“’Leven Pounds of Heaven.” Words by Joe McCarthy, melody by Matt Malneck (1930). Recorded by Elsie Carlisle with orchestral accompaniment on June 23, 1932. Decca F. 3038.
Video by Andy LeMaitre (YouTube)
The lyrics of “’Leven Pounds of Heaven” represent a mother’s effusive confession of having found life’s meaning in the form of an eleven-pound baby (sex unknown). Such a song naturally risks drowning in its own sappiness. The Matty Malneck melody is deeply attractive, though, and Elsie Carlisle brings to it her own addictive variety of treacle that seems to have suited the British palate in 1932.
Elsie had recorded “’Leven Pounds of Heaven” six days earlier with Ambrose and His Orchestra (HMV B. 6200), and she would sing part of it again with them the next year in a medley (“Memories of the Mayfair,” recorded October 5, 1933 on Brunswick 01605 and Decca F. 6239).
“’Leven Pounds of Heaven” was recorded in 1931 in the United States by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra (with vocals by Mildred Bailey). In the summer of 1932 there were British versions, in addition to those featuring Elsie Carlisle, by Teddy Dobbs’s Blue Lagoons, The Blue Lyres (an Ambrose group, with vocalist Anona Winn), and Tommy Kinsman and His Band (with vocals by Les Allen).