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This is an unusual review for me as it is not only a CD it isn't even music!
The CD in question is His Greatest Performances by Stanley Holloway and, be honest just how many of you have just said - WHO?
Well I'll start by saying that I am 55 and anyone around my age will recognise his work even if they don't know his name. Who remembers the story called The Lion and Albert? That was Stanley Holloway. If you have seen the film My Fair Lady you will have seen Stanley Holloway as Eliza Doolittle's father.
I used to love to listen to his stories on the children's programme on the radio on Saturday morning when I was a little girl and my dad used to love all his monologues. I bought dad this CD together with a book of all the words to the monologues too - not that he needed them - he could recite most of them off by heart!
So let me tell you all about this CD then .................
I found it for sale on EBay and also on Amazon for just £4.99 and it has 19 tracks on it.
The monologues are both clever and funny and the way that Stanley Holloway speaks and pronounces some of the words adds to the enjoyment of the whole thing. Incidentally he only actually wrote a few of these, which came as a surprise to me I had always thought that he wrote all his own material - still you live and learn don't you?
There are recurring characters in the monologues namely Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom and Albert their son and Sam Small who was a private in the army at the time of Waterloo.
For each track I will give you a short verse plus a bit of information but, because the humour is the main thing, I don't want to go into detail and reveal the jokes or the 'twist at the end' that is the trademark of a lot of the monologues.
Incidentally my personal favourites are The Lion and Albert, Albert Comes Back, Runcorn Ferry and Three Ha'pence a Foot, although to me there isn't a bad track on this CD.
THE LION AND ALBERT
'The manager had to be sent for
He came and he said 'What's to do?'
Yon lion's just 'et Albert
And 'im in his Sunday clothes too'
This is possibly his best known monologue telling the story of Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom who took Albert to the Zoo at Blackpool where the lion ate him.
ALBERT COMES BACK
'Pa 'ad scarce got 'is 'and on the money
When a face at the window they see
And Mother says 'Eeh! Look its Albert,'
And Father says 'Aye, it would be'
This one sees the Ramsbottoms talking to the insurance man about a payout in respect of the loss of Albert when he unexpectedly arrives home.
WITH HER HEAD TUCKED UNDERNEATH HER ARM
'Poor Ann Boleyn was once King Henry's wife
Until he made the headsman bob her hair'
This is more of a song than a monologue and tells the story of the ghost of Ann Boleyn who walks the Bloody Tower in London with her head tucked underneath her arm!
PICK UP THA' MUSKET
'Sam, Sam, pick up tha' musket!'
This is the story of Sam Small who drops his musket when parading in the army just before the Battle of Waterloo and the ensuing argument as to who should pick it up.
'Ooh Sergeant!' said Sam, 'I've hit the bull
What price my shooting now?'
Said the Sergeant, 'A bull? Yer gormless fool
Yon isn't a bull, it's a cow'
This track tells the story of Sam's disastrous attempts to learn how to shoot his musket.
'Ere's the axe - that's the genuine axe, Sir,
That's given Royal necks some 'ard whacks,
Tho' it's 'ad a new 'andle and perhaps a new head
But it's a real old original axe!'
The Beefeater shows tourists around the Tower of London and ends by explaining why they are called Beefeaters.
ALBERT AND THE 'EADSMAN
'The 'Eadsman chased Jane round the grass patch,
They saw his axe flash in the moon,
And seeing as poor lass were headless,
They wondered what next he would prune.'
This one follows the events at the Tower of London when the Ramsbottoms take Albert there for a birthday treat so that he can try and spot the ghost of Ann Boleyn.
'Shall I get your money-box, Albert?'
Said Mother all coaxing and sweet,
And Albert let drop an expression
He must have picked up in the street.'
Albert's Grandmother gives him a sovereign which he accidentally swallows.
'In the spirit that made Lancashire what it is,
They'd sooner be drownded than done'
This is the story of the Ramsbottoms trying to cross the River Mersey on the Runcorn Ferry which costs 'per tuppence per person per trip'. Mr Ramsbottom tries to get a discount with unusual results.
'The very first night in the blackout,
Young Albert performed quite a feat
By hanging head first from the window
And shining his torch down the street'
This one follows Albert and his mother as they are evacuated during the war - telling of not only Albert's exploits but those of his father whilst they are away!
THREE HA'PENCE A FOOT
'Sam asked Noah what was 'is business,
And t'ould chap went on to remark,
That not liking the look of the weather,
'E were thinking of building an Ark.'
Noah wants to buy some Bird's Eye Maple from Sam to line his bunk in the Ark but he thinks that it is overpriced and tries to strike a deal.
ONE EACH APIECE ALL ROUND
'It happened to be me birthday
And counting out I found
I'd got enough out of me pay
To have one apiece all round.'
Sam takes his friends out for a drink on his birthday and has to explain hilself to the Captain when things get out of hand.
''ALT! WHO GOES THERE?
'Old Sam says 'Alt! And who goes there?
Who'se thee does tha' suppose?'
The stranger answers 'George the Fourth
I live in 'ere, tha' knows'
Here we have the story of Sam on sentry duty at the palace and how he has tea with the King and Queen.
BEAT THE RETREAT ON THY DRUM
'Then scratching his-self under t'arm once again
In the way Boneyparte always did
He said 'Sacre bloo!' which is French for 'Ba goom'
Eh thou hast got a sauce for a kid'
Sam is reminiscing about his days as a drummer boy at Waterloo.
'Sam grasped the situation like
In less than half a jiff,
He gave a very smart salute
And knocked his 'at skew whiff.'
This is the story of Sam going to the palace to collect a medal for saving his Sergeant Major's life.
'He tugged and tugged and better tugged
His line it rose and sank;
Then fish gave one last dying gasp
And flopped stone dead on t'bank.'
This is the story of Sam's fishing trip where he catches a sturgeon but is then told by a policeman than sturgeons belong to the King - so he takes it to him!
SAM DRUMMED OUT
'Nay, nay, I was charged with a crime worse than that,
Far more dastardly wicked and mean.
I were charged with maliciously putting cold water
In beer in the Sergeant's canteen.'
As you may have guessed by the title this is the story of Sam being
drummed out of the army.
'Brahn boots - I ask yer -brahn boots!
When all the rest
Wore decent black and mourning suits.'
This story is about a chap named Jim who turned up to his mother's funeral wearing Brahn (brown) Boots.
HAND IN HAND
He finishes the album with a love song which is OK but I would much rather listen to his monologues!
So there you are if you like clever spoken humour this is well worth a listen.
Stanley Holloway's voice and accent adds to the overall experience and the way he delivers the lines with an almost lyrical quality makes it an album I can listen to anytime. Of course it is also a nice way to remember my dad!
By the way writing this review in Word, as I always do, has sent the spell checker into overdrive! LOL!