“Let’s Make Love” (1934)

“Let’s Make Love.” Words By Stanley J. Damerell, music by Tolchard Evans (1934). Recorded by Ambrose and His Orchestra with vocals by Sam Browne and with Elsie Carlisle in a speaking role on November 1, 1934. Decca F. 5297 mx. TB 1704-1.

Personnel: Bert Ambrose dir. Max Goldberg-t-mel / Harry Owen-t / Ted Heath-Tony Thorpe-tb / Danny Polo-reeds / Sid Phillips-reeds / Joe Jeannette-as / Billy Amstell-reeds / Ernie Lewis-Reg Pursglove-others?-vn / Bert Barnes-p / Joe Brannelly-g / Dick Ball-sb / Max Bacon-d

Ambrose & His Orchestra (w. Sam Browne & Elsie Carlisle) – "Let's Make Love" (1934)

Ambrose & His Orchestra (w. Sam Browne & Elsie Carlisle) – “Let’s Make Love” (1934)

“Let’s Make Love (In Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter)” is a light waltz written by British songwriters Stanley J. Damerell and Tolchard Evans, who collaborated on such notable songs as “Lady of Spain” (1931) and “If (They Made Me a King)” (1934). There seems to be a general rule that whenever Damerell and Evans have collaborated on a song, Elsie Carlisle ends up with a speaking role.  That would appear to be the case in the Ambrose recording of “Hyde Park Corner” (Hargreaves-Damerell-Evans; 1933), in which Sam Browne sings and Elsie and drummer Max Bacon have speaking parts, as well as in the Maurice Winnick version of “Da-Dar-Da-Dar” (also Hargreaves-Damerell-Evans; 1933), in which Sam Browne sings and Elsie is a mere interlocutor. So it is in this Damerell-Evans piece, “Let’s Make Love.”

Jack Payne and His Band had made, in late October 1934, a version of “Let’s Make Love” that relied for its entertainment value largely on comical Northern and Cockney voices provided by Jack Payne and Charlie Asplin; there was yet another version of “Let’s Make Love” in November by Jay Wilbur and His Band, with Fred Latham on the vocals. After an impressive instrumental introduction, the Ambrose recording has Sam Browne sing just the refrain and the first verse of the song. He then proceeds repeatedly to try to sing the first few words of the refrain (or something like them) in foreign accents which are intentionally abysmally done. His try at a Russian accent (“Letsky makesky loveskevitch”) is perhaps the least embarrassing.  I cannot say whether his announcing the Russian lover a second time and then correcting himself to “a Spanish lover” is a feigned mistake or a real one. The cannibalistic Zulu with his war cry “Yum, yum, yum!” is awkward at best, as is the shivering Eskimo.

Elsie Carlisle, for her part, merely interjects on occasion that Sam’s “impressions are lousy,” or the like. Sam and Elsie had already played bickering lovers in the 1933 Maurice Winnick recording of “Seven Years with the Wrong Woman,” and it was only weeks after recording “Let’s Make Love” that they would berate each other in “I’m Gonna Wash My Hands with You” with Ambrose and His Orchestra.  In “Let’s Make Love,” by contrast, it is not apparent that Sam really means it when he repeatedly sings “Let’s Make Love” to Elsie, nor that her rebuffing of him is anything more than a negative review of his talent.  What is clear is that this song is one of the silliest things Sam and Elsie ever collaborated on in their years of working for Ambrose.

“Moonlight on the Waterfall” (1937)

“Moonlight on the Waterfall.” Words and music by Jimmy Kennedy and Wilhelm Grosz (the latter employing the pseudonym “Hugh Williams”). Recorded by Jack Harris and His Orchestra with Elsie Carlisle as vocalist on October 25, 1937. HMV B.D. 5290 mx. OEA 5108-1.

