St. George And The Dragonet


Stan Freberg

F2596 1954


  Stan Freberg with Daws Butler and June Foray

Strictly speaking this record has no right to appear on this site at all. The recording was issued in the UK only on the 78rpm format, because the Americans were considerably ahead of us backward Europeans in adopting the new microgroove format. However, my quest for early issues has brought to light this record, complete with its press-in centre, imported from the USA.

Like almost all of Freberg's material the record is a 'spoof' or satire. In this case it sends up a popular American TV crime series called 'Dragnet'. The main character was a tough talking detective called 'Joe Friday'.

Dragnet arrived in the UK with the advent of Independent Television. With a peak viewing time Friday evening slot the series soon had a popular UK following. It was pretty potent stuff for a British public brought up to expect policemen to behave like the BBC's 'Dixon of Dock Green'. The Freberg parody is amazingly evocative of the TV series and includes the adversary of a fire-breathing dragon- hence the title. The flip-side, 'Little Blue Riding Hood' is also on a similar theme and has Freberg, the detective, questioning Miss Hood while extolling the immortal line from the show "just trying to get the facts ma'am".

Stan Freberg continued to produce a series of brilliantly conceived comedy recordings during the remainder of the 1950s. These all worked surprisingly well in the UK considering that the cultural differences with the USA were then far wider than they are now. Sadly, Freberg gave up comedy records for a career in advertising in the early 1960s.

Over The Gate


Bernard Miles

7EG8176 1956 {Extended Play 7EG8176}
  Bernard Miles born September 27th, 1907 in Uxbridge

It was largely through the energies of Bernard Miles that the Mermaid Theatre in London was launched in 1951. Since that time the Mermaid would seem to have taken up most of his time. However, he did find time during the mid-1950s to produce for BBC Television a series of monologues.

These featured Miles as the 'rustic' character, Nathaniel Titlark, who would relate outrageous countryside tales. This E.P. provides us with an excellent snapshot of those narratives.

Bernard Miles was no comedian, but he was a brilliant character actor whose skills really stand out on this modest recording. Here he relates the story of the crusader in the local church who he says "They reckon that's the finest bit of sharp'nin' stone in 'ertfordshire. Mind you 'is old woman ain't no good; can't get no edge out of 'er". "I had a tidy good education", he claims; "I could read when I was 18- but, o' course, not to understand it"

She Knows Y' Know


Hylda Baker

45-F11186 1959
  Hylda Baker born 4th February, 1905 in Bolton

Hylda Baker was one of Britain's greatest Music Hall comediennes. The title of this record was her most famous catch phrase which she frequently used in reference to her stage stooge 'Cynthia' The flipside was a comic version of the Floyd Robinson hit 'Makin' Love'.

She was beginning to make frequent Television appearances at about the time this record was made. At first, she merely transported her stage act to the small screen so her favourite catch phrases and malapropisms became familiar to us all.

She made the transition from Music Hall to television quite naturally and in 1968 she began the long running comedy series set in the North of England, 'Nearest and Dearest'.

Although her 'cover' of 'Makin' Love' didn't sell well enough to reach the charts, she was to have greater success when, at the age of 73, she joined forces with comedy actor Arthur Mullard. Together they made a version of the 1978 John Travolta/Olivia Newton John song 'You're The One That I Want'. This managed #22 in the UK chart and even led the pair to an appearance on TV's 'Top of The Pops'.

Mr. Custer


Charlie Drake

45-R 4701 1960
  Charles Springhall born June 19th 1925   

As the 1960s began, Charlie was one of Britain's most popular comedians. He had become famous through Television, in which he started as half of a Children's TV slapstick duo. He became a great favourite with TV audiences with the catch phrase 'Hello my darlings'.

It wasn't a great surprise that he should extend his comedy to records, but his initial record success was little more than a straightforward, but competently made cover of 'Splish Splash'. However, he followed this with a comic version of 'Volare'.

'Mr. Custer' was essentially a cover version of Larry Verne's recording of the same name which was available in the UK on the London label. However, Charlie Drake's version was heavily anglicised and had far more appeal to the British record buyer.

Charlie had a further hit with the ridiculous, 'My Boomerang Won't Come Back' but that would end his successful run of comedy chart successes. However, Charlie did manage to scrape a further minor placing with 'Puckwudgie' which reached #47 in 1972.

Don't Jump Off The Roof Dad


Tommy Cooper

PG.9019 1961
  Tommy Cooper born March 9th 1922 in Caerphilly, South Wales

'Palette', which I believe was Belgian in origin was a very unusual record label to find in the UK charts. This is the only Palette release that I'm aware of to gain a chart presence. However, there exists two singles by rock and roller Vince Taylor on this label that are ultra-collectable.

The very amusing 'Don't Jump Off The Roof Dad' is unusually collectable for a comedy 45. It has become quite hard to find and copies that come to light are usually snapped up very quickly by eager collectors.

Tommy Cooper was one of Britain's best loved comedians- so naturally funny that he was often regarded by other professionals as the 'comedian's comedian'. He actually started his stage career as a 'serious' magician, but found it so easy to make people laugh that the comedy soon took over.

It was the rather black humour of 'Don't Jump Off The Roof Dad' that caught the public's interest although it was originally destined to be the 'B' side. However, the 'A' side; 'How Come There's No Dog Day' is also pure 'Cooper'.

Who Told You


Freddie Starr & The Midnighters

F.11663 1963
  Freddie Fowell born 1943 in Liverpool

This record isn't a comedy record at all despite the fact that it was Freddie Starr's first single. Years before Freddie became a comedy sensation he tried his hand at becoming a pop sensation. Although he was an Elvis 'wannabe', he sounds more like Buddy Holly on this release; probably because it was a Joe Meek production.

This recording was one of many hundreds that were made in Joe Meek's Holloway Studio during the 1960s. It is typical of the emerging 'group' sound and could easily have charted. Although Freddie's group, the Midnighters, is credited with the backing any number of Joe Meek's regular session men may have been involved.

Joe drew 'session' men from the instrumental groups that he promoted; in particular, the 'Outlaws' a group which included some important future musicians. It is possible, but not probable, that the session that produced this record had Ritchie Blackmore and Chas Hodges in the line-up. They were almost certainly on Freddie's third single (and last with Joe Meek), 'Never Cry On Someone's Shoulder'.

Ritchie Blackmore went on to start 'Deep Purple' and later 'Rainbow' whereas Chas Hodges was to become half of the future cockney duo 'Chas and Dave'.

Incidentally, Freddie allegedly borrowed the 'Starr' from the a certain well known drummer.

Don't Dig Twiggy


Barbara Windsor

R.5629 1967
  Barbara Windsor born August 6th 1937 in London

This record is a Demonstration Record and marked 'Not For Sale'; though I probably paid a very small sum for it! It is a promotional issue put out by the record companies as an advanced copy to dealers, DJs and the like. Sadly for Babs, the Demonstration copies of this disc probably outnumber the regular issued copies.

'Don't Dig Twiggy' was an amusing little number sung by Barbara decrying the inadequacies of the model's figure. Twiggy, of course, would have been at the height of her career in 1967. Her bustline certainly didn't compare with Miss Windsor's

Barbara Windsor was already a successful film actress by the time she made this recording and was becoming increasingly well known through the popularity of the 'Carry On' movies. Her first 'Carry On' was 'Carry On Spying' in 1964, but her film career went back to 1954 when she first appeared in 'The Belles Of St. Trinians'.

In 1997 Barbara Windsor started a new career in TV as 'Peggy Mitchell' in the BBC soap 'East Enders'.

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