"Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's homeopape. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there's twice as much of it. It always gets more and more."
Selecta GAB 100 to 104 form a set of five 10" 78 rpm records, recorded by the Parlophone Company in the late 1920s. They are the only records on the Selecta label, which was a trade name of G. A. Bryen Ltd. who made gramophones in Southwark Street, London.
GAB 100, 101 & 102 contain six sides by Walter Greenhalgh, a dialect comedian who recounts events in the life of "Owd Shuttleworth" a curmudgeonly fellow who works as a "tackler" - tending to the looms in a weaving mill. It is said that the first of the discs is acoustically recorded, the rest electrically, which is odd, as they appear to be conceived as a set.
GAB 103 & 104 contain four sides of A Few Lancashire Gags by George Baldwin. I have not heard these sides but the Greenhalgh recordings have been put online in their entirety by EMG Colonel:
Despite their obscurity, the Owd Shuttleworth discs are not especially rare. I had a copy of GAB 100 myself in the 1960s, probably from an inherited slush-pile of my Grandfather's reserve stock. It was cracked but playable for a while, eventually broken and discarded. Then, as now, the dialect humour seemed corny stuff; the novelty must have been the interest of hearing the broad Lancashire accent.
The mysteries are multiple:
A: Why the acoustic/electric divide? Another site gives the matrix numbers of the first record as
731 & 732, recorded around May, 1926. Selecta 101 dates from April, 1927 and 102 from April or May, 1928. The Baldwin discs must be later again. A strangely drawn-out schedule for such a meagre listing!
B: The master numbers indicate that the Baldwin set were recorded at a single session but the Greenhalgh series seem to have three separate sessions. Were other sides made and discarded?
C: Why did a London-based gramophone company branch out into this niche market of Lancashire dialect comedy?
D: How were the records marketed? Possibly a custom-job with local sales in mind?
E: Who were Walter Greenhalgh and George Baldwin? Where were they based and who would want to buy records of them? They seemed to have left no record of their careers apart from the recorded sounds!
"One man unashamed of Oswaldtwistle is William Cocker, who, perhaps in a subconscious mood of atonement for the town’s reputation, there developed a world-famous antiseptic called Dettol. Another was my kinsman the late Walter Greenhalgh who was the first comedian to put his patter on phonograph records."
Oswaldtwistle was certainly a weaving town, where a tackler would be employed. Mention of The Rovers in one of the sketches had led me to think of Blackburn but Oswaldtwistle also had its Rovers.
I am just dubious of the claim that Greenhalgh was the first comedian to record patter. There were many talking records, recitations and sketches from the earliest days of the talking machine. Did Greenhalgh make earlier discs or cylinders? Under his own name or pseudonymously? I can find no likely examples. As most comic records were short and self-contained, often framed by a song, it may be that the writer was impressed by a relative's achievement of six sides of dialect patter unrelieved by music.
I do know that this period saw some keen interest by music publishers, dance bands and gramophone companies in the captive audience of mill-workers, enjoying their Wakes-Week spree in Blackpool. The 1927 Feldmans' song "Me & Jane in a Plane" was dropped on the Blackpool Promenade from a circling aeroplane, according to the memoirs of Jack Hylton, who had a hit with it. "Sing As We Go," the celebrated Gracie Fields' film has a sequence featuring the promotion of records in the resort. It is, perhaps, just plausible that these dialect records were made for sale as "novelty-records" in holiday resorts. The Selecta company may well have used them to promote its gramophones - there can have been little profit in the discs themselves. The gaps between the issues would then make a kind of sense if a new disc was required for a short annual promotion; the spring recording-dates would allow the discs to be ready for the summer-season.
The first side of Greenhalgh's first disc features "The tackler on Holiday" and Blackpool is name-checked. It may even explain how my copy of GAB 100 turned up in Southport! Wakes Weeks were kept according to a strict calendar, towns going quiet for the weeks in turn. If there was any significance in the choice of a Oswaldtwistle raconteur, their holiday seems to have come under the Accrington banner, starting the third week of July, the height of the season.
I think this can be guaranteed to be of very little interest to anyone except me.
... The mysteries are multiple:
A: Why the acoustic/electric divide? Another site gives the matrix numbers of the first record as
731 & 732, recorded around May, 1926. Selecta 101 dates from April, 1927 and 102 from April or May, 1928. The Baldwin discs must be later again. A strangely drawn-out schedule for such a meagre listing! ...
The first all-electric recording system was developed by Western Electric, and it was demonstrated for the two largest American record companies in 1924. The companies licensed the technology, and they recorded the first recordings using the new tech in early 1925. By their mutual agreement, the companies didn't announce the transition to electrical recording until November of that year, by which time they'd accumulated substantial inventories of the new (and frankly superior) recordings.
