1. Let’s Have a Party Parts 1 & 2 by Winifred Atwell (Released by Philips (PB 213) in 1953). Winifred Atwell was born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1914. She studied pharmacy as her parents were pharmacists, but also played piano, gaining popularity locally. In 1946 she moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music. She soon started playing live dates, and made her first BBC Radio appearances in late 1946, although it wasn’t until 1951 that she was signed to Decca and started making records. Her first major hit came in late 1951 with her fourth release “The Black and White Rag”/”Cross hands boogie”, released before the UK singles chart started in 1952. During the rest of the ’50s she had 15 UK chart hits including two number ones-“Let’s have another party” (1954) and “The poor people of Paris” (1956). Other notable hits included “Britannia Rag”, “Flirtation Waltz” and “Port au Prince”. As well as her UK success, she was also hugely popular in Australia, and moved there in the 1970s, by which time her career in the UK had waned (although “The Black and White Rag” was heard regularly as the theme to TV show “Pot black”.) She also had a property in Trinidad where she often stayed . She died in 1983.
2. Tunes With Pep No. 1 by The Bugle Call Raggers (Released by Decca (F 5483) in 1935). The Bugle Call Raggers took their name from the 1922 composition “Bugle Call Rag”, first recorded by The New Orleans Rhythm Kings, and later covered by Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Muggsy Spanier, among many others. They were actually a pseudonym used by Harry Roy and his band, and also released “Temptation Rag” (1936), and “Alexander’s got a swing band now” in 1938. Harry Roy was born Harry Lipman on 12th January 1900 in Stamford Hill, London. In his teens he started performing with his brother Sidney, Harry playing clarinet and saxophone. They paid their dues in the ’20s playing venues like the Cafe de Paris and London Coliseum, also touring Germany, Australia and South Africa under a variety of band names. By the early ’30s Harry was fronting his own band and in 1931 co-wrote the notorious and much covered song “My girl’s pussy”. He made many records for Parlophone during the ’30s, including “Twelfth Street rag”(1933), “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”(1934),”Make funny faces at your neighbours”(1935) and “Beer barrel polka”(1939) before moving on to Regal Zonophone in the ’40s where his recordings included “He’s my uncle”(1940),”Mister Brown of London town”(1941),”Der Fuehrer’s Face”(1942), and “When you wore a tulip”(1943). His recording career ended in the early 50’s and he retired from music until 1969 when he was involved with the musical “Oh Clarence” at the Lyric Theatre in London. He died on 1st February 1971.
3. The Harry Lauder Medley Part 2 by The Victory Band (Released by Decca (F 8298) in 1943). Harry Lauder was born in 1870 in Edinburgh. His Father died when he was 11, and by the age of 14 he was working in a colliery, where he used to sing to his fellow workers. This led to engagements in local music halls, and in 1894 he turned professional. In 1900 he moved down to London where he became immediately successful. Over the next few years his fame grew and he toured America for the first time in 1907. He made his first recordings in 1905 and he recorded prolifically up until the early 1930s. Following his first flush of success (in 1911 he became the highest paid entertainer in the world), Lauder spent much of the Great War raising money for the war effort, for which he was knighted in 1919. The war held personal tragedy for Lauder; his son John was killed in December 1916 at Pozieres. John’s death inspired Lauder to write “The end of the road” which became one of his best known songs. Despite retiring in 1935, Lauder also entertained the troops during World War 2. He died in February 1950.
4. Gracie’s Hit Medley No. 2 Part 1 by Gracie Fields (Released by Regal Zonophone (MR 3054) in 1938). Gracie Fields was born 9 January 1898 in Rochdale and christened Grace Stansfield. She made her first stage appearance at the age of 7 and made her first recordings for His Master’s Voice in 1928, recording one of her biggest hits, “Sally” for them in 1931. Other recordings for His Master’s Voice include “Like the big pots do” (1929), “Painting the clouds with sunshine” (1930), “Just One More Chance” (1931) and “Rochdale Hounds” (1932). In 1935 she moved to Rex Records, her first release for the label being “When I grow too old to dream”/”Turn ‘Erbert’s face to the wall, Mother”. Further Rex releases included “Red Sails in the sunset” (1935), “Did your Mother come from Ireland ?” (1936) and “Lambeth Walk” (1938). She recorded for both Rex and Regal Zonophone until moving to Decca in 1941. In the late ’50s she moved to Columbia Records. During this time, of course, she also appeared in several films, including “Sally in our alley” (1931), “Sing as we go!” (1934), “Look up and laugh” (1935), “Queen of hearts” (1936), and “Shipyard Sally” (1939). Gracie spent most of her later life living on the Isle of Capri where she died on 27th September 1979.
5. Say it with music selection by Jack Simpson and the Freedom boys (Released by Decca (MW 227) in 1945). Jack Simpson was born in September 1905 in Croydon, Surrey, UK. He began playing music as a child, making his first stage appearance at the age of 11, and became known as a xylophone and marimba player. He began recording in the early ’40s with his band The Jack Simpson Sextet, his records including “Oasis” (1941), “Dish me a dish” (1942), “Stage Coach” (1942), “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” (1943), “Jack’s the boy for work” (1949) and “Stick it on the wall Mrs Riley” (1950). He also appeared in the films “Musical Contrasts” (1946) and “Nothing Venture” (1948). He died in 1977.
6. The Naughty Nineties Part 4 by The Old Timers Sketch Company with Fred Hartley’s Quintet (Released by Columbia (DB 1259) in 1935). Fred Hartley was born in Scotland in 1905, and became a pianist after studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He made his first broadcast in 1925, and formed his Quintet in 1931. The Quintet made many BBC radio broadcasts, and in 1946 Fred was made Head of BBC Light Music. He also composed piano pieces, sometimes publishing his compositions under the pseudonym Iris Taylor. He died in 1980.
7. A Selection of popular hits Part 2 by Primo Scala’s Accordion Band (Released by Rex Records (8044) in 1933). Many records were released by Primo Scala and his banjo and accordion band, but Primo Scala didn’t exist-it was a pseudonym used by Harry Bidgood, who was born in London in 1898. Bidgood released records under his own name, as well as Nat Lewis, Rossini and Don Porto. He was also musical director on several George Formby films. He was still broadcasting regularly as Primo Scala up to his death in November 1957. Other Primo Scala releases include “The man on the flying trapeze”(1935), “Why did she fall for the leader of the band?”(1936), “The echo told me a lie”(1949) and “Mockin’ Bird Hill”(1951).
8. Swing it George Parts 1 & 2 by George Formby (Released by Regal Zonophone (MR 3103) in 1939). George Formby (and his father George Formby senior) are covered in the blog for the 8th podcast, which featured both men. Read it Here . If you want a more visual telling of George’s story, there’s a documentary on his life Here.