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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