularly demonstrated his extraordinary ad-libbing skills in his weekly radio show Ray's A Laugh, which ran from 1949 until 1961. A much sought after music hall comedian, Ray usually played the violin (badly) as part of his act. He also played straight roles in several British films - notably as the headmaster in Carry On Teacher. He is, however, best remembered for Ray's a Laugh, which was a domestic comedy in which he was accompanied by Australian Kitty Bluett, who played his wife. Many actors and actresses who would later become well-known cut their teeth on this radio show, including Peter Sellers, Fred Yule, Patricia Hayes, Kenneth Connor, Pat Coombs and Graham Stark. 1940 and 1950 saw Ray as King Rat of the Grand Order of Water Rats. He was a very keen and accomplished golfer who frequently appeared playing with professional sportsmen. Later in his career Ted Ray appeared together with Jimmy Edwards, Arthur Askey and Cyril Fletcher in the comedy radio panel game Does the Team Think?. He never managed to break into television successfully, though his son, Robin Ray, was a well known television personality in the 1960s and 1970s, having initiated Call My Bluff and specialist classical music shows. His younger son, Andrew Ray, became an actor. Ted Ray died in 1977."
Three very different songs called "Haunted House" by three very different artistes.
The first from Ray Noble's Orchestra in the 30's or 40's is from a cheap CD called Childrens All-Time Classics on the Cedar label.
The next is by Leon redbone from the album "On The Track" and the third and my favourite is by Jerry Lee Lewis from a compilation of his songs at his time with Mercury Records from 1973. I also have a version by Ry Cooder and John Hiatt etc. playing live but unfortunately I can't find it at the moment.
Watched part of a fascinating profile of Al Bowlly on BBC 4 last night and this remined me of a couple of the novelty songs he sang before he became more well known as a "crooner".
"In the 1930s, he was to sign two contracts which were to change his fortunes - one in May 1931 with Roy Fox, singing in his live band for the Monseigneur Restaurant in London, the other a record contract with Ray Noble's orchestra in November 1930. During the next four years, he recorded over 500 songs. He also found time to occasionally record with other orchestras such as Lew Stone's ; however, he was inundated with demands in this period, and made the bulk of his recordings with Noble. There was considerable competition between Noble and Fox for Bowlly's time, as for much of the year, Bowlly would spend all day in the recording studio with Noble's band, rehearsing and recording, only to then spend the evening playing live at the Monseigneur with Fox's band. A visit to New York in 1934 with Noble resulted in more success and their recordings first achieved popularity in the USA; he appeared at the head of an orchestra hand-picked for him and Noble by Glenn Miller (the band included Claude Thornhill, Charlie Spivak, and Bud Freeman, among others). During the early-mid 1930s, such songs as "Blue Moon", "Easy to Love", "I've Got You Under My Skin", and "My Melancholy Baby" were sizable American successes — so much so that Bowlly gained his own radio series on NBC and travelled to Hollywood to co-star in The Big Broadcast in 1936, which also starred one of his biggest competitors, Bing Crosby. Al Bowlly often worked with Ray Noble and His Orchestra. In December 1931, Bowlly had married Freda Roberts, but the marriage proved a disaster, with Bowlly discovering his new wife in bed with another man on their wedding night. The couple separated after two weeks, and sought a rapid divorce. He remarried in December 1934, this time to Marjie Fairless, the marriage lasting until his death."
"As the Singing Postman, Allan Smethurst benefited from the British public’s endearing sympathy for the underdog. His most popular hit, Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?, momentarily outsold the Beatles — in East Anglia, at least — and for a few weeks became a national catchphrase. But like many novelty stars before and since, his 15 minutes of fame was little more than that, and after four albums he faded from the public consciousness ending his days as an alcoholic in the care of the Salvation Army. Smethurst, a postman from Norfolk who hummed his tunes on his daily round, bought his guitar from Woolworths in 1949 and started writing and playing his own dialect songs, initially confining his activities to his bedroom. “It was ten years afore I dare let people hear them,” he once admitted. Plucking up the courage to send a tape to the BBC in Norwich, he was given a spot on a local radio show compered by a sales promotion man, Ralph Tuck, who promptly founded a record label called The Smallest Recording Organisation in the World to promote the Singing Postman. The 100 discs which Tuck had cut in the early weeks of 1966 promptly sold out and Smethurst became an overnight star, ousting the Beatles from the top of the East Anglian hit parade." It was sadly downhill from then on. He took up drink to try and cure his crippling stage fright but obviously he was destined to be a "one hit wonder" and the music biz moved on to the next novelty act.
