Quiz 1

Answer to Question 1:

A Music Hall was a place of entertainment, flourishing - particularly - in England between the period 1843 to circa 1920. The Theatre Regulation Act of 1843 allowed "saloon theatres and supper rooms" to provided both entertainment and refreshments as long as they did not conflict with the "legitimate drama" of the theatres. This allowed such places to develop a form of entertainment which became immensely popular - consisting of comedians, performers and especially singers who could sing jaunty songs of the "all join in" type. The title "Music Hall" became adopted to give these establishments an "image of class" in order to compete with the "higher tone" of the established Theatre. At their height of popularity, they became large enough to seat as many as 700 people. However, they began to decline as a centre of entertainment with the advent of films (especially the "talkies") allowing cinemas to emerge as the main attraction - this lasting until TV offered a "cinema" in every house; permitting people to stay at home with their own, private, cinema.


Answer to Question 2:

Gus Elen was a Music Hall artist, experiencing the height of his fame in the 1890s. The Halls had their main growth on the London scene; therefore, most of the early performers and singers tended to portray working class Londoners. This they did by singing with a Cockney accent - which appealed to the main body of the attending audiences. Gus Elen performed many comic songs in that idiom. One of his most popular renderings had the title: "If It Wasn't For The Houses In Between." It contained an implicit comment on the rapidly expanding London, at that time, and presented this typical verses:
"Oh! it really is a very pretty garden, And Chingford to the eastward can be seen; Wiv a ladder an' some glasses, You could see to 'Ackney marshes, If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between."
He recorded the complete song in 1899 on a Berliner record - one of the first "flat" discs invented by Emile Berliner in 1896, as distinct from the wax cylinder used on the machine known as the phonograph; a method of recording and re-playing sounds devised by Thomas Edison and appearing at the end of the 1880s to last until circa 1908.

If you wish to hear a sample of Gus Elen, click HERE (you might need the sound turned up on this?)


Answer to Question 3:

Al Bowlly (1899-1941) became possibly the most popular singer of his time and supported the most popular British dance-bands during his time. His career in Britain started around the year 1928 and ended when killed by a bomb during an air-raid on London in 1941. He was born in Mozambique and named Albert Alick Bowlly. On arriving in London (1928) he joined Fred Elizalde's band at the Savoy Hotel and then moved to the Monseigneur Restaurant where he became the top singer for Lew Stone's band and then, later, Ray Noble's. His "hits" during the 1930s included the songs "Goodnight Sweetheart"; "The Very Thought of You"; "Time on My Hands"; "Please"; "South of the Border"; and a multitude of other songs. He went to New York (in 1934) with Ray Noble, where he achieved a massive success as a "heart-throb". Eventually, he but became "homesick" for the British scene and returned in 1937. However: absence does not always make hearts grow fonder; and in his time away, other singers had arrived on the scene to take his place; and he therefore found his capacity to cause "hearts to throb" had somewhat lessened with the musical publics' transference of "affection" to the new vocalists. However and at his "height", his voice was described as "rich and dark" and he also had a capacity to enter the sentiments of his songs to such an extent that he would often be seen with tears in his eyes as he sang - which made hearts throb even more. But all good things must come to an end - it seems? But has it? Al Bowlly is now the source of a rising "Al Bowlly Appreciation" movement amongst those who have an interest in the old "Sweet Swing".

If you wish to hear a sample of Al Bowlly, with Ray Noble's Orchestra, click HERE
Or if you want "The Sweetest Thing", also with Ray Noble, click HERE


Answer to Question 4:

Spike Jones (true name: Armstrong Jones) was an American leader of a band which became known as "The City Slickers". He "came to fame" during the 1939-45 war years - playing what received the title of "Novelty Numbers". His first success took the form of a comic rendering of the rather sentimental tune "Cocktails For Two"; which he punctuated by bells; whistles; bangs and all sorts of what we might call "comical noises". This "innovation" seemed to please the public because his first success entered the million-seller record league". He then went on with more "galloping successes" with songs such as "Der Fuhrer's Face"; "Glow Worm" and a variety of others - which, I suppose, became all the more popular because they offered some "light-hearted" relief to a time which had many "serious things" going on.


Answer to Question 5:

The Jazz Singer emerged in New York on 6th October 1927 as the first "talking picture" which included musical sound as well as spoken dialogue - and thereby made "history". The singer Al Jolson played the chief character - representing a Jewish singer torn between loyalty to his family. A later version appeared in 1980 and had the singer Neil Diamond in the leading part. However: this one did not "make history".


Answer to Question 6:

The initials O.D.J.B. signifies "The Original Dixieland Jazz Band" and was "the" band reputed to have first introduced the emerging "Dixieland Jazz" to Britain in the April of 1919. The band's first appearance in Britain took place at the London Hippodrome as part of a musical show named "Joy Bells" - this on April 7th, 1919. The "star" of that show (George Robey - the "top" music-hall artist) became worried by the band's popularity and demanded the show should contain "the band or him". Needless to say, the band "had to go" but emerged with even greater popularity at the Hammersmith Palais de Danse - commencing on 28th November 1919 and continuing in that venue for nine months and attracting a "packed house" every time. The band made another "history", in that the, then, all American group of five players had their original pianist taken ill, and he had to return home. His place became filled by a British player named Billy Jones who emerged as the first European musician playing regularly with an American Jazz Group - and fitting in with the music exceedingly well. The band returned to America in July 1920 but left an immense musical influence behind; which eventually took the form of "sweet swing" characteristic of the British dance-bands - with the original O.D.J.B. exuberance "tone down" somewhat.


I will leave it to you to do a search for the"remaining answer" - if you're interest has been sufficiently roused.


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