This centenary memorial year of World War One (WW1) has seen many documentaries depicting the dreadful
suffering and cruelty of an evil conflict in which millions died. Earl Kitchener’s famous poster, “Your Country
Needs You” could be seen on billboards all over the land. The teens were blighted by turmoil.
Music, always an important part of any war, was also in a state of change. Ragtime, from America was influencing the rhythms to be heard in London nightspots. The gramophone, still in its infancy, was starting to bring recorded music into more affluent households.
A musical revolution in far off New Orleans was to burst upon the scene in 1917 – Jass or Jazz, which would lead to the
Irving Berlin and George Gershwin were composing songs for Tin Pan Alley. Al Jolson was already a major star.
But what of the songs our gallant soldiers knew and loved to sing?
It’s A Long Way To Tipperary has a disputed claim to authorship. It seems to have been written for the music hall in 1912. Its association with WW1 can be traced back to a report from Daily Mail correspondent George Curnock, who saw the Connaught Rangers, an Irish regiment, singing it as they marched through Boulogne in 1914. It was quickly picked up by other units in the army and is a strong contender for being the anthem of WWl.
“Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile” was published in 1915. It was another music hall tune which troops made into a marching song. It is perhaps ironic that the smiles would be wiped off of the soldier’s faces pretty quickly when they reached the trenches.
A century later with direct memory gradually fading into history, it would be easy to be glib and say this is a celebration of WWl.
That would be totally wrong. I regard this CD as a tribute to the many ordinary servicemen and women whose lives were wasted in a conflict which should have been avoided.
Personnel: John Petters Drums, Sean Moyses, Banjo & Vocal, Allen Beechey, Cornet, Karl Hird, Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone,
Clive Payne, Sousaphone.
Recorded at Long Sutton Baptist Church, Long Sutton, Lincs on Saturday 22nd February 2014.
Sound Engineer: Andrew Petters – Ripplebeat.
Artwork: Stefan Brazzó.