"Born in 1928, in Lancashire, Bernard Cribbins is one of the best known children's entertainers in the UK. He has been an actor since the age of 14, when he became a student player with his local repertory company. By the 1950s, Cribbins had become a star of the London stage, featuring in his own revue. It wasn't until the 1960s, however, until he attained true public acclaim, appearing in a string of successful films and had musical success with a number of novelty records like Right Said Fred and Hole in the Ground. He is better known today for voice over work (The Wombles, as well as numerous advertisements) and his appearances on Noel's House Party on BBC1."
Not really a boot sale find but an excuse to upload some novelty songs by Fred Douglas who I know nothing about except he made lots of cover versions of hits on the cheap Regal label that sold in Woolworths I believe back in the 30's and 40's. Later they had the Embassy label which did a similar service - all the pop hits of the day by obscure singers who nobody had ever heard of! Fred Douglas went by several other nom de plumes so probably appeared on other records too.
That dirty laugh, the bag of spanners features, star of many Carry Ons and foil for Hancock in Hancock's Half Hour. Another profile of a great british character actor.
"James was born Joel Solomon Cohen, to Jewish parents, later changing his name to Sidney Joel Cohen and then Sid James, in a peculiar quirk of fate on Hancock Street, Hillbrow, Johannesburg, South Africa. He worked as a diamond cutter, hairdresser, dance tutor and reputedly a part-time boxer in fairgrounds, before becoming a professional actor. It was at a hairdressing salon in Kroonstad, Orange Free State that he met his future wife. He married Berthe Sadie Delmont, known as Toots on 12 August 1936 and her father Joseph Delmont, a wealthy Johannesburg businessman, bought a salon for James. Within a year, however, James announced that he wanted to become an actor and joined Johannesburg Repertory Players. Through this he got work with the South African Broadcasting Corporation. He and Delmont divorced in 1940 mainly as a result of James's many relationships with other women; it was a pattern that continued throughout his life. In 1943, he married a dancer, Meg Sergei, née Williams (born 1913). They divorced on 17 August 1952. On 21 August that year he wed Valerie Elizabeth Patsy Assan (born 1928), an actress who used Ashton as her stage name. During their marriage, he had a well publicised affair with his Carry On co-star, Barbara Windsor. During the Second World War, he became a lieutenant in the South African Army in an entertainment unit, and subsequently took up acting as a career. He came to Britain in 1946 on the back of his service gratuity. Initially he worked in repertory before being spotted by the nascent British post-war film industry."
Kenneth Horne ( third from the left ) always made me laugh and the two shows I remember most from my childhood and early years are Beyond Our Ken and Round The Horne that also starred Kenneth Williams , Hugh Paddick and Betty Marsden also seen in this photo. This is another radio profile of approx 60 mins. in length.
"Born Charles Kenneth Horne , he was the son of Charles Silvester Horne (1865-1914), a Congregationalist minister, Liberal MP for Ipswich, and powerful orator who built the White House in Sandford Avenue, Church Stretton as the family home, and is commemorated by the 'Silvester Horne Institute' in Church Stretton, Shropshire. His maternal grandfather was Herbert Cozens-Hardy, the Liberal MP for North Norfolk who became both the Master of the Rolls and Baron Cozens-Hardy on 1 July 1914. During World War II, Horne served in the RAF, reaching the rank of Wing Commander. As part of BBC radio's support of the war effort entertainment programmes were devised to target each wing of the armed forces, this led to Horne's involvement in Much-Binding-In-The-Marsh set at the titular fictitious air force base, a series which continued until 1954. He died from a stroke whilst standing up to make a speech at the Dorchester Hotel in London, just after the fourth series of Round the Horne was completed. A fifth series had been commissioned, but it was decided that the show could not continue without its star."
Here's another radio profile from the "How Tickled I Am" series, this time of Les Dawson.
"Les Dawson (2 February 1931 - 10 June 1993) was a popular Lancashire comedian, known for his deadpan style. Dawson was a curmudgeon, famous for jokes about his mother-in-law and his wife. Dawson began his entertainment career as a club pianist ("I finally heard some applause from a bald man and said 'thank you for clapping me' and he said 'I'm not clapping - I'm slapping me head to keep awake.'"), but found that he got more laughs by playing wrong notes and complaining to the audience. He made his television debut in the talent show, Opportunity Knocks, and was seldom absent from British television screens in the years that followed. His best known routines featured Roy Barraclough and Dawson as two elderly women, Cissie Braithwaite and Ada Sidebottom who, having worked in a mill in their youth, spoke some words aloud and mouthed others--particularly those pertaining to bodily functions and sex; they also repeatedly pushed up their bosoms, in pantomime dame style, an act copied faithfully from his hero, Norman Evans. Dawson's humour, though earthy, was seldom coarse, and he was as popular with female as with male audiences."
