Categories
10" 1950s 78 rpm Pop

As cowboy as an Arancini ball

I had always thought of Frankie Laine as a country singer. This was partly because the song of his which I knew best was “High Noon,” the theme song from the film of the same name. If you have not seen High Noon, I seriously recommend it: a cinema masterpiece, moody, tense and strange. Unlike […]

Categories
10" 1940s 78 rpm Children's Spoken Word

The Understanding Angel

Pretty much everyone who celebrates Christmas will put an angel on the tree. Ever wondered why? I was chatting on the phone to my stepmother yesterday, as I won’t be able to see her for Christmas. At her church she has been part of a group studying angels and how they have been depicted and […]

Categories
10" 1940s 78 rpm Jazz

Likeable rogue on guitar

Astonishing, the human stories which lie behind the neat gold lettering on a gramophone label. “Never heard of him,” I thought of Vic Lewis, placing this 1946 shellac disc on the turntable. Lowered the needle. And, wow. Lovely jazz guitar in front of a tight band. But not just tight, there’s real feeling in this. […]

Categories
10" 1950s 78 rpm Children's Spoken Word

Birthday Elf unmasked!

One of the annoying things about being a parent is that, for years, Santa gets the credit for the best presents at Christmas. Same with Easter. If you grew up in rural Australia, where rabbits are loathed as a destructive environmental pest, letting the praise for the chocolate eggs go to a magical bunny is […]

Categories
10" 1940s 78 rpm Children's Spoken Word

Lie, cheat and hope for a miracle

It is a strange experience to revisit the Grimm’s Tales as an adult. When you hear them as a child, you just go with them. That’s the story: Red Riding Hood, Snow White, many others. The stories become so familiar that you don’t pull apart the elements. This is, perhaps, just as well. These stories […]

Categories
10" 1940s 78 rpm Gospel Jazz

The name suggests a gangster

Muggsy Spanier. The name suggests a gangster from the Al Capone era, but Francis Joseph “Muggsy” Spanier was a musician. Given that the mob controlled all the best nightclubs in those days, and that, like Capone, Spanier was a native of Chicago, they might have crossed paths. Muggsy played the cornet. The what? It’s a […]

Categories
10" 1950s 78 rpm Jazz Pop

Five things I did not know about Ella Fitzgerald

Five things I did not know about Ella Fitzgerald She was born in 1917 in Virginia, but moved with her mother to New York State as a child, part of the Great Migration of African Americans seeking a better life in the northern states. Her mother died in a car crash in 1932, when Ella […]

Categories
10" 1950s 78 rpm Pop Single

Hardrock and Coco and Joe

Gene Autry, the first of the great singin’ cowboys of American popular culture, was also a dab hand at a Christmas tune. His biggest ever success was one: “Here Comes Santa Claus”. This is another, now pretty much forgotten, but a huge hit in its day. Released in 1951, “Thirty-two Feet – Eight Little Tails” […]

Categories
10" 1950s 45 rpm 7" 78 rpm EP Soundtracks Spoken Word

Hurry back to your seat

It is 1957. You are sitting in a cinema in Melbourne, Australia, and it is Interval. Younger folk may never have experienced an “interval” in a cinema, but it used to be a thing, equivalent to half time at the football. As the house lights brighten and you rise, contemplating whether to buy an ice-cream, […]

Categories
10" 1940s 78 rpm Country

Never shoot first

Gene Autry was the first great singing cowboy of American popular culture. Not a type of performer you see much anymore. We still have western movies, but they tend to be grim and bloody, and there is not much time for singing around the campfire, faithful horse in the background, between two cardboard boulders. It […]