78Man Favourites Vol 3

78Man Favourites Vol 3 is available now and features another 20 forgotten classics originally released on 78. It’s available at itunes HERE or to stream on Spotify HERE

 

Tracks on the album are :

1. The Music Goes ‘Round and Around-Nat Gonella and his Georgians (Parlophone F 386, 1936)

2. A Fly’s Day Out-Leonard Henry (Sterno 993, 1932)

3. Gertie, The Girl With The Gong-Anona Winn (Rex 8466, 1935)

4. Smile, darn ya, Smile-The Hottentots (Eclipse 105, 1931)

5. The Left Hand Side of Egypt-George Formby (Regal Zonophone MR 3521, 1941)

6. The Fleet’s in Port Again-Billy Cotton (Regal Zonophone MR 2190, 1936)

7. Steamboat Bill-Paul Tremaine (Columbia CB 138, 1930)

8. Henry’s Made A Lady Out Of Lizzie-Jack Hylton and his Orchestra (His Master’s Voice B 5485, 1928)

9. Lost-George Elliott’s Hawaiian Novelty Quartette (Regal Zonophone MR 2108, 1936)

10. You And The Night And The Music-Debroy Somers Band (Columbia FB 1027, 1934)

11. How to make love-Bud Billings (Zonophone 5399, 1929)

12. What can you give a nudist on his birthday-Gracie Fields (His Master’s Voice B 8232, 1934)

13. Oh! Henry What A Lad You Must Have Been!-Randolph Sutton (Decca F 3779, 1933)

14. I’m a Daddy at 63-Charlie Higgins (Rex 8065, 1933)

15. If A Grey Haired Lady Says “How’s Yer Father ?” (That’s Mademoiselle from Armentieres)-Jay Wilbur And His Band (Rex 9691, 1936)

16. John, Give Over Teasing Me-The Spoofums (Eclipse 269, 1932)

17. Rose O’Day-Flanagan and Allen (Decca F 8067, 1942)

18. There’s Another Trumpet Playing In The Sky-Bobbie Comber (Broadcast 896, 1932)

19. Sleepy Rio Grande-Bud and Joe Billings (Zonophone 5465, 1930)

20. Tiptoe Through The Tulips With Me-Sid Garry (Imperial 2218, 1929)

78Man Podcast No. 9

The Ninth 78Man podcast is slightly different as it is dedicated to my Uncle Jim, who bequeathed me his (rather large!) 78 collection, and all the records played are from his collection. It can be heard on iTunes Here and on Soundcloud HERE

Tracks heard are :

