Monday, October 31, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
A 4 LP boxed set of George's finest work released on the World Record label in 1977.
Wikipedia says -
"Formby was born at 3 Westminster Street, Wigan, Lancashire, as George Hoy Booth, the eldest of seven surviving children (four girls and three boys). Formby was born blind due to an obstructive caul; his sight was restored during a violent coughing fit or sneeze when he was a few months old. His father James Booth used the stage name George Formby, adopted from the town of Formby, Lancashire, and was one of the great music hall comedians of his day, fully the equal of his son's later success. His father, not wishing him to watch his performances, moved the family to Atherton Road in Hindley, near Wigan, and it was from there that Formby was apprenticed as a jockey when he was seven and rode his first professional race aged ten when he weighed under 4 stone (56 lb; 25 kg).
The family then moved to Stockton Heath, Warrington on a property on London Road. It was from there that George Formby Jr. embarked on his career in entertainment.
On the death of his father in 1921, Formby abandoned his career as a jockey and started his own music hall career using his father's material. He originally called himself George Hoy (the name of his maternal grandfather, who originally came from Newmarket, Suffolk, a famous horseracing town, where the family were involved in racehorse training). In 1924 he married dancer Beryl Ingham, who managed his career (and it is said his personal life to an intolerable degree—see biographies below) until her death in 1960. He allegedly took up the ukulele, for which he was later famous, as a hobby; he first played it on stage for a bet."
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
"Gerard Hoffnung (22 March 1925 – 25 September 1959) was an artist and musician, best known for his humorous works.
Born in Berlin, and named Gerhard, he was the only child of a well-to-do Jewish couple, Hildegard and Ludwig Hoffnung. In 1939, his parents left Germany, initially for Florence and then for London, where he attended Highgate School, while his father went to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine to enter the family's banking business. (This temporary separation became permanent as a consequence of World War II.)
Hoffnung died of a cerebral haemorrhage only 20 years after arriving in England but filled those two decades with considerable achievements as - amongst other things - a cartoonist, tuba player, impresario, broadcaster and public speaker, much sought after by the Oxford and CambridgeUnions.
Hoffnung published a series of books of cartoons poking gentle fun at conductors and orchestral instrumentalists. After his death, some of these were turned into a short animated film by Halas and Batchelor under the title The Hoffnung Symphony Orchestra, which won a number of awards in 1965-66.
He created three Hoffnung Music Festivals held at the Royal Festival Hall in London. These featured contributions from distinguished "serious" musicians. Compositions specially commissioned for the Festivals included Malcolm Arnold's A Grand, Grand Overture, Op. 57 ] which was dedicated to U.S. President Herbert Hoover and was scored for several vacuum cleaners and other domestic appliances. Franz Reizenstein'sConcerto Popolare was described as "The Piano Concerto to end all Piano Concertos". William Walton conducted a one-note excerpt from his oratorio Belshazzar's Feast: the word, "Slain!" shouted by the chorus."
Tracks are -
1. Excerpt from "Belshazzar's Feast (William Walton)
2. Horrortorio (Joseph Horovitz)
3. Mobile for Seven Orchestras (Lawrence leonard)
Monday, October 17, 2011
This LP on the World Record label is a compilation of songs by the scottish comedian Will Fyffe which I always get mixed up with Sir Harry Lauder. Mostly from the late 20's and early 30's.
"He started his career in childhood touring with his father's dramatic company and made his debut as Little Willie in East Lynne.
At 15 he played Polonius in Shakespeares Hamlet. He then moved to the Music Halls doing sketches featuring Scottish characters many of which were recorded on to 78 rpm records. He appeared at the London Pavilion in 1921 and also appeared in a number of films during the 1930's.
He was presented with the C.B.E. for entertaining the troops during World War 2. He is best known for his recording of "I Belong To Glasgow" but made many other fine recordings demonstrating that he had an excellent singing voice and in my opinion was a superior entertainer to the better known Sir Harry Lauder."
Saturday, October 08, 2011
"Sparky was portrayed in the first three episodes in the series by Henry Blair, but was later voiced by Lee LeDoux and June Foray. The series was produced by Alan Livingston with orchestration by Billy May. The piano pieces on Sparky's Magic Piano were performed by Ray Turner. The voice of the piano was generated by Sonovox, an early version of the talk box. The series also featured many voices familiar to fans of Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons, as well as notable Capitol music artists, such as Stan Kenton.
Sparky albums were originally released on standard shellac 10-inch 78 RPM records, usually with three discs in each album and sold in the book-like covers, whence the term “album” originates. These six-sided record albums had a total playing time of about 20 minutes. In later years, the series was reissued on vinyl 78, 45, LP, and CD.
