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1.3 Port Out

Good morning, you’re through to James in Customer Services. Can I confirm I’m speaking to the principal cardholder?

I always hated talking on the phone. Hated it. Hated suddenly shifting a gear to be thrust into a conversation, with no mental preparation at all. Hated the way I couldn’t sit back and let other people speak. Hated most of all the prospect of an unknown caller on the other end of the line, who I would not be able to see, who I wou ld not be able to adjust to, who would therefore meet a version of me unprepared to go out into public, a version of me I suspected was in some way unavoidably ridiculous, and in a way I could not comprehend. I hated my voice, its reediness, the way it suddenly shifted at times, the annoying barking laugh, and the more stressful the situation, the worse it got.

So naturally, I didn’t want a job where I had to be talking on the phone all day. But it seemed that was the only thing going. In 2004 Brighton had a dotted line of employment agencies stretching from the station down to the sea. I was qualified to do nothing except teach English as a second language and write for a city magazine, and after a dispiriting day visiting each of these agencies, I found that these were not the kind of jobs they had. The only offer I had was to work on the phones, for a bank. “I don’t want to work in telesales,” I said. “Don’t worry,” said the woman at Office Angels, “this is customer services.” Later I would spin this remark into a cast-iron guarantee, from an uncontactable person, that I would not be involved in sales. It was the kind of half-truth I would increasingly need to cling on to.

Days later I started “work” in the building I would curse for the next ten months, a tasteful four-floor yellow-brick thing close to all the tourist hotspots and independent boutiques I would no longer be visiting. Getting into the place was a challenge that morning as it would be every morning, with the need to show or scan my pass three times, and a metal detector to step through, but I was still a couple of weeks away from being trusted with any personal data.

At the end of the second floor was a small glass-fronted classroom, where I was to join a week’s lectures with the other fifteen people who had reached this particular moment in their lives. The man next to me was an Olympic archer and had formerly run a “gastropub”, he lasted a month or so. On the other side was a stoner girl, who seemed every day to have been reluctantly dragged out of bed, she was also gone in a couple of months. A couple of seats along was a British-Iraqi girl who liked Alanis Morissette and Kevin Smith films, I remember these details as she was the only one of the fifteen left when I quit ten months later. She’d been the only one for quite a while.

Our job that first week was to watch a series of training videos. My fellow trainee customer service agents moaned about this, but being paid £6.50 an hour to watch videos, however dull and repetitive, was easily the most pleasant period I had in my time there. One of the trainees still managed to get fired by the end of the week though – he said he would not work Christmas Eve, and ten minutes later was being escorted from the building. Fortunately I had already arranged with the agency to have two weeks off around Christmas, or that would likely have been me.

My boss for those first months was Andrew, a tall gay man in his early 30s with ginger hair. He was painstakingly patient and understanding, and every day I could see the joy draining from his soul. A few months after he suddenly quit, I bumped into him at a gig and he looked like a weight had been lifted from him. He also had some things to say about the management there but even two decades later I should probably leave those unrepeated.

After the first week we were released onto the main floor, an open-plan office with large tables divided into quarters with six-inch barriers. At the end of the floor was a small “kitchen” with a ladies toilet off the corridor outside. Men’s was either up or down a floor, which wouldn’t have been an issue if they weren’t always being closed, or if I had more than 25 minutes and 12 seconds of break per day. The job was dull, but the task of talking to the public soon moved down a notch in my head so that I had already forgotten which ID questions I asked them by the time the call had ended. Once a day or so I would tune out of the call and realise for a few seconds that there were a hundred people around me all talking, a cacophony of human chat, like in a nightclub when the music goes off.

It probably doesn’t need to be said that nobody likes calling a credit card customer services line, that’s a given. These were still the early days of automated menus, and the first thing everyone had to do was key in their sixteen-digit credit card number. If they could get that right, there were automated security questions. It didn’t matter if these were right or wrong, in any case the caller would be held in a queue for about ten minutes listening to a playlist containing Shania Twain’s “Party For Two,” Geri Halliwell’s version of “It’s Raining Men” and nothing else. I suppose the goal here may have been to annoy the customers enough that they decided to call back at a less busy time.

Eventually you would get through to me, I would say “Good morning, you’re through to James in Customer Services, can I just confirm that you’re the principal cardholder.” A good proportion of callers did not know what a principal cardholder was, but thankfully most of them would just say “yes” anyway. Then I would ask security questions. Yes, they had already been through security questions on the automated service, yes it didn’t seem fair to do it twice, no I didn’t know why they had to do it twice, no I couldn’t just skip it. Almost nobody failed security anyway, the questions were very simple. One of the few exceptions was a man who interrupted me and barked his full details down the line – “My name is Mr Yonez, my date of birth is, my mother’s maiden name is….” – all were correct, but besides any breach of protocol his surname was spelled “Jones” – I put him on hold and transferred the call to the fraud department.

The functions we were allowed to carry out were minimal – telling people their balance, increasing credit limits, arranging for blocked payments to go through (almost always because they were using the card abroad), setting up direct debits. If a customer was in arrears, they would be automatically redirected to collections, which was in a call centre in India. This meant that we were generally not taking the difficult calls. Every week or so there would be a problem which couldn’t be solved in a few minutes, and it would be relatively fun to try to solve it, a break at least from just another call coming in. On one of these occasions calling round different departments for half an hour led to a breakthrough, and the delighted customer said “you’ve done me a favour, so now I’m doing one for you. There’s a horse running in the Grand National tomorrow called Lord Atterbury, put a few pounds on him, should be about 40 to 1 right now, just because he hasn’t raced recently, but I’ve seen him and he’s going to surprise everyone. Go and put a few pounds on.” I went straight to the betting shop after work and put £10 on Lord Atterbury at 35 to 1. By the next day he was down to 25 to 1, and when the race started was right up in amongst the leaders right up until he fell at the first fence. Another succesful call resulted in a lonely old lady asking me out for a drink in a nearby hotel, I respectfully declined, but do wonder how she knew which city I was in.

A couple of months into my career in the call-centre I was moved into a different team and found myself with some people I hadn’t seen since training. Mere kids of 19 years old, working for a bit of extra money in their gap years. Very respectable and a little conservative. I didn’t know there were young people like that any more. I knew I was in trouble when one asked if I had slept at all in the last week. As it happened, I hadn’t had a great deal of sleep, I’d been earning as much as I could by taking every double or triple paid shift I could, and had failed to go to bed at the required 10pm every night, but I was still surprised that he felt like he needed to tell me so, he seemed like such a fundamentally inoffensive person. He treated me as a curio of interest rather than another human being doing the same job.

Him- “How old are you then?”
Me- “Twenty-five. Why?”
Him- “We had a bet.”
Me- “What did you say?”
Him- “Thirty-one. I won. Everyone else guessed you were older”

Oh god. I spent the next few weeks furiously relaxing, sleeping, eating vegetables and drinking the bitter bottles of wheatgrass juice I’d been told would improve my health. Whether any of this worked was doubtful, but the double and triple pay overtime was soon cancelled, so I managed to get into a decent sleep pattern again, for a change, and took up swimming at lunchtimes.

Me: “Good Morning. You’re through to James in customer services. Can I just confirm that you’re the principal cardholder?”
Old Man: “Er… no. Listen.”
Me: “Ok.”
Old Man: “I tried to call you yesterday but couldn’t get through. I listen to Radio 4 all the time and I heard someone talking about the word ‘posh’ yesterday and wondered if you knew how it came into being.”
Me: “You mean ‘Port Out Starboard Home’?”
Old Man: “Yes, because when they were sailing to India the richer passengers would be able to book out these sides and stay in the shade the whole way.”
Me: “Yes, I did hear about that. Interesting fact.”
Old Man: “Yes. Just thought you might like to know.”
Me: “Yes. Thanks for bringing it up. I’ll take a note of it.”
Old Man: “Ok. Well, thank you very much. Bye-bye.”
Me: “Bye.”

So was working at the call-centre bad for my heath? It certainly wasn’t good for my mental health. A day of apologising to angry customers for policies and systems I also had no great love for certainly stopped me being afraid of talking on the phone, but it also drained all motivation to speak to another human being. I didn’t talk to anyone at the Temp’s Lunch at the job agency on Fridays. I didn’t speak to anyone at home when I came home from work. My housemates soon learned that I just sat in front of the TV in the evening in a near-catatonic trance, then went to bed just as they were going out for the night. On a few occasions I dreamed about the two beeps that meant a call was coming through and would wake suddenly, sit bolt-upright and say “good morning, you’re through to James in customer services, can I just confirm that you’re the principal cardholder?” Friday’s shift finished at 7pm and Saturday’s started at 7am, so going out on a Friday was impossible. On one memorable Friday the housemates, despite my mumbled protestations, actually held an impromtu house party. I was very much used to sleeping through the sound of thumping bass and chatter, so was asleep by 10, but was woken around midnight when they sent a girl I didn’t know to my room. I just wasn’t any fun. Before Brighton I’d been in Prague for two years and had become a different person. Who was I here? Why could I never get on with English people? It was more of a mystery than ever, and this job was not helping at all.

