Tag Archive: Hugh Wade


Let It Be Soon

In 1946 Hugh Wade  found himself with a hit on his hands. The tune was “Let It Be Soon (in the Sweet Bye and Bye)”. The music was Hugh’s and Dick Hurran provided the lyrics. Melody Maker ranked the tune as the 27th best-selling title of the year and it was on the charts for 14 weeks. As the song was only released in the latter half of the year this, in modern terms, means it was a top ten title and, possibly, at one point, the best-selling song of the week. Charts were relatively new and still (until 1950) based on sales of sheet music.

Increasingly though, records and airplay were becoming what mattered. Several leading acts of the day recorded versions. The earliest appears to be

Victor Silvester and his Ballroom Orchestra Aug-46  (Columbia FB3232)

This was, I presume, an instrumental version as there is no record that Silvester ever used vocalists. Silvester was the king of “strict-tempo” and in a very long career his instructional books (he had been a champion dancer in the 1920s) and phenomenal record sales (estimated at 75 million) pretty well shaped the whole “ballroom dancing” world. Although considered very “corny” by my generation, he used some of the best dance-band musicians and was in his own way a truly innovative figure. He used an unusual two-piano line up and “strict-tempo” is really the equivalent of BPM and hence, arguably, the original Disco sound – everything subsumed to the needs of the dancers. This, not unlike Disco, tended towards uniformity and eventually became somewhat anodyne and formulaic (“Slow, Slow Quick, Quick, Slow”). The public however could not get enough.

Then we get

Tessie O’Shea Sep-46  (Columbia DB2232)

Something of an “acquired” taste, O’Shea, who had begun as a Sophie Tucker copyist, was a top of the bill act in Blackpool and at the London Palladium and was later very successful in America. She was also a featured vocalist with Jack Hylton. She has some claim to be the last great “Music Hall” artist and certainly played up to that image on television and in the theatre. Americans thought of her as the epitome of Cockney cheerfulness – she was in fact born in Cardiff to Irish and Jewish/Italian parents.

It would appear that  her take on”Let It Be Soon” is what would now be considered a B Side, but this distinction was rarely made in the 1940s. Of the disc, Gramophone had this to say,

“Tessie O’Shea, who has given us so many happy hours in the radio programme, “Music Hall,” has recorded The ‘Ampstead Way from the new film “London Town,” and from all appearances this number has all the makings of another “Lambeth Walk.” It only needs someone to devise a special dance to fit the tune and =this when we see the film, we shall find that this has, in fact, been done. The coupling, Let it be Soon, is sung in the style which she has made so popular over the air, that is to say, a couple of vocal choruses and then a banjolele solo backed up by the orchestra—all very pleasing (Columbia DB2232).”

The CD compilation “Britain’s First Number Ones” (taken from Radio Luxemburg’s charts) opts for this version, which is rather more to my taste,

The Skyrockets Dance Orchestra cond. Paul Fenoulhet ( vocals Doreen Lundy) Oct-46  (HMV BD5945)

Doreen Lundy/Skyrockets

This band was  formed by Paul Fenhoulet when he was conductor of the Number One Balloon Barrage Centre Orchestra during the War. Wisely, a name change was shortly made and the Skyrockets became one of the two leading wartime outfits drawn from military personnel (the other was the Squadronaires). Doreen Lundy joined in 1944 and brought an Anne Shelton sound to the Skyrockets, whose repertoire consisted of uptempo swing numbers, novelty songs and sentimental ballads. Lundy is yet another forgotten name, but her style is very much of its historical moment and suitably evocative.

This brief profile of Doreen Lundy is from Don Wicks’ “The Ballad Years, a privately published discography that is much quoted on 50s music websites but seems a little hard to get hold of.

