- Well, Did You Evah by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra (Released by Capitol (CL. 14645) in 1956). From the film “High Society”. Francis Albert Sinatra was born in December 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey, US. As a teenager he became interested in music, and was a fan of the then up and coming Bing Crosby. He began singing himself and in 1935 joined The 3 Flashes, a vocal group-with the addition of Sinatra they changed their name to the Hoboken Four. They won a major talent contest and began touring the US, with Sinatra gradually becoming the lead singer. In 1939 he began singing with the Harry James band, and made his first recordings with them, although they weren’t big sellers. After about 6 months, frustrated at their lack of success, Sinatra left Harry James and became the singer with the Tommy Dorsey band-it was with Dorsey that he had his first US hit record in April 1940 with “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”. Over the next two years Sinatra scored several other hits with Dorsey’s band, before deciding to go solo in 1942, which led to an acrimonious split. Once solo, Sinatra became America’s biggest singing star, idolised by the teenage “bobby soxers” who made up a large proportion of his fans. He signed to Columbia Records in June 1943, where he stayed for a decade, releasing such hits as “A lovely way to spend an evening” (1945), “Nancy (With the laughing face” (1946), “Goodnight Irene” (1950), and “Hello Young lovers” (1953). Towards the end of his time with Columbia, his popularity began to wane but his career was revitalised by the success of the film “From here to eternity” (released in August 1953), and his new recording contract with Capitol Records. The new contract co-incided with the rise of vinyl records, and in 1954 Sinatra recorded the first of a series of hugely successful albums, “Songs for young lovers” followed by “In the wee small hours”, “Songs for swingin’ lovers”, “A Swingin’ Affair!”, “Come fly with me” and “Nice ‘n’ Easy” among others. Despite his huge success with the label, Sinatra grew disenchanted with Capitol and in 1961 formed his own label, Reprise. Further successful albums and singles followed, including some of his biggest hits- the duet with his daughter Nancy (who also recorded for Reprise), “Something stupid”, and the song he is most associated with to this day, “My Way”. He briefly retired in the early ’70s before returning with another hugely successful album, “Ol’ blue eyes is back” in 1973. During the later ’70s and ’80s his recordings became more sporadic but he continued to play live, mainly in Las Vegas. His final concerts were in Japan in December 1994 and he died in May 1998. “High Society” was directed by Charles Walters and, alongside Frank and Bing, starred Grace Kelly, Celeste Holm and Louis Armstrong.
- The Flies Crawl Up The Window by Jack Hulbert (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 4263) in 1932). From the film “Jack’s the boy”. Jack Hulbert was born in 1892 in Ely, Cambridgeshire. He studied at Cambridge University where he made his first stage appearances in the Cambridge Footlights. After leaving Cambridge he made a name for himself appearing in stage plays and revues. In 1916 he married Cicely Courtneidge, an aspiring actress and they began appearing together regularly. Despite his success on stage he didn’t make his film debut until 1930, when he appeared in Elstree Calling, alongside his wife. He appeared regularly in films from then on, including “The Ghost Train” (1931), “The Camels are Coming” (1934), “Jack of all trades” (1936) and “Under your hat” (1940). He later appeared in many TV films, plays and programmes, including a stint in the BBC soap opera “Compact” in 1964-65, and a cameo in the ITV series “Father dear Father” in 1972. He died in March 1978. “Jack’s the boy” was directed by Walter Forde and starred Hulbert, Cicely Courtneidge, Winifred Shotter and Francis Lister.
- Why Can’t It Happen To Me by Anne Shelton (Released by Decca (F. 8243) in 1942). From the film “King Arthur was a gentleman”. Anne Shelton was born in South London in November 1923, and began singing on the radio show “Monday night at eight” aged 12, gaining a recording contract 3 years later. During the war she appeared many times on the BBC’s forces radio service, often alongside Vera Lynn. After the war her popularity spread to America, touring the US in 1951. In 1956 she had a UK number one single with “Lay down your arms”. She continued performing until her death in July 1994. “King Arthur was a gentleman” was directed by Marcel Varnel, and also starred Arthur Askey, Ronald Shiner, Max Bacon and Vera Frances.