I had never had a credit card before I started work at the bank, and I immediately swore I would never get one. Every day I would be drawn to articles about desperate people in debt, and wonder how many of the horror stories were our customers. “We” charged exorbitant fees for missed payments which stacked up, “we” charged fees for cash withdrawals which sat on customer accounts accruing high interest until everything else was paid off. I was allowed to give refunds for fees, but only if the customers explicitly asked, so had to constantly go into a pantomime of “is there anything I can do for you? As a gesture of good will?” and hope they got the message. On rare occasions I didn’t want to give a refund – one very angry man said that he was a millionaire and we should value his custom enough to never charge him fees, but after half an hour of being talked at in the way I imagine he usually berates waiters, I was in no mood to offer him anything, and didn’t bother with the pantomime. He said he wanted to close his account, and I obliged.

He wasn’t the worst customer I encountered, that would probably be the teenager who called just to tell me I had a “stupid gay voice” – to which I had to be scrupulously polite, then take a ten minute break to furiously drink a machine coffee and try to calm down. Later that day a Glaswegian woman called up and tried to talk to me from a phonebox while another woman stood outside in the rain trying to get in and screaming at her that she’d been on the phone for half an hour. It quickly developed into a fight, the receiver being tugged between the two of them, until eventually the call was just cut off.

I spoke to a couple of minor celebrities while I was there – a terrible right wing journalist who was disappointingly meticulously polite, and a record producer I admired, who was tetchy. Lots of customers were tetchy, so this was to be expected. Every time a call came through I would get a beep in my ear and a box on the screen saying ‘incoming call breakout’. I then had one second before the call was connected, and had to get my brain into gear to say either ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’. Now this takes about 4 seconds or so, just the way the human brain works I suppose, so the customer had about three seconds of dead air. Not too much to worry about, you would think? But about 10% decided they’d been cut off and started saying “Hello?!” before I could talk. It never got things off to a good start.

Some callers would try to get information about their spouse’s credit card, because they were listed as an “additional cardholder” and, once told that this wasn’t allowed, would refuse to hang up. Some would bark their security information at me, invalidating the entire ID process, and forcing me to redirect them to another agent to go through the process again. Some customers were angry that they were being sent something called “credit card cheques” – I could never work out why these people were angry about this, but it really seemed to matter to them. I generally tried to be as friendly and as helpful as possible, but at times when I worked too much and slept too little, these sort of customers would test me. One described me as “a little brusque” – another talked about her situation for so long that I forgot what I was doing and started asking her security questions again halfway through the call. She asked if she could speak to somebody else, I said yes.

Of course I could not ever criticise the company, the closest line I could take was from Francis Urqhart in House of Cards: “you might think so, but I couldn’t possibly comment” – which at least a few customers managed to get. Thankfully most callers managed to direct their justified anger at the bank rather than me personally – one said “no offense to you, James, but may ***** *** card services rot in hell!” and hung up, I hope that made him feel a bit better. On one occasion the last call before the weekend was from a woman who had been left by her husband with two disabled kids and horrific debts. She was sobbing down the phone to me for a quarter of an hour.

Six months into the job, my login expired. It was fairly unusual for someone to still be working there after six months, apparently. In a review meeting where I’d been played a few of my calls – apparently they were fine but I should “work on my enthusiasm if I wanted a long-term career in the call-centre” – I’d been informed that I was doing notably well as far as one key performance indicator was concerned – wrap-up time. This was the time spent offline typing up notes after a call was finished. Partially my record here was to do with typing during the call, but I also often kept a customer on hold for 30 seconds or so while I typed up their notes. This hadn’t been explicitly banned, but only as far as I could tell because whoever designed the KPIs simply hadn’t thought of it. So as an experienced member of staff with a particular skill and no working login, I was suddenly promoted to staff trainer, on a temporary basis. The ten trainees on the phones were all girls and all a few years younger than me. One in particular kept calling me over to chat, which was fine with me, until she decided to introduce me to her hilarious new obsession, which was the Crazy Frog. I kept my distance from then on, and the ten girls disappeared across the centre, as did I. The password had been renewed, and my unofficial promotion was finished.

The news when I first arrived at the bank was that “we” had recently been selling something called Payment Protection Insurance, and “we” were supposed to be removing it from accounts on request now. Late in my time at the call-centre I received a call from a customer who had a lot of opinions about the management of the bank, and knew the names of the board. I’m not sure why he felt he needed to tell me about them, but the main thing he wanted me to know was that there would be a massive scandal about the mis-selling of Payment Protection Insurance and the bank would lose a great deal of money.

Thankfully I avoided that particular scandal, but there were a few things which were certainly wrong. One customer phoned up to ask why his card wasn’t working and had to inform him that the notes on the account said that he had died three months prior. Another customer actually told me he’d received a letter informing him that his card was being cancelled as he had died – from the tone of his voice I could tell that he wasn’t 100% sure that this wasn’t the case.

When signing up for the job I had received a promise that I would not be working in telesales, it was a vague promise from an employment agency worker but I wielded it as if it were as a cast-iron guarantee written into my contract by the CEO. But then one day there was something to sell. The bank was introducing a new credit card, an Amex to go with their Visa and Mastercard options. We were to introduce this to our customers at the end of each call, as long as they looked like they could afford it. I did not agree, but there seemed to be little point in spelling this out, I just never offered it to anyone. Over the following month, however, the pressure to ‘sell’ rose steadily and insidiously. First the ‘incentives’ were introduced – sell ten cards, get a bottle of Baccardi Breezer, and so on. My team leader, a middle-aged MBA type, had a basket full of the things. It was at this point that he noticed I wasn’t getting any “accepts” and started putting the form on my desk every day, saying encouraging things like “I hope you get ten accepts today” and “It would be great if you got ten accepts today!” I didn’t say anything, just hoped that he would get the message that I wasn’t happy and stop badgering me.

Then the tactics changed again. One Tuesday afternoon I was called into a one-on-one meeting with a higher-up who had come all the way from the Southend office, who had apparently been getting “loads of accepts” – his attempt to ingratiate me consisted of a list of why Southend was better than Brighton. I’d never been to Southend, and wasn’t particularly keen on Brighton, largely due to this job, but it still seemed like an odd opening gambit. In Brighton at least he would have been able to get a better-tailored suit. Then he showed me four pictures of a plane – on a runway, taxiing along, taking off and then soaring through the sky. He explained that currently the team in Brighton were on the ground, ready to take off, but we wanted to be in the air, soaring over the world of accepts below. We had to act as the customers’ wealth account manager and ‘go that final inch’ to ‘get that sale’. I nodded and gave my best attempt at a smile. To close he pulled out a ballpoint pen from his pocket and asked me to write down the reason I didn’t want to buy it from him on a post-it note. I wrote that I already have enough pens. Then I was allowed to go back to my seat.

In August the team leader went on holiday and a younger woman was given temporary control of the team. She seemed nice, friendly but a little shy, and when she introduced herself and asked if I had any questions I took the opportunity to explain that I was promised I wouldn’t work in sales, and was not comfortable with selling. She seemed to be fairly understanding but stayed well away from saying I could avoid offering the cards.

The next day I came into the office to be confronted with trays full of cream cakes. The temporary team leader offered me one, then when I had it in my hand and had taken a bite said “Ok, that’s your reward for getting five accepts today”
I said “What if I don’t get five accepts.”
She said “Well, you’d have to return the reward”
“What, bring it back up from my stomach?”
“No, you’d have to buy another one to replace it.”
So I put the cream cake by my desk and watched it congeal and go stale all day. I was determined to show myself to be the most stubborn person in the office. Then as the day dragged on I started to think how stupid I must look with a cream cake in front of me. Nobody really cared about whether I’d eaten it or not. Was I turning into some kind of ridiculous pompous twat? Why didn’t I just sell some cards and have done with it?
But then I realised they had got one step ahead of me with their personnel psychology. I was meant to feel ridiculous so I could go along with their scheme. Paranoid, perhaps, but with a good deal of justification. I did not want to sell credit cards. I hated credit cards. I wished all “our” customers would have them paid up and get rid of them instead of killing themselves with debt.

