Monday, April 27, 2009

Alfred Apaka

Found recently in a charity shop in Chester for a couple of quid. A double LP of his best songs for the Decca label - released after his death in 1960's. A bit too MOR for my taste but I was drawn to the "exotica" elements and particularly to the song "Princess Poo-Poo-Ly Has Plenty Of Papaya".

"Alfred Aloha Apaka (1919 -- 1960) was one of the influential performers in the history of Hawaii's popular music. Although he recorded for less than a decade, Apaka set the standards for modern Hawaiian music with his joyful, baritone vocals and highly entertaining performances. In his book, Hawaiian Music and Musicians, George Kanahele wrote that Apaka was "the possessor of one of the most remarkable voices to come out of Hawaii. A natural, untrained, voice, it was strong, masculine and agile.....a delicate instrument that could range from B flat to E in pianissimo." Apaka inherited his musical skills from his great aunt, Lydia Ahola, the daughter of Queen Lilioukalani. In an interview with The Honolulu Sun Bulletin, Apaka's son, Jeff, who also became an entertainer, said, "I like to think that Dad's musical training came in a direct line from the queen." During the '40s, Apaka performed with several orchestras including Don McDiamond's Royal Hawaiian Hotel house band and Ray Kenney's band in New York. Overheard by Bob Hope while singing at a luau in Honolulu, Apaka became a regular guest on Hope's radio and television shows. Although many predicted that he would become a successful mainstream vocalist, Apaka took a different route when he convinced multimillionaire Henry Kaiser to build a hotel, The Hawaiian Village, that included a showroom where he starred in his own extravagant revue. Apaka's energetic performances soon made the hotel an essential tourist attraction, and his popularity continued to grow. Plans for a nationally broadcast television special were finalized in February 1960. A few days later, however, Apaka suffered a fatal heart attack while playing hand ball."

Alfred Apaka - Ebb Tide

Alfred Apaka - You Are Beautiful

Alfred Apaka - Princess Poo-Poo-Ly Has Plenty Papaya

Shep's Banjo Boys

Slim pickings this week round the charity shops so just this LP from Shep's Banjo Boys on the Nevis label for a few pence. I guess it would be from the 60's or 70's judging by the cover. They are still going strong and based in Manchester - weddings, parties and cruise ships a speciality. Signed on the back by the band too and on two large photos of Happy Valley in Llandudno inside as a bonus!

There official website says-

"Howard Shep Shepherd is recognised as Britain’s foremost banjo player whose Manchester based Banjo Band Shep's Banjo Boys first became nationally recognised for their live musical spots on Granada TVs long running series “The Comedians”.

Since then, Shep's Banjo Boys have appeared at theatres and venues all over the UK and performed abroad.

During the 80’s Shep's regularly entertained QE2 passengers playing background reception music, welcome aboard acoustic music in addition to their cabaret spot.

Today, in addition to his band, Shep finds his Duo or Trio are very popular (see Shep's Rhythm Aces). Shep's Duo have regularly entertained passengers UK-wide on the Orient Express' Northern Belle train. They are ideal for store openings keeping customers entertained and cheerful, the same goes for wedding receptions, their music keeps everyone in a happy mood."

Discover more about Shep's Banjo Boys HERE.

Shep's Banjo Boys - Baby Face Medley

Shep's Banjo Boys - St. Louis Blues

Shep's Banjo Boys - I Had A Dream Dear Medley

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jimmy Edwards - (re-Up)

From an LP on the Spark label released in 1973. Jimmy edwards sings bawdy pub songs and plays his trombone accompanied by Ken Mackintosh and his band. Also on the record is special guest Joe "Mr. Piano" Henderson.

"Jimmy Edwards was a British radio and television comedy actor, best known as Pa Glum in Take It From Here and as the headmaster 'Professor' James Edwards in Whack-O.

Born James Keith O'Neill in Barnes, London, Edwards served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross. His Dakota was shot down at Arnhem in 1944, resulting in plastic surgery — he disguised it with the huge handlebar moustache that later became his trademark.