Personnel: Jack Harris-vn dir. Alfie Noakes-Doug Holman-t / Lewis Davis-Don Binney-tb / Harry Karr-cl-as-f / Freddy Williams-cl-as / Harry Smith-cl-as-ts / George Glover-bar / Max Jaffa-Bill Sniderman-vn / Bert Read-cel-a / Cyril Halliday-Joe Brannelly-g / Alf Gray-d

Jack Harris & His Orchestra (w. Elsie Carlisle) – Moonlight on the Waterfall (1937)

Jack Harris and His Orchestra (w. Elsie Carlisle) – “Moonlight on the Waterfall” (1937)

A composition by the prolific songwriter Jimmy Kennedy (collaborating with the exiled Austrian composer Wilhelm Grosz, who worked in Britain under the name Hugh Williams), “Moonlight on the Waterfall” associates the image of an lovely outdoor setting with the memory of a lost lover.  The lyrics do not have any claim to being particularly profound, but Elsie Carlisle does justice to the song’s melancholy beauty with the sweetness of her delivery.  This recording is the product of Elsie’s brief but productive collaboration with the band of American-born bandleader Jack Harris.

In 1937 there were recordings of “Moonlight on the Waterfall” by such bands as Ambrose and His Orchestra (with vocals by Vera Lynn), Mantovani and His Orchestra (Ken Crossley, vocalist), Billy Cotton and His Band (with vocalist Peter Williams), Billy Thorburn and His Music (with Eddie Guray, vocalist), and Maurice Winnick and His Sweetest Music (in “Melody Medley No. 2”).  There were also solo versions by Ramona Davies, Dorothy Squires and Arthur Tracy.

“He’s a Good Man to Have Around” (1929)

“He’s a Good Man to Have Around.” Composed by Milton Ager, with lyrics by Jack Yellen, for the 1929 film “Honky Tonk.” Recorded by Elsie Carlisle (as “Sheila Kay”), with Cecil Norman and His Band, in London, October 16, 1929. World Echo A. 1013.

Personnel: Lloyd Shakespeare-t / Ben Oakley-tb / Les Norman-as / vn / Cecil Norman-p / __ Stanley-bb

He's A Good Man To Have Around – Elsie Carlisle (as Sheila Kay)

He’s a Good Man to Have Around – Elsie Carlisle (as Sheila Kay)

Video by David Weavings (YouTube)

“He’s a Good Man to Have Around” is a torch song fashioned loosely after the model of Mistinguett’s “Mon homme” or its English adaptation “My Man” (introduced by Fanny Brice in the 1921 Ziegfeld Follies). The singer catalogues her “man’s” various faults and insists that she loves him in spite of them. One lyrical advantage that “He’s a Good Man to Have Around” has over comparable songs (such as “Hangin’ On to That Man”) is that the man’s moral deficits creep up comically in intensity; at first one expects the song to remain light, insofar as the man’s faults are merely not being good-looking, being a poor dancer and a poor speaker, and occasionally being mildly irritating. Indeed, the lyrics as used in Elsie’s August 23, 1929 recording of the song with Philip Lewis and His Dance Orchestra (a.k.a. the Rhythm Maniacs)1 stop at this point; they complement the comparatively upbeat instrumental interpretation nicely. In the October 16 Worldecho recording, however, Elsie sings the whole song, including the parts about how her lover is untrustworthy, unfaithful, and apparently such a dangerous fellow as to warrant her having bought a pistol — which she won’t use, for “He’s a Good Man to Have Around!” Elsie Carlisle recorded this record and three others with Worldecho under the name “Sheila Kay”; as she was recording under her own name for the Dominion label at the time, it may be that contractual obligations necessitated the use of the pseudonym.

Originally written for the 1929 film “Honky Tonky” starring Sophie Tucker (which does not survive as a movie, although the Vitaphone soundtrack is intact), “He’s a Good Man to Have Around” was first recorded by Tucker herself (with Ted Shapiro’s Orchestra). In 1929 versions of the song were also recorded in America by Herman Kenin and His Ambassador Hotel Orchestra, Lee Morse and Her Blue Grass Boys, The Cotton Pickers (both with Libby Holman and without), Kate Smith and the Harmonians, and Jimmy Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra (with vocals by Helen Savage).

“He’s a Good Man to Have Around” was recorded in 1929 in Britain by Florence Oldham (accompanied by Len Fillis on the guitar and by Sid Bright on the piano), Lily Lapidus, the Rhythmic Eight (with vocals by Maurice Elwin), The Picadilly Players (Eddie Collis, vocalist), Mabel Marks, Belle Dyson, the Blue River Band (with vocalist Sybil Jason), and Mabel Lawrence.