I have a few old radio shows , mostly profiles of british comedians and so I thought I would air a few of them here as the boot sales and charity shops are a bit quiet these days. Here's what Wikipedia says about Frank Randle-
"Frank Randle (Born Arthur Hughes, also known as Arthur McEvoy) (January 30, 1901 - July 15, 1957) was an English comedian. A contemporary of fellow Lancastrians George Formby and Gracie Fields, he was regarded as more subversive, perhaps the reason that the immense popularity he enjoyed during his lifetime has not survived him. Born in Wigan, Lancashire, he left school aged 13 and worked in a variety of menial jobs until two years later he joined an acrobatic troupe. In 1928, he began to tour as a comedian, principally in Lancashire and the North, developing his own show, Randle's Scandals. He took equity in John E. Blakeley's Manchester-based Mancunian Film Studios and appeared in eight of its productions. Randle's mischievous wit led to a running conflict with Harry Barnes, police chief of Lancashire seaside resort Blackpool, who frequently banned and censored his material. Randle responded to his critics in robust fashion, frequently throwing his false teeth into the audience and once bombarding Blackpool from an aeroplane with toilet rolls. Randle's police charge sheet is lodged with the Lancashire Constabulary collection, cared for by Lancashire County Museums. On the outbreak of World War II, having failed his medical to join the RAF, Randle joined the Home Guard and started to establish a career in films that even overtook that of Formby. His iconoclastic portrayal of the underdog, flouting authority and disrupting the establishment found a ready audience in a population suffering the privations of war. With the decline of the music halls in the 1950s, Randle's popularity faded. Pressed by debts and tax arrears and suffering from the consequences of a life of alcohol abuse, he was made bankrupt by the tax authorities in 1955. He died in Blackpool of gastroenteritis, in 1957."
I've mentioned Al Jolson before but I found another CD of his "Very Best Of....." on the Music Club label the other day in a charity shop and thought I would upload some of his novelty songs. The third track "Oogie Woogie Wa Wa" comes from a compilation that Angel Radio sent me from their archives some years ago.
"Al Jolson (May 26, 1886–October 23, 1950) was a highly acclaimed American singer, comedian and actor of Jewish heritage whose career lasted from 1911 until his death in 1950. He was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century whose influence extended to other popular performers, including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis, Jr., Eddie Fisher, Jerry Lewis, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, and Michael Jackson. Al Jolson was the first popular singer to make a spectacular "event" out of singing a song. Prior to Jolson, popular singers such as John McCormack and Henry Burr would stand still with only very minimal gesturing as they sang. Jolson, in comparison, had tremendous energy displayed in his performances by way of dynamic gestures and other physical movement. Jolson was the first entertainer to ever utilize a ramp extending out into the audience from the center of the stage. Jolson insisted on having a ramp so he could be closer to the audience. It was very common for Jolson to sit on the end of the ramp and have personal one-on-one conversations with audience members which is something that had also never been done prior to Jolson. Jolson was known to stop major Broadway productions in which he was involved, turn to the audience and ask them if they would rather hear him sing instead of watching the rest of the play. The answer from the audience was always a resounding "yes" and Jolson would spend at least the next hour singing an impromptu concert to an ecstatic audience. George Burns, the popular American comedian and friend of Al Jolson probably described Jolson best when he said, "...Jolson was all Show Business!"
A CD from the local library sale I bought yesterday. Its on the Living Era label from 1985 and most of the songs were recorded in the 1930's.
"Sophie Tucker was born in Russia while her mother was emigrating to America to join her husband, also a Russian Jew. Her birth name was Sophia Kalish, but the family soon took the last name Abuza and moved to Connecticut, where Sophie grew up working in her family's restaurant.
Playing piano to accompany her sister at amateur shows, Sophie quickly became an audience favorite; they called for "the fat girl." At age 13, she already weighed 145 pounds.
She married Louis Tuck in 1903, and they had a son, Bert, but she divorced Tuck fairly quickly. Leaving Bert with her parents in 1906, she went to New York, changed her name to Tucker, and began singing at amateur shows to support herself.
She was required to wear blackface by managers who felt that she would not otherwise be accepted, since she was "so big and ugly" as one manager put it. She joined a burlesque show in 1908, and, when she found herself without her makeup or any of her luggage one night, she went on without her blackface, was a hit with the audience, and never wore the blackface again.
She briefly appeared with the Ziegfield Follies, but her popularity with audiences made her unpopular with the female stars, who refused to go on stage with her.
Tucker's stage image emphasized her "fat girl" image but also a humorous suggestiveness. She sang songs like "I Don't Want to Be Thin," "Nobody Loves a Fat Girl, But Oh How a Fat Girl Can Love." She introduced in 1911 the song which would become her trademark: "Some of These Days."
She added jazz and sentimental ballads to her ragtime repertoire, and, in the 1930s, when American vaudeville was dying, she took to playing England. She made eight movies and appeared on radio and, as it became popular, television."