A feature of London theatre in the immediate post-War years, having previously performed in the Cambridge Footlights review, Edwards gained wider exposure as a radio performer, appearing in the long-running Take It From Here, where he developed the Glums alongside June Whitfield.

Graduatating to television, his appeared in shows such as the panel game Does the Team Think?, The Seven Faces of Jim, as well as guest slots in Make Room for Daddy and Sykes. Edwards also worked with Eric Sykes when he acted in the Sykes-penned short films The Plank (1967) (alongside Tommy Cooper) and Rhubarb (1969) (which also featured Harry Secombe).

He published his autobiography, Six of the Best, in 1984, as a follow up to the earlier Take it From Me. Amongst his outside interests were brass bands and the handlebar Club, in which all the members had such moustaches. During the 1970s he also came out as a homosexual."

Discover more about Jimmy Edwards HERE.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jimmy Durante

I found this LP on Brunswick label today at the antiques centre in Frodsham for a quid. Too lazy to take a photo or scan the cover I have found one similar on the internet.
It has some nice tunes on it and makes me appreciate how good a pianist old "Schnozzle" was. They don't make 'em like this anymore which is a shame. Some old chestnuts including songs that Jimmy wrote himself.

Wikipedia says -

"Durante was born in Brooklyn, the third of four children born to Italian-Americans Mitch Durante (1855-1929) and Margaret (née Lentino) Durante (1858-1936). A product of working-class New York, Durante dropped out of school in the eighth grade to become a full-time ragtime pianist, working the city circuit and earning the nickname "Ragtime Jimmy," before he joined one of the first recognizable jazz bands in New York, the Original New Orleans Jazz Band. Durante was the only member of the group who did not hail from New Orleans. His routine of breaking into a song to deliver a joke, with band or orchestra chord punctuation after each line became a Durante trademark. In 1920, the group was renamed Jimmy Durante's Jazz Band.

Durante became a vaudeville star and radio attraction by the mid-1920s, with a music and comedy trio called Clayton, Jackson and Durante. Lou Clayton and Eddie Jackson, probably Durante's closest friends, often reunited with Durante professionally. Jackson and Durante appeared in the Cole Porter musical The New Yorkers which opened on Broadway on December 8, 1930.

By 1934, he had a major record hit, his own novelty composition Inka Dinka Doo and it became his theme song for practically the rest of his life. A year later, Durante starred on Broadway in the Billy Rose stage musical Jumbo, in which a police officer stopped him while leading a live elephant and asked him, "What are you doing with that elephant?" Durante's reply, "What elephant?", was a regular show-stopper. Durante also appeared on Broadway in Show Girl (1929), Strike Me Pink (1934), and Red, Hot and Blue (1936).

He began appearing in motion pictures at about the same time, beginning with a comedy series pairing him with silent film legend Buster Keaton and continuing with such offerings as The Wet Parade (1932), Broadway to Hollywood (1933), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942, playing "Banjo", a character based on Harpo Marx), Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962, based on the 1935 musical) and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)."

Discover more about Jimmy Durante HERE

Jimmy Durante - Start Off Each Day With A Song

Jimmy Durante - Mad Bird Melody

Jimmy Durante - I Want A Girl ( just like the girl that married dear old Dad )

Jimmy Durante - Inka Dinka Doo

Jimmy Durante - You Made Me Love You

Jimmy Durante - Carolina In The Morning

Monday, April 06, 2009

Victor Borge

I found this today in the British Heart Foundation shop in Chester for a little over a pound. Its a 10 inch LP on the Philips label from the mid 50's recorded in concert in Boston. I have a other records and CD by him so surprised I havent featured him before now on this blog. Certainly an aquired taste but very funny use of language especillay his "Phonetic Punctuation" which sadly is not included here. I will have to upload that some other time.

Wikipedia says -

"Borge was born Børge Rosenbaum in Copenhagen, Denmark, into a Jewish family. His parents, Bernhard and Frederikke Rosenbaum, were both musicians (his father was a violinist in the Royal Danish Chapel, and his mother played piano), Borge took up piano like his mother at the age of 3, and it was soon apparent that he was a prodigy. He gave his first piano recital when he was 8 years old, and in 1918 was awarded a full scholarship at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, studying under Olivo Krause. Later on, he was taught by Victor Schiøler, Liszt's student Frederic Lamond, and Busoni's pupil Egon Petri.

