The Golden Age of Light Music: Holidays for Strings
Guild Light Music GLCD5189 ADD [79:08]
The mood of this excellent disc is summed up in its title and the nostalgic picture on the CD cover. It is one of the sad features of life that so many lidos have disappeared from our seaside towns. The present picture is from a London & North Eastern Railway poster advertising Clacton-on-Sea Butlin’s Holiday Camp. Alas, this camp closed in 1983 and I guess that all traces of the lido have long disappeared. Yet, one can recover the fun and the sun of holidays past in the tracks on this disc.
I usually divide the musical content of ‘light’ music into two parts. Firstly, there are the arrangements of other works – often songs from the shows, film music and sometimes even the classics. And then there are the pieces that were especially written and provided with evocative titles. These may be ‘concert’ pieces or used in newsreels or documentaries. Both ‘genres’ appear on this CD
Considering first the arrangements, the proceedings get off to a sunny start with music from the film Monte Carlo – ‘Beyond the Blue Horizon’. Then George Gershwin provides the tune for an upbeat version of ‘Love is Sweeping the Country’ played by the ever popular Frederick Fennel and his Orchestra. There is great brass work here and good percussion too. Borodin’s contribution to popular music is his unforgettable ‘Stranger in Paradise’ which all music snobs know was taken from the opera Prince Igor. ‘Thanks for the Memory’ and ‘Adios’ are given a characteristic swing by Geoff Love and his orchestra. Gigi is a film that has captured the hearts of young and old for more than fifty years: the Parisian magic is created by the main theme played here. ‘Perfidia’ by the Mexican Alberto Borras Dominguez is perfectly fitted to this particular faithless, treacherous and false lady.
Richard Rogers ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ is given an attractive and slightly ‘dipsy’ treatment. And ‘Then you may take me to the Fair’ from Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot is powerfully treated. I am not sure whether Cliff Friend and Charles Tobias’ ‘Time waits for Me’ is an arrangement, but it is a good, romantic tune. I did not know the music from the film The Rebel which was composed by Frank Cordell. Certainly in ‘Oo-La-La’ the sights and sounds of a typical Parisian evening are effectively created. The theme from the cult film The Singer not the Song that starred Dirk Bogarde and John Mills has a sultry Spanish mood.
The mood pieces begin with the master of syncopation Leroy Anderson’s Belle of the Ball. Even a flat-footed person like me would like to dance with her. Our own George Martin of Beatles fame has written an upbeat Serenade to Double Scotch that parodies Caledonian music and is a million miles away from A Hard Day’s Night. Great stuff- with a little stagger too. I do not know who or what Cumana by Barclay Allen and Roc Hillman, is or was – but this is a hard hitting piece of light music that has a touch of Spanish and a lot of percussion. Fortunately Cyril Watters calms the mood down with his romantic Willow Waltz. Romance is in the air again with Percy Faith’s Bouquet: this is certainly a love song written for a beautiful lady. Spending Spree by Andy Burlow was written before the advent of the flexible friend, but we get the gist of this fast-moving walk down Regent Street – or Deansgate, Manchester. I can just see the ladies and gentlemen, laden with parcels emerging from the doors of Liberty’s or Kendall Milne’s. Angela Morley has restored us to innocence with her chirpy Nurseryland. Good part for bassoon here. Pat Beaver and Tony King allow us to be On the Loose again: hopefully not spending too much more money. This is a hugely upbeat piece that evokes all kinds of mental images of days gone by. I do not know who Vanessa was, but the way that Bernie Wayne portrays her she does seem a little wayward. However, there is a touch of romance in her too. Steve Race has created an image of holidays in the Mediterranean with his gorgeous Faraway Music. I guess the balalaika situates it somewhere in Greece? Sometimes we just have to head back to base. Robert Farnon’s Strolling Home presents an image of someone who is not quite sure that the fun for the evening is over. Periwinkle by Frank Sterling is pure fun. Jeunesse is a piece that has youth at heart: Anthony Mawer writes a number that is both optimistic and a touch wistful. Light music enthusiasts will all know Edward White’s Runaway Rocking Horse and he has achieved a similar fresh open air piece of music with his Romance in the Breeze. Finally David Rose (of The Stripper fame) has given holiday music to beat all holiday music- Holiday for Strings. This piece epitomises the excitement of heading off in the Ford Anglia or on the Cornish Riviera Express for the annual fortnight by the sea. All the hopes and dreams of fun and romance are here. A great conclusion to a fine section of music.
Most of these works were recorded in the late fifties and early sixties. Many of them are in ‘stereo.’ David Ades has done an excellent job in repristinating these tracks which have been gleaned from a wide variety of records. He also provides the outstanding liner notes. All the details of the pieces, their composers (though, I do wish they would give the dates for all the composers) and arrangers are present and correct. This is yet another fine addition to the ever increasing number of CDs in ‘The Golden Age of Light Music’ series. Long may they continue!
With thanks to MusicWeb International where this review first appeared.