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This mini information magazine on old records is issued monthly and covers many aspects of collecting 78rpm records
As I haven't been invited on to Desert Isle Discs, here are the records I would happily share for ever with myself on my Desert Island.
Billy Merrin: Organ Grinder's Swing
Crown 275, recorded 1936.
This is my pick of the recordings of this 1936 number, Scott Wood on Columbia FB1549 is okay, better than the other versions by Jack Payne (Rex 8900), Jack Hylton (HMV BD6137) and Phil Green (Parlophone F616).
Connie Francis does a fine solo on HMV BD383, but the chief delight of this swingy version on the cheap Woolworth's Crown label is the vocal by Rita Williams
The continued enduring appeal of this fine comedian is a tribute to his brilliance, all the more strange really because his style is so much out of step with so called modern comics. Reg Lever wrote, "all the years I have known him and the hundreds of times I have watched, he never cracked a smutty gag in his life."
And yet what is Robb Wilton's great reputation founded on? Surely not his records, for he made only a few in 1931 for Sterno, and an archetypal wartime sketch for Columbia. Surely not in his film cameos, the best being his last in The Love Match in 1955 when he reprised his best known creation, Mr Muddlecombe. Or maybe it's through his radio shows that he is best remembered today?
But most probably he entered our national psyche epitomising that British wartime spirit, when he pronounced that opening gambit The Day War Broke Out. His fumbling during air raids and most famously in the Home Guard endeared him to everyone in the darkest days of the war.
His mother had been a member of the Wilson Barrett Theatrical Company, and he started in straight theatre until he launched his solo career in 1911. Before then, in 1903, he had met Florence Palmer at the Hull Alexandra and he soon married her.
His most famous sketch of Mr Muddlecombe JP was nearly banned. The Magistrates Association complained about his sitting in judgement while under the influence of drink. Although it was radio that made him a household name, he had already become a big star on the halls with this sketch.
A fine tribute was paid by his friend Clarkson Rose who wrote, "I always felt he might have stepped from a page of Dickens.... I never heard him say an unkind word about anybody... His work as a character comedian really reflected his own philosophic acceptance of life... it was the pure gold of the music hall and appealed alike to four generations. It survived, and indeed triumphed against, the onslaught of the spiv-like and barrow-boy humour of many present day artists."
His records: Goodnight Everybody goodnight/ I should say so... Sterno 804
The Fire Station... Sterno 833
The Police Station... Sterno851
The Home Guard... Columbia FB2960
TALKING MACHINE SOCIETIES
Before the first war there sprang up societies devoted to the playing of gramophone and phonograph recordings. Here are accounts of some of those early meetings.
Tyneside in 1918
Some pre war activity of this society has already been recorded, and it all but ceased meetings for the duration of the Great War. However this interim report is very much of its time.
"In consequence of the impossibility of regular attendance of a large number of those members not already in the army, but who are engaged on work of national importance in this busy armament, shipbuilding and munition centre, there have been no meetings since that held on 18th May 1915.
A number of members have, nevertheless, by intermittent visits have kept in touch pending the advent of normal times. A general meeting, following a committee meeting on 7th December 1917, was held at the Norfolk Hotel Newcastle-on-Tyne on 17th December 1917 to consider the propriety of a) commencing a new session and 'carrying on' or b) remaining in abeyance until the end of the war.
A heavy snowstorm and very stormy night prevented the attendance of several, but after a full discussion, it was resolved that the regular meetings continue in abeyance, and the secretary call a further meeting in October next if not requisitioned before then.
The balance sheet and report of the last session was read and adopted. Early closing hours brought an end to what, notwithstanding the inclement nature of the night, proved to be a very successful meeting." AE Dawson Hon Sec.
Notes: The club resumed meetings in early 1919 but soon split into two factions.
Some Societies did meet through at least part of the war, these included North, South and East London, the two Manchester societies, Liverpool, and Sheffield.
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