The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #21520   Message #2342388
Posted By: GUEST,Bob Coltman
16-May-08 - 04:56 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: More Work for the Undertaker (F W Leigh)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: More Work for the Undertaker
It's evident from the above that there is most likely a later British "coon song" version of "More Work for the Undertaker," which spawned the "Sambo" verses ... that is, if "two-and-six" is part of those lyrics.

On the other hand there is also an American version, its lyrics unfortunately not available to me yet. It seems what happened was that a couple of enterprising American hoofers in New York named Burton & Brookes created a new lyric to Fred Leigh's original tune, publishing it in the same year as Leigh's "original" -- if Margery Allingham's memory of an earlier, c. 1890 T.E. Dunville version is accurate, it seems to hint that this song goes back even further than Fred Leigh.

Possible sequence of events:

c. 1890   T.E. Dunville performs "More Work for the Undertaker" in the British music halls.

1895   Fred Leigh composes his version, the source for Dan W. Quinn's 1901 Edison cylinder (which doubtless sold well on both sides of the Atlantic, especially in the Irish community, as Quinn was then a prominent "Irish specialty" performer).

now comes the American part, that same year ...

1895   Burton & Brookes set new lyrics to Leigh's original tune, perform it on the New York stage, and publish sheet music with T.D. Harms, Inc., New York 1895.

1901? (cited as 1902 in one source)   Dan W. Quinn records it for the first(?) time for Edison. That full lyric, with corrections, is cited above in this thread.

19--? A new British lyric is devised with "Sambo" verses ... unless this may possibly be derived from the Burton & Brookes song if that scored well in Britain as well as America.
This is the lyric generally remembered by contributors above.

My source for the Burton & Brookes info is a sheet music copy in the New York Public Library, available on their website. Frustratingly, they seem to regard it only as an image, and show only the cover ... no access to the contents.

Any mudcat readers of this thread in NYC care to pursue getting the Burton & Brookes lyric from the NY Public Library?

Moreover, for British readers, it's asserted in one of the forums drawn upon for lyrics above that Max Tyler, Historian of the British Music Hall Society, 76 Royal Close, Chichester, West Sussex P019 2FL,, is willing to send on the verses he knows to "More Work for the Undertaker" about Little Freddie Figgleton and Sammy Shutter, among others, if you send him a postal address --

And please do be sure to enclose return postage. Mr. Tyler is said to be amiable and willing to help but he won't want to bear postage costs!

So these are two solid research opportunities that should turn up both the missing English (or Irish?) and the missing American lyrics to the song.

Happy hunting, folks.