Notes:

  1. It is incidentally amusing to hear take one of this Decca recording, in which Elsie gets a couple of notes wrong!

“My Cutey’s Due at Two-to-Two Today” (1926)

“My Cutey’s Due at Two-to-Two Today.” Music by Albert Von Tilzer, lyrics by Leo Robin (1926). Recorded by Elsie Carlisle with piano and vocal accompaniment by Carroll Gibbons in London on October 6, 1926. Zonophone 2815.

My Cutey's Due At Two-To-Two To-Day – Elsie Carlisle

My Cutey’s Due At Two-To-Two To-Day – Elsie Carlisle

Video by David Weavings (YouTube)

Von Tilzer and Robin’s “My Cutey’s Due at Two-to-Two Today,” an example of the “train song” genre, is a light composition that makes up for a fundamental lack of profundity by being ridiculously catchy, almost addictive. It speaks primarily of faithfulness in one’s lover’s absence and of the giddy anticipation of reunion. Elsie Carlisle brings to it the requisite frantic, girlish enthusiasm and applies her vaguely conversational style of delivery to the song’s rhythmical patter with great effectiveness. She is accompanied on this record, not only by Carroll Gibbon’s piano playing, but also by his voice; he engages in a muted antiphony with Elsie for part of the song.

“My Cutey’s Due” was recorded in America in 1926 by Sam Lanin and His Orchestra (as the Missouri Jazz Band), Ted Weems (Park Gibbs, vocalist), the Happiness Boys (Billy Jones and Ernest Hare), The Clevelanders (with vocals by Tom Stacks), and the Little Ramblers (with vocalist Ed Kirkeby). In Britain there were 1926 versions by Bert Firman’s Dance Orchestra, Don Parker and His Band, Victor Sterling and His Band, Van Straten and His Riviera Dance Orchestra (with vocals by Harry Fay). In early 1927 there were recordings made by Alfredo’s Band and by the Picadilly Revels Band.

“Why Waste Your Tears?” (1932)

“Why Waste Your Tears?” Words and Music by Valerie “Val” Holstius (arranged by Lynn Vaughan). Recorded by the Durium Dance Band with vocalist Elsie Carlisle in London, September or October 1932. Durium EN-34.

Personnel: Peter Rush-cl-as dir. Max Goldberg-t / Charlie Price or Jack Warne-t / Tony Thorpe-tb / Bill Rogers-as / Alf Zafer-ts / Ernest Wilson-p / Bill Tringham-g / Dave Axford-bb / Maurice Zafer-d-x

Durium Dance Band "Why waste your tears" 1932

Durium Dance Band – “Why Waste Your Tears” (1932)

Transfer by phonomono78s (YouTube)

Durium records were made of cardboard coated on one side with durium acetate resin. These inexpensive vehicles for frequently excellent recordings sold at newsstands between 1930-1933 and usually had two recordings on their one playable side.  On this disc, Elsie Carlisle’s “Why Waste Your Tears?” is paired with Sam Browne’s “The Night Shall Be Filled with Music,” and the list of personnel includes such well-known Ambrose men as Max Goldberg and Tony Thorpe.

Songwriter Valerie “Val” Holstius was the wife of writer Edward Nils Holstius. “Why Waste Your Tears?” appears to be her sole composition, but it is a good one. It takes the form of a response to, or even of a negation of, a torch song. It advises its addressee not to waste his or her tears on a lost love, but rather to move on. The arrangement used by the Durium studio band is decidedly upbeat, and Elsie uses her allotted 48 seconds of singing to deliver the song’s argument in a form that is light, bright, and memorable.

“Why Waste Your Tears?” has lyrics that can be altered to suit a male or female singer, and in addition to Elsie Carlisle’s recording with the Durium Dance Band there were versions by Nat Star (Tom Barratt, vocalist), Terry Mack and His Boys (with vocalist Jack Plant), and Lew Stone and the Monseigneur Band (with Al Bowlly).

"The Idol of the Radio." British dance band singer of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

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