Borge played his first major concert in 1926 at the Danish concert-hall Odd Fellow Palæet (The Odd Fellow Mansion). After a few years as a classical concert pianist, he started his now famous "stand up" act, with the signature blend of piano music and jokes. He married American Elsie Chilton in 1933, the same year he debuted with his revue acts. Borge started touring extensively in Europe, where he began telling anti-Nazi jokes.

When the Nazis occupied Denmark during World War II, Borge was playing a concert in Sweden, and managed to escape to Finland. He traveled to America on the USS American Legion, the last neutral ship to make it out of Petsamo, Finland, and arrived August 28, 1940 with only 20 dollars, three of which went to the customs fee. Disguised as a sailor, Borge returned to Denmark once during the occupation to visit his dying mother.
Even though Borge didn't speak a word of English upon arrival, he quickly managed to adapt his jokes to the American audience, learning English by watching movies. He took the name of Victor Borge, and, in 1941, he started on Rudy Vallee's radio show, but was hired soon after by Bing Crosby for his Kraft Music Hall.

From then on, it went quickly for Borge, who won Best New Radio Performer of the Year in 1942. Soon after the award, he was offered film roles with stars such as Frank Sinatra (in Higher and Higher). While hosting The Victor Borge Show on NBC from 1946, he "developed many of his trademarks, including repeatedly announcing his intent to play a piece but getting "distracted" by something or other, making comments about the audience, or discussing the usefulness of Chopin's Minute Waltz as an eggtimer. Or he would start out with some well-known classical piece like Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" op. 27 and suddenly drift into a harmonically suitable pop or jazz tune like "Night and Day" (Cole Porter)."

Discover more about Victor Borge HERE.

Victor Borge - Side One

Victor Borge - Side Two

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tom Lehrer

A rather scratchy LP I bought today at Crewe flea market for a quid. This was recorded before an audience in 1965 in a San Franciscian night club. Based on songs he wrote for satirical TV show called "That Was The Week That Was" not to be confused by the Britsih show of the same name.

Here's what Wikipedia says about him-

"As an undergraduate student at Harvard University, he began to write comic songs to entertain his friends, including "Fight Fiercely, Harvard" (1945). Those songs later became (in a joking reference to a leading scientific journal) The Physical Revue. Influenced mainly by musical theater, his style consisted of parodying the then-current forms of popular song. For example, his appreciation of list songs led him to set the names of the chemical elements to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Major General's Song".
Inspired by the success of his performances of his songs, he paid for some studio time to record an album, Songs by Tom Lehrer, which he sold by mail order. Self-published and unpromoted, the album, which included the macabre ("I Hold Your Hand In Mine"), the mildly risqué ("Be Prepared"), and the mathematical ("Lobachevsky"), became a success via word of mouth. With a cult hit, he embarked on a series of concert tours and released a second album, which came in two versions: the songs were the same but More Songs by Tom Lehrer was studio-recorded, while An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer was recorded live in concert.
By the early 1960s Lehrer had retired from touring (which he intensely disliked) and was employed as the resident songwriter for the US edition of That Was The Week That Was (TW3), a satirical TV show. An increased proportion of his output became overtly political, or at least topical, on subjects such as pollution ("Pollution"), Vatican II ("The Vatican Rag"), race relations ("National Brotherhood Week"), American militarism ("Send the Marines") and nuclear proliferation ("Who's Next?" and "We Will All Go Together When We Go"). He also wrote a song which satirized the alleged amorality of Wernher von Braun. A selection of these songs was released in the album That Was The Year That Was."

Find out more about Tom Lehrer HERE.

Tom Lehrer - What Ever Happened To Hubert?

Tom Lehrer - New Math

Tom Lehrer - Alma

Tom Lehrer - Who's Next?

Tom Lehrer - The Vatican Rag