Saturday, February 19, 2011

Gus Elen

I saw a Gus Elen compilation LP in the Oxfam shop the other day and was tempted to buy it but realised I had most of the tracks already on a cassette that somebody sent me some years ago. All dubbed from scratchy old 78's so excuse the terrible sound quality. I doubt the LP's sound was any better though.

Wikipedia says -

"Gus Elen (22 July 1862 – 17 February 1940 (aged 77)[1]) was a British music hall singer. He achieved success from 1891, performing cockney songs and sketches as a 'coster' comedian.

Gus Elen began his career busking, and found a position singing in a minstrel troupe. His solo success began with the coster songs, sung in 1891 at the Middlesex Music Hall[2], when his comedy partner, a man named Daniels, died in a boating accident. They had performed a 'blackface' comedy act, but solo he performed cockney songs and sketches as a 'coster' comedian, dressed in the clothes of a poor East End costermonger, coming himself from a similar background. In an interview, given after he had become a star, he said,
“ Years before I entered the ranks of music hall performers proper, I used to contribute to the programmes of the weekly sing songs held at such places as 'Poppy Lords' in Lisson Grove; the 'Magpie and Stump', Battersea; or the 'George Street Recital Hall'. At the last named hall, the salaries ranged from a shilling to three and sixpence a night with a cup of coffee and a bun thrown in by way of refreshment. In those days I often filled in a season on the 'waxeys' (on the seaside) at Margate and Ramsgate in a Negro minstrel troupe ”
—in Vaudeville, Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America
Elen was praised as an "authentic cockney from the poor streets" and was well known for his involvement in personally organized charity events. For many years he and his wife distributed free Christmas gifts to the poor in public."

Songs included here are -

1. The Publican
2. The Coster's Pony
3. Don't Stop Me Half A Pint Of Beer
4. I'm Going To Settle Down
5. Pretty Little Villa In Barking
6. Nature's Made A Big Mistake
7. Meriah
8. Arf A Pint Of Ale
9. The Pavement Artist
10. Wait Til the Work Comes Around

Gus Elen - Coster Songs

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