- I Could Make A Good Living At That by George Formby (Released by Decca (F. 3377) in 1932). From the film “Boots! Boots!”. For more info on George Formby see podcast 8 blog (September 2016). “Boots! Boots!” was Formby’s first film, released in 1934. It was produced by John E. Blakeley and directed by Bert Tracy on a shoestring budget at the Albany studios ( a cramped area with no soundproofing above a garage) in London. By the time of release, Formby’s stage and recording career was beginning to take off, and the film proved to be a huge success. It also starred his wife Beryl, as well as Betty Driver (later of “Coronation Street” fame) and Harry Hudson and his Orchestra. The original film was 80 minutes in length, but a cut down 55 minute version was released in 1938 to capitalise on Formby’s continuing success, and it is this version which was the one seen in future screenings, the original being thought to be lost for decades. The Betty Driver scene was cut from the shortened version, and for many years she denied ever appearing in the film but a complete version was discovered in 1999, which restored her to the film. You can see Betty in the film performing Leslie Sarony’s “The Alpine Milkman” Here (note the close spotlight-due to the cramped conditions in the studio this was the only way they could give the illusion of being in a nightclub).
- Theme From The Man Between by Cyril Stapleton (Released by Decca (F. 10208) in 1953). From the film “The Man Between”. Cyril Stapleton was born in December 1914 in Nottingham, UK. He began playing violin at the age of 7, and by the time he was 12 was playing on local radio. He began playing in Henry Hall’s band, before forming his own orchestra, which began playing regularly on the BBC in 1939. During the war he joined the RAF, and played in the RAF Symphony Orchestra. After the war he briefly played for the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra before reforming his own Orchestra in 1947. Soon signed to Decca, over the next few years The Cyril Stapleton Orchestra released regular records, including “Zip a dee doo dah”, “Lazy Mambo”, “Elephant Tango”, and “Teenage Lullaby”. He continued touring and recording into the ’70s, and died in February 1974. “The Man between” was directed by Carol Reed and starred James Mason, Claire Bloom and Hildegard Knef.
- River Of No Return by Tennessee Ernie Ford (Released by Capitol (CL. 14005) in 1954). From the film of the same name. (For more info on Tennessee Ernie Ford see blog for podcast 12, Dec 2016). “River of no return” was directed by Otto Preminger, and starred Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe.
- Painting The Clouds With Sunshine by Jack Hylton and his Orchestra (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 5722) in 1929). From the film “Gold diggers of Broadway”. Jack Hylton was born in July 1892 in Bolton, UK. His Father was an amateur singer, and Jack learnt to play piano to accompany him. Later, Jack started singing himself, in his Father’s pub. In 1922 he released his first records under the name Jack Hylton’s Jazz Band for the Zonophone label, then the following year he moved to His Mater’s Voice, where he released dozens of records until 1931, as Jack Hylton and his Orchestra, including “It ain’t gonna rain no mo'” (1924), “Chick, Chick, Chicken” (1925), “Ain’t She Sweet” (1927), “Forty-Seven ginger headed sailors” (1928) and “Mucking about the garden” (1929). In 1931 he moved to Decca Records, where he was a director, where he stayed until 1934, when he re-signed to His Master’s Voice. He continued recording until 1940, and after the war became an impresario, managing new talent and producing theatre, radio and film productions before forming his own TV production company. He died in January 1965. “Gold diggers of Broadway” was directed by Roy Del Ruth and starred Nancy Welford, Conway Tearle and Winnie Lightner, and was shot in Technicolour, one of the earliest colour films.
- I Used To Be Colourblind by Fred Astaire (Released by Columbia (DB 1809) in 1938). From the film “Carefree”. Fred Astaire was born (as Frederick Austerlitz) in 1899 in Omaha, US. His career began when his older sister, Adele, began taking singing and dancing lessons, and Fred started mimicking her, which led to a brother and sister child double act. It was during this period that both took the stage surname of Astaire. The pair carried on as a double act into adulthood in the 1920s, appearing on both Broadway and the London stage. In 1932 the pair split when Adele married Lord Charles Cavendish. Fred appeared in his first film, “Dancing Lady” the following year, the first of a series of hugely successful song and dance films. His second film, “Flying down to Rio” also starred Ginger Rogers, and the two then appeared in a string of films, including “The Gay Divorce” (1934), “Top Hat” (1935), “Follow the fleet” (1936), “Shall we dance” (1937) and “Carefree” (1938). He split with Rogers in 1939 (although they briefly reunited for the 1949 film “The Barkleys of Broadway”, but continued to appear regularly on the big screen throughout the ’40s and ’50s in films such as “You’ll never get rich” (1941), “Holiday Inn” (1942), “Blue Skies” (1946), “Easter Parade” (1948), “Wedding bells” (1951) and “Funny Face” (1957). His film roles became less frequent from the late ’50s onwards and he worked more in television, but he did appear in the films “Finian’s Rainbow” in 1968 and “The Towering inferno” in 1974. His final film role came in 1981 with “Ghost Story”, and he died in June 1987. “Carefree” was directed by Mark Sandrich, and as well as Fred and Ginger, starred Ralph Bellamy, Jack Carson and Kay Sutton.