Bootsalesounds .The English artist Michael Leigh roots for its AUDI whether log boat Sale sound forgotten beads from the depths of flea market crates and trunks. And wants to amuse thereby above all as he explains in the following one. Michael Leigh in De:Bug 98 the sound of the trunk Boat Sale sound saw the light of the world as a Yahoo Group, which I had begun at the beginning of last yearly. Actually I wanted to use it as place, in order to store music files, which I had mentioned occasionally in one my other Blogs (www.flobberlob.blogspot.com). The Yahoo Group consisted of 30 members, that herumlungerten all gladly in the background, in order to down-load the files, but never gave feedback. Thus I that that was not anything for me, decided and imagined: Why I do not make simply an AUDI whether log from it, in which I can featuren the whole music, which I find on flea markets and boat Sales. One should mention perhaps that boat Sales are condemned popular in England, particularly in the summer. The people meet then on parking lots and sell their stuff from the trunk. Before boat Sale sound I had few other Blogs and like that was already an AUDI whether log in the reason a natural development for me. Since I was into the 60ern on the kind School, I had collected records. I was particularly interested in the generic term cures side and the Novelties of the music Business already at that time. Therefore the plates on my Blog are normally also Songs of artists, over whom one actually hears nowadays nothing. Recently for example I found a record of Charlie Drake, which in England a few hit had during the late 50's and early 60's and a popular Comedystar in the television was, whose shows ran for a very long time. It times described as: "quaint, troubled, sympathetic little one who is strangely reminiscent OF A Botticelli cherub". And it had let peel a voice in addition, the lacquer could. On the plate were few its hits and some completely unknown pieces like "I draws to The end to OF My Yodel", "Starkle Starkle Little Twink" or "Don't a Trim My Wick", all full enthusiasm for English humor, wordplays and Nonsense verse, as they could so hardly have exceeded Lewis Carrol, Edward Lear and spike Milligan. Another jewel was the Percussionist and jazz musician Rupert Clemendore on the LP "Le jazz" on that 60's Cook Laboratories label. One of the exotic jazz albums from the west Indies (Trinidad to be over exact). The Cover gives already a correct impression. Normally halbseidene beautifulnesses with an arrangement from palms is on such records, but here it should happen more subtly. And alone the words "Patois jazz" let me believe in the fact that more was to be found here. There is nearly always first the Cover, which bring me to it, my pennies rauszuruecken. Sometimes one is then inspired by the plate also, but usually the plate, which hides itself behind a great Cover has, not to do nothing at all thereby. Rupert and its volume however play so a kind of unobstrusive, but pleasant cocktail jazz, with which above all the two Vocal TRACKS out-sting, and which create it then also on the Blog. The Slevenotes explains that appropriate: "which makes Rupert with its voice on ' Chop Suey Mambo ', must remain completely unclassifiable." And in another Song it then still rappt from the Harem, which pursues it, if he down-runs in Trinidad the park Street. In the middle in the mediocrity the "Mish Mosh" album of Mickey Katz started me - also again first due to the Covers -. A wonderful photo of Mr. Katz, disguises as a butcher, who sits with its saxophone on the chopping block, and behind him the other instruments hang peacefully lined up with sausages and Bagles. The Songtitel sounded also everything like Winner: "How Much Is That Pickle in The Window" or "I'm A Schlemiel OF Fortune", how one can resist there? It came then raus the fact that Mickey was a Top Dialektkenner in spike Jones ' volume and later own ways went. It was so convinced of the fact that its music was in music solid not only merrily, but also that he employed the best session musicians Hollywoods for it. And again a quotation of the grandiosen Sleeve Notes: "Mickey's approach tons of A song is simple. He of grave the nation's favourites and of gives them the stamp OF his unique and abundant wit. The poor unsuspecting tune suddenly finds itself with more of twists than A barrel of OF pretzels and more spice than A plate OF pastrami." How one sees, the things, which I find, are very different. And I do not only try to show on the Blog also by the apparently indiscriminate composition like differently different Aeras in its Style, but also in its humor are. I always select music, which surprises me at least amused, more frequently however and brings me sometimes also directly to the laughter for the Blog. And I hope that she reaches also at the people, which visit the Blog. I am glad to have a very broadly varied music taste and hope, boat Sale sound reflect also, although the drive luck and coincidence are. Meanwhile I get also the feedback, which I had at that time already expected, and by rapidly Share my audio files can be theoretically eternally attainable (I have before You send It used, until I had to determine that after one week everything disappears there). I am naturally linked with other audio Blogs and must say that there is very much mutual encouragement and support among us. That nearly already is heart-warming up. OVER MICHAEL LEIGH I am 58 years old artists and live with my family in Cheshire. I studied, work painting however to time particularly with collages and Mailart. Otherwise I make art books, eraser temples, postcards and various audio work. Mail kind stepped something due to my other on-line occupations admitted into the background, but to send away, still fun makes collages via Mail for me. Michael Leigh 98
A comedy genius and inspiration. From the incredible ground breaking Goon Shows to his hilarious wartime autobiographies and TV shows like "Q5", The World OF Beachcomber, etc. etc. He made many records and a few of my favourites here from various sources - the latter two with Peter Sellers from a compilation of Peter Sellers on the EMI Comedy Classics series from 1990.
