Saturday, May 31, 2008

Anna Russell

I found this book by Anna Russell at a flea market in the car park of Southend United football club some years ago. At the time I was drawn to the grimacing face on the cover and was delighted to find a pocket in the back of the book contained a 45 r.p.m. disc featuring two songs and a skit about learning to play the french horn.
Anna Russell was born in London in 1911 and attended the Royal College of Music. She pursued the concert career as a lyric soprano and when the war broke out in 1939 she and her family moved to Canada. She appeared on local radio stations and entertained the troups and was soon writing and arranging her own songs. She moved to New York to further her career but wasn't getting very far so took the bold step in 1948 of hiring the New York Town Hall with a capacity of 1,500. Only 250 of her friends turned up but the critics gave her some good reviews. In 1951 she tried again and this time the venue was almost full and the critics acclaimed her as one of the funniest women of her generation. She has sung with many great orchestras and in many operas and her own Broadway show.
She has since retired and moved to Australia.

Anna Russell - Dripping With Gore

Anna Russell - Miserable

Anna Russell - French Horn

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bobby Thompson ( The Little Waster )

I found this today in the Age Concern shop for 75p. The accent is a bit hard going at times and one can see why he really didn't mean much outside of his North East England patch.

"Famous for his broad North-east accent, self-deprecating humour and mastery of the mother-in-law joke, Thompson was affectionately known as The Little Waster due to his short stature. His most famous outfit was a worn out stripey jumper and flat cap. His ever-present Woodbine cigarette stub, hanging from the corner of his mouth, was also an integral part of his on-stage persona.

His attempts to move beyond North East England were limited by his accent and the regional bias of his humour, although he did enjoy some success with the BBC show, Wot Cheor Geordie, and with regular appearances on Sunday Night at the London Palladium."

He was also renowned for his problems with the tax man. He incorporated this in his stage act.

Problems with drink, finances and his health affected his career in the 1970s, but he remained a North East favourite, particularly on the club scene, until shortly before his death.

Discover more about Bobby Thompson HERE.

Bobby Thompson - The Little Waster

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Slim Pickins

Found this LP today at the Oxfam in Chester for a couple of quid ( three actually ) which is more than I would usually pay but I was intrigued by some of the song titles and the toxic green vinyl! Also it was signed by Slim and dedicated to someone called Hazel or maybe even Hank? Not to be confused with the american film star of the same name!

Not much to be gleaned about him on the tinternet but he still gigs around the Midlands it seems. This album is on the Westwood Recordings label in Wales and came out in 1975. It reminds a bit of The Two Ronnies when they did that spoof C&W act "Jahosophat & Jones". A nice mixture of comedy and country and western.
Other musicians on the Lp are Stewart Barnes - Lead guitar, acoustic guitar. Steve Hughes - Bass. Alan Holmes - Drums, backing vocals. Jeannie Denver - Backing vocals. Tony Cervi - Piano and an unkown ukulele player. On the sleeve nots it states "None of the musicians have been seen since".

Slim Pickins - I'm A Ladies Man

Slim Pickins - Hoot & Holler Bar & Grill

Slim Pickins - 15 Beers Ago

Slim Pickins - Kansas City Star

Slim Pickins - Make Me A Star

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Singing Dogs

Another 78 from the boot on Sunday. I remember this oddity being played on Children's Favourites on the radio when I was a nipper.

"Carl Weismann - Danish legendary pioneer bird voice recording engineer, working for the Danish State Radio in Copenhagen - HATED dogs!
Yeah, well - he hated their barking spoiling every other of his recordings of singing birds - he became a master in cutting them out of his bird tapes - in those days - the 50's - there was no other way to do it than with a pair of scissors!
So he ended up with two piles of tapes - one with bird voices and one with dog voices.
The dogs really were doomed to be thrown out - but then Carl got an idea! He cut together a tape of various toned dog barks set to the music of 'Jingle Bells'.
He had no further intentions, than it might be fun for a Danish children radio show.
HOW it in 1955 ended up on a 45 rpm with 3 other tunes 'Patty Cake', 'Three Blind Mice' and 'Oh Susanna' as a four-tune medley - I simply don’t know. But the disc was released by RCA in USA and sold 500.000 copies.
Release in Britain around the same time was on Pye-Nixa label, on a 78 rpm disc.
In Sweden it has been seen on the Metronome label.
Howard Smith, host of a four-hour talk-music show over WABC-New York FM outlet, WPLJ who liked to play anything weird or new on his program first started playing the original 45 rpm disc at Christmas 1970.
Someone found it in a Boston used record store and gave it to the father of his girlfriend. Smith played the disc for many weeks prior to Christmas 1971 and told some RCA executives at a record party about the public response to his playing their old record. RCA unearthed the original parts at their plant in Indianapolis and rushed the disc into release in early December 1971.
In 3 weeks alone it sold 420,000 copies, the combined sales through the years thus making it a million seller."