- All By Myself by Bing Crosby (Released by Brunswick (3672) in 1946). From the film “Blue Skies”. 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 more copies 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.) “Blue Skies” was directed by Stuart Heisler and Mark Sandrich and starred Bing, Fred Astaire, Joan Caulfield, and Billy De Wolfe.
- Johnny, Tu N’es Pas Un Ange by Edith Piaf (Released by Columbia (DCF 140) in 1953) Edith Piaf was born on 19th December 1915 in Paris. Her father was a street performer of acrobatics, while her mother was a singer in cafes. She was abandoned by her mother soon after birth, and when her father enlisted in the army in 1916 he gave Edith to his mother, who ran a brothel in Normandy. In the late 1920s her father was again working as a street performer and she joined him, and began singing. In 1935 she started singing at Le Gerny’s club off the Champs- Elysees where she was given the nickname La Mome Piaf (The little sparrow). This led to her first recording contract. Over the next decade she became one of the biggest stars in France, and after the war ended in 1945 her fame spread internationally. Piaf had an eventful life, which has been dramatised in several films, most recently and successfully in 2007’s “La Vie en Rose”, named after one of her most famous songs. Piaf carried on working until her death in October 1963 and some of her most famous songs were from relatively late in her career-“Milord” in 1959, and “Non, Je ne regrette Rien” and “Exodus” in 1961.
- Shanghai by Robert English (Released by Parlophone (E-5360) in 1925) Little is known about Robert English, but he recorded other records such as “Where can I find a pal like Mother?”, “Tell all the world” and “Peggy O’Halloran”. He also recorded as Robert Howe in the 1910s.
- Royal Anthem of Roumania by Jumbo Military Band (Released by Jumbo (1449) in 1916.) The Jumbo label ran from 1908 to 1919 and released records by well known artistes such as George Formby (senior), Stanley Kirkby, The Two Filberts and Miss Jessie Broughton. The Jumbo Military band recorded several records for the label including a cover of Irving Berlin’s “Everybody’s doing it” “At a Georgia camp meeting” and “Selection of Pantomime melodies”.
- In Old Madrid by Jack Payne and his BBC Dance Orchestra (Released by Columbia (CB 321) in 1931. (see below)
- Moscow by Gracie Fields (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 3244) in 1929) 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. 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” on Rex 8557. She recorded for both Rex and Regal Zonophone until moving to Decca in 1941. Among her other big hits are “Walter Walter (lead me to the altar”)”, “The biggest aspidistra in the world”, “Wish me luck”, and “Clogs and shawl”. Although often remembered for her comedic songs, she recorded many non comedic romantic and religious songs. 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. Watch Gracie singing “The sweetest song in the world” from the film “We’re going to be rich” Here
- Underneath The Russian Moon by The Rhythm Maniacs (Released by Decca (F. 1583) in 1929). Decca Records was founded in early 1929 by Edward Lewis, and he decided the label should have a “house” band, which was The Rhythm Maniacs under the direction of Philip Lewis, and featuring Arthur Lally on saxophone and Sylvester Ahola on Trumpet. They were active for around 3 years,until Philip Lewis’ premature death in 1931; Arthur Lally played with Ambrose’s band and The Savoy Orpheans, as well as recording with his own band The Million-aires. He died in 1940 aged 39. The Rhythm Maniacs other records include “The wedding in the ark”, “When it’s springtime in the Rockies”, “What good am I without you?” and “Keepin’ out of mischief now”.
- My Californian Girl by The Elliotts (Released by The Winner (3323) in 1919) The Elliotts released many records for the Winner label in the 1910s and early ’20s, including “Down Home in Tennessee”, “After you’ve gone”, “Pucker up and whistle” and “Last night on the back porch”.
- Hunting Tigers Out In Indiah by Jack Payne and his BBC Dance Orchestra (Released by Columbia (CB 151) in 1930) (See Podcast 2 blog for more info on Jack Payne). There’s a great clip of Jack Payne and his band performing “Tiger Rag” in Paris here
- Welsh Medley by Savoy Orpheans at the Savoy Hotel, London (Released by Columbia (3403) in 1924.) The Savoy Orpheans were the resident band at The Savoy Hotel in London between 1923 and 1927, and were formed by Debroy Somers (born 1890, died 1952). During this time they released many records, including “Madame Pompadour”, “Say it with a Ukulele”, “What’ll I do” and “Let’s all go to Mary’s house”. When their tenure with the hotel ended at the end of 1927 they disbanded, although in 1931 several ex members, including pianist Carroll Gibbons formed a new band under the name The Savoy Hotel Orpheans. Debroy Somers went on to lead a band using his own name, who recorded many records throughout the ’30s and into the early ’40s.