As I left that day I put the remains of the cake back on the team-leader’s desk. I’d planned to give her my notice at the same time, but she had already gone home, so it had to wait for the next day. She was not surprised, people gave in their notice every day.

My remaining month was fairly uneventful, right up until my last Thursday, when 48 of us were called into the meeting room on our floor to receive an unscheduled talk from the general manager of the callcentre, a man we were all apparently seeing for the first time. He had news to tell us and it wasn’t exactly good. First he showed everyone a series of powerpoint slides demonstrating that we had a problem with call volumes between 5pm and 8pm due to half the staff going home at 5. There was nothing to disagree with there, though the fact did stand that the person responsible for planning all the shift changes in June was in fact him. So, what was the solution? “We” could hire more staff, but that would be too expensive, “we” could get people on part time, but that would also be too expensive or “we” could change the shift patterns yet again for those on “flexicontracts.” What this amounted to was 48 people being told they could either work 12pm-10pm 4 days a week (including some weekends) or, if that wasn’t to their satisfaction, just leave.

This was not popular. It was entirely clear to everyone in that room that the bank rated the well-being of their staff below the normal priority issues of customers, money and regulations and way below the all-consuming religion of the company, “targets”. The target in question this time was the average call queuing time. It had to go down and if sacking half of the competent staff who’d been through 2 months of training was the easiest and cheapest way to do it then so be it. All praise the lord of targets, he must be obeyed. One woman started crying, other people were drafting resignation letters as they walked back to their desks. I just wished everyone had had the guts to stage a walkout. They should’ve done, no doubt about that, but that’s how crap jobs work, on some level you accept that you don’t have any rights, or only the right to resign if you don’t like how things work.

Still, none of this applied to me. Neither did the one-to-one training session I had on my next-to-last day, but I wasn’t complaining about that. The end was in sight, and tasting sweet. I had planned to just slip out of there, but my team leader got wind of it and got the team of ten off the phones for five minutes to present me with a card. I wasn’t expecting this, and was surprised to be quite touched by it. Because they weren’t bad, not the other agents, who were in the same boat as me, not the temporary team leader, not even the real team leader, whose heart was clearly not into forcing me to sell credit cards. We were all just stuck in this nightmare, and I had somehow managed to escape.

Written and recorded by James M Errington, 2023. Voice of confused old man who thought he was calling Home Truths on Radio 4 by Glenn, voice of well-meaning temporary team leader generated at play.ht, voice of annoying young call-centre agent is just me with a couple of filters. Picture of an office building sourced from Google streetview, corrected and upscaled.

1944 Part Three

At Centuries of Sound I am making mixes for every year of recorded sound. The download here is only for the first hour of the mix. For the full nearly four-hour version please come to centuriesofsound.com to stream, or patreon.com/centuriesofsound for downloads and a host of other bonus materials for just $5 per month. This show would not be possible without my supporters on there, so please consider signing up or sharing this with someone who may be interested.

Here’s what stuck me as I put this mix together: In late 1944 the disconnect between music and everything happening in the world is, from different perspectives, both narrower and wider than it has been before. Narrower because the wartime spirit is no longer enough of a novelty to even be notable – almost nobody is writing music about the war, it has just become a background presence in the way any change in culture does. American troops are in Europe now, and that’s already just a fact of life. Wider because, in the earlier days of the war, there was a real, visceral sense of the horrors of the conflict, of an existential threat. This dread hasn’t just faded into the background as the allies start to look like victory is inevitable, the dread is missing entirely. They know they can’t celebrate just yet, but they are keen to start.

In terms of music, we are jammed in the middle of two eras. The big bands are clearly on their way out, broken by the war, the strike, the inability to tour due to fuel rationing – but also because there are much more interesting sounds out there. The individual musicians in these bands have mostly moved on too, to rhythm & blues, to be bop, or to both. Still at this point they probably have a day job playing big band music, but it’s already a heritage industry.

The birth of be bop has been underway for a little while already, we can make a case for it existing as early as 1941, but it’s only really now that we can feel it emerging into the record. Next year it will fully emerge, to the extent of being recorded in studios, so best leave it until then.

Rhythm & blues is at full levels of excitement this year – unsurprisingly it sounds like people wanted to have a party. Louis Jordan in particular is producing so many absolute classics that it’s a wonder he doesn’t get more credit for anything more than being a progenitor of rock & roll – a genre only subtley different to Jordan’s “jump blues” but one which he nonetheless had no time for. Just imagine dancing at a live performance by Jodan, Lucky Millinder or Cootie Williams, really who needs rock & roll to happen?

One other aspect I’ve noticed here is the groove – whether it’s Arsenio Rodríguez, J.J. Johnson, Boyd Raeburn, Lester Young or Orquesta Casino De La Playa, there is more music than ever before spreading out and allowing itself to build up slowly. We are still a good few years away from the introduction of the LP, so expect only more of this to come.

Finally, let’s not forget that we are still in the early days of the Allied invasion of Europe, and consequently there are many journalists on the continent producing a vast amount of interesting content. I’ve included plenty of this, while trying not to let it interfere too much with the music. If the news footage isn’t much to your taste, please be assured that there will be much less in the post-war year mixes. If that’s what you’re mainly here for then, well, you’re in for a treat today.

Introduction

0:00:00 Victor Young – Excerpt from Ministry of Fear
(Clip from A Canterbury Tale)
(Clip from Tokyo Rose broadcast)
0:00:30 MGM Studio Orchestra – The Most Horrible One
(Clip from WOR Year In Review)
(Clip from Abbott & Costello Show – Special Guest Alan Ladd)
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
0:01:14 Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five – Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby
(Clips from NBC at Democratic National Convention)
(Clip from Arsenic & Old Lace)
0:05:11 Boyd Raeburn – Little Boyd Blue (Blows His Top)
(Clip from “Cross Country Reaction to D-Day”)
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
(Clip from NBC at Democratic National Convention)
0:07:55 Artists Unknown – Jitterbug Instructional Film
(Clip from CBC Radio Canada)

July

(Clip of CAN – Herbert on the bombing of Caen)
0:15:22 Dinah Washington – Homeward Bound
(Clips from BBC – Frank Gillard & Chester reports from near Caen)
0:19:24 Wally Bastiansz – Suranganaviye
(Clip from MBS – Frank Singiser and The News)
(Clip from Mutual War News)
0:23:01 J.J. Johnson, Illinois Jacquet, Jack Mcvea, Nat King Cole, Les Paul, Johnny Miller, Lee Young – Blues
(Clip from Abbott & Costello Show – Special Guest Harold Peary)
(Clips from NBC at Democratic National Convention)
0:30:12 Stan Kenton & His Orchestra – Artistry In Rhythm
(Clips from NBC at Democratic National Convention)
0:35:41 Phil Harris – That’s What I Like About The South
(Clips from NBC at Democratic National Convention)
0:39:59 Arsenio Rodríguez & Su Conjunto – Yo ‘Ta Namora
(Clips from NBC at Democratic National Convention)
0:44:05 Woody Guthrie – This Land Is Your Land
(Clip from Fibber McGee & Molly – D-Day Broadcast)
0:46:26 Tino Rossi – Mon Ile d’ Amour
(Clip from RL Radio Paris – Attentat Contre Hitler)
(Clip from RRG Adolf Hitler – On July 20th Assassination Attempt)
0:49:10 Sergei Provokiev – Except from Ivan The Terrible, Part I

August

(Clips from CBS World News Today)
0:52:03 Duke Ellington – Transblucency (A Blue Fog That You Can Almost See Through)
(Clips from Memphis Belle)
0:58:18 Mary Lou Williams – St. Louis Blues
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
(Clip from MBS News – 1944 in Review)
(Clip from Judge Roland Freisler Shouts At Coup Defendant Ervin von Witzleben)
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
(Clip from RRG Heinrich Himmler – Vor Offizieren Von Volksgrenadier)
1:02:06 Lead Belly – Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
(Clips from NHK The Zero Hour Hosted By Orphan Anne Iva Toguri)
(clip from Ministry of Fear)
(Clip of Tokyo Rose)
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
1:05:05 Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra & Wynonie Harris – Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well?
(Clip from BBC Ed Murrow Counts Parachutes in Holland)
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
1:09:35 Cecil Gant – I Wonder (Alternate Take 4)
(Clips from BBC Richard Wessel On The Liberation Of Paris)
(Clip from CAN The Liberation Of Paris)
(Clip from RL Radio Paris – Le G)
1:14:13 Coleman Hawkins – Woody’n You
(Clips from BBC Robert Reid On DeGaulle Assassination Attempt)
(Clip from CBC Matthew Halton The Liberation Of Paris)
1:19:03 Tampa Red – Lula Mae
(Clips from CBC Matthew Halton The Liberation Of Paris)
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
1:23:09 Charles Wolcott And His Orchestra (Nestor Amaral, Vocal) – Os Quindins De Yayá