Singing Dogs - Pata-A-Cake etc.

Singing Dogs - Oh Susanna

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cranes Skiffle Group

Another 78 from the boot sale today. On the Embassy label from 1957. Cranes Skiffle Group was actually Chas McDevitt and His band who had a big hit with "Freight Train" with Nancy Whiskey singing the lead vocal that same year.

"The group had already recorded 'Freight Train' for Oriole Records; thanks to the demo discs produced by their new manager, Bill Varley. Bill ran Trio Recordings, a small studio in Tin Pan Alley. It was Varley who suggested that to get an edge over the other skiffle groups they should include a girl in their line-up. Folksinger, Nancy Whiskey, who had also appeared on the Radio Luxembourg talent competition was invited to join the group. At first reluctant to give up her folksinging, she joined the boys at the end of December 1956. They re-recorded 'Freight Train' with Nancy taking the vocals. On the same session they recorded; 'Cotton Song', 'New Orleans' and 'Don't You Rock Me Daddy O'. The last track was released on Embassy records, Oriole Records' cheap subsidiary that sold in Woolworth's. They used the pseudonym 'The Cranes Skiffle Group'. 'Worried Man', originally recorded for Embassy, whilst Jimmie MacGregor was with the group, was substituted on their second Oriole release."

Discover more about Chas McDevitt HERE.

Cranes Skiffle Group - Freight Train

Cranes Skiffle Group - Cumberland Gap

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Bobby Kimber

Found this old 78 at a boot sale today for 20p. It was recorded "Under the auspicesof the English Folk Dance and Song Society". Solo concertina. I didn't find much about Billy but a quote here about him sheds some light on his songs and his friends.

"Billy's concertina wasn't accepted by all in the side, either, being somewhat new-fangled (patented in 1844 by Sir Charles Wheatstone, though the “anglo” Billy played was probably based on a patent of 1884), but he could do Laudnum Bunches, The Blue-Eyed Stranger, Constant Billy, Country Garden, Rigs of Marlow, How D'Ye Do Sir, Bean Setting, Haste To The Wedding, Rodney, Trunkles, what some called Trunk Hose, and Draw Back. But the side's fiddler, Mark Cox, had gone off for a servant's job at Magdalen College up at Oxford, so they'd have to follow along of Merry Kimber's squeezebox, with young William Washington, the well-digger, him they called Sip, playing the fool. Youngest dancer'd be Charlie Massey, a brickmaker like his father, William, both of them known rather confusingly by the same nickname – Mac – then the two Coppocks, George, known as Spuggle, and George, known as Curly, the latter with great ambitions, later fulfilled, to have a load of men working for his building business, Billy's brother, Richard Kimber, known as Dobbin, making a great career for himself as a worker with the local district council, John Ward, known as Waggle (and you'd soon know why, if you saw him dancing), a labourer, Jim Hedges, known as Gran, a laundry delivery man, and the oldest man in the side, 54-year-old John Horwood, whose brickmaking trade gave him his nickname of Brickdust.

Discover more about Bobby Kimber HERE.

Bobby Kimber - Rodney

Bobby Kimber - Rigs Of Marlow

Bobby Kimber - Beansetting

Bobby Kimber - 29th May

These SendSpace files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sir Harry Lauder

A 10" LP on the HMV label issued in the late 50's or early 60's. The songs themselves are probably not the originals but his "hits" re-made in the 30's and 40's.

"Sir Harry Lauder (1870 - 1950), the popular singer and entertainer, who won international renown, was born at Number 4 Bridge Street, Portobello.

As a boy Lauder worked in a flax-spinning mill in Arbroath, where he attended school, and for a time he was a miner. It was in Arbroath that he first appeared on stage. He had a natural singing voice and a talent for composing simple and tuneful songs.

His stage persona depended heavily on the kilt, a curly walking-stick, and much talk of bawbees and allusions to tight-fistedness, and Lauder's critics complained that he caricatured the Scot. Be that as it may, Lauder was just as popular in his own country as he was in England and innumerable countries overseas.

Songs like Roaming in the Gloaming and Keep Right On to the End of the Road retain their magic and have become part of Scotland's folk music. He was knighted in 1919, and in 1927 received the Freedom of Edinburgh."

Something very irritating about a professional scotman like Lauder who played the part to the hilt, but nevertheless I find the mixture of music hall song and stirring highland sentiment and wimsy very attractive in an odd kind of way. Maybe I have some scottish blood in my veins somewhere?

Discover more about Sir Harry lauder HERE.

Sir Harry Lauder - Roaming In The Gloaming

Sir Harry Lauder - I Love A Lassie

Sir Harry Lauder - Stop Yer Tickling Jock

Sir Harry Lauder - The waggle O' The Kilt

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Roy Hudd

This LP is on the Flash Back series on Precision Record label from 1976.

