What a strange year its been. Lets forget about it and party. Here to help us is: Jimmy Shand- Blue Bell Polka, Ian Macpherson- My Ain Folk, Kenneth McKellar- Ae Fond Kiss, The Logan Family- A new year’s sing song, Tom Wright- McGinty’s Meal and Ale(Part 2), and from 1910, P.A Hope with Auld Lang Syne. Here’s tae us.. You’ll be hearing from me again in 2021. A happy and healthy one to you all.
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Sort of a Christmas special but not really. Just warm, comforting and fun music. We hear from Fats Domino La, La, Tommy Dorsey- I’m getting sentimental over you, Harry Parry and his Radio Rhythm Club Sextet- Dim Blues, Nat King Cole- My Flaming Heart, Eartha Kitt- African Lullaby, Perry Como- Magic Moments, Flanagan and Allen- Sending out an SOS for you and Hometown, John Kirkby- Only a paper moon, Harry Parry with vocals by Doreen Villiers- Don’t be that way and Bounce me brother me a solid four, Mel Torme- Mountain Greenery and Hal McIntyre and South Bayou Shuffle. Stay safe and have fun.
P.S Coorie is Scots for cuddle.
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Three artists whose voices were precursors to Rock and Roll. Four from old Leather lungs or steel tonsils himself, Frankie Laine. Jealousy, That’s my desire, Tarriers song and Blowing wild. Laine had a career spanning an astonishing 75 years. He successfully sang in so many genres of music and was a man with a keen sense of social justice. His good friend Kay Starr provides two tracks: Wheel of Fortune and I’ll always be in love with you. Born on a reservation in Oklahoma in 1922 her heritage was very much native American. She was singing on the radio at the age of 10. She’s become a firm favourite of Forgotten Songs. Someone new to FS, Johnny Ray. Another highly distinctive voice. Ray was highly popular throughout the 1950s and although dropped by his US record label in 1960 his career successfully continued in Britain and Australia. He gives us: The only girl I’ll ever loved and In the Candlelight. Quite restrained performances from this often dramatic performer. Patti Page, another friend of Frankie Laine sings Sentimental music. We move away from the 1950s with two delightful tracks from the 20s Frank Ferera and John Paaluhi, Hawaiian Mother of mine and The London Accordion Band with It was a Tango. Lulu Zeiglar and Vido Musso give us another change of direction. We finish with the magnificent voice of Paul Robeson: Just a wearin’ for you and Eriskay love lilt. His bass baritone resonates with emotional in these wistful songs. A lovely but slightly melancholic end to to FS51
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Novelty or comic records of bygone years can be sadly lacking in humour to our modern ears but these are three of my favourites. Phyllis Robins sings ‘ In my little bottom drawer,’ from 1934. It features a wonderful list of items she has collected, such as a bassinet, lino, flannelette pyjamas and a bath to keep the coal in. Tom Wright, a North East of Scotland Bothy Ballad singer, does a magnificent rendition of the tongue twisting ‘ McGinty’s Meal and Ale. A song that celebrates food, drink and feasting. Its in the broadest Scots. We finish with My Yodelling Lancashire Lass from Harry Torrani. Lovely wee love song all about his mill worker girlfriend. It mentions ‘wakes week,’ the annual week many work places and trades took off in the North West of England in the first half of the 20th century.
All three songs are full of wonderful period detail and are great social history documents. They are also great tunes, fun and from unjustly neglected artists. Perfect for Forgotten Songs.
The word was that a whole bunch of 78s had turned up in a charity shop in Portobello. That’s the Portobello on the outskirts of Edinburgh and not the famous London market. No doubt 78s turn up there all the time. This was in the early days of Forgotten Songs from the Broom Cupboard and back then I was only playing records from the collection we had gathered over the years. My addiction to the shellac discs hadn’t really kicked in. So I sauntered along and there they were on the bottom shelf, below the LPs and 45s. Well over a 100 of them, I mean well over a 100. The thing is they were all in new, thick card sleeves, the artist and song written in ink pen long hand on the cover. Looking like they had been catalogued and were from a collection. This was a charity where everything was 99 pence. Not quite believing my luck I checked that fact with the assistant and got stuck in. I think on that visit I got about 30 records. An interesting mix. Of course there were some Bing Crosby, Guy Mitchell, Vera Lynn and Jimmy Shand. There is always Jimmy Shand, this is Scotland and the accordion was big news here. There were others I’d never heard of: Jan Savitt, Carson Robinson, Husk O’ Hara. They sound different and fun and at 99p they were worth a shot. There was also Bob Skyles and his Skyrockets, who were probably some sort of dance band, there were two of them, I took both. Actually I think it was the label that interested me the most. Not a standard HMV, Columbia or Parlophone but a Bluebird label.