  1. Barnacle Bill the sailor by Bud and Joe Billings (Released by Zonophone (5725) in 1930. Bud and Joe Billings were actually Frank Luther and Carson Robison. Frank Luther was born in 1899 (as Francis Luther Crow), in Kansas. He was musical from an early age but was ordained as a minister in his teens; this was, however,  short lived and from 1921 he devoted himself to music, joining the Revelers in 1927 and touring the UK. The following year, back in the US, he teamed up with Robison and began performing with him as Bud and Joe Billings. Despite their huge popularity and recording many records together, the pair parted in 1932. Although as Bud Billings he released some of the earliest “Hillbilly” (the precursor to Country ‘n’ Western) records, Luther went on to record in several styles- dance bands, children’s records and general popular music. As well as records, he appeared regularly on radio and in short films. He carried on recording right through to the 1970s and died in 1980. Carson Robison was born in 1890, also in Kansas. He was born into a musical family and became a professional musician at the age of 15, although he didn’t make his first recordings until 1924, and became hugely successful through his association with Vernon Dalhart, as a song writer, vocalist and musician in Dalhart’s band. They scored a million seller in 1924 with “The wreck of the old ’97”. The relationship with Dalhart broke down in 1928 after a dispute, and Robison teamed up with Frank Luther for the next four years. In 1932 he formed a new band, The Pioneers, who later changed their name to The Buckaroos. He continued recording and touring through the ’30s and ’40s, and died in 1957.
  2. Barney’s Boarding House by Albert Whelan (Released by Eclipse (154) in 1931.) (More info on Albert Whelan, a favourite of the 78Man podcast, can be found in the blog for the first podcast).
  3. Roger the lodger by Leslie Jerome (Released by Sterno (567) in 1929) Little is known about Leslie Jerome, although this record is on the Sterno label, a label which was only on sale at Mark’s and Spencer’s, and for which a lot of the recordings were by Nat Star’s band under pseudonyms, so maybe Leslie Jerome didn’t exist! “Roger the Lodger” was also recorded by The Two Gilberts. Sterno also released “Berlington Bertie from Bow” under the Leslie Jerome name.
  4. Sometimes I feel like a motherless child by Paul Robeson (Released by Columbia (D.B. 2506) in 1949.) Originally recorded by Robeson in 1926 and released in the UK on His Master’s Voice, this version is a re-recording from 2 decades later. The song is a traditional song which dates back to the days of slavery in the U.S. Paul Robeson was born in 1898 in Princetown, New Jersey to a religious family (his father was a Presbyterian minister, his mother was from a prominent Quaker family). Robeson was a gifted child, excelling in sports as well as acting and singing. He went to University to study law and graduated in 1922. By this time he had appeared on stage as both an actor and singer and he only briefly practiced law as his acting career began to take off. His recording career began in 1926, and in 1928 he appeared in “Showboat” in the UK at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane and stayed in the UK until 1932 when he returned to Broadway to appear again in “Showboat”. From then he split his time between the UK and the US, and began appearing in films, “Sanders of the river” in 1935 becoming his first major film hit. Robeson started to become increasingly politically active around this time, and was particularly affected by the Spanish Civil war of 1936-39. In 1946 Robeson founded the organisation American Crusade against Lynching and was vocal in his support for the Trade Unions. All this activity led to Robeson being blacklisted in the ’50s in America, and his passport revoked meaning he could not perform abroad. In 1958 he managed to get his passport reinstated, and he  embarked on a World tour. Over the next couple of years his health deteriorated (he and his family believed there was CIA involvement in his health problems) and in 1963 he announced his retirement, spending much of the rest of his life living in seclusion. He died in January 1976 following a stroke.
  5. Laughing PC Brown by Charles Penrose (released by Winner (3717) in 1923). Charles Penrose was born in 1873 in Biggleswade, the son of a jeweller. He initially followed in his Father’s footsteps but developed a stage act using “laughing” songs, and became so popular locally that he gave up jewellery to become a full time entertainer. He began his stage and singing career in the 1890s and his first recordings were made in 1915, but it is “The Laughing Policeman” (first recorded for Regal in 1923, then Columbia in 1926, then Dominion in 1929) for which he is remembered. He recorded many other records, on many labels under several aliases (Charles Jolly, Andrew Merry, The Spoofums), many with his second wife, Mabel Anderson. Most of his songs were credited to Mabel as the writer, under the name Billie Gray. Later he appeared in films and on radio, and died in 1952, aged 79. (More of Penrose’s songs can be heard on the album “78Man presents Charles Penrose”, available for download or streaming at most digital sites).
  6. Buying a stamp by Fred Gibson (Released by Broadcast (287) in 1928). Fred Gibson was a popular comedian in the late ’20s and early ’30s on the London stage but is largely forgotten now. As well as this Broadcast release, he seems to have recorded “Buying a stamp” for at least two other labels-Regal and Unison.
  7. The more we are together (The froth blower’s anthem) by Alfredo’s band (Released by Edison Bell Winner (4553) in 1927.) Alfredo was born Alfred Gill in 1892. He learned to play the violin, and in 1925 formed his own band, which played at the New Princes Restaurant. The band soon won a recording contract with the Edison Bell label, and over the next 5 years recorded many records on the Edison Bell Winner, Edison Bell Electron and Edison Bell Radio labels. Largely forgotten now, Alfredo’s band made some great dance records and are well worth investigating. In 1931 Alfredo changed direction and started recording more gypsy flavoured music, to little success. His recordings seem to have petered out around this time. He died in 1966. An interesting piece of trivia-the trumpet player in Alfredo’s band was Alfie Noakes, father of ’60s/’70s “Blue Peter” presenter John Noakes!
  8. When Tommy Atkins taught the Chinese how to Charleston by Buddy Rose and his dance orchestra (released by Imperial in 1927)
  9. The Party’s Over now by Noel Coward (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 4270) in 1932.) Noel Coward was born in 1899 in Teddington. As a child he was interested in the stage and made his first professional stage appearance at the age of 11. His acting career continued throughout the first world war (he was deemed unfit when conscripted in 1918), and in 1920 wrote and appeared in his first play, “I’ll leave it to you”, which ran for a month with moderate success. His first real success as a playwright came in 1924, with “The Vortex” and the following year he wrote “Hay Fever”, an enduring success. From then on he was very prolific as a writer, with many successes including “Easy virtue” (1926), “Home chat” (1927), “This year of grace” (1928), “Bitter sweet” (1929) and “Private lives” (1930). In 1929 he signed to His Master’s Voice and made many records for them over the next 7 years. During the Second World Ward Coward largely gave up theatre and started working for British Intelligence, in an attempt to influence public opinion in the US to facilitate their joining the war. He did carry on recording during the war (mainly patriotic songs) and appeared in the film “In which we serve”.                                                                            After the war Coward  carried on as a playwright but was less successful but he carried on writing into the 1960s, also having a successful cabaret career, and appearing in several films. The 1960s saw a revival in his popularity, with many of his plays from the ’20s and ’30s being revived. He was knighted in 1969 and died in 1973.

