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Various Artists: Honky Tonk & Sparkling Piano - The Essential Collection (2CD)

Various Artists: Honky Tonk & Sparkling Piano - The Essential Collection (2CD)


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The term "Honky Tonk piano" usually conjures up the image of an out-of-tune upright piano being played in the setting of a smoky American saloon bar in the early years of the twentieth century. Ragtime, in particular, lent itself to this style of playing. As this collection shows, popular and rock 'n' roll songs well into the 1950s were subjected to the honky tonk treatment. Nothing is sacred, and even Brahms and Liszt 'get the works' from Andy "Plymouth" Rocke.
You may be forgiven for thinking that names like Knuckles O'Toole and Joe "Fingers" Carr would be more suited to gangland hitmen, but hiding behind these pseudonyms are three highly respected pianists. Both Billy Rowland and Dick Hyman used the former nom de plume, and Capitol's Lou Busch the latter. Dick Hyman and Johnny Maddox (the latter featured here on four selections) are still, in their early eighties, active on the musical scene.
Variously known as "The Queen of the Keyboard" and "The Queen of Honky Tonk", Winifred Atwell ruled supreme in Britain during the 1950s. Winnie hailed from the West Indies, and attempted to carve out a career as a concert pianist. She found the going tough, and changed her style to embrace the world of popular music. Black And White Rag, recorded in 1951, became her first million-seller - played on her honky tonk or "other" piano. Years later it enjoyed a revival as the theme tune for BBC television's popular snooker tournament series, 'Pot Black'. Russ Conway achieved great popularity in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and was a regular guest on bandleader Billy Cotton's television series.
Like Winifred Atwell, German born Fritz Schulz-Reichel abandoned his career as a concert pianist, and adopted the performing identity of Crazy Otto. No matter that the piano he played sounded as if it had been left out in the garden for ten years(!), as he became very popular in his homeland as well as in Britain, France and the USA.
On the 'sparkling' piano side, mention has to be made of the superb playing of Edward Rubach on his four selections. A prolific broadcaster, he also enjoyed a successful piano duet partnership with Robert Docker.
This disparate collection of fifty-eight tracks by no means covers all the distinguished practitioners of Honk Tonk and Sparkling piano, although it includes some one-off big hit records by Sir Hubert Pimm, Del Wood, Jan August et al. We hope you will find the tracks enjoyable and, as the original artists intended, highly entertaining.

CD1
1. 'Let’s Have a Party' Medley: (a) If You Knew Susie (Like I Know Susie) (b) The More We Are Together (c) That’s My Weakness Now (d) Knees Up Mother Brown (e) Daisy Bell (f) Boomps-a-Daisy (g) She Was One of the Early Birds (h) Three O’Clock in the Morning - Winifred Atwell
2. The Portuguese Washerwomen - Joe 'Fingers' Carr with vocal group
3. Cecilia - Johnny Maddox
4. Good Morning - Russ Conway
5. Trudie - Joe 'Mr. Piano' Henderson with the Beryl Stott Chorus & Bill Shepherd Music
6. Crazy Words, Crazy Tune - Winifred Atwell with The Ragtime Four
7. After You’ve Gone - Knuckles O’Toole (Billy Rowland)
8. Misirlou - Jan August
9. I Wanna Say Hello - Sir Hubert Pimm (introducing vocalist Ellen Sutton)
10. 'Let’s Rock ‘n’ Roll' Medley: (a) Singin’ the Blues (b) The Green Door (c) See You Later, Alligator (d) Shake, Rattle and Roll (e) Rock Around the Clock (f) Razzle Dazzle - Winifred Atwell
11. Nola - Edward Rubach
12. Down Yonder - Del Wood
13. Hungarian Dance No.2 - Andy 'Plymouth' Rocke
14. The Crazy Otto Rag - Crazy Otto
15. The Poor People of Paris - Winifred Atwell
16. Mack The Knife - The Dick Hyman Trio
17. Medley: (a) While Strolling Through the Park One Day (b) Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie (c) My Pony Boy (d) In My Merry Oldsmobile - Knuckles O’Toole (Billy Rowland)
18. Sam’s Song - Joe 'Fingers' Carr with The Carr-Hops
19. Nobody’s Sweetheart - Frankie Carle
20. Charleston - Winifred Atwell
21. Do It Again - Johnny Maddox with The Rhythmasters
22. Marigold - Edward Rubach
23. Port-au-Prince - Winifred Atwell with Frank Chacksfield & His Orchestra
24. Smiles - Crazy Otto
25. It All Depends on You - Knuckles O’Toole (Dick Hyman)
26. 'Piano Pops' (No.4) Medley: (a) Nairobi (b) Oh-Oh, I’m Falling in Love Again (c) Who’s Sorry Now? (d) Why Don’t They Understand? (e) Catch a Falling Star (f) I May Never Pass This Way Again - Russ Conway
27. Mimi de New Orleans - Emil Stern
28. Black and White Rag - Winifred Atwell

CD2
1. 'Let’s Have Another Party' Medley: (a) Somebody Stole My Gal (b) I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight? (c) When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along (d) Bye Bye Blackbird (e) The Sheik of Araby (f) Another Little Drink Wouldn’t Do Us Any Harm (g) Lily of Laguna (h) The Honeysuckle and the Bee (i) Broken Doll (j) Nellie Dean - Winifred Atwell
2. Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag - Russ Conway
3. My Gal Sal - Knuckles O’Toole
4. The Old Pi-anna Rag - Billy Thorburn & His Strict Tempo Music (with vocal chorus)
5. The Portrait Painter of Paree - Winifred Atwell
6. Piccadilly Rag - Joe “Fingers” Carr
7. (a) La Cinquantaine (b) Anitra’s Dance - Andy “Plymouth” Rocke
8. Black Eyed Susan Brown - Johnny Maddox
9. Way Up in North Carolina - Winifred Atwell with The Ragtime Four
10. Kitten on the Keys - Edward Rubach
11. Oye Negra - Jan August
12. Mammy o’ Mine - Crazy Otto
13. Twelfth Street Rag - Winifred Atwell
14. Near You - Francis Craig and His Orchestra (Vocalist: Bob Lamm)
15. Singin’ in the Rain - Knuckles O’Toole (Dick Hyman)
16. The Robin’s Return - Dolores Ventura
17. Just a Girl that Men Forget - Frankie Carle
18. Dill Pickles - Winifred Atwell
19. Back in the Good Old Days - Sir Hubert Pimm (introducing vocalist Ellen Sutton)
20. Dinah - Johnny Maddox
21. Ivory Rag - Joe “Fingers” Carr with The Carr-Hops
22. Beautiful Ohio - Crazy Otto
23. Cross Hands Boogie - Winifred Atwell
24. “Piano Pops” (No.5) Medley: (a) Lollipop (b) Wear My Ring Around Your Neck (c) Kewpie Doll (d) Stairway of Love (e) Tulips from Amsterdam (f) All I Have To Do is Dream - Russ Conway
25. Liebestraume - Andy “Plymouth” Rocke
26. Dizzy Fingers - Edward Rubach
27. Medley: (a) When You’re Smiling (b) Where Did You Get That Hat? (c) Strike Up the Band (d) When You’re Smiling (reprise) - Knuckles O’Toole (Dick Hyman)
28. It’s Only a Paper Moon - Frankie Froeba
29. Syncopated Sadie - Winifred Atwell
30. Farewell Blues - Emil Stern

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