Sparky’s Magic Piano was the most popular album in the series. It is one of the few children’s albums of the period to remain available. Therefore the original 78s have a relatively low collectors' value. However it is not easy to acquire a complete set of the original wax records. The wax records are distinguishable by their black Capitol labels. Vinyl 78 versions are more common, with purple Capitol labels and sometimes a “Bozo Approved” logo in the corner of the album cover.
The unusual popularity of Sparky’s Magic Piano can be attributed to the fact that the album is not only an excellent work of children’s fantasy; it also has a useful moral that was inspirational to any child practising a musical instrument or studying classical music. Thus the album is a practical teaching tool as well as entertainment.
Because of the success of Sparky’s Magic Piano, two of the subsequent Sparky albums (Sparky's Music Mix-up and Sparky's Magic Baton) also involved talking musical instruments giving lessons for music students. Therefore the series seems to have taken a different direction to that which may have been originally intended. (The first album about talking trains was not musical, and was more dramatic than educational.)"
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Another of those mysterious records from Brick Lane flea market I think that caught my eye. Though the sleeve art is pretty subdued - no palm trees and exotic looking dusky maidens just the words "Patois Jazz" is enough to make me wonder what this might sound like. I must admit the general ambience of the tunes here fall into the cocktail lounge variety. Here is the whole of side one for your listening pleasure..
1. Mambo Cop Suey
2. Mambo Metronome
3. Eastern Conga
4. Off Beat
5. If Sorrow Fills My Heart
6. Clem's Confusion
The sleeve notes by Red Camp say-
"Who else but Rupert would keep the same off-beat two measures going for three and a half minutes under his own vocal? What's more, almost everyone so far likes it; and that's what's so disturbing. Neither of the two vocals is sung. The one with the syncopated perpetual motion is a rather involved story called "Clem's Confusion" relating various adventures with a kind of international harem which descend on innocent him whilst walking down Park Street. Strictly speaking, this is more of a recitation than a song - but not to be confused with the school room type.
What Rupert does with his voice on "Chop Suey Mambo"(sic), the other one, must remain completely unclassified.
Rupert Clemendore - Side One
His home page says -
"Wes McGhee was born in Leicestershire, England, began playing guitar with a local band when he was only 13 years old, graduated to playing in German rock clubs by the age of 18 and secured his first major record deal - with a division of Pye Records - three years later. His determination to marry psychedelic rock with country music did not endear him to the company, however, and he spent seven frustrating years locked into a contract while no records were being released.
During this time Wes put together the first version of what became his long-time backing band and recorded his first album (Long Nights and Banjo Music) once he was free from his old deal. Having developed an aversion to big record companies, he formed his own Terrapin Records label and subsequently released four other albums during the next six years."
Find out more about Wes HERE.
Tracks are -
1. Whisky Is My Driver
2. Texas No. 1
3. (They Used To Say) Train Time
4. Tear Stained Letter
Wes McGhee - Side Two
An LP I found at a boot sale a while back from 1965- recorded before an invited audience on the World Record Club label. Roy is joined by Doug Fisher, Sheila Steafel and Jock Druncan. Musical arrangements and direction by Norman Percival. I love the Singing Postman inspired song here "Peeping Tom" that sounds exactly like him!
"A famous face in showbiz for thirty five years, Roy Hudd is natural comedy entertainer, a talented actor, playwright, sketch-writer, and performer.
He broke into TV appearing on Not So Much A Programme, More A Way of Life, but found wider fame with 1969’s The Roy Hudd Show.
Since 1975 The News Huddlines has had an amazing run on Radio 2, and is something of an institution. Although it's currently off-air, it will be back next year.
Roy's work as a dramatic actor in television has also won him praise. Dennis Potter's Lipstick on your Collar proved a huge success. This led to his most endearing dramatic role, again written for him by Potter, that of Spoonerism-afflicted Ben Baglin in Karaoke.
Roy was recently seen as Archie Shuttleworth in Coronation Street."
Tracks as follows -
1. Notice To Quit
2. Peeping Tom
3. Share My Garden With Me
4. Please Put A Penny
5. The Society Wedding Stakes
6. Bus Driver
7. A Stroll Down Memory Lane
Roy Hudd - Side One
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Another boot sale find on the York Records label from 1972. Larry sings few oldies including the Marrow Song we heard recently from Billy Cotton and Co. Also some songs written especially for him featuring characters from his stage act.
"Born in Banbury in 1923 to unmarried parents, (he never met his father), ten days after he was born he was adopted by Alice and Jim Hammond, a poor, coal mining family in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. His foster mother died when he was six years old and he was raised by his eldest foster sister, Flo. When he was eight he discovered that his mysterious aunt Ethel was in fact his natural mother, though he always considered Flo as his mother.
