Gracie Fields tracks to be released
Unreleased songs by forces' sweetheart Gracie Fields are to hit the shelves for the first time more than 70 years since they were recorded after almost rotting in a garage.
The tracks were recorded for a 1938 radio broadcast and include old favourites such as Sing As We Go and a medley of Irving Berlin songs.
Record company bosses are hoping the wave of nostalgia which propelled Dame Vera Lynn to the top of the charts will strike again for the release next month of Our Gracie - The Best of Gracie Fields.
Rochdale-born Fields - recently the subject of a BBC4 biopic starring Jane Horrocks - was a hugely popular figure in the 1930s, known for tracks such as Sally and The Biggest Aspidistra In The World.
She is said to have been the world's highest paid film star at one stage and in 1938 "our Gracie" took part in a series of broadcasts, sponsored by Fairy Soap.
But recordings of the tracks went unreleased and languished in a record company archive, a converted bank vault, for many years.
The tapes were to be dumped when the firm moved but archivist Ray Crick, who had been in charge of "nostalgia" saved them and stored them in a garage. It was only as he sifted through when he came to move them and protect them from damp, that he identified the unreleased performances.
The tapes were remastered and enhanced for the latest release by Decca Records.
Mr Crick said: "To find such live, vital performances that hadn't previously seen the light of day, and from one of the truly great stars of the time, is an amazing stroke of fortune."