Mr. Joe Jackson Presents: MAX CHAMPION The genre known in Britain as Music Hall started in the pubs and streets of London in the mid-19th century, and grew into the first form of mass entertainment to be created by the working classes. By 1900 it regularly drew huge audiences from across the whole spectrum of society, from prostitutes to princes, all singing along with superstar performers in gorgeous theatres (some of which still survive). Like its American cousin Vaudeville, Music Hall featured magicians, acrobats and ventriloquists, but its main focus was always on songs (many of which also still survive). More often than not, those songs were humorous or satirical, but they could also be bawdy, sentimental, or patriotic. The Music Hall era ended in the aftermath of World War I, as the world looked to America for its popular entertainment; but the influence of that era can be felt in British music and comedy to this day. One of the most fascinating of the later Music Hall performers was Max Champion. We know little about him, except that he was born in Whitechapel in the East End of London in 1882, and is thought to have been a relative - possibly nephew - of the great Victorian entertainer Harry Champion (originator of such hits as Boiled Beef and Carrots and I’m Henery the Eighth I Am). Max had no such success, and his original songs, with their unusual musical and lyrical twists and turns, may have sounded strange to an Edwardian audience. Nevertheless he is known to have performed on the same bill as big stars such as Gus Ellen and Vesta Tilley. Champion was almost completely forgotten until the sheet music of one of his songs, The Shades of Night, was found in Valletta, Malta, in 2014. How it got there is a complete mystery. But then, in 2017, nine more Champion songs were discovered in a trunk in the attic of a boarding house in Margate - and three more, in the back of a decrepit wardrobe in an antique shop in Bethnal Green. Most intriguingly, another song, Never So Nice in the Morning, was found in 2019 in an old farm house near Zonnebeke, Belgium. This would tend to confirm the theory that Champion ‘disappeared’ after 1913 because, like so many of his countrymen, he went to fight in the First World War and never returned. Perhaps he was still writing songs in the trenches. 'What A Racket!' presents eleven of Max Champion’s songs for the first time in more than a century. According to producer Joe Jackson, ‘These were wonderful songs in their time, but they’re surprisingly modern, too. Sometimes it’s almost as if Max is speaking, from his London of the early 20th century, directly to us in the early 21st’.