Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sheila Hancock/ Sydney Carter

A rather battered and bruised LP I found today at the local Age UK shop for 50p. On the Transatlantic label from 1962 and features the songs of Sydney Carter sung by him and Sheila Hancock the well known actress. A curious mix of folk song and cabaret with musicians such as Stephen J. Sedley on guitar and lute, Ralph Trainer on guitar banjo and recorder, Roger Hellyer on bassoon and Joy Silman on drums tambourine, dustbin lid and assorted sound effects. Wikipedia says - "Sheila Hancock was born in Blackgang on the Isle of Wight, the daughter of Ivy Louise (née Woodward) and Enrico Cameron Hancock, who was a publican. Her sister Billie is nine years older (and worked as a variety artist until retiring to Antibes in 2003 at the age of 79). After wartime evacuation, Hancock attended Dartford County Grammar School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. [edit]Theatre She worked in repertory during the 1950s and made her West End debut in 1958, replacing Joan Sims in the play Breath of Spring. She then appeared in Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop production of Make Me An Offer in 1959, and her other early West End appearances included the revue One Over the Eight with Kenneth Williams in 1961, and starring in Rattle of a Simple Man in 1962. In 1965, she made her Broadway debut in Entertaining Mr Sloane. In 1978, she played Miss Hannigan in the original London cast of the musical Annie and two years later, she played Mrs Lovett in the original London production of the musical Sweeney Todd. She appeared in The Winter's Tale, Titus Andronicus and A Delicate Balance for the Royal Shakespeare Company. At the National Theatre she appeared in The Cherry Orchard and The Duchess of Malfi. She also directed A Midsummer Night's Dream for the RSC on tour and was the first female director at the National, with The Critic. In 2006, she played the role of Fraulein Schneider in the West End revival of the musical Cabaret at the Lyric Theatre. She won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role In A Musical. In 2009, she spent over a year playing Mother Superior in Sister Act the Musical at the London Palladium." Wikipedia says of Sydney Carter - "Sydney Bertram Carter (6 May 1915 – 13 March 2004) was an English poet, songwriter, folk musician, born in Camden Town, London. He is best known for the song "Lord of the Dance" (1967), set to the tune of the American Shaker song "Simple Gifts", and the song "The Crow on the Cradle", adapted from an old folk song. Other notable songs include "Julian of Norwich", "One More Step Along the World I Go", "When I Needed a Neighbour", "Friday Morning", "Every Star Shall Sing a Carol", "The Youth of the Heart" and "Down Below". He studied at Montem St Primary school in Finsbury Park, Christ's Hospital school in Horsham, West Sussex and Balliol College, Oxford, graduating in history in 1936. A committed pacifist, Carter joined the Friends' Ambulance Unit on the outbreak of World War II and served in Egypt, Palestine and Greece. He worked as a lyricist for Donald Swann's revues and musicals in the 1950s and in 1962, produced an album "Putting out the Dustbin" with Sheila Hancock, with the song "Last Cigarette" on failing to give up smoking that became a minor hit." Hancock/Carter - Side One. Hancock/Carter - Side Two

Sunday, August 26, 2012


An LP on the CBS label from 1983 I've had for some time. Not sure where I found it. The rhythms seem rather wayward at first but they definitely grow on you after a one or two listens. So much going on here but well worth investigating further. Wikipdeia says - "Pierre-Claver Akendengué (born April 25, 1943) is a musician and composer of Gabon. In 1997, he received his country's "Prix d'excellence" at the Africa Music awards in Libreville, honoring his body of work. He also serves as a cultural advisor for the government of Gabon. Born on the island of Awuta, which is located just off the coast from Port-Gentil, Akendengué went to school in Port-Gentil, then studied psychology at the University of Caen in France during the 1960s. While in France, he met singer Mireille, who encouraged his musical interests. In 1974, Akendengué recorded his first album, Nandipo, consisted of songs of his own composition, sung in French and Nkomi, accompanied by guitar, women choir, bass and the percussion of Nana Vasconcelos. He later set to music poems by P. E. Mondjegou, such as "Le Chant du Coupeur d'Okoumé" ("The Song of the Okoumé Cutter"). Returning to Gabon, he studied solfeggio and plainchant at a Catholic college, and presented spectacles showcasing traditional Gabonese forms in a concert setting. In 1986, he received a doctorate from the University of Paris for his study of religion and education among the Nkomi."
Akendengue - Side Two