September

(Clip from CBS World News Today)
(Clip from BBC Chester Wilmot On Road Outside Brussels)
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
1:27:36 Bing Crosby – Swinging On A Star
(Clips from CBS World News Today)
1:30:33 Nat ‘King’ Cole – Straighten Up & Fly Right
(Clips from CBS World News Today)
1:33:30 Walter Houston – September Song
(Clip from I’ll Be Seeing You)
(Clip from CBC Kate Aitken – Homefront Fashion Tips)
1:36:47 Mary Lou And Her Chosen Five – Yesterday’s Kisses
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
(Clips from Private SNAFU in Censored)
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
(Clip from NHK The Zero Hour Hosted By Orphan Anne Iva Toguri)
1:40:51 Artie Shaw & His Orchestra – Summit Ridge Drive
(Clip from BBC Montgomery Addresses His Troops)
(Clip from BBC John Snagge Invasion of Holland)
(Clip from CBS Edward Murrow Counts Parachutes In Holland)
1:45:09 Louis Jordan & his Tympany Five – G.I. Jive
(Clips from BBC Stanley Maxted Cut Off With Airborn)
(Clip from CAN Stanley Maxted Reports As Supplies Drop Over Hartenstein)
(Clip from BBC Robert Robbertson Reports On Arnhem)
1:50:49 Spike Jones – Cocktails For Two
(Clips from FDR Teamsters Union Address)
1:54:28 Julia Lee – Come On Over To My House
(Clips from CBS World News Today)
1:58:45 Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – A Hot Time In The Town Of Berlin
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
(Clip from BBC Montgomery Addresses His Troops)

October

2:02:35 Rev Utah Smith – God’s Mighty Hand
(Clips from CBS World News Today)
2:07:02 Duke Elligton and his Orchestra – I’m Beginning to See the Light
(Clip from Inner Sanctum – Death Is A Joker)
(Clip from Murder, My Sweet)
(Clip from Laura)
(Clip from Arsenic & Old Lace)
2:10:09 Harry James and His Orchestra – I’m Beginning to See the Light
(Clip from Arsenic & Old Lace)
(Clip from Gaslight)
2:13:00 Josh White – John Henry
(Clips from CBS World News Today)
(Clip from MBS News – 1944 in Review)
2:17:26 Ernest Tubb – Tomorrow Never Comes
(Clip from MBS News – 1944 in Review)
(Clips from CBS World News Today)
2:21:26 Sarah Vaughan with Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra – East of the Sun
(Clips from CBS World News Today)
2:24:15 Edmond Hall – Tishomingo Blues
(Clip from To Have and To Have Not)
(Clip from Hail The Conquering Hero)
2:28:59 Carmen Miranda – I Like To Be Loved By You

November

(Clip from BBC Winston Churchill – The Fruits Of 1944)
(Clip from BBC Audrey Russell Interviews Bomb Victim)
2:33:11 Ink Spots with Ella Fitzgerald – Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall
2:36:20 Judy Garland & Chorus – You Gotta Get Out and Vote
(Clips from CBS Democratic National Committee Program)
(Clip from MBS News – 1944 in Review)
(Clips from NBC FDR Returns To Washington)
2:44:11 Meade Lux Lewis – Chicago Flyer
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
(Clip from NBC FDR Returns To Washington)
2:48:20 Andrews Sisters – Rum And Coca Cola
(Clips from It’s That Man Again)
2:51:44 Zohrabai Ambalewali And Chorus – Rum Jhum Barse Baadarwa
(Clips from AFRS Thanksgiving Show – Lionel Barrymore – Dinah Shore)
(Clips from BBC Winston Churchill – Americas Thanksgiving Day)
2:57:35 Sons Of The Pioneers – What Are We Gonna Do Then?
(Clips from CBS World News Today)
3:00:55 Wee Bea Booze – So Good

December

(Clips from CBS World News Today)
(Clip from A Canterbury Tale)
3:05:20 Kansas City Five – Lester Leaps Again
(Clips from Life Of Riley – The Christmas Present)
3:08:03 Cootie Williams – Things Ain’t What They Used To Be
(Clip from Columbia Workshop Theatre – Orson Welles – The Plot To Overthrow Christmas)
(Clip from EIAR Benito Mussolini – Discorso)
(Clip from Jitterbug Instructional Film)
3:12:35 Mary Lou Williams And Her Orchestra – Man O’ Mine
(Clip from BBC Robert Barr Ardennes Withdrawal)
(Clips from Columbia Workshop Theatre – Orson Welles – The Plot To Overthrow Christmas)
3:17:45 Judy Garland – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
(Clip from Fibber McGee and Molly – Early Christmas Gifts)
(Clip from Duffy’s Tavern – Christmas Program With Monty Woolley)
(Clip from Fibber McGee and Molly – Early Christmas Gifts)
3:20:14 Orquesta Casino De La Playa – Parampampín
(Clip from Jimmy Durante – Christmas Show)
(Clip from Amos And Andy – Christmas Show With Andy As Santa)
(Clip from GI Journal – Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour)
(Clips from Jimmy Durante – Christmas Show)
3:25:41 Glenn Miller – Song Of The Volga Boatmen
(Clip from NBC News From Around The World)
(Clips from Amos And Andy – Christmas Show With Andy As Santa)
3:28:43 Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter & his Orchestra – I’ll Be Seeing You
(Clips from Life of Riley – Roswell’s a Guest for Christmas)
(Clip from Vick’s Matinee Theatre – A Stable in Bethlehem Pennsylvania)
(Clip from BBC Lord Mountbatten – We Are Not The Forgotton Front)
3:34:30 Frank Sinatra – Saturday Night (Is The Loneliest Night In The Week)
(Clip from Amos And Andy – Christmas Show With Andy As Santa)
(Clip from New World a Comin’ – Christmas Program)
3:39:16 Billie Holiday – Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)
(Clip from CBS World News Today)
3:43:10 Ángel D’Agostino – Ángel Vargas – Palais De Glace
(Clip from RRG Adolf Hitler – Silvesteransprache)
(Clip from A Guy Named Joe)
(Clip from GI Journal – Kay Kyser, Connie Haines)
3:45:20 The Nat ‘King’ Cole Trio – Embraceable You
(Clip from Amos And Andy – Christmas Show With Andy As Santa)
(Clip from MBS News – 1944 in Review)
(Clip from O.T.R – Tokyo Rose)
(Clip from Double Indemnity)

Radio Podcast #21 – 1913

Another adventure back into the early days of recorded sound with James Errington, this time joined by Cambridge 105 Radio’s Maciek Pawlikowski to listen to some of the sounds of 1913, the year of the short-lived hot dance ragtime craze, led by the first all-black orchestra and the couple who brought the foxtrot to prominence.

Centuries of Sound is an independent podcast without any advertising, and it’s only with the support of my patrons that the show can survive. To download full mixes, get early access to the radio podcast, and a get host of other benefits for $5 (or local equivalent) per month (and yearly payment is also now available) please come to https://patreon.com/centuriesofsound

D-Day – Tuesday 6th June 1944

The D-Day landings of the 6th of June 1944 are much too big a story to be covered in the middle of a mix. New recording technology, a wider variety of coverage, and the hoarding and preservation instincts of generations of historians, amateur and professional, have resulted in an unprecedented amount of material being available, around sixty hours all together. From this I’ve edited for you a tight 82 minute sound collage, taking you from pre-D-Day messages, through the landings, the first reports and dispatches from the field, to the reactions and repercussions the following few days.

Here’s what you can hear.

