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This mini information magazine on old records is issued monthly and covers many aspects of collecting 78rpm records
Rare Acoustic British Labels
Another in our occasional series.
This label dates from before the first war, pressed in Berlin.
It was made by the Dacapo Company, using their German matrices. The company did move into Britain before the first war, issuing recordings of British singers and bands.
Their recordings were issued on the Dacapo label, over 600 ten inch are known, plus the rarer twelve inch series with a very pretty coloured label.
But I know no more of the Up-To-Date label, except to guess that it was probably introduced during 1913 in the record price war
Billy Williams' Death
My article on the death of the greatest early Music Hall Recording Star was written twenty years ago.
The CD collection of BW's recordings by Julian Mysercough
contains an interesting account of Billy's death, presided over by the unfortunately named Dr
Stumbles. An operation for
prostate cancer lead to post operative infection from which Billy never
Julian appears to reject the view commonly held amongst
collectors about his death. He quotes Amy Williams' interview about Billy: "he
had a little trouble which he had for years." (In another interview Amy
claimed the flu had killed him!) Julian concludes: "whilst septic prostastis
may be a result of certain diseases caused by "those excesses", it can also be
generated by all manner of quite innocent infections."
However as this
term was commonly used as a discreet way of covering up sexual excesses it is
seems more probable that Billy's early death came through his own actions.
It would be foolish to press too much into BW's ramblings on record but in
"We all live at No 24" (Homophone) Billy says "You're all welcome if you call
at No 24. We've spent a happy Christmas and a Happy New Year there too,
kissing under the mistletoe (laughs!). I had 24 kisses, or 25 (laugh!). Some
jolly nice girls there too (laugh). Some from Manchester and Glasgow."
similar vein we have in Take Me Back to USA (Columbia) the rather
unbelievable: "I've got a girl in USA. Well, I'll tell you the truth I've got
girls all over the world. Some in Australia, Africa, India (laughs). Excuse me
telling you troubles..." So we can well see these comments are exaggerated!
But, whilst it can be argued that he is only living up to the role the
public might expect him to play, is this comment from experience in the
strangely titled Giving a Donkey a Strawberry (Zono)?: "I kiss my girl 1000
times every night (laughs)! Then I kiss her again when we leave. Do you
understand what I mean (laughs)?"
Or what do we make of his comment in the
Pathe version of Why can't we have the Sea in London? "I was down at Brighton
last season.I was throwing pebbles at the girls and you know.... (laughs)."
In Some of the Best part 3, he refers to "My lass from Lancashire, and how
I loved that lassie (laugh), curse her (laughs)." A rather extraordinary
comment even in fun, which might explain his "little trouble". This motif
occurs several times , as in Why can't we have the Sea (Favorite):"... all the
girls, the pretty little dears, I love them, curse them."
In my BW article
in Talking Machine review No 73 (1988) I discussed these and other comments
but wanted to resist (like Julian) any imputation of naughtiness by Billy
Williams. However the weight of evidence would seem to be against Julian.
In the article noted above I first drew attention to Billy's uncredited presence on the Ella Retford
recording of 'Get out and Get Under' on Jumbo1204.
The likelihood might seem to be that their banter here hides a deeper relationship?
While most xylophonists pass me by, you could NEVER pass by Teddy! He was an
extraordinary extrovert, in his versatile playing of the xylo and of course in his double
girth. "The bigger the figure inside my waistcoat, the bigger the figure on my
cheques," he's once alleged to have proclaimed.
The extraordinary thing about his act was his sheer agility. Something not normally
associated with a twenty stone man. He would strut up and down his table xylo with
all the grace of a romantic hippopotamus. One description declared "the scenery
trembled at his tread." Many numbers ended with his doing a 360 degree turn while
still playing his instrument and often there was some brilliant variation on this.
Fortunately he visited the recording studios frequently, perhaps the most interesting
records being those of his rather hot 1926 dance band on Imperial records. He also appears
as a featured soloist with other bands and in his own instrumental recordings for the Vocalion
Company. Perhaps the most interesting recording I have seen by him, is a British Phototone record
of 1927 which was designed to accompany silent film footage of him - No 3932 Dancing Tambourine.
By 1930 he was in the talkies and his finest surviving tour de force is in the film Elstree Calling.
Watch it, and be transfixed!
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