Friday, November 20, 2009

Frank Crumit

"b. 26 September 1889, Jackson, Ohio, USA, d. 7 September 1943, Longmeadow, Massachusetts, USA. Crumit's early career took a somewhat unusual route from the Culver Military Academy, Indiana, via the University of Ohio, into vaudeville as the One Man Glee Club. First recording in 1919 for the Columbia label, he later signed for Victor Records in 1924 and shortly after for Decca. Crumit played the ukulele, sang in a soft, warm voice, and was especially noted for his performance of novelty numbers, such as A Gay Caballero, Abdul Abulbul Amir (and the follow-ups, The Return Of… and The Grandson Of . . .), The Prune Song, There's No One With Endurance Like The Man Who Sells Insurance, Connie's Got Connections In Connecticut, Nettie Is The Nit-Wit Of The Networks and What Kind Of A Noise Annoys An Oyster?. He is supposed to have written thousands of songs and adapted many others such as Frankie And Johnny and Little Brown Jug to suit his individual style. Crumit enjoyed great popularity throughout the '20s and '30s, appearing in several Broadway shows, including GREENWICH VILLAGE FOLLIES. He also appeared in TANGERINE with his future wife, Julia Sanderson. They married in 1927 and retired from show business for two years. Following their comeback in 1929, they were extremely successful together on radio in the '30s as the Singing Sweethearts, and in 1939 began THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES game show which continued until Crumit's death in 1943."

Frank Crumit - Connie's Got Connections In Connecticut

Frank Crumit - A Gay Caballero

Frank Crumit - Sissy

Frank Crumit - Abdul Abulbul Amir

Frank Crumit - Nettie Is The Nit-Wit Of The Networks

Frank Crumit - King Of Borneo

Monday, November 16, 2009

Piano Jazz - Barrel House and Boogie Woogie

An LP on the Coral label I picked up in a Woolies sale about 38 years ago . I have always had a soft spot for some boogie woogie piano and some prime examples here by the likes of Pine Top Smith, Montana Taylor, Speckled Red and Cow Cow Davenport etc.

The copious sleeve notes say-

"Whoever thought of the word "boogie-woogie" (generally credited to Pinetop Smith who first used it on a recording included here ) certainly hit on one of those ideally onomatopoeic words. The forceful reetitious character of the word is boogie-woogie exactly, which relies on it's insistent bass figure for most of it's character and a blues-like repetition of the treble figure, more percussive than melodic. The conformity to the eight-to-the-bar bass and the twelve bar blues sequence might be thought to constrict the music; on the contrary it gives the utmost freedom and an endless permutation of variations which some of the modernist with their eleutheromania have failed to see."

It goes on -

"Montana Taylor made Detroit Rocks and Indiano Avenue Stomp for Vocalion in Chicago on April23, 1929. Nothing is known of his life; like so many folk artists he was active before the historians got to work and, if it hadn't been for these recordings we would have known nothing of him.

Speckled Red, whose real name is Rufus Perryman, is no less mysterious in origin. The Dirty Dozens No.1 was recorded in 1929 and No. 2 in 1930, and are his own compositions built around an old folklore rhyme which comprised of a set way of insulting and being insulted by someone with whom you'd had a bitter quarrel....

Romeo Nelson completes a trio of jazz ghosts. He was known to have lived in Chicago and recorded a few songs for Vocalion in 1929. Head Rag Hop, made on September 3rd that year, is a piano jazz classic on which Nelson makes the spoken commentary as well as playing, in an exciting and intricate piece of music."

Montana Taylor - Detroit Boogie

Montana Taylor - Indiana Avenue Stomp

Speckled Red - The Dirty Dozen No. 1

Speckled Red - The Dirty Dozen No. 2

Speckled Red - Wilkins Street Stomp

Romeo Nelson - Head Rag Hop

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eddy Okonta

An LP found some years ago in Brick Lane flea market. Nigerian highlife on the Phonodisk label from the 80's one assumes from the album title "Page One '81".
Here's the first side in all it's pressed off centre glory.