- Song of the Emmenthaler Valley by The Alpine Yodelling Choir (Released by Regal (G 9429) in 1929). Yodelling can be traced back to the 16th century and was originally used in the central Alps by herders calling their stock and to communicate between Alpine villages. It became popular as entertainment in music halls and theatres during the 1830s, and peaked in popularity in the late 1920s after Jimmie Rodgers released “Blue Yodel number 1”. Since then there have been several famous yodellers-Bill Haley began his singing career as a yodeller before switching to Rock ‘n’ Roll, while Hank Snow began his career as “The Yodeling Ranger” before becoming a big country music star. Frank Ifield had a huge hit with “She taught me to yodel” in 1962 and “The Sound of Music”, one of the most successful films of the 1960s featured the yodelling song “The Lonely Goatherd”. Despite all this, “Song of the Emmenthaler Valley” appears to be The Alpine Yodelling Choir’s only record and very little is known about them!
- Captain Ginjah by Harry Fay Harry Fay began his recording career in 1909 and made many records over the next two and a half decades, mainly as a solo artist but also duets with Florrie Forde and Stanley Kirkby. Among the well known songs he recorded are “It’s a long way to Tipperary”, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, “Yes! We have no bananas”, “Bless ’em all”, “Hello! Here comes a jolly sailor”, “Gilbert the Filbert” and “I Do like an egg for my tea”. He also recorded under several pseudonyms, such as Charles Denton and Fred Vernon.
- On Her Doorstep Last Night by The Rhythmic Troubadours (with vocal chorus by Tom Barratt) (Released by Regal (G 9455) in 1929). Tom Barratt was active on the recording front from the mid ’20s to the early ’30s and sang with several bands on record-the Jay Wilbur Orchestra, the Nat Starr Orchestra and the Regent Orchestra among others, as well as recording under the pseudonym of Tom Bailey. The Rhythmic Trobadours other recordings included “Ali Baba’s Camel”, “Kiss me goodnight” and “Great Day”.
- All By Yourself in the Moonlight by Randolph Sutton (Released by Edison Bell Radio (895) in 1928) Randolph Sutton was born in 1888 in Bristol, and made his stage debut in 1913. He soon became a popular singer but only began recording in earnest in the late 1920s. His other recordings include “All by yourself in the moonlight”, “Oh! Arthur! (What have you done to Martha?)”, “Is Izzy Azzy Woz?”, “Drivin’ the geese to market” and “The sun has got his hat on (He’s coming out today)”. Sutton was a successful stage performer, appearing in many pantomimes and revues, as well as radio and TV appearances (he appeared on BBC TV’s “The Good old days” in 1954.) He continued working until his death, making his final stage appearance on 26th February 1969 in St. Albans, two days before he died. A month later, Radio 2 produced a tribute programme, introduced by George Martin. His influence was such that further tribute programmes were made by Radio 2 in 1980 and 1982.
- Banana Oil by Vaughn De Leath (Released by Columbia (3720) in 1925) Vaughn De Leath was born in 1894 in Illinois,USA, as Leonore Vonderlieth, moving to Los Angeles aged 12. She started singing during the 1910s and made her first radio broadcast in 1920 for New York’s 2XG station. The following year she began her recording career and over the next decade made records for Columbia, Brunswick, Okeh, Edison, Victor and others, both under her own name and using pseudonyms such as Sadie Green, Betty Brown and Gertrude Dwyer. Her recordings as Vaughn De Leath include “Are you lonesome tonight?”, “Under the moon” and “Looking at the world through rose coloured glasses”. She continued making radio appearances throughout the ’20s and ’30s but her career waned and she died in 1943, having suffered financial problems and alcohol addiction in later years.
