Category Archives: Comedy

78Man Podcast No. 19-Film Music

This is the first of an occasional series of podcasts featuring music used in films. It can be found on itunes Here or on Soundcloud Here . Tracks heard on the podcast are :

  1.  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.
  2.  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.
  3.  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.
  4.  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).
  5.  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.
  6.  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.
  7.  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.
  8.  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.
  9.  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.

78Man Podcast No. 18-Around the World Part 2

This podcast sees the conclusion of our trip around the world and can be heard on Itunes here or on Soundcloud here . Tracks heard on this podcast are :

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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”.
  4. In Old Madrid by Jack Payne and his BBC Dance Orchestra (Released by Columbia (CB 321) in 1931. (see below)
  5. 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
  6. 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”.
  7. 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”.
  8. 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
  9. 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.

78Man Podcast Number 14-Scotland

In honour of Burns night, the 14th 78Man Podcast has Scotland as its theme. It can be heard on Itunes Here     and Soundcloud Here

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.

78Man Presents Leslie Sarony Vol 2

Now available for download or streaming at Itunes (download Here or stream Here ) and Spotify Here as well as other download and streaming sites. Tracks are :

  1. At the old pig and whistle (Originally released on Imperial 2887, 1933)
  2. I’m Courtin’ Sairey Green (Rex 8309, 1934)
  3. Gorgonzola (Imperial 2379, 1930)
  4. Wheezy Anna’s wedding day (Rex 8069, 1933)
  5. Bashful Tom (Rex 8309, 1934)
  6. Skiddley Dumpty Di Do (Regal Zonophone MR 1922, 1935)
  7. Everybody loves the races (Eclipse 735, 1934)
  8. The Monkey on a string (Rex 8069, 1933)
  9. Funny Stories (Imperial 2686, 1932)
  10. Rhymes Part 1 (Eclipse 140, 1932)
  11. Rhymes Part 2 (Eclipse 140, 1932)
  12. How long has this been going on? (Imperial 1918, 1928)
  13. You can feel it doing you good (Imperial 1995, 1928)
  14. The Alpine Milkman (Imperial 2332, 1930)
  15. Why is the bacon so tough ? (Imperial 1995, 1928)
  16. I caught two cods cuddling (Imperial 1918, 1928)
  17. I like to jump upon a bike (Eclipse 735, 1934)
  18. Stories (Stop me if you’ve heard this one) (Imperial 2686, 1932)
  19. Leslie Sarony Memories Part 1 (Rex 8236, 1934)
  20. Leslie Sarony Memories Part 2 (Rex 8236, 1934)

(For copyright reasons this album is not available in the US)

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.