From the Library: Music from the Golden Era

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Tuesday, 30 November, 2010

Today on Radio Riel we’ll be playing music from the interbellum period, roughly between 1920 and 1940 (with a tiny overlap at either end), and it’s quite amazing how musical styles developed and changed during this period. Jazz is a huge influence of course, but the actual content of the songs varies dramatically. There are deep, meaningful and ingeniously written ballads from the likes of Howard Arlen; and the often humorous – and also beautifully-written – songs by Noël Coward, to big-band swing and dance numbers, on to extraordinary collegiate songs and classic fluffy oeuvres like The Sun Has Got His Hat On and Leslie Sarony’s Down On Jollity Farm. We’re playing an original recording by Bert Ambrose and His Orchestra of the latter, which, interestingly, is almost entirely instrumental and includes just one out of the three or so verses. The Bonzo Dog Band version is much more complete – but still misses out the verse about the fox… oh well, we had better play Sarony’s original too, then!

The programme today includes mainly, but not exclusively, original recordings. In addition there are modern interpretations of songs of the period – and once again, these cover several different styles. At one end there are modern jazz musicians and singers, often developing and improvising around the songs in ways that would not have been common at the time – listen out for some of the Howard Arlen songs in today’s repertoire, for example – while at the other we have recordings like the extraordinary Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester playing on a live recording in New York’s Carnegie Hall, where the performances are surely almost identical to what would have been heard at the time these numbers were first performed.

If you tend towards the view that “they don’t write songs like they used to”, you’ll love the music we have for you today. And if you like what you hear, don’t forget that we have an entire stream devoted to music of the 20s-40s (plus some additional material) – and that’s the Radio Riel Dieselpunk channel on There is perhaps even more controversy about what constitutes Dieselpunk music as there is about Steampunk – but we do hope you enjoy it anyway.

Today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin and produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with our friends at the Alexandrian Free Library Consortium of Second Life. You can listen to the programme in-world now at, or simply click here to start your player, if your browser is configured to do so. Listeners in the United States are encouraged to tune in using this link:

For more information on the Alexandrian Free Library, current exhibits and the work of Consortium members in general, please visit the Alexandrian Free Library website, or one of their branches in-world.


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