“She was born in Ireland on 4 November 1925 – came to England with her mother when she was eleven and settled in Pinner, Middlesex.  She grew up to become an attractive 5’3″ blue eyed brunette, and during the war she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.  Without any previous singing experience she persuaded, Paul Fenoulhet, the leader of the RAF Dance Band (aka The Skyrockets), to let her sing with the band.  Favourable audience response ensured a permanent place on the bandstand, and subsequently romance developed between Doreen and Paul – and they married on 28 March 1949.  Meanwhile she had been broadcasting and recording with the band regularly for HMV (in 1945, her first recording had been ‘Sentimental Journey’).  A couple of singles followed on the MGM label, and then in 1948 she joined Geraldo where further recordings were issued on Parlophone.  By 1949 she was freelancing, including a long residency at Ciro’s Club with Max Jaffa’s Band.  Recording, however tailed off.  One single with Peter Yorke on Columbia, one with Eddie Calvert on Melodisc, and finally a brief return in 1955 with a 78 on Oriole.  By the late 1950s, Doreen had scaled down her workload but still played the occasional week in variety, but thereafter the trail goes cold – so one assumes that she retired at that point”

Note the Geraldo connection and the residency at Ciro’s.

The 1946 line-up of the Skyrockets was as following

Saxophones: IZZY DUMAN, BILL APPS, PAT SMUTS, NORMAN IMPEY, MAX PHILLIPS.
Trombones: GEORGE ROWE, DON McCAFFER, ARTHUR VERREY, FRANK OSBORNE.
Trumpets: CHICK SMITH, LES LAMBERT, RON PRIEST, BILLY RIDDICK.
Violins: LEW WHITESON, JACK SMALLMAN, SID WILLIAMS, MARK SHANE, SID MARKS, BILLY SHULMAN, LEN LEE.
Piano: PAT DODD.
Bass: JOCK REID.
Harp: ARTHUR RAWSON.
Drums: GEORGE FIERSTONE.

( this is taken from April 1946 programme for “Hightime” – a show which featured Tessie O’Shea singing a Dick Hurran lyric)

Most of these musicians were veterans of the pre-War, West End danceband scene and would have been well-known to Hugh. Impey had played with Hutch, others with Debroy Somers and Tommy Kinsman, whose paths we have crossed before. George Fierstone, another with a long career, was an important tutor to several Modern Jazz drummers, including Martin Drew.Fenhoulet himself was a multi-instrumentalist (trombone, trumpet, French horn) and arranger who  had worked with Jack Hylton and then Carroll Gibbons throughout the 1930s. These characters were the engine-room of British popular music, mostly starting off as 1920s jazz enthusiasts but working mainly in “Light Entertainment” as that was where a living could be made. The Skyrockets became the “house band” at the London Palladium while Fenhoulet ended up leading the BBC Radio Orchestra.

The comedian, club-owner and “radio personality” Charlie Chester added his effort to the list.
‘Cheerful’ Charlie Chester and his Gang Nov-46  (Decca F8701)

The “Stand Easy” orchestra is a reference to Charlie Chester’s radio programme, one of the most popular of the period and which became, with only minor adaptations, one of the first post-war television programmes to have a real impact on the public, running, as “The Charlie Chester Show”, from 1949 to 1961. It introduced the public to Derek Guyler, for which I am grateful, and the cash-prize quiz, about which I am more ambivalent.

The acts so far mentioned, illustrate the extent to which Hugh Wade was operating very much within the mainstream of English popular culture, as a composer at least. Hugh’s world may have been a mixture of Soho and Chelsea, but it was the Soho of Denman Street music publishers and Archer Street musicians that dominated his professional life. To me this makes him a more substantial (and complex) person than the best-known accounts might suggest.

The next recording of “Let It Be Soon” is in many ways the most interesting, as it both harks back to an earlier era but takes us forward to the next generation.

Ted Heath and his Music (vocals Paul Carpenter) Jan-47  (Decca F8717)

Ted Heath/Paul Carpenter

Ted Heath, who had served his apprenticeship with the likes of Bert Firman, Jack Hylton and Ambrose (Elvira would have heard him at the Mayfair Hotel) , led the most successful of the post-war big bands. As a trombonist he was one of the more technically gifted of British dance-band soloists, learning much off visiting American musicians. From Bert Ambrose he learnt how to be a band leader – basically, employ the best ( jazz oriented) musicians but cater to the audience’s taste. As a result he dominated British popular music from the end of the War to the arrival of Rock and Roll.