Remembering Eddy Okonta, the Obi of trumpet
By Benson Idonije

"IF Eddy Okonta, the late great trumpeter and highlife musician were still alive, today's musicians would be learning the technique of articulating 'rhythm' as an essential musical component at his feet. While he lived, he pretty well appreciated the fact that the main essence of African music is 'rhythm' and he used it to full advantage, thoroughly Africanising his own brand of highlife in the process.

He had served an initial apprenticeship with the Sammy Akpabot Sexlet, an aggregation that revolved this same name even as it increased or diminished with time. He was there with the late Oba Funso Adeolu on auto and tenor saxophones. He enjoyed sharing solos with him while bandleader Akpabot himself provided an ideal background for highlife and dance music to blossom with his dexterity on the vibraphone, an instrument which only Akpabot could play at the time in the whole of West Africa.

As an instrument, the vibes has a special way of resonating sounds and floating them through harmonies and arrangements. But Eddy's high notes helped to put all the reverberation in check for dancing and easy listening.

Eddy later served a long term of apprenticeship with the late Bobby Benson of Africa, this time culminating in outstanding professional musicianship, with proficiency in arranging and composing. He not only put the final polish to his accomplishment with the Bobby Benson Jam Session where he stood out the way Chief Bill Friday and Zeal Onyia before him did, his artisting now reached its apotheosis in the area of improvisational design. He began to use the vast resources of his creativity to construct solos that contained revolutionary melodic language and rhythmic subtlety.

As one of the pioneering big bands in the country, the Bobby Benson Jam session offered all its graduates a well rounded musical experience and discipline as they were exposed to all dance music forms including swing, Latin American , Jazz, Afro Cuban, the ball room type that dominated the colonial era with the music of Joe Loss and Victor Sylvester, and all."

Eddy Okonta - Otanjele

Eddy Okonta - Sweet Sherry

Eddy Okonta - Enjoyment

The City Quads (re-up)

I can't believe I haven't uploaded some tracks from this LP before. Its one I found at Brick Lane flea market many years ago for a few pence. Its on the Polydor label and made in what was Rhodesia and is now a troubled Zimbabwe. Sleeve printed in Germany. No date but imagine it would be late 50's or early 60's.

No info. on the internet so just a little information on the sleeve notes.

" Polydor presents a unique collection of popular African tunes sung ina variety of native languages by one of the best known vocal groups in Rhodesia, The City Quads. The performance you hear on this LP could be called a mixture of African folklore and pop songs of a kind one is always likely to hear wherever people gather together in an African township."

The music in particular-

LINDEA - (sung in Shona ) Love songs are always popular, and this one is a most tender example.

LIZOFIKANINI LANGA - (sung in Sindebele ) This is a sort of non-political spiritual and tells of an oppressed people's longing for the day when they will be free.

IDALALAKECE - (sung in Sindebele ) Now we have a gay wedding song. There is much shouting and cheering because the young girl is to be married.

BALELE EYAYA - (sung in Sindebele ) This is a son g about a policeman who is alays pounding the beat and writin g in his little book, but who never has time to write home to his family.

LA MULELA - ( sung in Xhosa ) Here we have a song about animals fighting; "unless they are broken apart one of them will have his tail cut off!"

RUDO - (sung in Shona ) The lyrics of this song say: "There couldn't be anyone better than you. Your love haunts me even when you are not there."

NYATELU UGIHILE - (sung in Xhosa ) Another wedding song. Here we are told it is customary for a girl to sing the first song.

The City Quads - Lindea

The City Quads - Lizofikanini Langa

The City Quads - Idalalakece

The City Quads - Balele Ekaya

The City Quads - La Mulela

The City Quads - Rudo

The City Quads - Nyatelu Ugihile

Asiawaka Brass Band (re-up)

I think this LP on the Drobisco label was found at Brick Lane in the 80's or 90"s. Not sure of the date. Ghanain "Highlife" played on brass instruments which is unusual I think - I certainly havent found any others. The internet isn't much help this time and no mention of Asiakwa except that it is a village in Ghana.

Discover more about the music of Ghana HERE.

