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Friday, 22 June 2012
Stereo in the Sixties: Great new CD in the Guild Light Music series
I can still remember being taken to my
Uncle John’s house to see his new stereogram. I cannot recall the exact date,
but it would have been around 1962. I am not sure what I expected, but the
stereo effects record was rather fun. There were a number of LPs stored inside
the unit, with some rather attractive covers, including what I later discovered
to be Henry Mancini’s soundtrack for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. At that
time it all seemed so modern and up to date. However, that defined my Uncle and
Aunt – they had just recently acquired a Kenwood Mixer and regularly holidayed
in up-and-coming Spanish Balearic seaside resorts. Some fifty years down the
road and sound systems have changed. We have enjoyed stereo, quadraphonic sound,
8-track and cassette tapes. Vinyl disappeared, only to make a comeback amongst
enthusiasts. Just when we thought that perfection had been reached with the
audio CD, someone invented iTunes and the MP3 player. I certainly do not know
what will come next: perhaps an electro-organic download direct to one’s brain?
However my Uncle John’s stereogram impressed me – even if the tunes he played on
it did not. I was just beginning to enjoy pop music, whilst he was into Henry
Mancini, Percy Faith and Mantovani. I have come to like this music now, without
losing my love of the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Led
This new release from Guild Light Music is quite simply a
stunning re-pristination of this ‘fab’ music. This is not to belittle the
original ‘stereo’ tracks and vinyl LPs where all of these tunes have their
origin. It is just great to hear these tracks digitally re-mastered and restored
(by Alan Bunting).
I always smile at the number of musicians that are
involved in some of these ‘light music’ tunes – for example, the Spanish
inspired ‘Pedro the Fisherman’ from The Lisbon Story and lasting just a
fraction over two minutes was written, arranged, rearranged and fettled by Harry
Vousden Purcell, Harry Parr-Davies, and Johnny Douglas. ‘Bobsled’ - a classic
example of ‘music on the move’ and so typical of the nineteen-fifties is ‘dished
up’ by a trio of composers. Somehow, Havergal Brian managed to write his massive
two-hour long Gothic Symphony all by himself. Fortunately this CD does
have a fair few ‘original’ works by ‘single’ composers.
A visit to
‘Italia Mia’ by Mantovani depicts a perfect picture of that romantic country.
Then Ron Goodwin’s jaunty ‘Serenade’ to London describes an era before, but
possibly anticipating, the ‘swinging sixties’. Have you ever been to Coney
Island? It is now a former shadow of its American Dream heritage, but still a
great place to visit. The hamburgers are good too. Don Banks’ vision suggests
romance, a stroll along the boardwalk from Brighton Beach and all the fun of the
fair. It is one of my favourite tracks on this CD. Who could not fall in love
with Percy Faith’s musical description of the beautiful ‘Lisa’?
I am not
sure if Joe Heyne’s amusing ‘Petite Waltz’ comes from a show or is a stand-alone
number; however it a fine piece complete with harpsichord continuo! Still in
‘Sunny Spain’ the rather martial ‘Amparito Roca’ by Jaime Texidor balances the
sunshine with the pizzazz of the bullfight or fiesta.
Not sure about
being On the Beach at Waikiki: it just does not impress me. However
Richard Rogers’ ‘Nobody’s Heart’ is a good example of a dreamy, romantic number
that must have been the soundtrack to many lovers’ evenings sitting listening to
the stereogram and sipping Liebfraumilch.
traditional ‘light music’ is represented with a fine version of Eric Coates
‘Mayfair’ from his London Again Suite. We move from ‘The Smoke’ to
lands somewhere in the Caucasus region of Eurasia with the exotic ‘Fete
Circassienne’. This was composed by a certain Wal-Berg –real name Voldemar
There are a fair number of ‘standards’ from films and the
shows. The CD opens with a great curtain-raiser – a version of ‘Night and Day’
from The Gay Divorcee with music by Cole Porter. The next ‘musical’
song is the Gershwin brothers hit ‘Bidin’ my Time’ from Girl Crazy.
This is performed by the redoubtable Frederic Fennell. It is a lovely relaxing,
slow-tempo piece featuring high strings, solo piano and Glen Miller-like muted
brass. ‘Carioca’ from the well-loved film featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger
Rogers, Flying down to Rio is given the full Latin-inspired works. I
enjoyed Vernon Duke’s number ‘What is there to say?’ written for the Ziegfeld
Follies. These were a series of Broadway revues popular in the 1930s inspired by
the Folies Bergères in Paris. Equally inspiring is the Jerome Kern number
‘Jockey on a Carousel’. This foxtrot started life in the RKO picture I Dream
Too Much starring Lilly Pons and Henry Fonda. Still on films, One Eyed
Jacks was a 1961 production featuring Marlon Brando in the lead role and as
director. In spite of the rather vicious nature of the film, the music written
by Hugo Friedhofer is impressive. Another film that has its ‘dark’ moments is
Ruby Gentry starring Jennifer Jones and Charlton Heston. However the
music epitomises romantic Hollywood.