This delay may seem strange by today's over-accelerated standards. It must be borne in mind that things moved more slowly almost a century ago. There were deliberate and concerted efforts to introduce the new generation of tech / recordings without unduly spooking or disadvantaging customers using the old versions.
Allowing for time required in transatlantic dissemination, a UK transition after May 1926 could explain the tech aspect of the divide.
As to the divide between the earlier and later content ... As you noted, Lancashire dialect comedy may well have seemed an odd or overly specialized product from a business perspective - i.e., something worth trying, but only to the extent of evaluating its marketability. One reasonable guess would be that the earlier recordings were a market test, and the later ones were the result of acceptable market success.
I think they knew it was marketable in Wakes Week and the odd pattern of the recording schedules indicates an annual dialect talking-machine, custom-job to help Selecta sell their hardware at a time when mill-workers were on their holiday.
Selecta made some very high-specification gramophones but they made a full range of instruments, all from bought-in parts. The portables are the most commonly seen. I'm conjecturing, without written evidence, that they promoted their budget lines to Lancashire folk, when they were at their most susceptible - on holiday. Greenhalgh and Baldwin did not need to be celebrities: their appeal was in their dialect, coming from the machine. It would still be nice to know how they were found.
From the master-numbers, I think we have annual promotions for 1926 to 1929. They appear to be a series but there were long gaps betwen issues, the label retained. The widely-spaced recording-sessions make no sense as a line in themselves, given the obscurity of the performers; Selecta as gramophone-makers is the main message we get from the labels. The company did restructure in that last year, G. A. Bryen becoming officially Selecta Ltd. but the stock-market crash must have put paid to any further promotional efforts in Lancashire.
Yesterday ZebraPup got a new giant chew bone, and earlier today I got it out of its packet so she could chew on it some more. Typically once she's had enough with her bones she will 'hide' them somewhere, which is what she did about an hour ago. Now, though, she's decided she wants it back, so the scene played out like this:
ZebraPup: *sits in front of me to get my attention and looks up at me plaintively*
Me: "Go find your chew then. Go find it."
ZebraPup: *looks pointedly up at the empty chew bone packet on the desk*
Me: "No, I don't have it. You hid it somewhere. Go find chewy."
ZebraPup: *again looks pointedly up at the chew bone packet and paws my leg*
Me: "I don't have it. You hid it."
ZebraPup: *glances pointedly at the chew bone packet yet again and gets agitated*
Me: "It's not there, see?" *I show her the empty packet*
ZebraPup: *sad face cos she realises I really don't have it and she can't remember where she put it*
She's gone back to sleep now. I'll look for it later. Safe to say she doesn't have the best tracking skills in the world, bless her.
I was putting a new delivery of coffins in their shed when the big boss (a huge Cardiff City fan) turned up. I told him I had the new Cardiff defence in the shed. Any compulsory redundancies and I am first to go, but I make myself laugh.
I live in the city centre and commute 45 minutes each way by bus to my day job at a large organisation in the wilds of suburbia. About two stops after I got on the bus this morning a fist fight broke out between two passengers a few seats ahead of me. I got the impression the two men knew each other. Voices were raised, things started kicking off and the pair fell out of their seat and rolled around in the aisle while still trying to fight. The driver stopped the bus and let the rest of the passengers off. Fortunately, we were still in the downtown core so I walked to the next stop and got another bus. Had we been on the transitway or in the more remote parts of the burbs when this happened I would have had to wait ages for another bus and would have been very late arriving at the office. I can only imagine the text message I would have sent my manager: 'I'll be late because two knobs started a fight and forced the bus to stop.' All this happened just after 8 am. It astounds me that those two had the energy to engage in fisticuffs so early in the morning.
Along with the green and gold variety, we've had bullfinches in our garden this year, we've not seen those before in two decades. The greater spotted woodpecker has become a regular and the house martins are nesting in the garage (again) and the first brood has fledged and gone and the second is on the way. The bird bath seems to be as big a draw as the seed feeder, and quite a few field mice and voles have also been seen drinking at it, generally quite early in the morning.
I witnessed someone this afternoon using (in a casual careless style) a proper 1980s Dymo label machine. Churning out small curly piles of blue, black and red orderly organisation.
I love them. Dymo labels, I mean. So tough, eternal and unpretentious. I wonder if that guy was an administrator from the past, that had stepped through a timeslip from another dimension? Perhaps he also secretly operates a Roneo/ Gestenter duplicator, click, click, click, shi-ny-frag-rant-fools-cap-sheets-of-ppurple-pprinted-pprose.
All this talk of exotic obsolete stationery is far too interesting for this thread. I should stop pushing the envelope....