Ted Heath Band 1945

The band for the “Let It Be Soon” session was,  in all likelihood, “Kenny Baker, Stan Roderick, Harry Letham, Alan Franks (tp), Harry Roche, Lad Busby, Jack Bentley, Jimmy Coombes (tb), Les Gilbert, Reg Owen, (as), Johnny Gray, Ronnie Scott (ts), Dave Shand (bs), Norman Stenfalt (p), Dave Goldberg (g), Charlie Short (b), Jack Parnell (d), Paul Carpenter (vcl).”

Some names stand out here. Kenny Baker is generally considered the best British jazz trumpeter of his era (and beyond); fans of 60s cinematic and “Lounge” music will affectionately recallHarry Roche (“Constellation”); Jack Parnell (nephew of Palladium legend,Val) was the most versatile and in-demand of drummers but is best-remembered as 1960s ATV musical director (think Golden Shot or The Benny Hill Show); and then there is Ronnie Scott, the godfather of British jazz modernism. It’s a classy line-up.


The vocalist, the Canadian Paul Carpenter, was the nearest thing to the sound of Frank Sinatra that late 40s English audiences could hear live. As such, he was very popular, with the young female audience particularly. He turned his attention to  TV and cinema in the 1950s and appears in the so bad it’s good “Fire Maidens from Outer Space”, along with some more worthy (but never more than workman-like) productions. There are some strange rumours about him – something of a hell-raiser apparently – and if anyone knows more, do let me know. He died in 1964, aged only 42.

Paul Carpenter

The lyrics to “Let It Be Soon” were by Dick (Dickie)  Hurran, who worked closely with people such as Bernard Delfont and Val Parnell as a production manager, as well as doing the odd bit of song-writing. An archetypal “showbiz” figure he helped launch Norman Wisdom’s career in the revue “Paris to Piccadilly” – a very “naughty” show in its day( see Paris to Piccadilly ). In the 1960s he was the main promoter of variety packages in Blackpool and in the 70s he was a judge on “New Faces”. It’s a long road from Chelsea parties to the Chuckle Brothers, but there you go.

OK – so much for the trawl around the highways and byways of the music business, what about the song itself? As with all Hugh Wade compositions, the melodic line is strong and the mood appropriate. Stylistically, everything is as it should but there is little in the way of experimentation.  Hugh’s compositions were tailored very much for the target audience, he had plenty of scope to express his individualism and keyboard virtuosity in his night-club act.

The lyrics are sentimental, bordering in places on the morbid, and could be dismissed as trite (Hurran was no Cole Porter)  if not for the historical context. The latter end of the War and the immediate post-war period saw a great demand for songs that expressed regret and loss as well as a hope for a new start. “In the Land of Beginning Again” or”Sentimental Journey” are good examples. The tone is melancholy, maudlin by modern standards, but it tapped into the psyche of a generation that had either lost its loved ones or had undergone long periods of enforced separation.  There is a fair amount of what we might now call “intertextuality” –  “don’t know where, don’t know when, let it be soon”, “In the Sweet Bye and Bye” etc. – and the whole composition exudes the atmosphere of late 1940s England.

It is for these reasons that the Imperial War Museum keeps a copy of the sheet music in its archives. That, in itself, is something not to be sneered at. If they were to hold a recorded version I would suggest the Doreen Lundy one as the most apt.

What Hugh Wade thought of it, we don’t know. At the very least , it reconnected him to a pre-war bunch of musicians he would have respected. I suspect he was quite pleased at its success and not a little proud to be making music that resonated with a public, most of whom would have had no inkling of the ups-and-downs of folk like Elizabeth Ponsonby or Elvira Barney.

