In the studio my guest is a Decca XL Portable wind up record player. So many of these lovely machines were taken to the front in world War One that they were known as the ‘Trench gramophone.’ ‘Mic’d’ up it plays us three records. It needs a bit of TLC. You will hear me mention its running a little fast. I’ve made adjustments in editing, hopefully sounds better. Via the Decca we have Enrico Caruso singing Lolita, from 1908. He was one of the first big recording stars of the 20th century. Mr Evan Williams, born in the US of Welsh parents, he had a successful career both sides of the Atlantic. Sadly we don’t get a lot of his version of My Ain Folk(1914). Lastly, Scottish Superstar Harry Lauder with ‘Ta ta my bonnie Maggie Darling(1914). The interloper is a 1934 Eclipse record from Master Wilfred Eaton but it is called ‘Songs from long ago.’ Master Wilfred also sang under the name Master Joe Petersen. Such a vogue for boy sopranos in the 1930s. When a record company (Rex?) decided they wanted some of the action they employed Mary O’Rourke to masquerade as their boy soprano. Mary was still performing as Joe when she was 50. Otherwise we have Charles Penrose singing one of ‘laughing’ song (1922), Miss Elsie Southgate and her sister Dorothy (1915), perform ‘Ave Maria.’ George Robey sings the very cheeky ‘And that’s that’ in 1915. In the comic monologue towards the end of the record he mentions the humiliation of having go into the studio to shout into a pipe to record the song! Lastly from 1913 Billy Williams. Another big music hall star, born in Australia, he gives us the rather saucy ‘The worst of it is I like it.’
published on July 29, 2020, by Miles
Three dance records to start us off. Two different takes on the accordian – Jimmy Shand with Scottish dance in strict tempo and the far from strict tempo Bob Skyles and his Sky Rockets with ‘Swinging with the accordian man.’ Then its authentic Canadian Square Dance with the Red River Boys on the Melotone label. Also up: Anne Shelton, Savoy Havana Band, Harry Roy and his Ragamuffins and Sid Philipps and his band and Lita Rosa (pictured). Phylis Robbins, Sheffield’s blonde bombshell, we’ve played her before doing a comedy song but this is a straight rendition of a love song- rather good too. Randolph Sutton from 1930 and ‘Put your troubles through the mangle.’ To our ears its more social history than comedy. A change of genre and country, two from France: Jean Sablon and Charles Trenet. Trenet sings the lovely ‘La Mer.’ To take us out we have both sides of a Mugsy Spanier record, ‘Someday sweetheart and That Da Da Strain. In between its the pared down simplicity of Jess Stacy, Gene Krupa and Israel Crosby and Barrel House. Top tunes, one and all, in their very own way.
published on June 17, 2020, by Miles
Music and song from the years between the two World Wars. As always we steer away from the big names. Claude Hopkins starts us off with Washington Shuffle. He was born in Virginia and was a talented stride piano player and arranger. In 1925 he went to Europe as the musical director of The Revue Negre. Josephine Baker was a performer in that Revue. Next Cliff Edwards, Ukelele Ike, the voice of Jiminy Cricket and friend to Buster Keaton. Then we have Hawaiiian music from Frank Ferrara followed by three on the Zonophone label- International Novelty Quarette, Bud Billings and Carson Robinson and Esther Coleman. Next we have the extrememly pukka Uncle Mac, BBC Radio children’s presenter with some nursery rhymes. Early jazz follows from Jasper Taylor’s State Street Boys, 1926 and from the same year The Vernons sing the very understanding ‘I don’t care what you used to be.’ Two from the prolific Jay Wilber, one under his name, the other under The Connecticut Collegians. Harry Reser, another prolific band leader, under the name The Clevelanders. From the north east of Scotland the tongue twisting ‘McGinty’s Meal and Ale’. Sing along if you can!! We finish with Mildred Bailey, The Queen of Swing from 1938 with ‘As long as you live you’ll be dead when you die.’ If you want to put faces to some of the artists I play, check out the Forgotten Songs playlist here.
published on May 11, 2020, by Miles
The first of many bespoke podcast recordings to come. Its the usual eclectic mix of tunes. The mysterious Nino Rico orchestra play Rico Vacilon. Who were these fellas? Jane Forrest is another artist with no online biography. Glasgow born Tommy Watt had a long career as a band leader and arranger and is father to Ben Watt from Everything but the Girl. Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots, Winifred Atwell and The Light Crust Doughboys make another appearance. Short tributes to listeners in Virginia with Spring time in the Blue Ridge Mountains and California with The Californian Ramblers. Sadly both records are a little scratchy. Boogie Woogie Stomp from Albert Ammons, 1936. Great friend of Mead Lux Lewis, they were both taxi drivers in the 1920s. Imagine being picked up by them! Baritone Gilbert Austin sings a plaintive ‘Why can’t we be sweethearts.’ He sang under at least 12 other names. Suzette Tarr was a cockney stage and radio star from 1930s and 40s. She sings ‘Alf.’ Hildegarde was born Loretta Snell in Wisconsin in 1906. She was an international cabaret star and inspired other artists such as Miss Piggy and Liberace! We end going out in to the dark beyond with the theme from the 1950s BBC radio series ‘Journey into Space.’ Now that is spacey.