He left school at the age of 14, and was soon working professionally under the name of Billy Breen as a supporting drag act on the comedy club circuit, and over the next thirty years he toured the UK not only in male revues and drag shows, but also in variety shows.
Grayson was one of the first television comedians to suggest a openly gay persona. He did not achieve stardom until he was in his fifties and had his own television show. An early TV appearance in the 1950s had led to many complaints about his act being too outrageous and Grayson had resigned himself to a career off television. He was very popular in review and working men's clubs with a unique and very gentle anecdotal style of comedy. It was usually based around his various 'friends' such as Everard, Apricot Lil, Slack Alice and the postman 'Pop it in Pete'. A lot of this was observational. Grayson's family had had the only telephone on the street as a kid and he used to listen to his neighbours using the phone.
Following a hit run of guest spots on ATV variety shows in the 1970s, he was rewarded by Lew Grade with his own award winning show, Shut That Door! (1975).
Grayson's popularity peaked when he moved over to the BBC to present The Generation Game in 1978."
Discover more about Larry Grayson HERE.
Tracks are as follows -
1. Apricot Lil
2. I've Got It Here
3. Everard's Birthday Party
4. Just A Gigolo
5. Slack Alice
6. The Marrow
Larry Grayson - Side Two
I found this LP at a boot sale a few years ago. Released on the Chandos label in 1980. Sadly the gate-fold sleeve has been stuck together after being left in the rain so trying to read the sleeve notes is made quite difficult. No information about them could be gleaned from the internet so as far as can make out they were formed in 1978 by Mr. Anthony Godwin, bass clarinettist with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. He had inherited a complete library of theatre music dating from 1880 to 1930 and it's from this that their repetoire is mainly drawn. They try and re-create the sound and atmostphere of those early days by using instruments of that era.
Myette Godwin (daughter of Anthony Godwin ) writes -
"When I was 14 years old my Father, Anthony Godwin and Mother, Patricia Godwin started the highly popular and successful Palm Court Theatre Orchestra. Our home became a constant theatre production line with all family members engaged in costume making, painting stage sets and making props. During School holidays I got to sing with these amazing musicians and performers and tour with the company. I got to perform as part of the Palm Court Theatre Orchestra for the opening of the Orient Express in Paris, The Barbican in London, The Park Lane and Savoy Hotels and many theatres up and down the country. My sister, Saskia Godwin (recently graduated from RADA and currently working as DSM for the Mouse Trap in Londons West End) and I sang as a duo on many of the occasions either dressed as Victorian maids or as 1920s,30s 40s girls. I also appear on one of the recordings as a peasant and roisterer. My parents started this highly theatrical Orchestra after inheriting a very rare library of music from 19th and 20th centuries. This library had belonged to my granddad Norman Herbert Godwin, a conductor of light orchestras in the West Country. His entire family were on the stage in one way or another including his mother Grandma Godwin. As soon as the children could walk they were given an instrument to play in the concert entertainment to put food on the table and prevent the fears of entering the workhouse. The Great Grandmothers show was called Grandmas Birthday and every child was involved, this became a countrywide touring company. There was a bit of snobbery later between family members who went into classical music rather than the Music Hall I am very proud of them all and think it amazing to have run a touring theatre company in the Victorian and Edwardian era all that washing costumes by hand and travelling by steam train!? "
Tracks are as follows -
1. Whistle For Me (1912) - Written by Arthur Fane
2. In The Shadows (1910) - : : Herman Finck
3. Polly (1926) - : : J. S. Zamecnik
4. Down In Zanzibar (1917) : : Charles W. Ancliffe
5. The Ragtime Bass Player-(1913) : Adolph Lotter
6. Two Little Sausages (1907) : : Lionel Monckton
7. In A Persian Market (1920) : : Albert W. Ketelbey
Palm Court Theatre Orch. - Side Two
A big calypso favourite - Sparrow ( The Mighty Sparrow ) here on a Ra label LP from 1974. A few instrumental Soca tracks on side two of this disc which is unusual.
Wikipedia says -
"Sparrow was born in Grenada on July 9, 1935, but moved to Trinidad when he was one year old. His birth name is Slinger Francisco. He grew up in Port of Spain.
He was first exposed to music through the choir in Catholic school, and became interested in calypso at 14 when he joined a steel band composed of neighborhood boys. He received his performing name "The Mighty Sparrow" during his early career:
Your calypso name is given to you by your peers, based on your style. In the old days they tried to emulate British royalty. There was Lord Kitchener, Lord Nelson, Duke. When I started singing, the bands were still using acoustic instruments and the singers would stand flat footed, making a point or accusing someone in the crowd with the pointing of a finger, but mostly they stood motionless. When I sing, I get excited and move around, much like James Brown, and this was new to them. The older singers said "Why don't you just sing instead of moving around like a little Sparrow." It was said as a joke, but the name stuck.