Here are some of the people who wrote, visited or sent best wishes to Hugh Wade during his illness. Some have already featured in this blog, the others will do so shortly.

Gwladys Stanley, Dorothy Ward, Francis Laidler, Elsie and Doris Waters, Elsie Randolph, Kenneth Carten, Kermit Goell, Geraldo, Collie Knox, Dolly Mayers, Muriel Belcher, Hero De Rance and  (possibly) Lady Rose McLaren.

Elsie and Doris Waters 1942

A few just used Christian names (Donald, Cara and Philipo)  and I haven’t identified them yet, one or two simply referred to a particular place or time to indicate who they are. The letters range from the reassuringly gossipy to the heartfelt and deeply-concerned.

The list is largely drawn from “Showbusiness” and includes people who at the time would have been household names (Elsie and Doris Waters) but also some who were then unknown but are now legendary (Muriel Belcher). The worlds of pantomime, theatre,variety, music publishing and club ownership are all represented. Lyricists, arrangers and musicians are also in there. Apart from the insight into the various circles Hugh moved in, the various communications provide a useful snapshot of a vanished world. It didn’t happen but the above names alone could have provided a singularly impressive Memorial Concert.

Geraldo Orchestra 1945

From Elvira’s time, the name that stands out is Kenneth Carten, whose career I may have undervalued and probably needs revisiting. He appears to have been working for the Myron Selznick talent agency at the time of writing. The letters written from the Romilly Club and the, then newly-opened, Colony Room have specific historical value (and are probably highly-collectible, William!) as do those from the “King of Pantomime”, Francis Laidler.

More soon, but if Francis Laidler and Gwladys Stanley mean nothing to you, and there is no reason why they would these days, you could do a lot worse than visit this remarkable site

It’s Behind You

I am going to embark on a series of posts on Hugh Wade, his later career and some of his friends and acquaintances of the time. That I am able to do so is entirely dependent on family material that William Wade has allowed me access to. I am deeply in his debt.

There is a double-edge to looking at this period of his life. While Hugh achieved great success, he wrote three substantial hits, he had little time to live. He died in June 1949 after a long battle with throat cancer. The letters, and there are many, written to him during his illness have a particular poignancy about them.

The range of people who considered themselves friends is remarkable, the consistent note of affection is not. Hugh was very well regarded, as good company, as a composer and as an accomplished pianist (who “could make the piano talk”, as one well-wisher put it).

Hugh at the piano, Xmas 47?

I had always suspected that there was more to Hugh than the “pianist in a night-club” that D.J.Taylor rather loftily dismisses.Because of a general lack of interest in British popular music pre-Rock and Roll, it has not been easy to dig out enough information to refute the dominant image of Hugh Wade as a marginal, albeit exotic, figure. The picture is by no means complete but I am now, I hope, able to afford him some sort of belated justice.

So, expect a fair few scribblings about this final chapter in Hugh Wade’s life. In doing so, in case this sounds a little too obsessional and hagiographic, I intend also to use the material to talk about some other neglected figures and some forgotten or under-explored areas of English life (from Northern Pantomimes to 1940s London Clubs).

In the meantime, can anyone identify the man and woman with Hugh in this photograph (probably from 1947)?

The pipe-and-moustache chap could pass for the archetypal late 40s clubman and the rather striking woman has a familiar look to her. The setting with the, then very fashionable, Vat 69 at the table is very evocative of the time. As to the place – again, any suggestions are welcomed.

Here are the details (swiped from http://users.bestweb.net/~foosie/cyril.htm) of the programme for the revue TO AND FRO – which opened at the Comedy Theatre and ran from November 26th to December 12th 1936. It was devised and largely written by Simon Carnes and Edgar Blatt. The ballet pieces were choreographed by Antony Tudor. The set designs were probably by Carnes but may have been by Sophie Fedorovitch as she was a close friend of Carnes (who is better known as Simon Fleet). Hugh Wade contributed the music to four songs, the most significant being “Haven’t Got A Heart”. This was sung by Hermione Baddeley and written by James Laver ( see https://elvirabarney.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/james-laver-iconographer/). It was the lament of a Bright Young Thing of 1926 – ten years on.

