Ray (Renato) Starita, an Italian-American, along with his brothers Al and Rudy (and the less well-known Julio) were influential in British dance band music in the 1920s and early 1930s. Ray, a saxophonis t and clarinetist, led the Piccadilly Revels Band and the Ambassadors’ Band.
John Wright has compiled some
interesting historical data regarding the Starita family, drawing on the accounts of their children, and he provides a unique photo gallery of Ray Starita‘s career in England and later life in the United States.
Elsie Carlisle made a number of noteworthy recordings with Ray Starita and His Ambassadors’ Band in 1932, including
“Let That Be a Lesson to You,” “I Heard,” and Noël Coward’s “Mad About the Boy.”
Ray Starita and His Ambassadors’ Band c. 1930
1935 Ardath Tobacco cigarette card, front and back. “Film, Stage and Radio Stars” #8 of 50. “…they also say that [Elsie Carlisle] has more “IT” in her voice in her voice than any other radio star.” As Elsie, following Helen Kane, would ask, “Whats ‘IT?’ Huh?”
1935 Ardath Tobacco cigarette card. “Film, Stage and Radio Stars” #8 of 50. Front.
1935 Ardath Tobacco cigarette card. “Film, Stage and Radio Stars” #8 of 50. Reverse.
“My Old Flame.” Composed by Arthur Johnston (who also wrote “Pennies from Heaven”), with lyrics by Sam Coslow. Elsie Carlisle with Ambrose and His Orchestra (Embassy Club, London, November 1, 1934). Decca F 5293.
“My Old Flame” – Ambrose and His Orchestra with Elsie Carlisle
Julian Dyer (YouTube)
“Please Leave My Butter Alone.” Recorded by Elsie Carlisle on December 27, 1940 in the context of war rationing:
“Everybody pinches my butter;
They won’t leave my butter alone!
And nothing is better than butter
For keeping the old man at home.
Everybody says I’m old-fashioned
To sit on the things that are rationed, etc.”
Elsie Carlisle – “Please Leave My Butter Alone” (1939)
There was even a version by the comedian Arthur Askey: It must have seemed obvious to have Miss Carlisle express herself with such double-entendre, but the song had actually been first recorded that year by Elsie and Doris Waters (a.k.a. Gert and Daisy).
Arthur Askey – Please Leave My Butter Alone
Andrew Oldham (YouTube)
All of which raises the question: in wartime, if you were inclined to pinch someone’s butter, whose butter would you pinch?