"During most of the late 1930s and early 1940s Milligan performed as an amateur jazz vocalist and trumpeter, both before and after being called up for military service, but even then he wrote and performed comedy sketches as part of concerts to entertain troops. After his call-up, but before being sent abroad, he and fellow musician Harry Edgington would compose surreal stories, filled with puns and skewed logic, as a way of staving off the boredom of life in barracks. During World War II he served as a signaller in the 56th Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery, D Battery, as Gunner Milligan, 954024 with the First Army in North Africa and then in Sicily and Italy. He rose to the rank of Lance-Bombardier and was about to be promoted to Bombardier when he was wounded in action in Italy. Subsequently hospitalised for shell shock, he was demoted by an unsympathetic commanding officer back to Gunner. After his hospitalisation, Milligan drifted through a number of rear-echelon military jobs in Italy, eventually becoming a full-time entertainer. He played guitar with a jazz/comedy group called The Bill Hall Trio in concert parties for the troops. After being demobilised, Milligan remained in Italy playing with the Trio but returned to England soon after. While he was with the Central Pool of Artists (a group he described as composed "of bomb-happy squaddies") he began to write parodies of their mainstream plays, that displayed many of the key elements of what would become The Goon Show with Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine.
Milligan returned to England in the late 1940s and made a precarious living with the Hall trio and other musical comedy acts. He was also trying to break into the world of radio, as either a performer or as a script writer. His first success in radio was as writer for Derek Roy show. Milligan soon became involved with a relatively radical comedy project, The Goon Show. Known during its first season as Crazy People, or in full, "The Junior Crazy Gang featuring those Crazy People, the Goons!", the name was an attempt to make the programme palatable to BBC officials by connecting it with the popular group of comedians known as The Crazy Gang. Milligan was the primary author of The Goon Show scripts (though many were written jointly with Larry Stephens, Eric Sykes and others) as well as a star performer."
Billy Costello from an old cassette tape that someone sent me years ago - sorry about the crackles and pops. Requested again by a few people and I'm only too happy to oblige as I love these old cartoons ( Billy did Popeye's voice for many years ) and the songs.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Popeye The Sailor-
"Popeye the Sailor is a famous comic strip character, later featured in popular animated cartoons. He was created by Elzie Crisler Segar (who would sign some of his early Popeye comic strips with a cigar because it sounded the same as his name) and first appeared in the King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre on January 17, 1929. Popeye quickly became the main focus of the strip, which was one of King Features' most popular strips during the 1930s. Thimble Theatre, carried on after Segar's 1938 death by artists such as Bud Sagendorf, was renamed Popeye in the 1970s. Today drawn by Hy Eisman, Popeye continues to appear in first-run strips in Sunday papers (daily Popeye strips are reruns of older strips). In 1933, Max and Dave Fleischer's Fleischer Studios adapted the Thimble Theatre characters into a series of Popeye the Sailor theatrical cartoon shorts for Paramount Pictures. These cartoons proved to be among the most popular of the 1930s, and Popeye at one time rivaled Mickey Mouse for popularity among audiences. After Paramount assumed control of the Fleischer Studio in 1942, they continued producing the series until 1957. Future Popeye cartoons were produced for television from 1960 to 1962 by King Features, and from 1978 to 1982 as well as 1987 to 1988 by Hanna-Barbera Productions."
A CD on the Happy Days label from 1993 with novelty songs mostly from the 30's and 40's. Lots of firmiliar names here like George Formby and Hoagy Carmichael rubbing shoulders with more unfirmiliar names like Jack Simpson and Milt Herth Trio. Reginald Gardiner's "Trains" was a favourite on Children's Favourites on the radio and nice to find both sides of the 78 here.
"Reginald Gardiner (February 27, 1903-July 7, 1980) was a British-born actor in film and television. A graduate of the British Academy of Dramatic Arts. He made his film debut in 1926 in the silent film The Lodger, by Alfred Hitchcock. Moving to Hollywood, he was cast in numerous roles, often as a British butler. One of his most famous roles was that of Schultz in Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. Toward the end of his career, Gardiner made increasing guest appearances on the leading television sitcoms of the 1960s. In his last major role, he played alongside Phyllis Diller in The Pruitts of Southampton."
We have menioned Frank Crumit before and notmuch can be found out about Albert Richardson. But I found this short biog. of Jack Jackson on a website dedicated to Radio Luxembourg where he used to DJ during the 60's.
