Oct 03

ANNE SHELTON – “Lay Down Your Arms”

Popular13 comments • 3,218 views

#50, 21st September 1956

Straight-backed and strident march ordering a returning soldier back to his lovin’ duties with Anne. A shoo-in for No.1 in 1946 I’d have thought, but ten years later it sticks out like a teddy boy in a bearskin hat. (More anachronism fun with the lyrics too – “A girl who loves a soldier is either sad or gay”! Hur hur.) Shelton sounds bossily prim on the verses and downright scary on the chorus – rarely has demob seemed so unappealing. For all that “Lay Down Your Arms” has a brash charm – if there were any more songs like this on the list I’d probably despise it; as it is curio value wins out.



  1. 1
    Rosie on 8 Apr 2007 #

    It’s ripe for parody of course. I’m sure the I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again team would have had a go but I’m certain that it found its niche finally as the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation’s company song, Share and Enjoy in the second radio series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, circa 1979.

  2. 2
    Tez Burke on 20 Sep 2007 #

    The most interesting thing about this stentorian and somewhat atavistic record is that it was Joe Meek’s first number one; the future genius of Holloway Road worked as engineer on this.

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Sep 2007 #

    Second – he also engineered “Let’s Have Another Party” for Atwell.

  4. 4
    andy on 17 Oct 2007 #

    great song rousing and the troops were happy to hear Ann sing this during the war

  5. 5
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Oct 2007 #

    Do you mean Suez?

  6. 6
    Billy Smart on 23 Mar 2009 #

    Light entertainment watch: These are some of Anne’s TV appearances that are now missing;

    THE BENNY HILL SHOW: with Les Marthys, Anne Shelton, Tony Brent, Los Guarania, Peter Vernon, Dave Freeman, Ronnie Brody, Roger Avon, The George Mitchell Singers, The Leslie Roberts Silhouettes (1958)

    CELEBRITY SQUARES: with Kenny Everett (Voice Only), Derek Batey, Ray Alan and Lord Charles, Katie Boyle, Frank Carson, Diana Dors, Nerys Hughes, Mick McManus, Willy Rushton, Anne Shelton (1978)

    THE MIKE AND BERNIE SHOW: with Anne Shelton, Peters and Lee, Los Paraguayos (1973)

    SHOWTIME: with Stanley Unwin, David Nixon, Anne Shelton, Lionel Morton (1959)

    SHOWTIME: with David Nixon, Anne Shelton, Ron Moody, Ronald Chesney (1961)

    SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM (VAL PARNELL’S …..): with Bruce Forsyth, The Daily Mirror Disc Festival, Winifred Atwell, Eddie Calvert, Alma Cogan, Lonnie Donegan With His Skiffle Group, Ted Heath, Ronnie Hilton, Ruby Murray, Anne Shelton (1956)

    SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM (VAL PARNELL’S …..): with Bruce Forsyth, Frankie Vaughan, Anne Shelton, Nadia Nerina, Alexis Rassine, Albert and Les Ward (1957)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Hughie Green, Anne Shelton, The Five Dallas Boys (1961)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen, Anne Shelton, Miki and Griff, The Mudlarks, Clinton Ford, Phil Fernando, Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, Barry Alldis (1962)

    THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: with Brian Matthew, Adam Faith, Lulu, Rolf Harris, Anne Shelton, Paul & Barry Ryan (1966)

    A few programmes do survive;


    THE ARTHUR HAYNES SHOW: with Anne Shelton (1963)

    THE BENNY HILL SHOW: with Henry McGee, Andree Melly, Bella Emberg, Bob Todd, Anne Shelton, The Ladybirds, Lesley Goldie, Jack Wright, Malou Cartwright, John John Keefe (1973)

    LOOKS FAMILIAR: with Ted Ray, Anne Shelton, Benny Green (1972)

    LOOKS FAMILIAR: with Sammy Cahn, Anne Shelton, Dickie Henderson, Benny Green (1975)

    LOOKS FAMILIAR: with Lionel Blair, Frankie Laine, Anne Shelton (1982)

  7. 7
    Anthony Henning on 15 Apr 2009 #

    As this was, I believe, originally recorded by The Chordettes (Mr Sand Man) it was probably the Korean War. Cover versions like this were the life blood of British pop until Rock ‘n’ Roll really kicked off. Often, two or more versions of a song would find their way onto the charts with the original and cover versions jostling for position.

  8. 8
    Mutley on 19 Nov 2010 #

    1956 was a pivotal year in the UK, particularly with the fiasco of the Suez invasion (which took place shortly after this song was at number one). Suez was symbolic of Britain’s decline as a world power and empire, although this decline had been happening for some time.

    It was also a watershed year for culture with John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger opening in May 1956, the same month that Heartbreak Hotel reached number 2 in the charts. 1956 also saw the chart entries of Blue Suede Shoes, Rock Island Line, See You Later Alligator, Hound Dog, Be-Bop-a-Lula, Blue Jean Bop, Blueberry Hill and Long Tall Sally (Pat Boone version unfortunately), none of which reached number one.

    The number ones of 1956 do not reflect a cultural shift, with Frankie Lymon’s Why Do Fools Fall in Love the only representative of the new music. I suppose it can be argued that the success of Anne Shelton and others represents the innate conservatism of the British record-buying public at that time (although they were in no way chauvinistic – 9 of the 12 British 1956 number ones were American).

    I am sure that there are many other years in these charts that do not represent the excitement and change of their time, but the 1956 chart is a classic of conservatism.

  9. 9
    Chelovek na lune on 4 May 2013 #

    A bit demanding and unpleasantly regimented. Prim and prissy, it seems, at the same time, too. Not an attractive combination, for all that the melody swings, and might work considerably better as the accompaniment of another singer, singing the lyrics a little more teasingly (although there is just a slight hint of that towards the end)

  10. 10
    Marshy on 19 Mar 2019 #

    I’ve spent the last 2 weeks listening to every number one (including all of the ones that Tom hasn’t covered yet) and this was a strong contender for the most downright irritating on every level – lyrics, performance, composition. Absolutely dreadful. Three is more than generous.

  11. 11
    Robin Carmody on 21 Mar 2019 #

    Notably, it gave its name to Dennis Potter’s first excursion into his very personal memories of Suez, done for LWT – unlike the song that gave its name to his better-known series on the subject, it actually was out at the time.

    The thing about the songs Mutley lists is that I think of *them*, not this, as the real Brexit music. We needed to get out, obviously, just not in the direction that we did.

  12. 12
    Robin Carmody on 21 Mar 2019 #

    I should specify “in 1970” above re. Potter’s ‘Lay Down Your Arms’ (it’s on one of the Network DVDs of his LWT work).

  13. 13
    Gareth Parker on 9 Jun 2021 #

    I would go up to a 5/10 for Anne.

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