Friday, 26 July 2013

Retro Vinyl: Harry Roy And His Band (Music For Pleasure, 1970s)

MFP/Sounds Superb issue of
Harry Roy and His Band
Another discovery when a fresh batch of albums appeared in my local Healthy Planet bookshop a few weeks ago is this rather attractive self titled album by Harry Roy and His Band (MFP 50334) proclaiming the subtitle The Genuine Sound of The Thirties!

I must hang my head in shame to not knowing an awful lot about British dance band leader Harry Roy but as soon as I put the needle on the record I certainly found many of these tunes familiar.

What has surprised me however is how rocky and up tempo they are for the era they were recorded in.

Harry Roy - Musician Trailblazer

Clearly Harry Roy was a trailblazer for future generations of musicians, there are certainly elements  of his spirit, music and humour that later resurface in recordings by Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen and The Ray Ellington Quartet in The 1950s radio Goon Shows.

Bugle Call Rag gets the album off to a great start, a real lively piece almost rock in nature recorded at The Cafe Anglais with vocal refrain in 1933, some 25 years before Johnny and The Hurricanes recorded Reveille Rock over in the US, but still sounding as raw and energetic.

Roger St Pierre points out in his sleeve notes that at his peak Harry Roy would claim a £2,000 a week fee for a six month tour of South America which gives a strong indication to his popularity at the time.

Its understandable on hearing this album, he clearly had a taste for playing upbeat music and not afraid to be a bit naughty occasionally, the track She Had To Go And Lose It At The Astor is cheeky with a certain double entendre edge to it which is neatly nipped in the bud at the final chorus.

An earlier version of the album
on MFP
Somebody Stole My Gal and Nobody's Sweetheart would become favourites two decades down the line epitomised in song medleys performed by hit pianists Joe Henderson and Russ Conway but Harry Roy's versions seem less nostalgic and more energetic. Tiger Rag which begins with a musical recreation of a Tiger roar and Twelfth Street Rag featuring a piano duet, show that Roy was also keen to experiment with the sounds he created for record.

I wonder how many seeds Harry and his band actually sowed when small children heard his records in the 30s and 40s encouraging future musicians to play in the late 50s/early 60s?

This LP appears to have been a mid to late 70s reissue of an MFP album released in the 60s (MFP 1135) also called Harry Roy and His Band.

Side 1
  1. Bugle Call Rag
  2. Casa Loma Stomp
  3. The Roy Rag
  4. Alexander's Ragtime Band
  5. Canadian Capers
  6. She Had To Go And Lose It At The Astor

Side 2
  1. Tiger Rag
  2. Somebody Stole My Gal
  3. Twelfth Street Rag
  4. Nobody's sweetheart
  5. Porcupine Rag
  6. Temptation Rag

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