Hermione Baddeley in “To and Fro”

I will post separately on some of the cast as there are names here that should resonate more than they currently do. As an art form,the Revue, with its mixture of ballet, classical music, popular song and satire remains one of the most characteristic (and under-examined) aspects of inter-War West End culture. I would like to explore that further at some stage.

Lord Berners

For the time-being, note the presence of Lord Berners and Osbert Sitwell, the dancers Maude Lloyd and Hugh Laing, alongside stage and film stars such as Hermione Baddeley and Esme Percy.  Hugh Wade’s participation runs counter to the image of him as completely marginal to the creative and culturally productive aspects of 1930s stage and theatrical life.

Antony Tudor and Hugh Laing ( by Carl Van Vechten 1940)

With such an array of talent, you may wonder why the show was so short-lived. Unfortunately, the running joke that linked the various songs and sketches was the affair between Edward the Eighth and Wallis Simpson. With Edward’s abdication on the 11th of December the project was doomed.

Finally, I can’t help wondering about the running time of these revues. There are 44 separate items plus an interval. The opening night show, and I think most of the subsequent ones, started at midnight. If you throw in an after-show drink at the Florida or the 400, it is no wonder so many reminiscences of the period recall returning home after the dawn.

Title Authors Roles Performers
Out of the Cage Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.
Jeunesses D’Orees Diana Morrison, Joan Griffiths, Peggy Shingleton, Pat Hurren, Cyril Wells, Bobby Tranter, Peter Moyes
Fantasies Towina Thomas, Sammy Samuels, Ella Marion, Trixie Scales, Mercy Carnell, Eva Thorn, Maisie Green, Betty Shepard, Biergit Nissen
By Day Animals–By Night Humans Hermione Baddeley, Cyril Ritchard, Esme Percy,  Viola Tree, Gerry Fitzgerald, Yvette Darnac, Maude Lloyd, Hugh Laing, Zoe Winn, Bill Kershaw and Entire Company
To and Fro Lyrics by Edgar Blatt; music by nat Ayer, Jr. The Entire Company; danced by Bobby Tranter and Cyril Wells
The Gallery Lyric by Simon Carnes; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. A Social Artist Billy Kershaw
Typist Trixie Scales
Shop Girl Towina Thomas
Titled Lady Diana Morrison
Boy About Town Peter Moyes
The Camera Never Lies Simon Carnes Compere Cyril Ritchard
a Joan Griffiths, Peggy Shingleton, Pat Hurren, Peter Moyes, Ian Hamilton-Smith  
b Cyril Ritchard
c Viola Tree
Je T’aime (after Watteau) Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Hugh Wade Yvette Darnac
At Any Dance Arthur Watkyns The Girl Hermione Baddeley
The Boy Cyril Wells
Caledonian Market Lyric by Simon Carnes; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Viola Tree, Cyril Ritchard
A French Lesson Aubrey Ensor Professor Esme Percy
Mother Diana Morrison
Daughter Pat Hurren
Father Cyril Wells
Maid Peggy Shingleton
Grandfather Peter Moyes
Waiting for Twilight to Fall Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Sung by Gerry Fitzgerald
Ballerina Maude Lloyd
Peggy Shingleton, Joan Griffith, Cyril Wells, Peter Moyes, Ian Hamilton-Smith and The Girls
Learning Dramatic Art Simon Carnes & Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Compere Viola Tree
Hermione Baddeley, Cyril Ritchard
Goodbye Romance Simon Carnes; lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Hugh Wade The Girl Hermione Baddeley
The Professor Esme Percy
Play Like I Like It Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Zoe Wynn, Cyril Wells, Bobby Tranter
Literary Widows Herbert Farjeon; music by Walter Leigh Viola Tree, Yvette Darnac, Hermione Baddeley
Wreckage Edgar Blatt She Zoe Wynn
He Cyril Ritchard
Artists’ Model Yates Mason; music by Geoffrey Wright Hermione Baddeley
Prelude Lord Berners She Maud Lloyd
He Hugh Laing
Duchesses The Girls
Art Knows No Nationality Osbert Sitwell The Impresario Esme Percy
The Artist Viola Tree
Haven’t Got a Heart Lyric by James Laver; music by Hugh Wade Hermione Baddeley
Political Hot-Pot Simon Carnes
Celebrated Empires Egypt Peggy Shingleton
Greece Joan Griffiths
China Diana Morrison
Rome Pat Hurren
Commissionaire Bobby Tranter
Pine for Peace The Boy Peter Moyes
The Girl Zoe Wynn
Old Tree Esme Percy
Young Tree Cyril Wells
Selling the Earth The Auctioneer Gerry Fitzgerald
A Foreign Lady Diana Morrison
A Bidder Alan Davis
On the Battlefield, tra-la Simon Carnes & Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. 1st General Esme Percy
2nd General Cyril Ritchard
Referee Billy Kershaw
Followers Cyril Wells, Bobby Tranter, Peter Moyes, Ian Hamilton-Smith
Russiska Yvette Darnac
Vivandieres Zoe Wynn, Towina Thomas
A Milk Maid Hermione Baddeley
A Crooner Gerry Fitzgerald
International Rhythm Lyric by Eric Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Gerry Fitzgerald and Entire Company

