78Man Podcast Number 30-Leslie Sarony

The 30th 78Man Podcast looks at Leslie Sarony and can be heard on itunes Here or on Soundcloud Here

Tracks heard on the podcast are :

  1. Let me carry your bag to Bagdad Dad by Leslie Sarony (Released by Regal Zonphone (MR 1967) in 1936).
  2. Don’t be cruel to a vegetebuel by Leslie Sarony (Released by His Master’s Voice (B. 2714) in 1928).
  3. I Lift up my finger and I say “Tweet Tweet” by Gracie Fields (Released by His Master’s Voice (B. 2999) in 1929).
  4. Rhymes by Albert Whelan (Released by Imperial (2605) in 1932).
  5. The Chicken or the egg by Leslie Sarony (Released by Victory (141) in 1929).
  6. Mucking about the garden by Jack Hylton and his Orchestra (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 5696) in 1929).
  7. The Prosperity Song by Bert Layton (Released by Eclipse (69) in 1931).
  8. Coo! Lovaduck! Crikey!Coo!Blimey! by The Two Leslies (Released by Regal Zonophone (MR 2034) in 1936).
  9. Ain’t it grand to be bloomin’ well dead Parts 1 & 2 by Leslie Sarony (Released by Imperial (2688) in 1932).

If Leslie Sarony is remembered at all today, it is usually for writing “Jollity Farm” (covered by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band on their 1967 album “Gorilla”) or “Ain’t it grand to be bloomin’ well dead”, still a popular song at funerals (and the first record to be banned by the BBC on the grounds of taste), but from the late ’20s to the end of the ’30s he was one of the UK’s most popular singers, releasing hundreds of songs on a plethora of labels, initially as a solo artist and later as part of The Two Leslies, with Leslie Holmes.  Sarony was born (as Leslie Legge Frye, his stage name of Sarony being his Mother’s maiden name) in January 1897. He began appearing on stage as a teenager but his singing career was cut short by World War One. Having survived the war he returned to the stage but it wasn’t until 1926 that he began his recording career. Over the ensuing decade and a half he recorded for Imperial, Eclipse (the Woolworths label), Victory, His Master’s Voice, Regal Zonophone, Edison Bell Radio, Rex and Parlophone among others. Making sense of the Sarony discography is a hard task, as he often recorded for different labels simultaneously, even recording multiple versions of the same song for different labels. He wrote many of his best known songs himself- “Rhymes” (covered by The Goons when they briefly reformed in the ’70s), “Gorgonzola”, “I lift up my finger and I say Tweet Tweet” “Over the garden wall” (the latter two covered by Gracie Fields), “Mucking about the garden” and “Tom thumb’s drum”. Many singers of the time recorded cover versions of Leslie’s songs. As well as writing his own songs he also covered some of the best comic songs of the day-“All by yourself in the moonlight”, “Hunting tigers out in India” (another Bonzos cover), “The old kitchen kettle” and “He played his ukulele as the ship went down” along with the lesser known classics “There’s a song they sing at a sing song in Sing Sing” and “When H’I was H’out in H’India”. What’s great about these rarely heard recordings is that 80 odd years later they’re still funny, if perhaps not always as politically correct as would be acceptable today! In 1933 Sarony teamed up with Leslie Holmes (a fellow singer of novelty songs, known as “the man with the smiling voice”) and for the next 12 years they performed as The Two Leslies recording many records such as “Sweet Fanny Adams”, “I’m a little prarie flower”, “Miss Porkington would like cream puffs” and “Umpa Umpa (stick it up your jumper)” (a phrase used at the end of The Beatles’ “I am the walrus”-wonder if John Lennon had heard the record?) 

