You would have thought that by 1977 Al Jolson impersonators would be a thing of the past but there was at least one in the shape of British cabaret entertainer Johnny Rix. He made this vanity 4-track EP with his singing partner Pat Martin on their own label (the only release no doubt), which was sold at concerts and personal appearances. It is, of course, signed.
The songs are covers of 1950s hits Croce Di Oro (originally by Patti Page) and Broken Wings (The Stargazers / Art and Totty Dodd) plus two self-penned duets Maybe It's You and My Love Song. Unashamedly old-fashioned, with a piano-led trio backing these aren't bad songs but Johnny's delivery is so much in Al Jolson mode it sounds like he's singing with a mouthful of kapok. They try to modernise the sound with use of a string machine but it's all a bit of a mess. My Love Song is probably the worst offender with both singers not so much in harmony as in competition with each other to see who could get to the end first.
I love the label name which is (what else) MARIX from MARtin and rIX and I also love the way the record manufacturers have managed to spell Johnny's name wrong TWICE. A giveaway postcard (complete with coffee cup ring) shows that his name was Johnny Rix, but the sleeve sticker (which also erroneously only lists two songs) has it as Johnnie, while the record label lists it as Johnn. Brilliant! Small wonder it wasn't a hit.
Accordingly Johnny is still entertaining holidaymakers in hotels and theatres on England's south coast but let's hope he's put the old burnt cork away for good.
- Contributed by: David Noades
Credits: Accompanied by The Martin Peters Trio and Gordon Findlay.