As a youngster, I used to watch The
Billy Cotton Band Show with my parents. One of the guests who featured regularly
was Russ Conway. He is usually famed for his up-tempo music such as
‘Side-Saddle’ and ‘China Tea’. So it is good to hear his interpretation of the
‘Dream of Olwen’ from the film ‘While I Live’ with music by Charles Williams.
Conway plays this tearjerker with consummate skill. I would challenge listeners
hearing this work ‘blind’ to think it was anyone other than a ‘great’ concert
All film buffs will be stirred to recall John Wayne, Patrick
Widmark and a youthful Frankie Avalon in The Alamo. The CD concludes
with the exciting music from the film Around the World in Eighty Days
–‘Away out West’. Once again three composers and arrangers have contributed to
the success of this powerful number.
Nothing more to say about this
fantastic CD – except to Guild - ‘Just keep them on coming!’
With thanks to MusicWeb International where this review was first published.
Cole PORTER(1891-1964), arr.Brian FAHEY(1919-2007) Night and Day (from the film The Gay Divorcee) (1960) Cyril Orandel and the Starlight Symphony [3:20] George GERSHWIN(1898-1937), arr.Rayburn WRIGHT(1922-1990) Bidin' my time (1961) Frederick Fennell and his Orchestra [2:45] Wayne ROBINSON,Caesar GIOVANNINI,Herman CLEBANOFF(1917-2004) Bobsled (1961) Clebanoff and his Orchestra [2:15] Annunzio Paolo MANTOVANI(1905-1980) Italia Mia (1961) Mantovani and his Orchestra [2:41] Ron GOODWIN(1925-2003) London Serenade (1961) Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra [2:31] Don BANKS(1923-1980) Coney Island (1961) The Sinfonia of London conducted by Douglas Gamley [6:18] Gus KAHN, Edward ELISCU, Vincent YOUMANS(1898-1946) Carioca (from the film Flying Down to Rio) (1961) Jack Shaindlin and his Orchestra [3:22] Vernon DUKE(1903-1969), E.Y. HARBURG(1896-1981) What is there to say? (1961) David Rose and his Orchestra [2:20] Jerome KERN(1885-1945), arr. Morton GOULD(1913-1996) Jockey on the Carousel (1961) Morton Gould and his Orchestra [3:34] Harry Vousden PURCELL, Harry PARR-DAVIES(1914-1955), arr. Johnny DOUGLAS(1920-2003) Pedro the Fisherman (from the film The Lisbon Story) (1960) The Living Strings conducted by Johnny Douglas [2:02] Joe HEYNE PETITE Waltz (1961) David Carroll and his Orchestra [2:10] Jaime TEXIDOR(1884–1957) Amparito Roco (1960) Eastman-Rochester Pops Orchestra conducted by Frederick Fennell [2:22] Hugo FRIEDHOFER(1901-1981) One Eyed Jacks (Love theme from the film) (1961) Ferrante and Teicher at two pianos, with Orchestra and Chorus [3:03] Percy FAITH(1908-1976) Lisa (1961) Percy Faith and his Orchestra [3:26] Heinz ROEMHELD(1901-1985), Mitchell PARISH Ruby (from the film Ruby Gentry) (1961) The Melachrino Orchestra conducted by George Melachrino [2:49] Henry KAIKIMAI, G.H. STOVE, arr. William Hill BOWEN(1918-1964) On the Beach at Waikiki (1961) The Living Strings conducted by William Hill Bowen [3:00] Charles WILLIAMS(1893-1978) (Dream of Olwen (from the film While I Live) (1960) Russ Conway (piano) with Michael Collins and his Orchestra [3:55] Richard ROGERS(1902-1979), arr. Frank CORDELL(1918-1980) Nobody’s Heart (1960) Frank Cordell and is Orchestra featuring Neill Sanders (horn) [2:44] Paul Francis WEBSTER, Dmitri TIOMKIN(1899-1979) The Alamo (theme from the film Green Leaves of Summer) (1960) Billy Vaughn and his Orchestra [2:26] WAL-BERG(1910-1994) Fete Circassienne (1960) Wal-berg and his Orchestra [6:57] Eric COATES(1886-1957) Mayfair – from suite In London Again (1961) Eric Jonson and his Orchestra [5:47] Victor Popular YOUNG(1900-1956), Harold ADAMSON(1906-1980), arr. Robert FARNON(1917-2005) Away out West (from the film Around the World in Eighty Days) (1960) Robert Farnon and his Orchestra [3:23] All Tracks are in Stereo. Dates refer to recording, not composition. GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5192 [73:20]