Interval

I’m Going to Challenge You Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Zoe Wynn, Peggy Shingleton, Joan Griffiths, Diana Morrison and the Girls
I’ve Balanced My Budget Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by nat Ayer, Jr. Billy Kershaw
The Party Spirit Edgar Blatt & J.M. Griffith Hilda Higgins Viola Tree
Alfred Higgins Cyril Ritchard
Ernest Hermione Baddeley
I’m On My Own Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Yvette Darnac
Dancers: Maude Lloyd, Hugh Laing and The Girls
Ridiculous Days Simon Carnes Mr. Biggleswade Esme Percy
Mrs. Biggleswade Viola Tree
The Big Black Horse Lyrics by Edgar Blatt & Simon Carnes; music by Leslie Southgate The Girl and Chatterton Hermione Baddeley
The Landlady of To-day Pat Hurren
The Landlady of Yesterday Viola Tree
Sir Horace Walpole Esme Percy
Member of the Book Society Cyril Ritchard
Song of the Book Society Herbert Farjeon Hermione Baddeley, Cyril Ritchard, Esme Percy, Viola Tree, Pat Hurren
Reprise–Play Like I Like It
Surrealists Archie Campbell in conjunction with Simon Carnes & Edgar Blatt The Mother Viola Tree
A Person Ian Hamilton-Smith
An Artist Cyril Wells
The Daughter Hermione Baddeley
A Thing Bobby Tranter
Symphonie Russe Music by Prokokief; suggested by Sophie Fedorovitch Maud Lloyd, Hugh Laing and The Girls
Entrancing Dancing Simon Carnes; music by Leonard Blackett The Maestro Esme Percy
The Woman of the Plains Cyril Ritchard
The Sower Cyril Wells
Let’s Take A Chance Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Hugh Wade Gerry Fitzgerald, Zoe Wynn, Billy Kershaw, Trixie Scales, Bobby Tranter, Towina Thomas
Something in the Movies Lyric by Gerrard Bryan; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Cyril Ritchard
Girl Guides Aubrey Ensor; music by Michael Sayer Miss Simpson Viola Tree
Daphne Davies Hermione Baddeley
The Bishop Osbert Sitwell Esme Percy
Compere Cyril Ritchard
Flats Simon Carnes & Viola Tree
The Bells Will Ring Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr. Cyril Ritchard, Zoe Wynn, Towina Thomas and Entire Company

Hugh Wade 1928-1935

The Hugh Wade of the years 1929-1935 is the one I first encountered a few months ago. It is Hugh Wade of  The Blue Lantern and The Blue Angel, of the jaunty cap and Bright Young parties, the “naughty boy” who symbolised Elizabeth Ponsonby’s fall from, if not exactly grace then social prominence and of course the Hugh Wade who gave evidence at Elvira’s trial.