published on May 4, 2020, by Miles
Can’t resist starting off ‘Mountain Greenery,’ its those lyric, that delivery. Tennessee Ernie with the faintly rude sounding ‘Kiss me big.’ Patti Page, a massive selling artist in the 1950s, on a Trutone South African label record. George Hall and his Orch, vocals by Dolly Dawn. Ella Fitzgerald, no less, credits Dolly as an influence. Dolly eventually took over the orchestra and it become Dolly and her Dawn patrol. Also George Morgan, David Whitfield, Turner Layton, Owen Fallon and his Californians, McKenzie and Condon’s Chicagoans. Early music from Carl Dolmetch. Original Dixieland Jazz Band, 1918, and Scotlands first internation super star Harry Lauder from 1913. My personal favorite and new discovery, Australian Lorrae Desmond. A cracking, Stanley Black orchestrated, track. Delighted to say she’s still with us. There’s more of course.
published on April 27, 2020, by Miles
A third of the show is dedicated to Skiffle. Chas McDevitt and Nancy Whisky begin proceedings. Chas does some whistling during the song and Nancy wasn’t too happy about it apparently. Both artists were Glasgow born. Followed by The Vipers and then four from the ‘master’ of skiffle and so much more, Lonnie Donegan. In amongst that Morris and Mitch explain Skiffle in ‘What is a Skiffler?’ Also Hal McIntyre, Les Brown Orch (featuring Doris Day,) Favorites the McCravey Bros and Fats Waller. Bet they never thought they’d share the bill! Rosemary Clooney teams up with Marlene Dietrich for the wonderful ‘Too old to cut the mustard anymore.’ I like Rosemary alot but she is upstaged in this one. Red McKenzie and Tiny Bradshaw sees us out. Marvellous.
published on April 22, 2020, by Miles
Melvin Jerome Blanc, the man of a thousands voices- Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Barney Rubble and Bugs. So many Looney Tunes favourites. Three from Bob Crosby, including a Shakespearian sonnet. Les Compagnons De La Chanson and The Three Bells. Lovely Gallic harmony. A ‘B’ side, In the Light of the Silvery Moon but what is the big hit on the other side? Nat King Cole and The Four Knights, more Winifred Atwell, Georgia Gibbs, Jean Goldkette and Gary Miller, the singing voice of Troy Tempest in Stingray. A pioneering Rock and Roll star, who last year was touring Britain at the age of 82, Charlie Gracie. Early country and Western Swing from The Hill Billies and Hoosiers Hot Shots. Two songs in Scots. The pre 1st World War, ‘We’ll hae just Anither.’ Its from Hector Gordon, he’s a bit of a mystery. More up to date and no mystery Joe Gordon and The Folk Four, A regular in The White Heather Club on TV in the 60s. In amongst all this the magnificent Harry Parry (pictured) and his Radio Rhyhm Sextet, vocals by Doreen Villiers. What a title ‘ Bounch me, brother, with a solid four.’
published on March 25, 2020, by Miles
The first Forgotten Songs from the Broom Cupboard to be recorded as a podcast. Its the same format as ever, an eclectic mix of lesser known, forgotten and neglected artists and songs. Some ‘B’ sides too. All on good old 78rpm. Its a Scottish start – the Trinidad born pianist Winifred Atwell launches us with Highland Boogie. Listen out for the mad bagpipes. A proper pipe band with The Bowhill Colliery Pipe Band next (pictured). They won the Pipe Band World Championship in 1947. Kay Starr, Kitty Kallen, Lonnie Donegan, Bill Haley – with more Boogie. Richard Tauber on a Parlophone Odeon Label is our oldest record – 1942. Otherwise its 1950s all the way. Teresa Brewer was one of the most prolific singers of the 1950s, covering all genres she is reckoned to have recorded over 600 tracks in the decade. Here she sings Wang, Wang Blues. Is it just me or is it rather naughty? Then we have a new discovery for me: Arthur Godfrey, U.S radio and TV broadcaster and entertainer. A troubled man by all accounts. It’s an entertaining record though. There’s more of course.
published on March 18, 2020, by Miles
William Hannah (pictured) was the top Scottish accordian player in the 1920s and 30s and the rider of fast motorbikes. We have Georgia Gibb, Dorothy Squire and a Capitol, single sided promotional record from June Christy, ‘Not I.’ Its a cracker. A couple of Woolworth’s own brand labels Elipse and Embassy. Both evocative of their times. In the same vein Columbia’s own house band, The Denza Dance Band. Some pure cheese from The Hill Billies and Old Faithful. Its a raucous start with a Bill Haley ‘B’ side and Bob Crosby and his Bob Cats. Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy are Scratching in the Dust. Great band name and song title. It was written by Mary Lou William. Mentor and friend to such greats as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespsie and Thelonius Monk. There’s more of course.
published on March 8, 2020, by Miles
Rock Island Line the song that originated in the USA and came over to UK to be sung by Lonnie Donegan. We have a 45rpm sneaking in. A local song, not even Edinburgh, it’s Leith and from the 1980s, it’s certainly forgotten and it’s a mystery artist- J Sutcliffe. Wingy Manone and Mugsy Spanier. Great names, great tracks. Two from Eartha and one from Patti Page. On a bit of a toe curling note, Matty O’Neil sings ‘Don’t sell daddy anymore whiskey.’ A baby cries all the way through it! ‘Just wee deoch an’ doris,’ in Scots and celebrating the more cheery side of a wee dram. That’s from 1912. Sugar Chile Robinson. A child star that sang to two US presidents, 70 years apart. There’s more of course.
published on March 7, 2020, by Miles