"Unquestionably the Dean of Deejays, Jack Jackson pioneered many of the gimmicks now taken for granted on radio and is regarded as one of the great masters of the turntable by other d.j.'s young and old. He breaks one of the unwritten rules of modern pop radio that all d.j.'s should be as young as their audience--he makes no secret of the fact that he is in his middle fifties, yet somehow (and this is his secret) puts out shows as lively as anyone half his age. His use of humour in his programmes is now widely copied, but few others can match his effects, which he spends hours perfecting in his expensively equipped studio at home. Jack Jackson was born in Belvedere, Kent, and as a young man studied at the Royal Academy of Music before entering show biz as a trumpet player. In the years which followed he played with numerous top bands such as those of Ambrose, Jack Hylton and Jack Payne, before forming his own dance orchestra in 1933. Until the outbreak of World War II he was almost constantly employed at the Dorchester Hotel in London. After the war he decided not to reform his band and turned to compering record shows on BBC radio His methods of presentation were completely revolutionary and after the initial resistance were welcomed as opening new fields of entertainment."
A cheap CD on the Delta Music label released in 2002. Mostly live concert material from the Finsbury Park Empire and Holborn Empire at the height of his fame in the 40's.
"Born in Hereford Street, Brighton as Thomas Henry Sargent, Miller became notorious for his double entendre based humour, which at the time saw him banned from the BBC on more than one occasion. His jokes were reputedly written in two notebooks, a white notebook for 'clean' humour, and a blue one for 'adult' jokes. He was known for his outlandish outfits, which generally included patterned plus fours and matching long jacket (a look which has clearly influenced the stage outfits of modern comedian Roy 'Chubby' Brown), with a trilby hat and kipper tie. He was also a popular singer of comedy songs, his most famous being Mary From the Dairy, which was also his signature tune. He also appeared in 14 films and made three Royal Variety Show appearances. In real life, he was completely unlike his stage persona, quite bourgeois, almost puritan, not allowing any bad language in the dressing-rooms. At home, he lived in deep privacy, devoted to his surprisingly posh wife, and fond of keeping parrots. He was also famously mean, except for his donations to blind charities. (He’d been temporarily blinded in the trenches and never knew if he’d recover his sight.) But these were kept strictly secret. Apart from that, his only act of generosity would be an occasional sixpence to a lad in the street, to fetch him some more parrot-food. In old age, he would say “Me, Max Miller, I’m nothing. But the Cheeky Chappie, he’ll live for ever.” He told a Sunday paper “I’ve got enough money to last me the rest of my life - if I die tomorrow.” Soon afterwards he died, on May 7th 1963, at his home at 25 Burlington Street, Brighton, from a heart ailment; he had been cared for by his wife Kathleen Marsh."
A CD originally released in 1987 but re-released on the Sugar Hill label in 1995. Leon Redbone continues to amuse and delight with his choice of old songs and arrangements for his unique guitar playing and vocals. I was first aware of him when his first album was released back in the 70's with two camels on the sleeve and Leon looking like a cross bewteen Groucho Marx and a plantation owner.
"While living in Canada in the early 1970s, Redbone began performing in public at Toronto area nightclubs and folk music festivals. At one point, it was rumored that he was Andy Kaufman, or Frank Zappa, in disguise, but since their deaths, the rumors have subsided. In 1974, Rolling Stone magazine ran a feature article on Redbone, a full year before he had a recording contract. Described in the article as "so authentic you can hear the surface noise." His first album, On the Track, was released by Warner Bros. Records in 1975. He was introduced to a larger public as a semi-regular musical guest on NBC's Saturday Night Live throughout the late 1970s and into the 1980s. In a late-'70s appearance on the The Merv Griffin Show, he was introduced as "Andy Kaufman ...maybe or maybe not," alluding to the eccentric comedian as being his possible true identity. Redbone has released approximately fifteen albums and earned a cult-like fan community who will travel significant distances to hear him perform. His recurrent gags involve the influence of alcohol and claiming to have written works well before his time (as part of the age mystery schtick), and his concerts blend performance, comedy, and skilled instrumentals."
A cheap CD from 2003 on the Memory Lane label found at a boot sale or market - I forget which. A child star from the golden age of Hollywood- she made countless movies and sang and danced in most of them. I deliberately avoided "Animal Crackers" and "On The Good Ship Lollipop" etc. as they have been heard so many times before.