Apart from an album made by Roy Hudd in 1980, Sarony didn’t record commercially after 1940 but was constantly working on stage and TV both as a singer and actor-he had appeared in several films during the ’30s and ’40s and later acted on TV shows such as Nearest and Dearest, The Gaffer, I didn’t know you cared and Minder. He worked into his 80s, appearing in Paul McCartney’s film “Give my regards to Broad Street” in 1984 and the Monty Python short “The Crimson Permanent Assurance” in 1983. Leslie died on Feb 12th 1985, and his final two TV appearances-cameos in an episode of the first series of Victoria Wood As seen on TV, and an episode of “There comes a time” (a short lived comedy starring Andrew Sachs) both aired posthumously.

There are now 4 volumes of “78Man Presents Leslie Sarony” available on most major streaming and download sites as well as on CD, each volume contains 20 tracks, many not commercially available for over 80 years. In addition, the album “Songs that Leslie Sarony taught us” features 20 cover versions of songs written by Sarony. CDs can be ordered HERE

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78Man Podcast Number 29-Ireland

The 29th 78Man Podcast has Ireland as its theme. It can be heard on Itunes Here or on Soundcloud Here. Tracks heard are :

  1. Did your mother come from Ireland? by Joe Petersen (Released by Rex Records (8949) in 1936). Although promoted as a boy singer, Master Joe Petersen was in fact female, his/her real identity being Mary O’Rourke, born in Helensburgh, Scotland, in 1913. In 1915 the family moved to Glasgow, and as a child Mary and her brother Joe entertained family and friends with their singing. Mary left school at 14 and began work, as well as singing locally in music halls. In 1930 she moved to London, intent on a career in music. In London she stayed with her Uncle, Ted Stebbings, who was an entertainer and impressario himself. Boy singers were popular at the time and Ted had several boy singers on his books but had the problem that their voices broke, ending their careers. It was Ted who had the idea of Mary impersonating a boy to solve this problem. Although initially reticent, she agreed and Joe Petersen was born. She initially recorded with Harry Bidgood’s dance band, before signing to Rex Records in 1934, releasing dozens of records for them over the next eight years, including “Just a little grey haired lady” (1934), “Old Mammy mine” (1935), “It’s a sin to tell a lie” (1936), “I’m sending a letter to Santa Claus” (1939), and “When they sound the last all clear” (1941). She also recorded under the names Wilfred Eaton and Michael Dawnay. By the late 1930s Joe was one of the biggest stars in the UK, but behind the scenes things were not so good, Mary being trapped in an unhappy marriage, a situation which led her to turn to drink for solace. The second world war hit the record industry badly, and she made no further records after 1942. After the war her appearances were mainly limited to Scotland. Mary battled alcoholism for the rest of her life, but was still performing as Joe as late as 1963. She died on December 24th, 1964.
  2. My girl’s an Irish girl by Bing Crosby (Released by Brunswick (03882) in 1948). Bing Crosby was born in May 1903, in Tacoma, Washington, US (originally named Harry, he was nicknamed Bing as a child and the name stuck). As a teenager he saw singers while working at his local auditorium, but it wasn’t until he was 20 that he started singing in a band himself, called The Musicaladers. Two years later this band split and he started singing with a vocal trio, The Three Harmony Aces. He then formed a duo with Al Rinker, with whom he made his first record, “I’ve got the girl” in 1926. The act then expanded to a trio again, with the addition of Harry Barris, and were rechristened The Rhythm Boys. Several successful records followed before Bing was offered a solo recording contract in 1931 with Brunswick records. Over the next decade he became one of the most successful American singers worldwide, with hits such as “Stardust” (1931), “Please” (1932), “Let me call you sweetheart” (1935), “Basin Street Blues” (1937) and “My melancholy baby” (1939). It was during the ’30s that Bing also started appearing in films, such as “College Humor” (1933), “She loves me not” (1934), “Anything goes” (1936), “Sing, you sinners” (1938) and “East side of heaven” (1939). As well as appearing in films and releasing records, Bing also had his own US radio series. In 1942 Bing released what would become his most famous recording, “White Christmas”, which was also used in the film “Holiday Inn”. He re-recorded the song in 1947 after the original master became damaged and the record still sells every Christmas. Bing continued recording, appearing in films, radio and TV into the 1970s, right until his death in October 1977 (he gave his last live performance 4 days before his death, and recorded his last radio session and interview the following day.)
