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Ernest Shand is today rather neglected as a music hall performer, but in his time he was one of the top stars.  Starting in the theatre, he was an immediate success when, in 1899, he first appeared on the Halls.  Although his recordings seem to have survived in quite small numbers, they give a great account of the many faces of this distinctive performer.

Ernest Shand - Daily Mirror Front Page
Ernest Shand - Album (Download) - Daily Mirror Front Page GBP £7.99

Olly Oakley was the most famous banjo player of his day. Appearing at concerts and on the Music Halls during the early 1900s, Olly Oakley's name became synonymous with the banjo.  As his style of playing proved ideal for the acoustic recording technology of the day, he was much in demand from the record and phonograph companies.  In 1901 Olly Oakley signed a contract with the Gramophone & Typewriter Ltd which resulted in many of the recordings on this Album.

Olly Oakley - Banjo Burlesque and Bolero
Olly Oakley - Album (Download) - Banjo Burlesque and Bolero GBP £7.99

In 1897, Emile Berliner's Agent set sail for England to establish The Gramophone Company in London, with records being imported from the USA.  In August 1898, their first disc recording studio was established in Maiden Lane to produce recordings aimed at the British market. The main requirements to make a successful record were stamina and a strong penetrating voice.  Established artists, with a few exceptions, did not appear, their songs being recorded by professional recording singers such as Charles Foster.
Today, some 110 years later, few of the little seven inch discs can be found, and when they are discovered time and the ravages of the early gramophones have generally taken their toll. Now, careful digital restoration has lifted these tracks from historic relics to the highly entertaining.
The repertoire of these early discs covered the popular entertainments of the day - bands, ballads, recitations.  On this Album is assembled a specifically Music Hall Selection of 35 tracks
Three bonus tracks are included.  Although sound quality is compromised these include Gus Elen from 1899, and one of the earliest recordings from around 1890, thought to be of Emile Berliner himself, with the Mohawk Minstrels song "Whist the Bogey Man"
For Music Hall enthusiasts and students of the earliest English recordings, this is a treasure trove indeed.

Mr Berliner s Music Hall
Mr Berliner's Music Hall - Album (Download) GBP £7.99

Ben Albert  described himself as "The Dry Old Stick", and he certainly had a dry sense of humour.  The range of his subject matter is wide - from the drunken antics on Coronation day, to the sorts of embarrassing and annoying questions continuously asked by young children.  Suffragettes, Motor cars, Work, Cooks, Life Abroad, Licensing laws, all come under his spotlight.

Ben Albert - A Little Bit Here and There
Ben Albert - Album (Download) - A Little Bit Here and There GBP £7.99

Alfred Lester produced a number of popular sketches and monologues around the time of the Great War.  Most popular of these was  The Scene Shifter's Lament  in which he suggests ways to enliven Hamlet .  Also featured is The Conscientious Objector, the song Alfred Lester sang in the Revue Round The Map  which contains the immortal lines "Send out my Brother, my Sister or my Mother, but for Gawd's sake don't send me"

Alfred Lester - The Scene Shifter s Lament
Alfred Lester - Album (Download) - The Scene Shifter's Lament GBP £7.99

Charles Austin claimed his great success with his comical police character Parker PC.  Initially a mimic and singer of humourous songs, he produced a number of sketches which toured the halls during the early 20th Century and many of these are included on this Album. 
He was known as "The King of Cockney Humour"

Charles Austin - Parker PC
Charles Austin - Album (Download) - Parker P.C. GBP £7.99

Jack Lorimer, sometimes billed as Jock Lorimer, was one of the top Scottish music hall artistes of the 1900s.  Coming from a musical family, Jack became popular throughout the English speaking world, with major tours in America where he was piped through the streets.  Jack Lorimer assumed various characters on stage including a Chinese scotsman dressed in pigtail and kilt in his song   Ching a Ling Hooch Aye

Perhaps simply remembered today as the father of that great comedian Max Wall, Jack Lorimer's recordings have stood the test of time and form a great legacy.

Jack Lorimer - The Hielan Laddie
Jack Lorimer - Album (Download) - The Hielan' Laddie GBP £7.99

Frank Leo was known for his many song compositions, particularly those for Wilkie Bard.  His lyrics often take the form of story telling, and there are some amusing ones here.  Performing here in his own right, the majority of his recordings were made between 1914 and 1915 and so some reflect optimism at the beginning of the Great War.  Involved in a marital scandal, Frank Leo was as well known outside the halls as he was on stage.

Frank Leo - We Are All Equal In The Sea
Frank Leo - Album (Download) -We Are All Equal In The Sea GBP £7.99

In 1912, Music Hall gained further respectability with the mounting of the first Royal Variety Performance. This event was correctly called the Royal Command Performance, and although the current annual shows are no longer by Royal Command, this name has persisted to this day.

The first Royal Variety Performance was held at the Palace Theatre on the 1st. July 1912. A lavish event by any standards, the hall was decked with flowers and the event attended by many Royal personages. Top line artistes were on hand to provide the Entertainment.

No recording of the Royal Command Performance was technically possible at the time, and so this album cleverly combines contemporary recordings of those performing on the night in their order of appearance.

Album - Royal Command Performance 1912
Album (Download) - Royal Command Performance 1912 GBP £7.99

Both Norah Blaney and Gwen Farrar were classically trained musicians. They met at a concert party during the Great War and soon began a partnership featuring Nora Blaney on piano and Gwen Farrar on cello plus a flow of repartee. They had four years on the Halls and then during the early 1920s went on to appear in revue. Although issued here in the Music Hall Series, due to the acoustic recording process, the genre of the songs is much more aligned to the later Revue and Variety style of performance.

Blaney and Farrar
Norah Blaney, Gwen Farrar - Album (Download) - Queen of the Oojah Isles GBP £7.99
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