0:00:00 1944-06-06 0330 CBS D-Day Broadcast
0:00:15 1944-06-06 0332 NBC D-Day Broadcast

The Buildup

0:00:33 1944-06-05 BBC European Service With Resistance Messages
0:01:37 1944-06-04 Frank Gillard – Build for D-Day
0:02:20 1944-06-05 FDR Fireside Chat
0:02:33 1944-06-05 Eisenhower’s Pre D-Day Announcement to Troops
0:04:13 1944-06-05 BBC Field Marshall Montgomery Address On Eve Of D-Day

The Journey

0:05:08 1944-06-03 BBC Robin Duff On Sealed Ship
0:05:50 1944-06-06 BBC Robin Duff Mid Channel To Normandy
0:06:16 1944-06-08 BBC Allied Troops Prayer Before Invasion
0:06:45 1944-06-08 CAN Travelling With D-Day Convoy
0:07:10 1944-06-06 D-Day Ship Attack

The Assault Begins

0:09:21 1944-06-06 BBC Colin Wills Lands With Infantry
0:09:57 1944-06-08 BBC Robin Duff Five Minutes Before H-Hour
0:10:20 1944-06-08 BBC Robin Duff At Signal For Landing
0:10:45 1944-12-31 MBS News 1944 In Review
0:11:22 1944-06-08 BBC British Tank Crew Describes Beach Landing
0:11:48 1944-06-08 BBC UK Soldier Landing Near Coastal Mines
0:12:10 1944-06-08 CAN Recounting The Landing
0:12:41 1944-06-08 CAN The Scene On The Beach (3 Clips)
0:13:32 1944-06-08 CAN US Soldier On The Beach (2 Clips)
0:13:58 1944-06-08 CAN A Handful Of French Sand

The First Reports

0:14:45 1944-06-06 0330 CBS D-Day Broadcast
0:14:49 1944-06-06 0300 CBS News Unconfirmed Reports Of Invasion (3 Clips)
0:16:27 1944-06-06 0332 NBC D-Day Broadcast
0:16:45 1944-06-06 0330 CBS D-Day Broadcast (2 Clips)

The Paratroopers Land

0:17:26 1944-06-06 BBC Chester Wilmot In Glider
0:18:11 1944-06-06 BBC Chester Wilmot Sees Gliders
0:18:36 1944-06-06 CAN Glider Formations Flying Over The Beaches
0:19:45 1944-06-06 BBC Chester Wilmot Reports From Inside British Glider
0:20:09 1944-06-06 BBC Guy Byam Parachutes Into France
0:20:43 1944-06-06 BBC Alan Melville Sees Paratroops
0:21:03 1944-06-08 BBC The 13th Man To Land In France
0:21:15 1944-12-31 MBS News 1944 In Review

The Announcement

0:22:29 1944-06-06 D-Day Announcement – BBC Newsflash
0:23:28 1944-06-06 0332 NBC D-Day Broadcast (3 Clips)
0:25:31 1944-12-31 MBS News 1944 In Review
0:26:59 1944-06-06 0332 NBC D-Day Broadcast

4am to 5am EST

0:27:23 1944-06-06 0415 CBS D-Day Broadcast (4 Clips)
0:28:51 1944-06-06 0400 NBC D-Day Broadcast
0:28:58 1944-06-06 0415 CBS D-Day Broadcast
0:29:45 1944-06-06 0415 NBC D-Day Broadcast
0:30:00 1944-06-06 D-Day Message To Free French Troops

5am to 9am EST

0:30:19 1944-06-06 BBC John Snagge D-Day Has Come
0:30:56 1944-06-06 0500 CBS D-Day Broadcast (11 Clips)
0:34:12 1944-06-06 0540 CBS D-Day Broadcast (4 Clips)
0:36:45 1944-06-06 BBC Eisenhower to Western Europe
0:37:14 1944-06-06 0540 CBS D-Day Broadcast

9am to 12pm EST

0:38:00 1944-06-06 0900 NBC D-Day Broadcast
0:39:10 1944-06-06 0930 NBC D-Day Broadcast
0:39:42 1944-06-06 0900 NBC D-Day Broadcast
0:40:20 1944-06-06 0927 CBS D-Day Broadcast
0:40:34 1944-06-06 0930 NBC D-Day Broadcast
0:41:00 1944-06-06 0900 NBC D-Day Broadcast
0:41:33 1944-06-06 0930 NBC D-Day Broadcast
0:42:16 1944-06-06 0927 CBS D-Day Broadcast
0:43:13 1944-06-08 CAN Reports From The Beachhead
0:43:31 1944-06-06 0927 CBS D-Day Broadcast (2 Clips)
0:44:10 1944-06-06 US D-Day Bulletin On Landing Success
0:44:23 1944-06-06 1015 CBS Light Of The World

12pm to 4:30pm EST

0:45:33 1944-06-06 Eisenhower’s D-Day Broadcast to Western Europe
0:46:16 1944-06-06 1200 CBS Kate Smith Speaks – Prayer For Our Troops
0:46:33 1944-06-06 Crisco News D-Day
0:47:42 1944-06-06 1300 NBC News Reports From London
0:48:01 1944-06-06 1245 CBS D-Day Broadcast (2 Clips)
0:48:36 1944-06-06 1300 NBC News Reports From London

4:30pm to 8pm EST

0:50:04 1944-06-06 1630
0:51:05 1944-06-06 1915 CBS Passing Parade
0:51:35 1944-06-06 1630
0:52:44 1944-06-06 1830 NBCR Fibber McGee and Molly D-Day Broadcast
0:52:57 1944-06-06 1630 NBC D-Day Broadcast
0:53:49 1944-06-06 1830 NBC News Lowell Thomas Reporting
0:54:40 1944-06-06 1800 CBS D-Day Broadcast
0:55:04 1944-06-06 1915 CBS Passing Parade
0:55:34 1944-06-06 1800 CBS D-Day Broadcast
0:56:42 1944-06-06 Cross Country Reaction to D-Day
0:56:58 1944-06-06 1830 NBCR Fibber McGee and Molly D-Day Broadcast
0:57:49 1944-06-06 1915 CBS Passing Parade
0:57:57 1944-06-06 1630

8pm to Midnight EST

0:58:15 1944-06-06 2000 NBC Dr Goldstein And Ginny Simms
0:58:38 1944-06-06 2130 CBS D-Day Broadcast
0:59:00 1944-06-08 CAN Nighttime Convoy Anti-Aircraft Attack
0:59:40 1944-06-06 2000 NBC Dr Goldstein And Ginny Simms
1:00:08 1944-06-06 2210 NBC Fred Waring And His Pennsylvanians
1:01:10 1944-06-06 2130 CBS D-Day Broadcast
1:03:20 1944-06-06 2210 NBC Fred Waring And His Pennsylvanians
1:04:00 1944-06-06 2000 NBC Dr Goldstein And Ginny Simms
1:04:27 1944-06-06 2210 NBC Fred Waring And His Pennsylvanians
1:05:40 1944-06-06 2130 CBS D-Day Broadcast
1:06:28 1944-06-06 2000 NBC Dr Goldstein And Ginny Simms
1:06:53 1944-06-06 2130 CBS D-Day Broadcast (2 Clips)
1:08:15 1944-06-06 NBC Poem and Prayer for Invading Army
1:10:59 1944-06-06 2210 NBC Fred Waring And His Pennsylvanians
1:11:39 1944-06-06 2130 CBS D-Day Broadcast (2 Clips)
1:12:48 1944-06-06 2000 NBC Dr Goldstein And Ginny Simms
1:13:06 1944-06-06 2130 CBS D-Day Broadcast
1:13:42 1944-06-06 2200 NBCR Bob Hope Show
1:14:10 1944-06-06 2210 NBC Fred Waring And His Pennsylvanians

The Next Day And Later

1:14:34 1944-06-08 CBS News D-Day Invasion
1:14:53 1944-06-07 NBCB George Hicks From The Deck Of USS Ancon
1:16:04 1944-06-08 CBS News D-Day Invasion
1:16:19 1944-06-07 CBS Kate Smith Speaks
1:16:59 1944-06-08 CBS News D-Day Invasion
1:17:17 1944-06-17 BBC Frank Gillard Takes Cover
1:17:45 1944-06-12 BBC Richard Dimbleby Reports Flying Over Normandy
1:19:33 1944-06-08 CBC Matthew Halton Welcomed By French Civilians
1:20:12 1944-06-08 BBC Michael Standing On French Civilians
1:20:42 1944-06-14 BBC Alan Melville Hermanville – Church Bells

At Centuries of Sound I am making mixes for every year of recorded sound. Please come to centuriesofsound.com to stream, or patreon.com/centuriesofsound for downloads and a host of other bonus materials for just $5 per month. This show would not be possible without my supporters on there, so please consider signing up or sharing this with someone who may be interested.

Centuries of Sound on Cambridge 105 Radio – Episode 46 (1937)

“Audio archeology with James Errington. This time we head back to 1937, a frankly astonishing year for swing in America and France, as well as for classic blues, country, Cuban son, Greek rebetika, and even a couple of things from the UK.”

