BEN ALBERT

Ben Albert's 'bill matter' was "The Dry Old Stick". ('Bill Matter' was the short slogan added to the artist's name on the posters to give an idea of what his act was about). He was a minor performer, completely forgotten now, but he did have a fairly prolific recording career between 1902 and 1925 and the couple of records I have show a performer with a good deal of character and projection, doing material which is well observed and wittily written. Like many comedians of the time he gives us a glimpse into the working-class world of Edwardian times, with families living in cramped back-to-back terraced houses - mostly congregating in the kitchen with mother doing the ironing, father smoking, and baby crawling everywhere. The song on the first recording here gives a slightly sardonic picture of family life.

'What Is it Master Likes So Much?' (Beka 485)
rec. in London c. September 1911

The monologue on the second recording traces the life of a woman through the blushing young maid 'buying her blushes at the chemists', courting, marriage and finally running a temperance hotel and 'selling bottled beer to the young men lodgers'.

'Three Ages of Women' (Zonophone Twin 40)
rec. in London, c. January 1908

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