- Bunkey-Doodle-I-Doh by Hal Swain and his Band (Released by Regal (G 9440) in 1929). Hal Swain was born on May 9th 1894 in Canada. He learned to play saxophone and formed a band which played in Toronto between 1921 and 1924 and was then offered a job in the UK. The band came over and played at the New Prince’s Restaurant in Piccadilly as The New Prince’s Toronto Band, also gaining a recording contract with Columbia, for whom they made records such as “Chick chick chicken”, “Ukulele Baby”, “Follow the swallow” and “Is Zat So?”. This band lasted until 1926, when Hal Swain left and formed Hal Swain’s New Toronto band and continued playing at the New Prince’s until 1928. During this time the BBC broadcast dozens of appearances by the band direct from the restaurant. He then made a series of records for various labels under the name Hal Swain and his band, including “Riding on a camel”, “Saxophobia”, “My baby just cares for me”, “Goodnight, Sweetheart”, and “Tango Lady”. Hal’s recording career dried up during the ’30s but in the late ’30s he teamed up with The Swing Sisters, three female accordion players, and this team lasted until the early ’50s. He died on September 1st 1966. You can see him in 1939 with The Swing sisters Here
- Umpa Umpa (Stick It Up Your Jumper) by The Two Leslies (Released by Regal Zonophone (MR 1920) in 1935.) The Two Leslies comprised Leslie Sarony (See Podcast 1 blog) and Leslie Holmes. Holmes, like Sarony, was a singer of novelty songs (and covered many of Sarony’s compositions) although not as prolific or successful. His solo recordings included “I’ve gone and lost my little Yo-Yo”,”The old kitchen kettle”,”Ask me another”(all 1932),”What do you give a nudist on her birthday?”(1934) and “Winter draws on”(1935). The pair joined forces in 1935 and performed as a duo until 1946. The Two Leslies records included “The New Sow”, “The Campbells are coming”, “I’m a little prairie flower” and “So ‘Andsome”. The phrase “Oompah oompah Stick it up your jumper” was used subsequently by comedian Jimmy Edwards and in several Carry on films, as well as appearing at the end of The Beatles’ song “I am the walrus”.
- Pass! Shoot! Goal! By Albert Whelan (Released by Imperial (2404) in 1930) Albert Whelan was born in Melbourne, Australia on 5 May 1875 and had some success in his homeland before emigrating to the UK. He started his recording career in 1905 and made many recordings right up to 1960, his recordings including “Over the garden wall”, “Barnacle Bill the sailor”, “We all go Oo, Ha ha! Together” and “Come and have a cuddle on the common”. He also made many appearances on BBC Radio from 1928 onwards, and during the 1950s introduced a regular programme on the home service called “Mutual Friends” on which he played records. As well as radio and recording work, he also appeared in many films, including “The Man from Chicago” (1930), “The girl in the Taxi” (1937), “Danny Boy” (1941) and “Candlelight in Algeria” (1944). He died on 19th February 1961.
- Sweet and Low by The Century Quartette (Released by Columbia (3278) in 1923). The music for “Sweet and Low” was written by Joseph Barnby with lyrics taken from a poem by Alfred Tennyson, in 1865. Barnby was born in 1838 in York, and became a chorister at the age of 7 before moving on to become an organist and conductor. He died in 1896. Tennyson was born in 1809 in Lincolnshire and after attending Grammar School in Louth began studying at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he published his first poems. He was appointed Poet Laureate in 1850, a position he held up until his death in 1892. “Sweet and Low” was recorded on 78 by many artistes, including The Zonophone Glee Party (1911), Big City Four (1919), Mr. Robert Woodville (1921), and The Cloister Bells (1951)
Tracks on the podcast are :
1.We parted on the shore by Mr Harry Lauder (Released by Zonophone (X-42582) c.1908). 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.
2.Daft Willy by Sandy Rowan(Released by Broadcast (484) in 1929.) Sandy Rowan was a Scottish comedian active during the late ’20s. His other recordings for Broadcast include “Just A Wee Deoch-an-Doris”, “I love a lassie”, “The cosy corner”, “Wanderin’ Willie”, and “All Scotch”. He first appeared on BBC radio in 1927 and was featured regularly for the next 5 years. After this he only appeared sporadically, for the last time in 1949. Apart from these few records for Broadcast, he doesn’t seem to have made any other recordings.
3. I‘ve got a lover up in Scotland by Mr Billy Williams (Released by Homophon (6851) c. 1913)
4. Jean from Aberdeen by Mr Billy Williams (Released by Cinch (5041) c. 1913 but probably a re-issue of the Zonophone recording from 1908) (For more information on Billy Williams see Podcast 11 Blog, from November 2016)
5. Grandfather’s bagpipes by Gracie Fields (Released by Rex Records (8617) in 1915.) (For more info on Gracie Fields see Podcast 1 blog). “Grandfather’s Bagpipes” was written by Jimmy Harper and Will Haines, who wrote or co-wrote some of Gracie Fields’ biggest hits such as “The Biggest Aspidistra in the world”, “Sally” and “Walter, Walter (lead me to the altar)” as well as the George Formby hit “In my little snapshot album.”
6. The Campbells are coming by The Two Leslies (Released by Regal Zonophone (MR 2225) in 1936.) (For more info on The Two Leslies, see Podcast 3 blog.)
7. When I get back tae Bonnie Scotland by Sandy Macgregor (Released by Regal (G 6481) in 1914.) This was a song written by Harry Lauder. Little is known about Sandy Macgregor, this seems to be his only record.
