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.
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.
Before starting Forgotten songs from the broom cupboard I was not particularly a Country and Western fan- certainly not of the Nashville sound. Listen to the genre on 78rpm and the back to basics sound of country from the 1920s and 30s has been a different matter though and has been an education. Here are 10 songs that bring a smile to my face or get my feet tapping. Bob Skyles and his Sky Rockets – I’m gonna die with a broken heart and Lets play love. Al Dexter- Wine women and song. Johnny Denis and his Ranchers- Ragtime time cowboy joe. Harry Torrani- Mississippi yodel. McCravy Bros- Sister Lucy. Bud Billings and Carson Robinson- Sleepy Rio Grande. Hoosiers Hot Shots- Take me to the ball game. Light Crust Dough Boys- Beer drinking mama. The wonderous Jimmie Rodgers with Frankie Johnny.
We open with the yodelling cowboy from Chesterfield, Harry Torrani, and My Lancashire yodelling lass. What a tag line, great song too. For the first time of Forgotten Songs we have some Indian music. Manna Dey in Hindi on a 78 pressed in 1963. Next, Dajos Bela goes A round the Volga, Russian music from the late 1920s. Also up are Len Fillis, Len Brennan and the Winter Gardens Dance band, Leroy Anderson, George Guetary, Henri Rene, Earl Grant and the Band waggoners. Lovely track from Smith Ballew from 1930. Smith was an actor, singer and orchestra leader. He was one of the first singing cowboys in the talkies. Elizabeth Pollock was the first impressionist to appear on the BBC in 1933. Unfortunately her impressions here are largely of people who have faded into obscurity. Much better, as there are still some funny lines, is Albert before the means test Albert Burden and Co apply for unemployment benefit. A real time piece. French singer Lucienne Boyer brings definite Gallic charm to the proceedings with In the Smoke. The whole of human life is here, in one form or another!