"Temple began dance classes at Meglin's Dance School in Hollywood in 1931, at the age of 3. Her film career began when a casting director from Educational Pictures visited her class. Although Temple hid behind the piano in the studio, she was chosen by the director, invited to audition, and, eventually, signed to a contract with Educational. Temple worked at Educational from 1932 to 1933, and appeared in two series of short subjects for the studio. Her first series, Baby Burlesks, satirized recent motion pictures and politics. In the series "Baby Burlesks", Temple would dress up in a diaper, but then be wearing adult clothes everywhere else. The series was considered controversial by some viewers because of its depiction of young children in adult situations. Her second series at Educational, Frolics of Youth, was a bit more acceptable, and cast her as a bratty younger sister in a contemporary suburban family. While working for Educational Pictures, Temple also performed many walk-on and bit player roles in various films at other studios. She is said to have auditioned for a lead role in Hal Roach's Our Gang comedies (later known as The Little Rascals) in the early 1930s; various reasons are given for her not having been cast in the role. Roach stated that Temple and her mother were unable to make it through the red tape of the audition process, while Our Gang producer/director Robert F. McGowan recalls that the studio wanted to cast Temple, but they refused to give in to Temple's mother's demands that Temple receive special star billing. Temple, in her autobiography Child Star, denies that she ever auditioned for Our Gang at all. However, Temple had some connection with Our Gang in that Temple's carpool friend, David Holt, had a small role in the 1933 Little Rascals film Forgotten Babies."
I found this CD at a charity shop today for 99p. I'm a big fan of Ry Cooder and remember him playing some of Gabby's music when he was a guest on Charlie Gillett's radio show around the time this record was made - back in 1974. This is a re-issue from 2000 on the Edsel label. I expect you can still find it somewhere. On this session he is joined by Ry and his sons Bla and Cyril. Also in attendance are Atta Issacs, Sonny Chillingworth, Manuel "Joe Gang" Kupatu and Randy Lorenzo. Recorded in Hawaii at Gabby's home where generators were bought especially as there was no electricity and the pahoehoe lava walls made excellent acoustics.
"Gabby Pahinui helped to lay the foundation for Hawaiian slack key guitar playing. Although he recorded only one internationally released album, Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band, Vol. 1, his influence continues to be reflected in the playing of Hawaiian slack key players and American guitarists including John Fahey, Leo Kottke, and Ry Cooder. During an early-'90s interview, Pahinui's son, James "Bla" Pahinui, also a skilled slack key guitarist, recalled, "My dad got away with a lot of stuff because it worked. He touched so many people because he shared what was in his heart in such an honest and direct way."
Pahinui recorded the first slack key recordings in 1946. He continued to lead his own band, the Sons of Hawai'I, until the early '70s when he formed a new group with his sons Charles, Cyril, and James. Their first steps towards international fame came when Ry Cooder traveled to Hawaii to record Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band, Vol. 1, during a two-week-long session at Pahinui's home in Kona in 1974. The home had been the site for nightly jam sessions for many years. The same year, Pahinui made a guest appearance on Cooder's album Chicken Skin Music."
I can't belive I havent featured Leslie Sarony on this blog before now as he is one of the most prolific comedy and novelty song writers of of the 20th century. Just this weekend I had the pleasure of hearing Ken Dodd do a version of "The Old Sow" in Landudno at the North Wales Theatre ( Venue Cyrmru ) and very funny it was too!
"Leslie Sarony (January 22, 1897 - February 12, 1985) was a British entertainer, singer and songwriter. Sarony was born in Surbiton, Surrey and died in London. He began his stage career aged 14 with the group Park Eton's Boys. In 1913 he appeared in the revue Hello Tango. In the Great War, Sarony served in the London Scottish regiment in France and Salonika. His stage credits after the war include revues, pantomimes and musicals, including the London productions of Show Boat and Rio Rita. Sarony became well known in the 1920s and 1930s as a variety artist and radio performer. He made a number of recordings of novelty songs such as "He Played his Ukulele as the Ship Went Down", including several with Jack Hylton and his Orchestra. He teamed up with Leslie Holmes in 1935 under the name The Two Leslies. The partnership lasted until 1946. Their recorded output included such gems as "I'm a Little Prairie Flower". Sarony continued to perform into his eighties, moving on to television and films."
I have managed to compile two volumes of "laughing songs" from various sources - many are from the golden age of shellac like the examples below, courtesy of Angel Radio's excellent archive. It seems that the first blues ever recorded was a Laughing Song by George W.Johnson in 1895. The Laughing Policeman is a music hall song by Charles Jolly, the pseudonym of Charles Penrose. In 1922, Penrose made the first recording of this song, (Columbia Records FB 1184). The composition of the song is officially credited to his wife Mabel under the pseudonym "Billie Grey". The Penroses wrote numerous other laughing songs (The Laughing Major, Curate, Steeplechaser, Typist, Lover, etc), but only The Laughing Policeman is remembered today, having sold over a million records. Its popularity continued into the 19960's and 1970s, as it was a frequently-requested song on Children's Favourites and the Radio 1 show Junior Choice.
A couple of monologues here from Al Read who I remember from the radio in the 60's and 70's where he used to have a regular show.