8. I’m the monster of Loch Ness by Leslie Holmes (Released by Rex Records (8094) in 1934.) Leslie Holmes was born in December 1901 in Newcastle upon Tyne, and died in December 1960. He was often billed as “Leslie Holmes (and his smiling voice)” and as well as a successful comedy singing career in the ’30s and ’40s (solo under his own name and as Roy Leslie and as part of The Two Leslies), he appeared in a couple of films-“Aunt Sally” in 1934 and “When you come home” in 1948.
9. Hoots Mon by Gordon Franks and his Orchestra (Released by Embassy (WB 312) in 1958.) “Hoots Mon” was a number 1 hit for Lord Rockingham’s XI in late 1958. This version was a cover version on Woolworth’s budget label, Embassy. Franks recorded regularly for the Embassy label, releasing tribute albums to Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey. He went on to record for Parlophone in the early ’60s, releasing singles of the theme tunes to TV series “The Rag Trade” and “Outbreak of Murder”. Composing music for TV shows became Franks’ main activity in the ’60s and ’70s, his credits including “Sykes”, “Father dear Father” and “Citizen James”.
10. The end of the road by Sir Harry Lauder. (Released by Zonophone (G.O. 64) in 1925.) 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.
Tracks featured on the podcast are :
- Bells on Christmas day by David Clews (Released on HMV (POP 127) in 1955). David Clews was a child singer who appears to have had a very short career-this seems to be the only record he made! Released at the end of 1955, when vinyl 45s had started to be pressed for the better selling artists, this was only released on 78, so it seems HMV didn’t have much faith in its chances, and they were right as it wasn’t a hit. The flip side was another Christmas song, “Did Santa have a daddy?”
- Christmas Day at the Bugginses Part 1 by Mabel Constanduros assisted by Michael Hogan (Released on Broadcast (471) in 1929.) (See blog on Podcast 12 for more info).
- Davy Crockett is helping Santa Claus by Joe Lynch (Released on Beltona (BE 2668) in 1956.) Joe Lynch was an Irish actor, singer and songwriter, born in July 1925. He first found fame in Ireland in the ’50s with his radio show “Living with Lynch”. He began recording for the Beltona label in 1956, and over the next two decades he ran dual careers as singer, radio presenter and actor. He went on to appear in the TV comedy “Never mind the quality, feel the width” and as Elsie Tanner’s boyfriend in the soap opera “Coronation Street.” His film roles include “Loot” (1970), “The Outsider” (1980) and “Eat the peach” (1986). He died in August 2001. Davy Crockett was a 19th Century American folk hero and politician. In the 1950s Disney made a TV series based on him, and “The ballad of Davy Crockett” was a hit in 1955 for Bill Hayes, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Fess Parker. This song was an attempt to gain another hit from the Davy Crockett legend but sadly failed!
- Christmas questions by Joe Ward (Released by Parlophone (R 4110) in 1955.) This was the B side of “Nuttin’ for Christmas”, featured in the Christmas Eve Podcast-see Podcast 12 blog for more info.
- John Henry’s Christmas Eve parts 1 and 2 by John Henry and Company (Released by HMV (B 3665) in 1930.) Now largely forgotten, John Henry recorded several records from the early ’20s to the early ’30s, often with his side-kick “Blossom”. He began his recording career around 1924 for His Master’s Voice and his records included “John Henry Calling” (1924), “My wireless set” (1925) and “Going the pace that kills” (1928). His real name was Norman Clapham and he became one of the first radio stars, appearing on BBC radio for the first time in October 1923. He was a radio regular for a few years but by 1930 radio appearances had dried up, although he carried on making records into the early ’30s (having moved to Regal Records). Sadly, depressed by the death of his partner, he took his own life in May 1934.
- The Santa Claus Express by Jay Wilbur and his band (Released by Rex (8642) in 1935. Jay Wilbur was born (as Wilbur Blinco) in 1898. He learned piano and by 1928 he had his own band, which was resident at the Tricity Hotel in London. He made his first recordings for the Dominion label, where he became musical director-his records for Dominion included “Spread a little happiness”, “Button up your overcoat” and “When Niccolo plays the Piccolo”. He moved to the Imperial label in 1931, then onto Rex Records in 1933, where he continued to record for over a decade. His Rex releases include “The wedding of Mr. Mickey Mouse”, “Sweetmeat Joe, the candy man”, “The down and out blues” and “Someone’s rocking my dreamboat”. After a brief period with Decca, he stopped recording in the late ’40s. He was also a popular radio star, appearing on BBC radio from 1936 onwards, with the programmes “Melody from the sky” and “Hi Gang!”. In later years he lived in South Africa, and died there in 1968.