  3. Laughing Irish Eyes by Billy Cotton and his Band (Released by Regal Zonophone (MR 2189) in 1936). Billy Cotton was born in London on May 6th 1899. He started playing drums during the Great War, and went professional in the early ’20s, starting his own band in 1925. His recording career started shortly after and he made many records over the years, including “I’m Smiling through my tears” (1928), “The new Tiger rag” (1930), “Rhymes” (1931), “Skirts” (1933), “I’m on a see saw” (1934), “Basin Street blues” (1936), and “I wish I could fish” (1941). During the Second World War he spent time entertaining the troops, and in the ’50s and ’60s he presented “The Billy Cotton Band show” on radio and TV. He died on March 25th, 1969.
  4. Smiling Irish Eyes by Gerald Adams (Released by Regal (G 9428) in 1929). Gerald Adams was active in the recording world in the 1920s and early ’30s, His other records include “Only a broken heart” (1920), “Omaha” (1921), “Sanctuary” (1922), “Maggie McGhee” (1925), “Oh, how I miss you tonight” (1926), “The song is ended” (1928), “Daisy Bell (A bicycle made for two)” (1930) and “You will remember Vienna” (1931).
  5. Danny Boy (Londonderry Air) by Dennis O’Neil (Released by Edison Bell Radio (1399) in 1930). Dennis O’Neil was an Irish actor and singer, born in 1886, who came to prominence in the 1910s. His other records include “Sometimes you’ll remember” (1916), and “Terence’s Farewell” (1931). He appeared in the films “No Lady” (1931), “Danny Boy” (1934), “Barnacle Bill” (1935) and “Father O’Flynn” (1935). He died in 1952.
  6. Killarney is Calling to me by The Hottentots (Released by Eclipse (218) in 1932). The Hottentots were a pseudonym of the Jay Wilbur band (see Podcast 13 blog-January 2017 for more info on Jay Wilbur.) As The Hottentots they recorded several records on Eclipse, including “Sweet Jennie Lee”, “In Geneva with Eva”, “Whistling In The Dark” and “When Yuba Plays The Rumba On The Tuba”.
  7. When It’s Moonlight by Killarney by The Biltmore Players (Released by Eclipse (30) in 1931). Like The Hottentots, The Biltmore Players were a pseudonym for the Jay Wilbur band. Their other releases for Eclipse included “Good Friends”, “When it’s night time in Nevada”, “Prosperity Song”, “Elizabeth” and “The Waltz you saved for me”.
  8. Jigs by Leo Rowsome (Released by HMV (B.D. 1312) in 1950. Leo Rowsome was born in Dublin in 1903. Both his Father and Grandfather played the Uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes), and Leo learned to play as a child, becoming a teacher at the Dublin school of music at the age of 16. His Father made and mended pipes, and Leo took over the business when his Father died. In the early ’20s he became the first piper to perform on Irish National Radio, and in 1933 became the first Irish artist to appear on BBC TV. He recorded for Imperial, Columbia, Decca and His Master’s Voice, and was active musically up to his death in 1970.
  9. There’s a little bit of Irish by Joe Lynch (Released by Beltona (BE 2668) in 1956). Joe Lynch was born in 1925 in County Cork, Ireland. Mainly known as an actor, in the 1950s he also had a radio show and a brief singing career, his other records including “Pretty little Galway girl”, “By the banks of the calm winding Feale”, “The pride of Tipperary”, and “Homes of Donegal”. As an actor, he came to prominence during the ’60s and ’70s, appearing in films such as “Girl with green eyes” (1964), “Ulysses” (1967), “Loot” (1970), and “The Outsider” (1979), and in TV Series such as “Compact” (1964), “Never mind the quality, feel the width” (1967-1971), “The Frighteners” (1973), “Rule Britannia!” (1975) and “Coronation Street” (1978-1980). He was a regular in the 1990s on the Irish TV series “Glenroe”, making his last appearance in 2000. He died in 2001.