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57 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 19 May 2013

Much of this week's Song Show is taken up with a review of a whole series of curious albums - 24 CDs in all - devoted to the 'B' sides of every pop chart entry from 1961 and '62!

Russell's investigations throw up plenty of surprises, involving such local artists as Max Bygraves, Petula Clark and Bernard Cribbins singing 'Winkle Picker Shoes' - which Russell contends is as good as any 'A' side, any day. He also finds international stars like Nat King Cole and Ketty Lester, the latter singing what was originally a 'B' side but became a massive hit itself - 'Love Letters'. The anniversary of the 1933 movie 'I Cover The Waterfront' brings singer Connie Evingson in a modern version of the song inevitably associated with the picture - but was it written for it? Russell tells the complex story. Today marks the centenary of the birth of the great French singer-songwriter Charles Trenet ('Le Fou Chantant' or 'The Singing Madman' as he was billed) so we hear Trenet himself, first with Django Reinhart telling the old Aesop Fable 'La Cigale et La Fourmi' (The Grasshopper and The Ant) and, later, his own classic version of his most famous composition - 'La Mer'.

Keely Smith gives us the English-language version of 'Que Reste-t-il De Nos Amours?' which became 'I Wish You Love'; and Blossom Dearie sings 'Boum', also by Trenet. Following the contribution by Blossom's then husband, Belgian flautist Bobby Jaspar to this, Russell dwells for a moment on flutes in popular music, with some early jazz flute from Wayman Carver; master of the Capitol studios Ted Nash with Ella in 'Swingin' Shepherd Blues' and a snatch of Peter Dawson's 'Phil The Fluter's Ball'- with an unknown flautist in 1936.

Music Played

14 items
  • Image for Max Bygraves

    Max Bygraves Tin Pan Alley

    “1961 British Hit Parade The B Sides Part 2”

    Acrobat, ACQCD 7041

  • Image for Petula Clark

    Petula Clark Isn't This A Lovely Day

    “1961 British Hit Parade The B Sides Part 1”

    Acrobat, ACQCD 7040

  • Image for Nat King Cole

    Nat King Cole I Would Do Anything For You

    “1962 British Hit Parade The B Sides Part 1”

    Acrobat, ACQCD 7054

  • Image for Bernard Cribbins

    Bernard Cribbins Winkle Picker Shoes Blues

    “1962 British Hit Parade The B Sides Part 1”

    Acrobat, ACQCD 7054

  • Image for Ketty Lester

    Ketty Lester Love Letters

    “1962 – Spirit Of The 60s”

    Time Life, Tl 531/30

  • Image for Connie Evingson

    Connie Evingson Connie Evingson - I Cover The Waterfront

    “Gypsy In My Soul – Connie Evingson”

    Minnehaha Music, MM2006

  • Image for Charles Trenet

    Charles Trenet La Cigale Et La Fourmi

    “Charles Trenet “Le Fou Chantant” Douce France”

    Living Era, CD AJS 288

  • Image for The Golden Gate Quartet

    The Golden Gate Quartet Comin' In On A Wing And A Prayer

    “Golden Gate Quartet: Chronological 1939-1943”

    Document, 5475

  • Image for Keely Smith

    Keely Smith I Wish You Love

    “Keely Smith … The Very Best Of (2 Cd Set)”

    EMI Gold, 50999 2 27139 2 6

  • Image for Blossom Dearie

    Blossom Dearie Boum

    “Blossom Dearie – Little Jazz Bird”

    Él (Cherry Red Records), ACMEM 182CD

  • Image for Spike Hughes and His Negro Orchestra

    Spike Hughes and His Negro Orchestra How Come You Do Me Like You Do?

    “Spike Hughes And His Negro Orchestra - 1933”

    Retrieval, RTR 79005

  • Image for Ella Fitzgerald

    Ella Fitzgerald Swingin' Shepherd Blues

    “Ella Fitzgerald – Get Happy!”

    Verve, 523 321-2

  • Image for Peter Dawson

    Peter Dawson Phil The Fluter's Ball (Excerpt)

    “Peter Dawson – Old Father Thames”

    Conifer Happy Days, CDHD224

  • Image for Charles Trenet

    Charles Trenet La Mer

    The Extraordinary Garden: Best Of Charles Trenet

    EMI, Cdp 7 94464 2

  • This Week

    This week we celebrated the centenary of a larger-than-life character from the French music scene – Charles Trenet. We could have done with more time to delve into his fascinating oeuvre, for a fair few were adapted into the English language, becoming hits all over again.

    The young Trenet aimed to be a painter but from a young age had shown a great flair for ‘painting with words’, and he demonstrated this brilliantly in his most successful composition, ‘La Mer’, many years later. He had his first poems published when he was fifteen, his work around that time showing the influence of the likes of Max Jacob, the surrealist writer, so while his repertoire always included plenty of poignant love-songs – often of unrequited love, like “Vous Qui Passez Sans Me Voir” and “Que Reste-t-il De Nos Amours?”, there were also portraits of places and people – “En Avril A Paris”, “Bonsoir, Jolie Madame” and funny little nonsense-stories such as ‘France Dimanche’, “Vous Oubliez Votre Cheval” and “Le Grand Café’ this last one about a customer cheerily dispensing drinks to all and sundry, making it a night to remember until, asked to settle his bill, he confesses he hasn’t a sou - whereupon the mood changes and he’s made to pay off his debt by working every night for the next sixty years at ‘Le Grand Café’ !

    Trenet’s output over a long life gave us, among many others, ‘At Last, At Last’ (for Tony Martin), ‘I Wish You Love’ (Keely Smith), ‘Boom!’, ‘Passing By’ and, of course, ‘Beyond The Sea’.

  • Featured In This Week's Show: Petula Clark

    Featured In This Week's Show: Petula Clark

  • Recommendations

    Our brief rummage around the ‘B’ sides of the early ‘sixties, prompted by a great shoal of CD boxes from the Acrobat company could have taken us into all sorts of esoteric sounds: Hardly surprising, when you consider that, for 1961 and 1962 alone, we’re dealing with 565 tracks! It’s impossible to give a complete idea of the material you’ll find here but, as demonstrated, sometimes the ‘B’ sides turn out to be more memorable than the initially more famous ‘A’ sides! Anyone interested in the history of popular music will find much to enjoy but you’ll probably blanch at the idea of six hefty four-CD boxes so we suggest you try one and see how you get on. September – December 1961, for instance, includes Cleo Laine, Matt Monro, Nina and Frederick, Bobby Darin, Charlie Drake, Russ Conway and The Temperance Seven among their 96 tracks and not performing obvious ‘B’ sides, either. The number is ACQCD 7042.

    The wonderful series of recordings that Spike Hughes made with a gang of the finest American jazzmen in 1933 is gathered together, with nine tracks by Benny Carter’s orchestra from the same period and with very similar personnels, on Retrieval RTR 79005, under the title “Spike Hughes And His Negro Orchestra – 1933: The Complete Set”. With such masterpieces as “Air In D Flat” and “Donegal Cradle Song” and extemporising moments like “Sweet Sue, Just You” with Henry Allen, Chu Berry and Coleman Hawkins at the top of their form, this is, for us, seventy minutes of pure bliss!


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