- White Christmas by Ambrose (Released by Decca (F. 8193) in 1942.) Ambrose was born in Russia in 1896, but his family moved to the UK when he was a child. As a teenager he moved to New York and it was there he played in his first band, before returning to the UK in 1922, where he formed a new band and began playing in London. He made his first record in 1930 and in the next few years recorded for His Master’s Voice, Regal Zonophone and Brunswick before signing to Decca where he made the bulk of his recordings. He spent the ’30s and ’40s playing residencies at various venues-The Mayfair Hotel, The Embassy Club and Ciro’s Club, which he co-owned with American bandleader Jack Harris, as well as pursuing a prolific recording career (he carried on recording at Decca until 1949). He also discovered Vera Lynn, who sang with his band from 1937-1940. His career waned during the ’50s but he discovered another female singer, Kathy Kirby, who he managed for the rest of his life. He died in 1971. “White Christmas” is one of the best known festive songs, the version by Bing Crosby being one of the biggest selling singles of all time (with an estimated 50 million sales).Total sales of all versions are estimated at over 100 million. It was written in 1942 by Irving Berlin and was used in the film “Holiday Inn”. The song has also been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, The Drifters, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Otis Redding, Barbara Streisand, Neil Diamond, Destiny’s Child, Neil Sedaka, Erasure and many, many others!
- Christmas Melodies by the fireside Part 2 by Radio Melody Boys (Released by Edison Bell Radio (1267) in 1929) (See Christmas Eve podcast blog for more info)
- Christmas Day at the Bugginses Part 2 by Mabel Constanduros assisted by Michael Hogan (Released on Broadcast (471) in 1929.) (See blog on Podcast 12 for more info).
- Jolly Old Christmas Part 2 by Leslie Sarony (Originally released by Imperial (2779) in 1932.) (For more info on Leslie Sarony see blog for Podcast 1) If you like Leslie Sarony check out the 78Man albums “78Man Presents Leslie Sarony” and “78Man presents Leslie Sarony Vol. 2” on download and streaming services (not available in the US).
The Podcasts are now being uploaded as videos to You Tube, with extra information about the records played. At the time of writing, the first three have been uploaded, and we aim to add them at the rate of one per week. The channel can be found HERE.
- Please by The Blue Mountaineers (Released in 1932 by Broadcast Four Tune). “Please” was a hit for Bing Crosby in 1932, and it’s a song which made a big impression on the young John Lennon over a decade later. The first line of the song goes “Oh Please, lend your little ears to my pleas” and John, a big reader and interested in words, was fascinated by the double meaning of the words please/pleas. This influenced him later when he came to write the song “Please Please Me”. The Blue Mountaineers recorded quite a few records for the Broadcast labels from 1932-1934, and consisted mainly of musicians from Ambrose’s band, often with Nat Gonella or Sam Browne on vocals. Other Blue Mountaineers recordings include “Bahama Mama”, “Say to yourself I will be happy”, “Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed”, and “Is I in love? I Is!”.
- Ain’t she sweet by Eddie Sheldon (Released by Edison Bell Winner (4631) in 1927.) “Ain’t she sweet” was a popular song when it was first released in 1927, with multiple versions recorded. The song remained popular and was covered in 1956 by Gene Vincent, and it was this version that The Beatles covered in their early live sets, including when they played in Hamburg starting in 1960. In 1961 while still in Germany they scored a recording contract with Polydor, mainly as backing band for Tony Sheridan, but one of the songs recorded was their version of “Ain’t she sweet” with vocals by John Lennon. Unreleased at the time, it was released as a single in the UK in 1964, reaching number 29. Eddie Sheldon was active as a singer in the late ’20s but didn’t have a lasting career. Other recordings by him include “Let me call you sweetheart”,”Meet me at Twilight” and “Shepherd of the hills”.
- I wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate by Muggsy Spanier and his Ragtime Band (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 9047) in 1940). “I wish I could shimmy like my Sister Kate” was written in 1919 by Clarence Williams and Armand Piron. The song became a jazz standard and was revived in 1960 by The Olympics-it was probably this version that prompted The Beatles to start covering the song in their arduous Hamburg stage act, where they were expected to play for hours on end every night. They were still playing it when they were recorded live in Hamburg in December 1962, a recording subsequently released for the first time in 1977 (and many times since). Muggsy Spanier was born in Chicago in 1901 and went on to make his name as a cornet player in several Dixieland Jazz bands. During his career he worked with other legendary jazz musicians such as Earl Hines, Fats Waller, Sidney Bechet and Bob Crosby. He died in 1967.
