Tag Archives: The Two Leslies

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 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 Favourites Vol. 2

78Man Favourites Vol. 2 is the second in an ongoing series of albums featuring restored transfers of 78s, available to download or stream at iTunes HERE or to stream on Spotify HERE

Tracks on this release are :

  1. The Music goes ‘Round and Around-The BBC Dance Orchestra
  2. Shut the door, they’re coming through the window-Roy Fox and his Band
  3. The Girl in the upstairs flat-Joe Loss and his Band
  4. Ali Baba’s Camel Pt. 1 & 2-Cicely Courtneidge
  5. Riding down from Bangor-Frank Crumit
  6. Banana Oil-Vaughn De Leath
  7. Betty Driver Medley Pt. 1 & 2-Betty Driver
  8. The Wibbly wobbly walk-Fred Eliot
  9. Mrs Rush and her scrubbing brush-Randolph Sutton
  10. Bye bye blues-Bert Lown & his Orchestra
  11. The Bum Song-Bud and Joe Billings
  12. Coo! Lovaduck! Crikey! Coo! Blimey!-The Two Leslies
  13. Singin’ in the bathtub-Alfredo & his Band
  14. Knitting-Arthur Askey
  15. Nero-Roy Leslie
  16. On a local train journey-The Commodore Grand Orchestra
  17. The Rain came pitter patter down-Mr Lovejoy, Enoch and Ramsbottom
  18. Potato Pete-Harry Roy and his Band
  19. Whoops! We’re broke again-Syd Roy and his R K Olians
  20. Tip toe through the tulips-Russ Hamilton