Time: 6pm GMT, Sunday 22nd January 2023
Place: Cambridge 105 Radio

You can listen to the show on 105fm in Cambridge, on DAB digital across South Cambridgeshire, on the Cambridge 105 website here, or on any good radio apps, or (as the show has already finished) you can play the whole extended version on this handy mixcloud player.

Radio Podcast #20 – 1912

More time-travel to the early days of recorded sound with James Errington. This time we find out about the interminable history of musical snobbery, hear some immensely beautiful, surprisingly thick Edison diamond discs and hear what Al Jolson and Billy Murray are up to.

Centuries of Sound is an independent podcast without any advertising, and it’s only with the support of my patrons that the show can survive. To download full mixes, get early access to the radio podcast, and a get host of other benefits for $5 (or local equivalent) per month (and yearly payment is also now available) please come to https://patreon.com/centuriesofsound

1944 – Part One

At Centuries of Sound I am making mixes for every year of recorded sound. The download here is only for the first hour of the mix. For the full 3-hour version please come to centuriesofsound.com to stream, or patreon.com/centuriesofsound for downloads and a host of other bonus materials for just $5 per month. This show would not be possible without my supporters on there, so please consider signing up or sharing this with someone who may be interested.

1944 is a big year. It looms large. This isn’t just a recent development either. Listen to these few hours of music and speech and one thing I think you’ll pick up is that everyone is very much stuck in the present. There’s little in the way of nostalgia, there’s hardly any dreaming, everyone seems to be living for the here and the now. Only a couple of years prior “the war” was this imposition on popular culture – now it seems to be the wellspring from which everything goes. Do we need a song about a GI when we’ve got Cecil Gant the G.I. Sing-Sation? There’s this fateful abandon underpinning everything, like they’re saying “here we are, we may get through this, we may not, but for now we’re going to enjoy every moment” and it’s infectious.

You may have also noticed that this mix is called “Part One” – this is perhaps a temporary solution for how sprawling these mixes have become. It’s been increasingly difficult to contain all I would like in a single mix, the materials available are getting altogether too much, but more importantly I have discovered vast radio archives for these years, and have spent much too long digging through them for gems. I must have listened to over a hundred hours of 1944 radio broadcasts. So this time we will have three mixes, and as I prepare myself for 1945 I promise I will try to find a new strategy.

January

(Clip from 1944-03-xx NRK News Of Norway)
(Clip from 1944-12-31 MBS News 1944 In Review)
0:00:00 Lester Young et al. – Jammin’ the Blues (Excerpt 1)
(Clip of V1 Bomb)
(Clips from 1944-12-31 – WOR Year In Review)
0:02:03 Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive
(Clip from Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive (rejected take))
(Clip from Phantom Lady)
0:04:50 Boyd Raeburn – Hep Boyd
(Clip from Arsenic & Old Lace)
0:05:54 Boyd Raeburn – March Of The Boyds
(Clips from 1944-12-31 MBS News 1944 In Review)
0:07:37 Lead Belly – Mr. Hitler (Hitler Song)
(Clips from 1944-01-04 CBC Matthew Halton The Fall Of Ortona)
0:10:28 Mary Lou Williams – Blue Skies
(Clips from 1944-01-09 CBS World News Today)
0:13:00 Lata Mangeshkar – Barsaat Mein Humse Mile Tum
(Clips from 1944-01-13 – It’s That Man Again Navy Show)
0:16:07 Billie Holiday – That Ole Devil Called Love
(Clips from 1944-01-16 CBS World News Today)
0:19:13 Dinah Washington – Evil Gal Blues
(Clip from 1944-01-26 BBC Wynford Vaughn Thomas In Anzio)
0:22:21 Lester Young et al. – Jammin’ the Blues (Excerpt 2)

February

(Clips from 1944-12-31 MBS News 1944 In Review)
(Clip from Know Your Ally – Britain)
0:26:50 Arsenio Rodríguez & Su Conjunto – El Pirulero No Vuelve Mas
(Clip from 1944-02-01 Fibber Mcgee – diamond ring at cut rate price)
(Clip from Laura)
0:30:11 Cootie Williams and His Orchestra – ‘Round Midnight
0:30:30 Cootie Williams and His Orchestra – Seven Eleven
(Clip from 1944-02-05 CAN MacArthur At Flag Raising Ceremony On Manila)
0:34:19 Anjos do Inferno – Acontece Que Eu Sou Baiano
(Clip from 1944-02-06 CBS World News Today)
(Clips from 1944-02-05 NBC Skelly News Of The World)
0:36:16 Gene Autry – Don’t Fence Me In
(Clips from 1944-02-06 CBS World News Today)
(Clip from Hare Ribbin)
0:39:10 Louis Jordan – Mop! Mop!
(Clips from 1944-02-17 – It’s That Man Again RAF edition)
0:42:22 Duke Ellington – Johnny Come Lately
(Clips from 1944-02-20 CBS World News Today)
(Clip from Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo)
0:45:51 Andrews Sisters – Straighten Up And Fly Right
(Clips from 1944-02-27 CBS World News Today)
0:49:44 Miguel Caló – Sans Souci
(Clip from 1944-02-29 Crisco Radio News)
(Clip from Supervising Women Workers)
0:53:09 Coleman Hawkins – Rainbow Mist

March

(Clips from 1944-12-31 MBS News 1944 In Review)
0:57:00 Lionel Hampton – Hamp’s Boogie Woogie
(Clips from 1944-03-02 Abbott and Costello Show – Special Guests Blondie & Dagwood)
1:00:31 Roy Eldridge, Pete Brown, Willie Smith, Flip Phillips, Les Paul, Hank Jones, Benny Fonville, Alvin Stoller – Blues
(Clips from 1944-03-05 CBS World News Today)
(Clips from 1944-03-12 CBS World News Today)
1:06:10 Jussi Björling – Nessun Dorma
(Clips from 1944-03-19 CBS World News Today)
(Clip from Arsenic & Old Lace)
1:09:24 Trummy Young and his Lucky Seven – Hollywood
(Clip from Double Indemnity)
(Clips from 1944-03-24 MBS Special A Night In A Foxhole)
1:13:12 Halim El-Dabh – Wire Recorder Piece
(Clips from 1944-03-26 BBC Winston Churchill – On Allied Victories)
1:15:41 Noel Coward – Don’t Let’s Be Beastly To The Germans
1:18:47 Laurence Olivier – Speech from Henry V
1:20:20 Walter ‘Foots’ Thomas All-Stars – Out To Lunch
1:23:09 Wynford Vaughn-Thomas – BBC News Report
1:25:05 Harry The Hipster Gibson – 4-F Ferdinand
(Clip from 1944-03-xx NRK News Of Norway)

April

(Clip from 1944-04-02 CBS World News Today)
1:28:24 Olavi Virta – Ennen Kuolemaa
(Clips from 1944-04-02 World News Today)
(Clip from 1944-12-31 MBS News 1944 In Review)
1:30:44 Sonny Boy Williamson – Win The War Blues
(Clip from 1944-04-17 RSH Germany Calling – We Are Waiting for You)
(Clip from Lifeboat)
1:35:00 The Mills Brothers – You Always Hurt The One You Love
1:38:16 Wynford Vaughan Thomas – Springtime At Anzio
1:39:02 Andres Segovia – Minuetto
(Clip from Ministry of Fear)
1:40:54 The Nat ‘King’ Cole Trio – I Realize Now
(Clip from To Have And To Have Not)
1:44:22 Cozy Cole – Just One More Chance
(Clips from Double Indemnity)
1:48:08 Oscar Alemán – Polvo De Estrellas
(Clip from 1944-04-13 – It’s That Man Again Army Edition)
1:50:10 Tiny Grimes Quintet – Red Cross
(Clip from Abbott & Costello Show – Special Guest Dorothy Lamour)
1:53:18 Billy Butterfield & His Orchestra & Margaret Whiting – Moonlight In Vermont

May

(Clip from 1944-12-31 MBS News 1944 In Review)
1:57:07 Josh White – House of the Rising Sun
(Clip from 1944-05-05 BBC Richard Dimbleby Watches Airborne Troops)
2:01:04 Charlie Barnet – Skyliner
(Clip from 1944-05-13 NBC Skelly News Of The World)
2:04:24 Spike Jones – Leave The Dishes In The Sink, Ma
(Clips from 1944-05-17 BBC Godfrey Talbot in Monte Cassino)
2:07:50 Atahualpa Yupanqui – El Arriero
(Clip from 1944-05-25 RRG Heinrich Himmler – Vor Der Waffen SS)
2:11:09 Red Foley – Smoke On The Water
(Clips from Know Your Ally – Britain)
2:15:00 Cecil Gant – Cecil Boogie
(Clips from 1944-05-18 – Suspense Theater – Donovans Brain)
2:19:08 Ethel Smith – Tico Tico
(Clips from 1944-05-15 – Sherlock Holmes – Adventure of the Missing Bloodstains)
2:22:14 Tommy Dorsey & his Orchestra – Opus No. 1
(Clip from Since You Went Away)
2:25:25 Billie Holiday – No More

