Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Music is the Most Beautiful Language in the World: Yiddisher Jazz in London's East End 1920s to 1950s

A vibrant soundtrack to the Cockney Jewish experience, when the swinging hot dance bands were still all the rage, and the Yiddish language was spoken on the streets of Whitechapel. Feast on long forgotten 78 rpm discs that have only recently been unearthed, starring a host of recording artists united for the first time on ‘chai fidelity’ vinyl and CD.

Hear the legendary dance band figures of the era like Bert Ambrose and his Orchestra, and Lew Stone and his Monseigneur Band, to the relatively unknown Jewish speciality acts like the Johnny Franks and his Kosher Ragtimers, and Rita Marlowe, the siren of the Yiddish song.  

And just like the old time Yiddish Theatre where the audience were left with both a smile on their face and a tear in their eye, we can delight in the cheeky street patter of the incomparable slapstick drummer Max Bacon rejoicing in the East Enders love affair with ‘Beigels’, we celebrate the world famous Petticoat Lane street market with not one, but two 1920s fox trots - but also shed a tear with Leo Fuld, the remarkable Dutch Yiddish singer, whose recordings in post-war London were haunting reminders of a way of life decimated by the Holocaust.

‘Music is the most Beautiful Language in the World’ is compiled by Alan Dein, the multi award winning radio documentary presenter and oral historian. The album title is inspired by a 1920s Yiddish slogan of an East London gramophone record shop. 

It was a time when Whitechapel was a fertile breeding ground for singers, songwriters, conductors, and cantors to musicians, managers, proprietors of record shops and club owners - and according to Dein, “their stories are now entwined with the development of the British recorded music industry. But for the first time ever, we can the discover the remarkable sounds of Jewish-themed jazz recorded in London between the 1920s and the 1950s - which thankfully had been preserved within the grooves of ancient discs”.

The accompanying booklet designed by Will Bankhead includes a detailed essay by Dein, illustrated with rare photos and memorabilia. This release is co-compiled by Howard Williams, better known for his Japan Blues radio show on NTS, and a series of compilations spanning Moondog (The Viking of Sixth Avenue), cult Japanese jazz singer Maki Asakawa,  and glimpses into the worlds of Japanese surf rock (Takeshi Terauchi), rockabilly (Masaaki Hirao), and soul funk and disco (Lovin’ Mighty Fire).

“Music is the most beautiful language in the World” - Yiddisher Jazz in London’s East End 1920s to 1950s

JWM Records       LP: JWMLP001  /  CD: JWMCD001

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The Highway Code booklets 1954 - 1987

Another of my mini-collections - this time a range of 'The Highway Code' booklets issued by HMSO in the second half of the 20th Century. 

Some superb exterior and interior graphic design in these publications which were launched in 1931, after the Road Traffic Act in the previous year.






Uncontrolled zebra crossing, 1959

Crossing the road, 1959

Signals by authorised persons, 1970

the ROADCRAFT manual was issued to students of the 'Motor Car Wings' at the Metropolitan Police Driving School

from ROADCRAFT, issued by the HMSO in 1955


Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Arsenal Cafe, London N5

Way back to Arsenal FC's footballing days at Highbury Stadium, there were all sorts of places along the routes to the ground that would become fans favourite haunts for a quick bite to eat on the way to the game. The burger & hot dog stalls that parked up round the ground specially for match days, or the fish and chips shops in the locality. There were also several Arsenal-themed cafes which were open most of the week, but inevitably had their busiest days when there was a match on. 

I took this photograph of ARSENAL CAFE around 1990, which was in Gillespie Road, just around the corner from Highbury. Like so many local cafes throughout the nation that were or are situated up-tight to their neighbouring football grounds, these places often serve as a sacred part of a fans pre-match ritual.

Some can survive for decades, along with the yellowing memorabilia on their walls triggering nostalgic memories of players or successes past, or serving as a learning board for fans too young to remember - reinforcing the special role that these cafes play as home turf for fan camaraderie and pre-match chatter. 

I've no idea when the Arsenal Cafe closed down, most likely around the time that Arsenal left Highbury for the Emirates Stadium, and would be grateful to anyone reading this who may know...

With Arsenal's 2018/2019 Premiership Season just around the corner, I've accompanied this image with a piece of the club's history, which would be typical of the kinds of framed ephemera adorning the walls of the likes of ARSENAL CAFE...

Taken from a folded two-sided sheet with printed facsimile signatures, and a photograph of the 1965/1966 squad. It has some relevance to the present day, as this was from the final season of Billy Wright's short-lived managership, when the Club had one of their poorest ever runs of form in living memory, a feat which was echoed by Arsene Wenger's final season in charge of the team.. 

So what next for the Arsenal?

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Early Closing Days in London, Liverpool and Birmingham in the 1960s & 1970s

On the hunt for obscure minutiae of  the past - and this month's offering is extracted from three editions of vintage street atlases: London, mid 1960s, Liverpool & District early 1970s, and Birmingham & West Midlands from the 1970s.

Accompanying the index to streets and the sectional maps, are the usual lists of the addresses of hospitals and clinics, and also included in the London book, the locations of the "Commonwealth Offices", the railway stations and government and public offices.

One stand-out feature is the list of early closing days for shops and markets. I wonder how many of the following places still maintain these daily opening hours? 




Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The FIFA World Cup in the adverts!

World Cup fever strikes again! 

But this post isn't yet another celebration of the great players and the national heroes who have held the Jules Rimet Cup aloft in joyous celebration. 

Here is a small collection of a 30 year span of the advertising campaigns that once appeared in the pages of the official programmes and brochures of past World Cup competitions. The first set begins in England in 1966, and we travel in time via Mexico, the former West Germany, Argentina and Spain to 1986, where Mexico hosted the tournament once again.

Unlike the famous names and teams of world football, many of these advertised brands have now slipped out of public consciousness. Let's begin in England in the Swinging Sixties...and drop into the local pub for a pint, and a bag of crisps...

Tudor Crisps were founded in Newcastle just after WW2. They were eventually subsumed into the Walkers Crisps empire

England's mascot 'World Cup Willie' holds a Red Barrel aloft, and it would be the trophy itself for captain Bobby Moore and the victorious England team. 

A choice of TV sets named after ancient and distinguished artists. All screens on various lengths of legs for Mexico 1970. 

salud! to the legendary Brazil team at Mexico 1970

An era when the transistor radio was essential to keep up with the scores

Football commentators and journalists, 1974 style in West Germany

Let's not forget Tip and Tap, the tournament's mascots on the official merchandise on sale at World Cup '74. 

More souvenirs. This time 'WM 74' LP's released by Polydor Records - how many people still own them?

An Argentinian hat and men's jacket combo styled in 1978

An advert aimed at the Scottish fans whose national team qualified for the 1978 World Cup, unlike England...

And the Scotland players that reached the Finals in Argentina, but not all the way, squeezed into a Chrysler Avenger...

A visual cornucopia of audio and TV equipment courtesy of JVC for World Cup 1982 in Spain

A World Cup still very much in the age of 35mm film

Wonder if a diet of Milo's chocolate milk powder helped the Argentina team win at Mexico '86?

You had to be with-it in Mexico 1986