- 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.