June

(Clip from 1944-12-31 MBS News 1944 In Review)
2:28:25 Al Trace Silly Symphonists – Mairzy Doats And Dozy Doats
2:31:25 Judy Garland – The Trolley Song
(Clip from Cover Girl)
2:34:35 Louis Prima – Oh Marie
(Clip from Abbott & Costello Show – Special Guest Alan Ladd)
2:37:38 Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Strange Things Happening Every Day
(Clip from Going My Way)
2:42:04 Sister Ernestine Washington – If I Could Just Make It In
2:44:39 Dylan Thomas – Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines
2:47:02 Erroll Garner All Stars – Gaslight
(Clip from Double Indemnity)
2:49:22 Betty Hutton – It Had To Be You
(Clip from The Woman In The Window)
2:52:50 Thyagaraja Bhagavatar & Manmatha Leelaya – Haridas
(Clip from Gaslight)
2:54:16 The Nat ‘King’ Cole Trio – Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You
(Clip from 1944-02-20 CBS World News Today)
(Clip from 1944-02-27 CBS World News Today)

Goodbye 2022, Hello 2023

Another year is at an end, unfortunately it has been quite an unproductive one for Centuries of Sound as I seem to have become bogged down in the Second World War – in case you were wondering, I consider the main culprit to be the hundreds of hours of original radio recordings which I downloaded and then had to listen to. It was also a difficult year in some other ways I would rather not go into.

Thank you especially for my supporters on Patreon all for your patience sticking around through this!

So two bits of good news.

  1. I have a plan as to how to reduce working time on mixes and should be able to get back to a one-per-month release schedule. 2023 therefore looks something like this:

10th January – 1944 part 1
6th February – D-Day Special
6th March – 1944 part 2
3rd April – 1945 part 1
1st May – 1945 part 2
5th June – 1946 part 1
3rd July – 1946 part 2
7th August – 1947 part 1
4th September – 1947 part 2
2nd October – 1948 part 1
24th October – Halloween Special
6th November – 1948 part 2
4th December – Christmas Special

Can I get back to a-year-every-month? If I can manage to make this a full-time job for myself, then yes. But no expectation for that to happen within the next 12 months.

  1. I have a new show launching next year called “Texture and Artefact”. It’s a different kind of a show to Centuries of Sound, a combination of personal stories, field recording, interviews and original music, but some of you may be interested, so I will share a couple of episodes on this feed (hope nobody minds) – I am not sure how much overlap it will have with Centuries of Sound in terms of audience, so will try not to mention it too much here unless requested otherwise.

So, see you in 2023 for all of that. In the meantime, here’s a list of the films, books, Youtube channels, podcasts and LPs I’ve consumed in 2022.

Films (watched at cinema)

Alcarràs (2022) **** (Slow, relatively low-stakes story about Catalan farming community, all the better for its scope and pace.)
Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) ****** (The third perfect film of the 21st century, endlessly inventive, insightful into human condition, relevant on very personal level for me and my half-Chinese family)
The Souvenir Part II (2021) *** (enjoyed but also found it quite self-indulgent and felt I took nothing away at the end, probably would have enjoyed more if I’d seen part 1)
She Said (2022) **** (investigative journalism movie has very much been done before, this is more of the same but just done better)

Films (watched at cinema with kids)

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) **½ (fine, I guess.)
Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022) *** (first minions/DM film I’ve seen, perfectly acceptable)
Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (2022) * (just horrible, every shot seemed to be a misfiring ironic joke, visually repellent, kids seemed to like it)

Films (watched at home)

Carnival (1946) **
Carol (2015) ***½ (particular highlight was all the shots that look like the cover of the first Peter Gabriel album)
Chariots of Fire (1981) ***
Coronation (2020) ****½ (wasn’t what I was expecting, but visually spectacular boredom plus occasional horror is one of my favourite vibes)
Eighth Grade (2018) ****½ (such a brilliant film which captures something real and generally uncovered about being that age at this time)
Go Kart Go (1963) *** (anarchic early 60s British kids film, surprisingly dangerous race scenes)
Goodfellas ***½ (A quarter of a century after film school I can appreciate Scorcese, but I don’t care for empathising with selfish murderers, I do not share their feelings.)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) ****½
Lady Bird (2017) ****½ (really personal film about the shifting personas we adopt in early adulthood, characters very complex and believable, very mature work for someone so young)
Maps To The Stars (2014) **** (My favourite Cronenberg films teeter on that edge between reality and unreality so long that you begin to see both as equally illusiory, despite its flaws, this is true here.)
Match Point (2005) ***½ (a pleasant surprise)
Nowhere Special (2020) ***½ (low-key but very much not low-stakes)
Promising Young Woman (2020) ** (why didn’t I like this? everything just felt unconvincing, could not forget they were acting, also the ending is extremely glib and badly thought-through)
Rebecca (1940) ****½ (third viewing, I am increasingly convinced that Maxim is the real villain)
Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1987) **** (utter bleakness in the guise of a knockabout sex comedy, only let down by the cop-out ending)
Suspicion (1941) **½ (very much D-tier Hitchcock, but evil (OR IS HE?) Cary Crant is worth a look)
The Fabulous Dorseys (1947) ** (The Dorsey Brothers, in their mid-40s, play themselves in their mid-20s, and, musical performances aside, they shouldn’t have bothered.)
The Magnetic Monster (1953) * (Is it possible to make a horror film where the monster is an immobile piece of grey metal? Not on this evidence.)
The Martian (2015) *** (Fails basic suspension of belief, just plain stupid at times, still kind of entertaining)
The Power of The Dog **** (very well-crafted and subtle, can even accept Cumberbatch’s American accent)
Yesterday * (once again Richard Curtis takes an interesting premise and manages to wring aboulutely zero insights out of it)

Films (watched at home with kids, most have seen many times before)

Addams Family Values (1993) ****½
Beetlejuice (1988) ***½
Big (1998) ***½
eXistenZ (1999) *****
Groundhog Day (1993) *****
Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom (1984) ****
Interstellar (2014) ****
Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003) **½
Shaolin Soccer (2001) **** (a big hit with both my football-loving son and my football-hating son)
Sing (2016) ***
Slumdog Millionaire (2008) ***½
Stand By Me (1986) ****½
The Jungle Book (1967) ****

Books

PG Wodehouse – Heavy Weather (1933) **** (amazing that this and Summer Lightning take place within two weeks, such intricate, flawless plotting)
Mark Fisher – Capitalist Realism (2009) **** (still essential, wish he were around to give us an update)
David Nobbs – Pratt à Manger (2006) **½ (dregs of the Henry Pratt series, still worth reading)
Jonathan Coe – Middle England (2018) *** (diminishing returns in the Rotters Club series, some parts excellent, some parts should have been cut)
Mervyn Peake – Titus Groan (1946) ****½ (yes, I should have read this years ago, I know)
Eric Hobsbawm – Age of Extremes The Short Twentieth Century, 1914-1991 (1994) ****
Taylor Downing – 1942: Britain at the Brink (2022) ** (just not what I was looking for here)
Terry Teachout – Duke (2013) ** (some parts are excellent, unfortunately spoiled by his bizarre insistence on tutting at Ellington for not being a classical composer)
PG Wodehouse – Blandings Castle and Elsewhere (1935) **** (some of the best Blandings stories, Mr Mulliner stories are fine but not up to same standard)
Ted Gioia – The History of Jazz, Second Edition (2021) **½ (interesting as an overview of what the consensus (to be challenged) is, devoting more of the book to Winton Marsalis than all non-US Jazz is pretty inexcusable, also he is very sniffy about free jazz and has apparent contempt for hip-hop)
Alex Ross – The Rest Is Noise (2007) ***½ (very good overview of 21st century classical music, which I am still not really into after reading)
PG Wodehouse – Lord Emsworth and Others (1937) ***½ (some stories are excellent, not enough Blandings for me though)
Louis Menand – The Free World (2021) **** (excellent primer on cold war era culture and thought, have just finished this and am letting it sink in)
Edward Joffe – Hancock’s Last Stand (1998) *½ (on Tony Hancock’s last months from someone who was there, would expect any showbiz memoir to be more engaging than this)