So that is how way over here, in Scotland I discovered the magnificence of Western Swing. I didn’t know Bob Skyles and his Skyrockets were that particular genre of music then. What I did know was was these four tracks were different. This wasn’t dance band music, it was a crazy blend of country, novelty, blue grass, goodness knows what and these fellas were having fun. I wished I’d been in the studio with them or at a dance bopping away to this infectious sound.
A short video about those fine purveyors of Western Swing music that I recorded last year, when our studio really was a broom cupboard. Bob and the boys, in reality the Kendrick brothers, remain firm favourites with me. Their exuberant, fun recordings make me smile every time I listen. Still can’t believe how two of these Bluebird recordings from 1938 turned up in a charity shop in Edinburgh. Oh lucky day!
Another good piece of fortune has been that this video has brought me in contact with the daughter and niece of the band, Bob, Cliff and Sandford Kendrick. So massive thanks to Peg and her mum in the USA for reaching out across ‘the pond’ to Scotland. Your dad and uncles are still entertaining us.
A right mix of records this time round. 1910 to 1956. Sixteen tons- Tennessee Ernie Ford, A little bit Independent-Dave King, Thirteen Women- Bill Haley, Irish Mambo- Alma Cogan, I can’t tell a Waltz from a Tango- Ray Burns, In the Garden- George Beverley Shea, Jonah and the Whale- Louis Armstrong, Cuban Love Song- London Piano Accordion Band, Zingarella Innamorata- Livi Emilio, Home- Roy Smeck and his Vita Trio, My Girl from Slumber Town- Arizona Jack, The Cord- Alexander Prince, Blues in my Condition- Cootie Williams, Concerto for Clarinet- Artie Shaw and Cant Sans Paroles- JH Squire Celeste Octet.
Music and songs from an unusual source. Roberto Inglez , a band leader who specialised in Latin American music was born Robert(Bertie) Inglis in Elgin, Scotland. Interesting for me, here in Edinburgh, Bertie’s grandparents lived in Portobello. That is about a miles from where I sit writing this and he is known to have based himself there while touring.
Harry Torrani, reckoned to be one of best yodellers of his day, was billed as The yodelling cowboy from Chesterfield. That’s in Derbyshire, England. He certainly looked the part and, to be fair, was a damn fine yodeller.
Its lurve all the way in episode 46. Frankie Laine start us off with a tale of passion amongst the oil fields, Blowing wild. Its a song full of sweep and crescendo, that certainly suits old ‘leather lungs.’ His good pal Kay Starr follows him. Both are acknowledged as having vocal styles that influenced later rock and roll singer. Connie or Connee Boswell with- This time its love, from 1933. An influence on Ella Fitzgerald, she was reckoned to be one of the finest Jazz vocalists of her time. A first time play on Forgotten songs, Peggy Lee, with her biggest hit Mr Wonderful. Also Alma Cogan, Lonnie Donegan and Eartha Kitt. Two from her, Eartha being playful and wistful. I’ve put Hildegarde and Hutch together. I’m sure they would have approved. Noel Coward would have done. Check out his live version of Lets do it on YouTube. Hot Lips Page sings of his love, or fear maybe, of a very dominant women in My Fightin Gal. Roberto Murolo sings a Corsican love song, Tu Duorme Amorre. Geeta Dutt, a prolific Indian playback singer, with a track from the 1950 Gujarati film Gadano Bel. Sadly she died in her early 40s but still managed to record around 2000 songs in her career. Jimmie Rodgers also sadly died young at 35. Two from him, Frankie and Johnny, the best version, and Jimmie being very risque with Everyone does it in Hawaii. Yes of course a love song special has to finish with this one- Frankie Froba and the boys with Jimmy Atkins vocals, all together now: Love song in 32 bars. Stay safe out there.
Sugar Chile Robinson with Numbers Boogie and Bouncing Ball Boogie. We’re a big fan of Robinson here, that most grounded of child stars. Separating his two tracks is Harry Parry and his Radio Rhythm Club Sextet, vocals by Doreen Villiers. Why has Harry been forgotten? Beats me. Also up: Twelfth street rag- Count Basie, The Moose- Charlie Barnet, The Drummer’s band- Gene Krupa, The Caravan- Duke Ellington, I’m crazy about my baby- Fats Waller, Wouldn’t it be nice- Josephine Bradley and Bless you- Archie Lewis. Lovely 1920s track from Jefferies and his Rialto Orchestra. They played the famed Marine Gardens in Edinburgh in 1926. The Midnight Minstrels do a great version of If I had a talking picture of you. Two black artists who were hugely popular in Britain in the 1920s and 30s were US born Layton and Johnstone. I’ve come across so many of their records in my travels. Yet their contribution to entertainment here seems largely forgotten. We have two from them. A new pairing to Forgotten Songs are Johnny Marvin and Ed Smalle. They give us a lovely, low key rendition of Blue Skies. We make a dreamy exit with Lorrae Desmond and Far way and In a lonesome town with Les Paul and Mary Ford. Keep well and stay safe.