Vintage Children’s Favourites – 48 original mono recordings from 1926 to 1959
Various artists ADD
Detailed Track-List at end of review
RETROSPECTIVE RTS 4162 [79:03 + 78:57]
Hello, Children, everywhere. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
Them as is in charge at MusicWeb International have finally found my level. Here are 48 of the brightest, most enjoyable, happy and beguiling tracks it’s been my pleasure to hear! I listened to this with Teddy by my side and we really enjoyed it. There’s such a variety of material here – if you’d asked me if the music we had as kids was really so varied I would have said no, but so much of this – despite the age of the recording – is memorable from my childhood. Just about all the tracks are old friends, and it was a joy to hear them because I had forgotten some of them – one of prices you pay for growing up. But whilst growing older isn’t an option, growing up isn’t, so this collection can appeal to everyone.
Starting with Puffin’ Billy – the theme music for Children’s Favourites – Charles Penrose follows it with his Laughing Policemen, a 1926 original which was still going strong in my childhood, many years later! Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra tell us about the delights of The Teddy Bears Picnic – my Teddy especially liked that one and wanted to know where it happened and if he could go to the next one – and the scary Big Bad Wolf.
Teddy told me that he thought that Rosemary Clooney’s Me and My Teddy Bear was about him, because he knows that I love him, but he was sad because, unlike the song, he and I don’t manage to play and play all day. He perked up with Arthur Askey singing The Bee Song: he liked the buzzing a lot, and he laughed heartily at the story of the Three Little Fishes, told by Maurice Denham. We both hoped that Patti Page managed to buy the Little Doggie she saw In the Window of the shop.
The Manchester Children’s Choir, with Sir Hamilton Harty no less, perform The Dance Duet from Hansel and Gretel (what a shame that there wasn’t room for their famous recording of Handel’s Nymphs and Shepherds). The Obenkirchen Children's Choir sing The Happy Wanderer – was there ever a less likely “hit”? The same could be said of the marvellous nonsense which is Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen by the sea, by Max Bygraves – he really knows how to tell you a storeeeee.
Mel Blanc is delightful in I tawt I saw a puddy tat, and another strange favourite is Flanagan and Allen’s Run, Rabbit, Run, their rather dour delivery seeming to be so unchildlike that it simply couldn’t appeal.
Mandy Miller – remember her as the deaf girl in Mandy? – gives a lovely performance of
Nellie the Elephant – Teddy was really happy with this, knowing that she left the captivity of the circus and had a happy life in the jungle.
The music comes right up to date with Tommy Steele’s Little White Bull, which is so infectious that you can see his cheeky grin as he sings.
There are more serious things here too. Stuart Robertson displays his easy-going tenor in Hely–Hutchinson’s setting of Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussy Cat, and Ann Stephens (aged 9) sings Christopher Robin at Buckingham Palace and Vespers: Christopher Robin is Saying His Prayers, two of Harold Fraser Simpson’s delightful settings of A.A. Milne. Danny Kaye sings two of the great Frank Loesser’s songs for the film Hans Christian Andersen.
I loved these disks. Who said nostalgia was a thing of the past? Heigh–Ho sing the Seven Dwarfs, Burl Ives tells us of the delights of the Big Rock Candy Mountain, and, by Timothy, there’s even Vivian Ellis’s Coronation Scot, used as the theme music for the BBC radio series Paul Temple. Our three favourites are, first, Tubby the Tuba, and when Tubby played his solo for Signor Pizzicato Teddy had tears of joy running down his furry nose, but he couldn’t figure out how the bull-frog got into the concert hall. Second, Ernest Bucalossi’s The Grasshopper’s Dance, magnificently played by the great Alfredo Campoli and his Salon Orchestra in a 1939 recording. Finally, the complete, 20 minute, version of Sparky’s Magic Piano.
Teddy says that he remembers us listening to all these tracks on the BBC Light Programme and he wishes that it had been possible to include Mantovani’s version of Hugo Alfvén’s Swedish Rhapsody, but even Teddy knows that you can’t have everything. Teddy also says that the transfers are very good indeed, and despite the various ages of the recordings the sound is uniformly satisfying. Oh, I almost forgot, Teddy says to tell you that the notes are good too. This is far too good to waste on your children, go out and treat yourself. You know that you deserve it.
Bob Briggs and Teddy

Detailed Track-List
Vintage Children’s Favourites
48 Original mono recordings (1926 - 1959)
Disc 1:
1. Puffin' Billy (Children's Favourites Theme), The Melodi Light Orchestra
2. The Laughing Policeman, Charles Penrose
3. The Song Of The Prune, Frank Crumit
4. The Wedding Of The Painted Doll, Layton & Johnstone
5. Barnacle Bill The Sailor, Frank Luther & Carson Robison
6. Hansel And Gretel Dance Duet, Manchester Children s Choir
7. The Runaway Train, Vernon Dalhart
8. The Teddy Bears' Picnic, Henry Hall
9. Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?, Henry Hall
10. The Old Sow, Leslie Sarony
11. Grandfather's Clock, Harold Williams
12. On The Good Ship Lollipop, Shirley Temple
13. I'm Popeye The Sailorman, Billy Costello
14. Ragtime Cowboy Joe, The Hill Billies
15. The Owl And The Pussy Cat, Stuart Robertson
16. Heigh-Ho, The Seven Dwarfs
17. Balloons, The Ovaltineys & Monte Rey
18. The Dicky Bird Hop, Gracie Fields
19. The Bee Song, Arthur Askey
20. Three Little Fishes, Maurice Denham
21. We're Off To See The Wizard, The Ken Darby Singers
22. Run, Rabbit, Run, Flanagan & Allen
23. The Grasshoppers' Dance, Alfredo Campoli
24. Christopher Robin At Buckingham Palace, Ann Stephens
25. Vespers: Christopher Robin Is Saying His Prayers, Ann Stephens
26. Tubby The Tuba, Danny Kaye
Disc 2:
1. Swinging On A Star, Bing Crosby
2. Big Rock Candy Mountain, Burl Ives
3. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, James Baskett
4. The Woody Woodpecker Song, Danny Kaye & The Andrews Sisters
5. Me And My Teddy Bear, Rosemary Clooney
6. The Thing, Phil Harris
7. I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat, Mel Blanc
8. The Ugly Duckling, Danny Kaye
9. The King's New Clothes, Danny Kaye
10. Little Red Monkey, Joy Nicholls, Jimmy Edwards & Jack Bentley
11. How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? Patti Page
12. He's A Tramp, Peggy Lee
13. The Happy Wanderer, The Obernkirchen Children's Choir
14. The Little Shoemaker, Petula Clark
15. Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea, Max Bygraves
16. Coronation Scot, Sidney Torch
17. In The Middle Of The House, Alma Cogan
18. Nellie The Elephant, Mandy Miller
19. Little White Bull, Tommy Steele
20. Sparky's Magic Piano, Henry Blair
21. Little Man, You've Had A Busy Day, Paul Robeson
22. Goodnight, Children, Everywhere, Vera Lynn