78Man Podcast No. 8

The Eighth 78Man presents podcast focuses on the two George Formbys. It is available on iTunes Here or Souncloud Here .

George Formby senior was born James Lawler Booth on 4 October 1875 in Ashton-Under Lyne, Lancashire. His childhood was harsh, his Mother was an alcoholic who sometimes worked as a prostitute. His Father was a coal miner and his parents married when he was six months old, but had a turbulent, violent marriage, leading to neglect of George. He began earning money for himself by singing on street corners for pennies. His health was affected by his poor upbringing, as he regularly ended up sleeping outdoors when his Mother didn’t come home at night. He stopped attending school before he was ten years old, and his Father died when he was just 15, by which time he had started developing his act and singing in pubs, performing with another boy as The Glen Ray Brothers for a while. Until 1897 he was billed as J. H. Booth, then he changed his stage name to George Formby. In the same year he married for the first time, to Martha Salter. This marriage was unsuccessful but the couple never divorced, meaning that Formby’s marriage to Eliza Hoy two years later was bigamous. Formby continued polishing his act, inventing characters such as John Willie who became one of his staples, and in 1902 appeared for the first time in London where he soon became a success in the music halls. In 1904 the couple had their first son, George Hoy Booth. Two years later Formby senior made his first recordings on wax cylinder for the Louis Sterling Cylinder Company. A year later he signed a contract with the Zonophone label, who he stayed with until his death. His fame continued to grow and in 1913 performed before King George V and Queen Mary in a Royal Command Performance in Liverpool. When war broke out in 1914 he was unable to enlist because of his health problems but instead appeared at recruiting rallies. In the same year he also appeared in his only (silent) film, “No fool like an old fool”, which, like many films of the time, has been lost and is presumed not to exist.

Formby’s stage act, and many of his recordings, referenced his ill health; he would often cough on stage and used the phrase “Coughing well tonight”. In 1916 his health was affected again by an on-stage accident during rehearsals at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane when a stage collapsed onto him. This caused further lung damage which was then exacerbated by the onset of tuberculosis. In 1918 he also caught influenza during that year’s pandemic. All these worsening health problems meant that he cancelled more and more performances, although he continued recording. Things got so bad an oxygen tent would be erected off stage during his performances, and he would suck ice to prevent internal bleeding. Formby collapsed early in 1921 after a performance of the pantomime Jack and Jill in Newcastle. He died on 8 February of pulmonary tuberculosis, aged just 45.