Asiawaka Brass Band - Nsuo Amona

Bobby Thompson ( The Little Waster ) (re-up )

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.

Buy CD's and DVD's at his son Keith's site HERE.

Bobby Thompson - The Army

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Adge Cutler & The Wurzels

I found this some time ago in a local charity shop for 75p. I have uploaded some tracks before by the Wurzels but they have long since dried up. This was on the Starline label culled from tracks frommthe 60's and the early 70's called "Don't Tell I, Tell 'Ee".

"Born Alan John Cutler in Bristol in 1930, he spent his early life in the small town of Nailsea in Somerset, and one of his first jobs involved working for a local cider mill — but, influenced by Len Uke Thomas (a local Bristol comic singer and entertainer) and a stint on the road as Acker Bilk's road manager, he took to a career in music. Armed only with a few songs he had written, in June 1966 he approached agent John Miles, who helped put together the band the Wurzels with guitarist and banjo player Reg Quantrill, accordionist Reg Chant, double bass player John Macey, and Brian Murphy on the wurzelphone — in reality a tuba. One of the first songs they played live was Cutler's composition "Twice Daily" — about a shotgun wedding between a young farmhand and the farmer's daughter Lucy Bailey — which was later to be banned from radio play by the BBC owing to its risqué lyrical content.

Encouraged by the local sales in the West Country, EMI nationally released the single "Drink Up Thy Zider" backed with "Twice Daily" and saw it scrape into the bottom of the chart at number 45, quickly followed by the album Adge Culter & the Wurzels, mostly recorded at the Royal Oak pub in Nailsea and including both sides of the single as well as humorous songs "Champion Dung Spreader," "Hark at 'Ee Jacko," "The Mixer Man's Lament," and "When the Common Market Comes to Stanton Drew." The album climbed to number 38 in the LP charts. After this brief foray into the national charts, the band returned to performing live concerts locally in Somerset. Cutler was a lifelong supporter of the Bristol city football club, and one of his songs, "Morning Glory," was changed to "One for the Bristol City," which the team used to fire itself up before each game.

On the May 5, 1974, following a Wurzels concert, Adge Cutler overturned his car on a roundabout in Chepstow and died from his injuries. Following his death, the Wurzels continued as a trio, by then featuring a completely different lineup of Tommy Banner, Tony Baylis, and Pete Budd. Amazingly, they enjoyed a period of chart success in the long hot summer of 1976, including even the number one single "Combine Harvester (Brand New Key)," based on the Melanie hit with new lyrics written by Brendan O'Shaughnessy, and the Top Three single "I Am a Cider Drinker," based on a holiday hit from the previous year, "Una Paloma Blanca."

Discover more about Adge Cutler & the Wurzels HERE.

Adge Cutler & The Wurzels - Side One

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Clinton Ford 1931 - 2009

Clinton Ford, whose real name was George Harrison strangely enough was born in 1931 in Salford near Manchester in the North West of England.
"Clinton will now be best remembered for his novelty song, "Fanlight Fanny"- a recording he made while he was with Oriole, a minor label which had association with the Woolworth's budget record brand, 'Embassy'. In fact Clinton Ford was one of Oriole's most successful artists for a while, and "Fanlight Fanny" looked like Clinton's break into the big time. Sadly, it never quite happened.

Like many other artists of the time, Clinton had first excercised his entertainment ambitions by becoming a 'redcoat' at Butlins. Although his own leanings were towards country and western material, he began singing with traditional jazz bands and skiffle groups. This appears to have influenced his style somewhat and much of his best work was done in the company of trad groups like the Merseysippi Jazz Band and George Chisholm for example. Clinton's choice of recorded material was certainly diverse- with everything from the country flavoured sentimental 'Old Shep' and his confident interpretation of 'Run To The Door' through the most outrageous novelties like 'The Old Bazaar In Cairo' and even George Formby's 'Why Don't Women Like Me'."

Clinton Ford - Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday On Saturday Night

Clinton Ford - What A Little Moonlight Can Do

Clinton Ford - Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula

Clinton Ford - Huggin' And A Chalkin'

Clinton Ford - My Little Bimbo