- Falling in love again by Jack Leon’s Dance Band (Released by Piccadilly (617) in 1930. “Falling in love again” was written in 1930 by Friedrich Hollaender and originally had German lyrics. The English lyrics were written by Sammy Lerner. The song was famously sung by Marlene Dietrich in the film The Blue Angel, and became a standard. The Beatles played it in their Hamburg sets and it’s another song captured on their live Hamburg tape. Jack Leon made several records in the late ’20s and early ’30s, including “Pagan love song”, “On the sunny side of the street” and “I want to be bad”.
- Robin Hood by Dick James (Released by Parlophone (R 4117) in 1956). George Martin started working for EMI’s Parlophone label in 1950 and was responsible for producing many of the records released on the label from then on; in 1955 he was promoted to head of the label. One of his successes was this recording in 1956 by Dick James, born in 1920 and a professional singer since 1940. As his singing career petered out in the late ’50s, James turned to music publishing, starting his own Dick James Music publishing company in 1961.Through his friendship with Martin, he became involved with The Beatles’ publishing-their Northern Songs company was administered via Dick James Music, although the relationship soured towards the end of the ’60s. Dick James began his own record label (DJM) and had huge success with Elton John in the ’70s. He died in 1986.
- Raunchy by Billy Vaughan and his Orchestra (Released by London (HLD 8522) in 1957. “Raunchy” plays an important part in The Beatles story as it was the tune which George Harrison played to John Lennon when he was introduced to him by Paul McCartney. Despite George being more than 2 years younger than John he was invited to join the band because of how well he played this song. “Raunchy” was originally released by Bill Justus, who co-wrote the song with Sidney Manker.American Billy Vaughan was born in 1919 and learnt to play several instruments as a child but it was not until after the end of World War 2 that he decided to make a career as a musician. He had success in the early ’50s as a member of The Hilltoppers, then began working for Dot Records as music director and started his own orchestra, going on to have over 40 hits in the US, although he had little success in the UK. He died in 1991.
- In the middle of the house by Alma Cogan (Released by His Master’s Voice (POP 261) in 1956). Alma Cogan was born in 1932 in London. She began singing as a child, and at 14 was recommended by Vera Lynn for a variety show in Brighton. By the age of 20 she had been signed to HMV, and had her first hit with “Bell Bottom Blues” in 1954. Many UK hits followed, including the number 1 “Dreamboat” in 1955. “In the middle of the house” made number 20 in 1956. Her popularity began to wane in the UK in the early ’60s, although she remained popular overseas. Alma met The Beatles at a recording of the TV show “Ready Steady Go!” in 1964 and became friends with them, being especially close to John Lennon who it is alleged she had an affair with. Alma made her last recordings in 1965, which included a couple of Beatles covers, but failing health meant her career started to falter. She made a few public appearances in 1966 but died in October, aged just 34.
- I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter by Billy Williams. “I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter” was written in 1935 by Fred Ahlert and Joe Young and was an immediate hit when recorded by Fats Waller and again the following year when The Boswell Sisters recorded it. Later versions include those by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Dean Martin. The version by Billy Williams was a major hit in 1957, and became a favourite of the young Paul McCartney, although it doesn’t seem to have been performed by The Beatles/Quarrymen at the time. (Bill Haley & The Comets also recorded a version around this time). Decades later, Paul McCartney finally recorded a version of the song for his 2012 album “Kisses on the bottom” (a title taken from the lyrics to the song). Billy Williams (not to be confued with the Australian Billy Williams of “Little Willie’s Woodbines” fame) was born in Texas in 1910 and was the lead singer of The Charioteers between 1930 and 1950, when he formed his own band. Although he had some smaller hits in the US, “I’m gonna…” was his biggest, and his only hit in the UK. He died in 1972.
- That’ll be the day by The Crickets (Released by Coral (Q 72279) in 1957). Buddy Holly and The Crickets were a big influence on John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison and when, as the Quarrymen, they made their first studio recording in 1958, they chose “That’ll be the day” as one side of the two sided acetate they recorded. (Their version was finally released on the “Anthology 1” album in 1995.) The Crickets hit version of the song was released in 1957, although Holly had recorded a version in 1956 with The Three Tunes. The song was written by Holly and Jerry Allison, although the Crickets version also credits producer Norman Petty, despite him having no hand in writing the song. Buddy Holly was born in 1936 in Lubbock, Texas and had his first hit with “That’ll be the day” in 1957. His career was short as he was killed in an air crash on Feb 3 1959 but in that time he wrote and recorded many classics (“Rave on”, “Peggy Sue”, “It doesn’t matter any more”, “Oh Boy”, “Maybe baby” etc.) and left a legacy which still resonates today.