In 1956, Sparrow won Trinidad's Carnival Road March and Calypso Monarch competitions with his most famous song, "Jean and Dinah". His prize for the latter was $40. In protest of the small sum, he wrote the song "Carnival Boycott" and attempted to organize other singers to boycott the competition. About half of the singers followed. Sparrow claims credit for succeeding improvements in the conditions of calypso and steelband musicians in Trinidad, as well as the formation of the Carnival Development Committee, a musicians' assistance organization. Sparrow refused to participate in the competition for the next three years, but he continued to perform unofficially, even winning another Road March title in 1958 with "P.A.Y.E."
Tracks are -
1. Letter From Miami
2. Heavy Jamming
3. Peace Pipe
5. Coldest Day Of My Life
6. We Pass That Stage
Sparrow - Side Two
A compilation of big hits in Brazil in the late 50's on the Columbia label. Giving a snapshot of what was popular back then - a mix of home grown Samba and other latin rhythms and imported American pop with the likes of Johnny Mathis and Jo Stafford etc.
Wikipedia says -
"The music of Brazil encompasses various regional music styles influenced by African, European and Amerindian forms. After 500 years of history, Brazilian music developed some unique and original styles such as samba, zouk-lambada, lambada, choro, bossa nova, frevo, maracatu, MPB, sertanejo, Brazilian rock, axé, brega, and others. Samba has become the best known form of Brazilian music worldwide, especially because of the country's carnival, although bossa nova, which had Antônio Carlos Jobim as one of its most acclaimed composers and performers, have received much attention abroad since the 1950s, when the song Desafinado, interpreted by João Gilberto, was first released. Instrumental music is also largely practiced in Brazil, with styles ranging from classical to popular and jazz influenced forms, featuring composers like Heitor Villa-Lobos, Pixinguinha and Hermeto Pascoal. The country also has a growing community of modern/experimental composition, including electroacoustic music."
Tracks are -
1. Siete Notas De Amor - Trio Los Panchos
2. Jambalaya - Jo Stafford
3. Serenata Do Adeus - Silvio Caldas
4. A Certain Smile - JohnnY Mathis
5. Noite - Cauby Peixoto
6. Lamento - Alexandre Gnattali
As Doze Mais - Side One
I have featured Billy Cotton several times and happy to do so again - being a strong memory of my childhood and youth when his radio and TV shows seemed to be all pervading! Very nostalgic memories of Sunday lunchtimes with the family sat down at the dining table and this playing in the background usually followed by Round The Horne or Ken Dodd.
"William Edward Cotton (May 6, 1899 – March 25, 1969), better known as Billy Cotton, was a British band leader and entertainer, one of the few whose orchestra survived the dance band era. Today, he is mainly remembered as a 1950s and 60s radio and television personality, although his musical talent emerged as early as the 1920s. In his younger years Billy Cotton was also an amateur footballer, an accomplished racing driver and the owner of a Gipsy Moth which he piloted himself.
Born in Lambeth, London, Cotton was a choirboy and then started his musical career as a drummer, an occupation he also pursued in the army during the First World War. In the interwar years he had several jobs such as bus driver before setting up his own orchestra, the London Savannah Band, in 1924. At first a straight dance band, over the years the London Savannah Band more and more tended towards Music Hall/vaudeville entertainment, introducing all sorts of visual and verbal humour in between songs. Famous musicians that played in Billy Cotton's band during the 1920s and 30s included Arthur Rosebery, Syd Lipton and Nat Gonella. The band was also noted for their African American trombonist and tap dancer, Ellis Jackson. Their signature tune was "Somebody Stole My Gal", and they made numerous records – 78s, that is – for Decca.
During the Second World War Cotton and his band toured France with the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). After the war, he started his successful Sunday lunchtime radio show on BBC, the Billy Cotton Band Show, which ran for more than 20 years from 1949. It regularly opened with the band's signature tune and Cotton's call of "Wakey Wakey". From 1957, it was also broadcast on BBC television.
In 1962 Billy Cotton suffered a stroke. He died in 1969 while watching a boxing match at Wembley."
Tracks are as follws -
1. Someone Else I'd Like To Be
2. Boom Song
3. Why Worry
4. There's Another Hole In The Road
5. The Queen's Horses
6. Good Luck, Good health, God Bless You
Billy Cotton Band - Side Two
Sunday, October 02, 2011
Aimed at children this LP on the Mr. Pickwick label (1978)is a strange pseudo educational record - a series which intends to shed light on the lives of famous Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ford etc. with stories, songs and sound effects. This LP about Thomas Edison the inventor makes hardly any sense atall. A trite story about a little boy who was fond of burning down barns and sitting on eggs to make them hatch?!
Thomas Edison - Side One