Youtube channels

Ogmios School of Zen Motoring – https://www.youtube.com/@Ogmioszen
Geowizard – https://www.youtube.com/@GeoWizard
JustJP – https://www.youtube.com/@JustJP
Cinebinge React – https://www.youtube.com/@CineBingeReact

Podcasts (favourite episode)

A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs (Episode 146: “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys)
Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown (S12 E10 “Draw The Curtains)
Revolutions (10.103 – The Final Chapter)
Rex Factor (S3.36 Margaret of Anjou: Biography)
RHLSTP with Richard Herring (RHLSTP 409 – Sally Phillips)
The Adam Buxton Podcast (Ep.180 – Jarvis Cocker)
The Alexei Sayle Podcast (21: Spycops Like Us)
The British Broadcasting Century (E57/E58 – 100 Years In 100 Minutes)
The British History Podcast (391 – The Battle of Hastings)
The Prince (E07 – Wolf Warriors)
The Trojan Horse Affair (Part 5: A Study in Scarlett)
This American Life (786: It’s A Game Show!)
Which Decade Is Top For Pops? (E03 Rockin Berries vs Rubettes vs Nick Kershaw vs The Mreal McCoy vs Geri Halliwell vs Ed Sheeran)

Last.fm Artists

1 Broadcast – 244 scrobbles
2 Art Tatum – 148
3 Miles Davis – 135
4 Bernard Herrmann – 107
5 Toby Fox – 95 (this one is my kids)
6 Astor Piazzolla – 86
7 Benny Moré Y Su Banda Gigante – 83
8 Glenn Gould – 82
9 Frank Sinatra – 74
10 Machito and His Afro-Cuban Salseros – 72
11 Charlie Parker – 61
12 Howlin’ Wolf – 57
13 Jacques Brel – 56
14 Lawrence Winters, Camilla Williams, Inez Matthews, Warren Coleman, Avon Long, J. Rosamond Johnson Chorus – 56
15 Dizzy Gillespie – 54
16 Hank Williams – 54
17 C418 – 53 (this one is my kids)
18 Masaru Satoh – 52
19 Fred Astaire – 51
20 Music of the Magindanao in the Philippines – 51
21 Yma Sumac – 51
22 Akira Ifukube – 48
23 Sarah Vaughan – 48
24 Boston Symphony Orchestra/Munch; New England Conservatory Chorus – 46
25 Elmer Bernstein – 46
26 Fats Domino – 46
27 Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant – 45
28 Duke Ellington & His Orchestra – 42
29 – Broadcast & The Focus Group – 39
30 Elvis Presley – 38

Albums (there were a lot of these – here is a selection of some of my favourites, all have music from the years 1948-1956)

Akira Ifukube – Godzilla OST
Art Blakey – A Night at Birdland
Astor Piazzolla – Ses Premiers Enregisrements
Benny More Y Su Banda Giganta – Grabaciones Completas
Bernard Hermann – The Day The Earth Stood Still OST
Bo Diddley – The Indispensible Bo Diddley, Vol.1
Four Freshmen – Four Freshmen and Five Trombones
Frank Sinatra – In The Wee Small Hours
Glenn Gould – The Goldberg Variations
J.J. Johnson with Clifford Brown – J.J. Johnson with Clifford Brown
Jackson Do Pandeiro – Sua Majestade: O Rei Do Ritmo
Jerry Byrd – Early Country & Hawaiian Steel Guitar Classics
Les Baxter – The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter
Maria Tanase – Malediction d’Amour
Mahalia Jackson – Gospels, Spirituals & Hymns
Maxima Mejia – Los Grandes Exitos de Maxima Mejia
Miles David – The Complete Blue Note Sessions
Moondog – Moondog & His Honking Geese
Peggy Lee – Black Coffee with Peggy Lee
Salum Abdallah & Cuban Marimba – Ngoma Iko Huku
Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant – Stratosphere Boogie: The Flaming Guitars of Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant
Stan Kenton – New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm
Thelonious Monk – Genius of Modern Music Vol 1/2
Various – 1950: The Bomb In The Heart of The Century
Various – Africa at 78RPM
Various – Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974
Various – Blowing The Fuse (Series)
Various – Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Hillbilly Music: Country & Western Hit Parade (Series)
Various – Forgotten Guitars from Mozambique
Various – London is the Place For Me: Trinidadian Calypso in London, 1950-1956
Various – Music of the Magindanao in the Philippines
Various – OHM+: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music
Various – Township Jazz ‘n’ Jive
Various – The Complete Sun Singles
Various – The Doo Wop Box
Various – The Pig’s Big 78s
Various – Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 1: Mondo Exotica
Yma Sumac – Mambo!

Centuries of Sound on Cambridge 105 Radio – Christmas Special 2022

Time: 6pm GMT, Sunday 25th December 2022

Place: Cambridge 105 Radio

This year’s Christmas show features me as usual, presenting a selection of Christmas music from the 1920s and 1930s, joined by my son Theo to share opinions and commentary.

You can have listened to the show on 105fm in Cambridge, on DAB digital nationwide, on the Cambridge 105 website here, or on any good radio apps. Or if you want to listen at a time which is not 6pm on Christmas day, a Mixcloud player with an extended cut of the show is available below. Merry Christmas!

A Wartime Christmas 1939-1945

Merry Christmas Centuries of Sound Followers!

This is a mix of original Christmas-related records and radio broadcasts from 1939 to 1945. It’s also available as a compilation CD for supporters on Patreon here – https://www.patreon.com/posts/76151409

0:00:00 Bernard Herrmann – Snow Ride (1942)
0:00:41 Bing Crosby – White Christmas (1942)
0:03:48 Jimmy Durante – Clip from Christmas Show (1944)
0:04:20 Lionel Hampton – Gin For Christmas (1939)
0:06:48 King George VI – The Royal Christmas Message (1939)
0:07:08 Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney – Hollywood Christmas Parade (1940)
0:08:36 Claude Thornhill – Snowfall (1941)
0:11:32 Winston Churchill – The White House Christmas Tree (1941)
0:11:57 Franklin D. Roosevelt – Christmas Broadcast (1941)
0:12:14 Woody Herman & His Orchestra – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1942)
0:14:49 Mayor of The Town – Clip from ‘A Christmas Carol’ (1942)
0:14:53 Christmas with The Eighth Army (1942)
0:16:18 Flanagan & Allen – There’s A Boy Coming Home On Leave (1940)
0:18:52 Fibber McGee and Molly – Listening to Christmas Carols (1942)
0:19:45 Glenn Miller Orchestra – Jingle Bells (1941)
0:22:53 Amos and Andy – Clip from Annual Christmas Show (1942)
0:23:41 Heavenly Gospel Singers – When Was Jesus Born? (1941)
0:26:49 The Andrews Sisters – Sing (1943)
0:29:52 Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters – Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1943)
0:32:31 Columbia Workshop Theatre – Clip from “The Plot To Overthrow Christmas” (1944)
0:32:40 Bob Crosby – The Skaters Waltz (In Swingtime) (1939)
0:35:27 Billy Mills & The Orchestra – Jingle Bells (1944)
0:37:05 Erroll Garner with Columbia Workshop Theatre – Great Christmas (1944)
0:41:12 Jimmy Durante – Clip from Christmas Show (1944)
0:41:30 Spike Jones & His City Slickers – Jingle Bells (1944)
0:44:19 Ken Derby & The Kings Men – The Night Before Christmas (1944)
0:50:53 The Mills Brothers – I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1944)
0:53:04 King George VI – The Royal Christmas Message (1944)
0:53:22 Lead Belly – Christmas Song (1943)
0:56:01 Amos And Andy – Clip from Christmas Show With Andy As Santa (1944)
0:56:13 Fats Waller – Swingin’ Them Jingle Bells (1944)
0:58:54 NBC Studio Orchestra – Clip from Amos & Andy Christmas Show (1944)
1:00:19 Dinah Shore – I’ll Walk Alone (Through Every Christmas) (1944)
1:03:02 Life of Riley – Clip from ‘Roswell’s a Guest for Christmas’ (1944)
1:03:21 Kenny Baker, Karen Kemple and Alexander Smallens – Hail To Christmas (1944)
1:05:52 Vick’s Matinee Theatre – A Stable in Bethlehem Pennsylvania (1944)
1:06:06 Tex Ritter – Christmas Carols By The Old Corral (1945)
1:08:27 Life of Riley – Clip from ‘Roswell’s a Guest for Christmas’ (1944)
1:08:56 Judy Garland – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1944)

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