Friday, 8 August 2008

Paddy Roberts 'Songs For Gay Dogs'

Here's another one of those classic album covers, that needs to be documented and celebrated. The title is a bit misleading, in that it's referring to 'jolly' canines, rather than out and proud mutts. In fact, the only gay dog I can think of, off the top of my head, is Sparky from South Park, though I'm sure there must be other rainbow rovers around and about.

Paddy Roberts (1910-1975) was a singer/songwriter, who's act consisted of singing songs with slightly risqué lyrics, which would now be described as a bit naughty or politically incorrect. He had a very well refined laid back delivery, with a cut glass English accent, that reminds one of a John Le Mesurier or Noel Coward persona of a typical dapper English gentleman. This belied his South African roots, having been born in Durban as John Godfrey Owen Roberts, growing up in a comfortably off, professional family environment. He arrived in Britain in 1936 and began to build up commercial songwriting credentials, co-writing his earliest hits 'Angel Of The Great White Way' in 1938 and 'Horsey Horsey'. He also appeared on B.B.C radio, as part of the Tin Pan Alley trio. However, this burgeoning career was put on hold, at the outbreak of the Second World War, when Paddy joined the R.A.F and served as a pilot. After the War, he continued to work as a commercial pilot until the 1950's, when he resumed his songwriting career. He built up a reputation of being a prolific writer of popular songs, including a number one hit, 'Softly Softly' sung by Ruby Murray in 1955. In the same year, he contributed a tune called 'I'm in Love for the Very First Time' to the soundtrack of the film 'An Alligator named Daisy' which notably, gained him an Ivor Novello Award.

His career took another turn in 1959, when he met Frank Lee, the artists' manager for Decca Records, who was looking to follow up on the recent successful release of 'A Night With' Tom Lehrer comedy album. Paddy demonstrated some of his folk song parodies and was invited to record them as well so he was thus reinvented, as a comedy singer songwriter. The 'Strictly For Grown-ups' album was released in 1959 and reached number 8 in the U.K charts, shown above is the cover of the E.P release from that album. The hit tune 'The Ballard Of Bethnel Green' was awarded an Ivor Novello Award for best novelty song of that year. The follow up 'Paddy Roberts Tries Again' came out a year later and was another chart success for Paddy, peeking at number 16 (U.K) This was swiftly followed by 'Paddy Roberts at the Blue Angel' live album (1961) and finally, our album of choice 'Songs For Gay Dogs' (1963)

They don't appear to make characters like Paddy Roberts anymore. The civilised English gentleman type doesn't appear to exist any more, unless I'm just too common to hang around in such elevated circles. His mischievous humour, harks back to a time where 'manners maketh man' but also mischief could made, with the inclusion of a double entrendre and a 'nod and a wink' could loosen a stiff upper lip or two. Paddy promised us on the sleeve notes to this album that THIS IS A VULGAR RECORD, what he actually delivered was a CHARMING SNAPSHOT of a more refined era of British humour!

Track Listing of 'Songs For Gay Dogs'
Side A
1. Three Old Ladies
2. Down in Drury Lane
3. Don't Use the WC/Gentlemen Must Refrain
4. Ten in a Bed
5. Foggy Foggy Dew
6. Lady Jane
7. How the Money Rolls In
8. Woodpecker's Hole
9. Turn Over

Side B
10. Virgin Sturgeon
11. Elsie Elsie
12. Sweet Fanny Adams
13. Sammy Hall
14. Whore of Dunblane
15. Cow Kicked Nelly
16. Little Piggy
17. That's All for Now

A comprehensive biography can be found at

Paddy is covered and can be heard at

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