On the surface Hugh seems to have abandoned composing for performing (and partying).As far as I can see, there is only one copyrighted tune to his name in the whole six years. It’s a good one though.

“Singing In The Moonlight” (1932)

This was recorded by Henry Hall and the BBC dance orchestra, Reginald Dixon (of Blackpool Tower Ballroom fame), The Melody Boys and Layton and Johnstone. There was also a French version (“Sous Le Clair De  Lune“)  which may be an indicator of the time he is supposed have spent living in Paris but is probably just a sign of the song’s popularity

The Layton and Johnstone version is of most interest to me as not only were they prolific recording artists but they were very much part of the “Smart Set” and its fascination with sophisticated black artists. I have posted about Turner Layton on more than one occasion (see https://elvirabarney.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/another-party-in-glebe-place/ ) and think he ought to be given the same prominence as Hutch in terms of 1930s musical culture.

“The Melody Boys” was a popular name and could refer to any number of acts, the most famous being Al Bowlly and his Radio Melody Boys. It’s unlikely to be Bowlly as he has been well served by discographers. As it is on Sterno, it is almost certainly an alias designed purely for that label. Sterno made good quality dance music, often quite jazzy, using London’s leading  dance-bands (Ray Starita, Tommy Kinsman etc.) often performing under alternative names.Sterno records were only available through Marks and Spencer and some are quite rare.See Sterno

The most widely circulated version would have been Henry Hall’s. His BBC Orchestra was heard in every home in England. Several generations of children grew up listing to “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” but among the novelty music there were many romantic, if slightly formal, arrangements of the popular music of the day.  Each weekday at 5.15pm  a large section of the British public tuned into listen.”Singing In The Moonlight” is the title of one retrospective Hall CD and is the Wade composition most readily available these days.

Hugh’s co-writer was Edward “Eddie” Pola. An American, he would later achieve great success in the States  working with George Wyle (they wrote “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”). He was in England throughout the 1930s and acted in films as well as recording (by the standards of the day) slightly risque songs such as “I Want to Be A Nudist” and “The Gigolo’s Wedding“. He also performed comic monologues parodying various musical genres. There are some Pathe short films online – but I can’t get any sound on them.

Most of Hugh’s time was taken up with the long residency at the Blue Lantern. This is the Hugh whose fans included Tom Driberg and Frederick Ashton and who Jocelyn Brooke, wittily but rather acerbically, turns into a symbol of the “louche” set. However, I think there were other projects.

Hugh had been providing music for revues since 1928 (“Quicksilver” and “Miss 1928”) and continued to do so. It seems he collaborated with Billy Milton’s partner Billy Noble at some point. He also wrote music for Douglas Byng and may have accompanied him in his nightclub act and possibly on record. Wade composed a score for Byng’s lyrics in a one-off revue that also starred Ernest Thesiger. I think it was probably “Past Bedtime”, a charity cabaret ball at the Savoy Hotel. Attendees were invited  to “Come as we were when we were very young”, another example of that fondness for infantilism among some elements of the Bright Young Things.

Hugh had other residencies apart from the Blue Lantern and Blue Angel. A notice in Flight International 1932 reads  “Every Sunday evening a dance will be held, and everybody is cordially invited ; arrangements have been made for Mr. Hugh Wade to be at the piano until further notice”. This is likely to have been at the Brooklands Aero Club or the Stag Lane dance pavilion, both popular with motor car and plane enthusiasts, but I haven’t been able to  pinpoint the venue as yet. The Royal Aero Club which published Flight International  also met at the Hambone in Ham Yard (next to the Blue Lantern) so it might have been there.

So it was a rather fuller professional life than one copyrighted song might indicate. On to 1936 and two prestigious projects.