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A British Sampler

A nostalgic journey in sound around the UK from the chimes of Big Ben to She's A Lassie From Lancashire.On the BBC label from 1969. The blurb on the back says - "All kinds of music are represented on this disc - from true folk music and traditional tunes centuries old to the latest creations from Merseyside and Swinging London. Many of the numbers have been specially recorded for a "A British Sampler", others are from the BBC archives and from BTA's sound library, and one or two have been created electronically by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop." A British Sampler - Side One

Saturday, August 18, 2012

George Burns

Another of my Llandudno charity shop finds. A live double album from 1974 on the DJM label. Introduced by Jack Benny ( his last recording ). An amusing amalgam of old songs and patter and biography. George talks about his early days of vaudeville and all the different names he used and acts he belonged to. Wikipedia says - "Naftaly (later called Nathan) Birnbaum was the ninth of 12 children born to Louis and Dorah (née Bluth) Birnbaum, Jewish immigrants who had come to the United States from Romania. Burns was also an active member of the First Roumanian-American congregation. His father was a substitute cantor at the local synagogue but usually worked as a coat presser. During the influenza epidemic of 1903, Lippe Birnbaum contracted the flu and died at the age of 47. Nattie (as he was then called) went to work to help support the family, shining shoes, running errands, and selling newspapers. When he landed a job as a syrup maker in a local candy shop at age seven, he was "discovered," as he recalled long after: “ We were all about the same age, six and seven, and when we were bored making syrup, we used to practice singing harmony in the basement. One day our letter carrier came down to the basement. His name was Lou Farley. Feingold was his real name, but he changed it to Farley. He wanted the whole world to sing harmony. He came down to the basement once to deliver a letter and heard the four of us kids singing harmony. He liked our style, so we sang a couple more songs for him. Then we looked up at the head of the stairs and saw three or four people listening to us and smiling. In fact, they threw down a couple of pennies. So I said to the kids I was working with, 'no more chocolate syrup. It's show business from now on'. We called ourselves the Pee-Wee Quartet. We started out singing on ferryboats, in saloons, in brothels, and on street corners. We'd put our hats down for donations. Sometimes the customers threw something in the hats. Sometimes they took something out of the hats. Sometimes they took the hats. ” Burns quit school in the fourth grade to go into show business full-time. Like many performers of his generation, he tried practically anything he could to entertain, including working with a trained seal, trick roller skating, teaching dance, singing, and adagio dancing in small-time vaudeville. During these years, he began smoking cigars and later in his older years was characteristically known as doing shows and puffing on his cigar. He adopted the stage name by which he would be known for the rest of his life. He claimed in a few interviews that the idea of the name originated from the fact that two star major league players (George H. Burns and George J. Burns, unrelated) were playing major league baseball at the time. Both men achieved over 2000 major league hits and hold some major league records. Burns also was reported to have taken the name George from his brother Izzy (who hated his own name so he changed it to "George"), and the Burns from the Burns Brothers Coal Company (he used to steal coal from their truck). He normally partnered with a girl, sometimes in an adagio dance routine, sometimes comic patter. Though he had an apparent flair for comedy, he never quite clicked with any of his partners, until he met a young Irish Catholic lady in 1923. "And all of a sudden," he said famously in later years "the audience realized I had a talent. They were right. I did have a talent—and I was married to her for 38 years." George Burns - Side One

Friday, August 17, 2012

Aberconway - Sounds Beautiful

Just back from North Wales. Found this EP in a charity shop for 50p. Made in 1975 on the Pad Records label. Gives a nice flavour of holidays by the sea which hasn't changed much since those days. The Punch & Judy man is still there , as is the Llandudno Town Band which plays on the prom every Monday night during the Summer - weather permitting. Contributors are - Deganwy Primary School, Llandudno Town Band, Staff of British Rail, Maelgyn Male Voice Choir, Professor Codman, The "Tonnau" Choir, Lechwadd Slate Quarries, Trefriw Woollen Mills, Robin James Jones (harp) and cast of "Showtime" at the Arcadia Theatre. Sounds Beautiful - Side One Sounds Beautiful - Side Two