"Al Read was born on 3 March 1909 in Salford, (then in Lancashire). His early life was spent in business in the family meat-processing business, which had been started by his father. He rapidly developed a successful comedy career and was a popular after dinner speaker with his unique brand of witty and well-observed humour. Although he made several television series in the 60's, he preferred the medium of radio and his television career never really took off. Read made his radio debut in 1950 and by 1954 he was high on the bill at the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium. In 1955 impresario Jack Hylton placed him in the West End revue "Such Is Life" alongside the rising star, Shirley Bassey. His humorous observation of the lives and idiosyncrasies of ordinary people were based on a decidedly working-class Lancashire experiences and he became known for catchphrases like "Right Monkey!" and "You've met 'em!". Read was a superbly funny cabaret comedian with a keen ear for detail in idiomatic speech. Almost forgotten now, recordings of his monologues are becoming increasingly popular. Monologues such as "Try It The Other Way Round ", "Our Joe Won't Be With Us Much Longer" and "You're Seeing Too Much of the Telly" are now available on reissued BBC audio tapes. Al Read died on 9 September 1987."
Tommy's singing voice was even worse than his terrible magic tricks but despitethat he made several records and even reached the charts at his height in the 70's when the two examples here were made.
"Tommy Cooper was a true original - the trademark Fez, that distinctive laugh, the clumsy, bewildered delivery, and, of course, the catchphrases make him one of the most instantly recognisable of all comedy icons. He didn't have to say anything to make his audience laugh, his appearance alone was enough.
Like many others, Cooper's first foray into showbusiness was with the forces. After serving as an apprentice shipmaker he joined Horse Guards, from where he became part of the entertainments unit.
It was while entertaining the troops, at a Naafi show in Egypt, that the fez became part of his look. Legend has it that he simply lost the pith helmet he had intended to wear, and grabbed the waiter's hat instead.
The tale of how he adopted his maladroit stage act is equally apocryphal . He supposedly botched an audition as a serious magician so badly that everyone thought it was deliberately hilarious.
If the persona came about by accident, Cooper was meticulous in honing it for every last laugh. A notoriously demanding perfectionist, he would be the bane of those working alongside him.
He was a hard worker, too. On demob in 1947 he joined London's Windmill Theatre - the devilishly hard venue where so many comics learned their craft, performing to uninterested punters between the strip shows. Cooper reputedly performed up to 52 shows a week there.
Tours, TV and a role in Eric Syke's film The Plank followed as, throughout the Sixties and Seventies, he cemented his place in the public's affections. In 1969 he was voted ITV's Personality of the Year.
His appetite for work was so voracious that few were surprised that his death came on stage, doing what he loved. And such was his reputation as a relentless joker that when he collapsed during that televised show, most of the audience thought it was just another of his gags."
Some scratchy old 78's dubbed to minidisc here courtesy of Angel Radio who kindly sent me these when I was searching for novelty songs a few years back. There have been a few versions of Barnacle BIll The Sailor and this is one of the best despite the pops and crackles.
"Albert Whelan, Florrie Forde, and Billy Williams were the three most famous Australians who graced the stage of the British Music Hall. Born in Melbourne, Whelan first made a name for himself entertaining the miners in the goldfields of Western Australia. Emigrating to Britain, he debuted as a “scarecrow” dancer at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, but his versatile talents soon led him to singing and piano playing. Whelan invented the “signature tune,” and always came on stage whistling a waltz from Die Lustige Brüder [The Jolly Brothers]. Music Hall historian W. Macqueen-Pope (1950, 374) describes Whelan as having “an individual style which defies imitation, because it comes from his own inherent talent; he has, too, that perfect clarity of diction which was such a feature of Music Hall."
Somebody reminded me of the genius that was Max Wall the other day when directed to a certain video clip of his eccentric dancing on You Tube. I just had to find this track he did of a Ian Dury song and another called "Me & My Tune" from the 50's by the sound of it.
"Wall made his stage début at the age of 14, as an acrobatic dancer, in pantomime, but is best remembered for his ludicrously attired and hilariously strutting Professor Wallofski. This creation notably influenced John Cleese, who has acknowledged Max Wall's influence on the creation of his own Ministry of Silly Walks sketch for Monty Python. After appearing in many musicals and stage comedies in the 1930s his career went into decline, and he was reduced to working in obscure nightclubs. Wall re-emerged when producers and directors rediscovered his comic talents, along with the expressive power of his tragic clown face and of the distinctive sad falling cadences of his voice. He secured television appearances, and having attracted Beckett's attention, he won parts in Waiting for Godot and Krapp's Last Tape. In 1966 he appeared as Père Ubu in Jarry's Ubu Roi, whilst in 1972 he toured with Mott the Hoople on their "Rock n' Roll Circus tour", gaining a new audience."