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
rec. in London c. September 1911
mp3 file (1.6MB)
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
rec. in London, c. January 1908
mp3 file (1.2MB)
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