Formby senior recordings on this Podcast are :

  1. John Willie, Come on (Jumbo, 1909, recorded 1906 for release on Wax Cylinder)
  2. Commercial Traveller (Zonophone, 1914)
  3. Looking for mugs in the strand (Zonophone, 1919)
  4. Weeping Jinnie (Zonophone, recorded 1919, released 1920)

As noted above, George Formby junior was born in 1904,in Wigan. Due to his Father’s burgeoning fame and fortune he had an easier childhood than his Father and he originally wanted to be a jockey, working as a stable boy from an early age. This suited his Father, who didn’t want him to have a stage career. He did, however, appear in a 1915 silent film, “By the shortest of heads”, which, like his Father’s film of the previous year, no longer exists. The younger George continued his career as a jockey but was largely unsuccessful, never winning a race. When his Father died in 1921, he decided to carry on his act, initially appearing under the name George Hoy (using his Mother’s maiden name). Initially he was unsuccessful, but by 1923 he felt he was sufficiently popular enough to take his Father’s name. Around this time he met Beryl Ingham, who he married in 1924. She became his manager and revamped his stage act and it was from this point that he started to become popular enough to warrant a recording contract. Thus, in 1926, he recorded 3 records (6 songs) for the Edison Bell Winner label (of his Father’s old songs). No other recordings were made until 1929, when he recorded a one off 78 for the Dominion label (“In the congo”/”All going back”). Another 3 years passed until, in 1932, he signed a record deal with Decca and his career really took off. Several of Formby’s best known songs were recorded for Decca, including “Chinese Laundry blues”, “Why don’t women like me ?”, “Swimmin’ with the wimmin” and “Fanlight Fanny”. During his time with Decca, Formby began his film career, appearing in two low budget independent films, “Boots Boots” (1934) and “Off the dole” (1935). Towards the end of 1935 Formby signed an 11 film, 7 year deal with ATP (Associated Talking Pictures) and the first of these, “No limit” was released in December 1935. Shortly after this, with his Decca contract expired, he signed to the Regal Zonophone label and with films and records being produced simultaneously he began his period of greatest success. Over the next few years records such as “The Window cleaner” (aka “When I’m cleaning windows”), “Leaning on a lamp post”, “Our Sergeant Major”, “Grandad’s Flanelette nightshirt” “With my little stick of Blackpool rock”, and “Oh! Don’t the wind blow cold”, alongside films such as “Turned out nice again”, “Trouble brewing”, “It’s in the air” and “Keep your seats please” made George the biggest UK star of the time. During the war George spent much time entertaining the troops and raising moiney for charity. In 1941 he signed to Columbia for his film work, the first under the contract being “South American George.” He made several more films for Columbia, but in 1946 made his final film, “George in Civvy Street”. This coincided with the expiry of his Regal Zonophone contract, and the songs from this film were released on 2 78s on Columbia.

Although George made no more films, he carried on with stage appearances, including pantomimes, and foreign tours, then in 1950 re-signed to Decca Records where he re-recorded a few of his former hits. The following year he recorded a couple of 78s for His Master’s voice, featuring songs from his stage shows. He made many TV appearances during the ’50s (few of which survive) then in 1960 made his final record for the PYE label, a 7″ Single (78s having just about died out by then) coupling “Banjo boy” and “Happy go lucky me”. His final TV appearance was in December 1960 on “The Friday Show” (which survives in the archives). He died a matter of weeks later, on March 6 1961, aged 56.

Formby junior recordings featured on this podcast are :

  1. John Willie, Come on (Edison Bell Winner, 1926)
  2. Why don’t women like me ? (Decca, 1933)
  3. Keep your seats please (Regal Zonophone, 1936)
  4. The left hand side of Egypt (Regal Zonophone, 1941)
  5. We’ve been a long time gone (Columbia, 1946)

A Complete list of George Formby junior’s Recordings, Films and TV appearances can be found HERE