"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. "
So says the BBC website of profiles of the stars.

Discover more about Roy Hudd HERE.

Roy Hudd - Where Did You Get That Hat?

Roy Hudd - While London Sleeps

Roy Hudd - It's A Great Big Shame

Roy Hudd - The Future Mrs. Awkins

Roy Hudd - The Hole In The Elephant's Bottom

These SendSpace files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Chris Barber

An LP on the Decca "Ace Of Clubs" label from the late 50's with songs from guests Lonnie Donegan who also plays banjo on some tracks and Ottilie Patterson.

"British jazz trombonist Chris Barber celebrated his 50th year as a bandleader in 1999. Inspired by the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band, Chris formed his first Barber New Orleans Band in 1949 at the age of nineteen. In 1953, along with Monty Sunshine and Lonnie Donegan, he joined forces with Ken Colyer. Then, with the replacement of Colyer by Pat Halcox, Ken Colyer's Jazzmen became Chris Barber's Jazz Band in 1954 and has been one of Europe's most successful traditional jazz bands ever since.
Over the years, Chris Barber's Jazz Band evolved into the Chris Barber Jazz and Blues Band, a rich eight-piece group, blending brass, reeds, and electric guitar into a unique and unmistakable mix of blues and jazz. And despite being 'on the slide' since 1949, having performed over 10,000 concerts and made thousands of recordings, the Chris Barber Jazz & Blues Band keeps marching on, right into the 21st century. At the end of 2001 Chris extended his band with three more musicians into The BIG Chris Barber Band."

Discover more about Chris Barber HERE.

Chris Barber - Bobbie Shaftoe

Chris Barber - Rock Island Line

Chris Barber - New Orleans Blues

Chris Barber - John Henry

Chris Barber - Stevedore Stomp

These SendSpace files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Wout Steenhuis

Found this today in a charity shop for a few pence. I remember Wout in the 60's guesting on radio shows like "Saturday Club" and "Forces favourites". It's a bit too MOR for me but I know a lot of people love this sort of thing. He's still going strong apparently and recently featured on the Cannon & Ball website -

"Wout hails from Holland but settled in England shortly after the war. In his native country he was already known as the guitarist of the famous Orchestra of the Dutch Swing College (still going strong today). At the end of the war his Dutch Resistance activities caught up with him and a serious shot wound could well have ended his career. But, thanks to treatment in a British Army hospital, his arm was saved and he could play his guitar again,

His early reputation was as a solo Jazz, Ballad and Hawaiian guitarist, but in addition his claim to fame now are his multi-track performances. Shades of Les Paul, maybe, but there is one vital difference: Wout sings and plays everything himself, using a choir of his own voices, guitars, Hawaiian guitar, drums, bass, electric and acoustic pianos, organ, ukelele, and latin-american rhythm instruments, all recorded in his own stereo studios. A one-man orchestra and choir is the end product.

From the stage/cabaret floor Wout controls the playing of backing tapes which contain his own pre-recorded orchestral and vocal accompaniments. At the same time, live through his own mixer/amplifier/mike equipment he adds the melody lines on guitar, Hawaiian guitar and vocals. It is not just a gimmick, but an impressive live performance in which he reproduces the sounds and songs audiences know so well from his records and broadcasts. AND: he is self-contained - needs no backing, bandcalls or p.a.

His material ranges from top-twenty songs to ballads and Hawaiian (Wout's speciality) and includes vocals, not just in English but where required in French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Hawaiian and Maori. His easy-going chat and amusing stories linking his songs and his sounds deserve special mention. Altogether a style which particularly suits "middle of the road" audiences in theatres and clubs."

You can find the whole album at Rapidshare HERE.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Howdy Doody Time

"The Howdy Doody Show was one of the first and easily the most popular children's television show in the 1950s and a reflection of the wonder, technical fascination, and business realities associated with early television. While Howdy and his friends entertained American children, they also sold television sets to American parents and demonstrated the potential of the new medium to advertisers.

The idea for Howdy Doody began on the NBC New York radio affiliate WEAF in 1947 with a program called The Triple B Ranch. The three Bs stood for Big Brother Bob Smith, who developed the country bumpkin voice of a ranch hand and greeted the radio audience with, "Oh, ho, ho, howdy doody." Martin Stone, Smith's agent, suggested putting Howdy on television and presented the idea to NBC televi-sion programming head Warren Wade. With Stone and Roger Muir as producers, Smith launched Puppet Playhouse on 17 December 1947. Within a week the name of the program was changed to The Howdy Doody Show."

A strange record on the the Leslee label from the 60's I would guess by the graphics. A weird mixture of newsreel from the 50's and 60's and cut between songs and segments of a puppet show for children! Not quite sure who it is aimed at. Certainly a curiosity and I uplaod both sides here for your bewilderment!

Howdy Doody Time - Side One

Howdy Doody Time - Side Two

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