Sunday, 20 September 2015

Bill Worland: Shopping Spree (1956)

One of the pleasures of light music is being able to make-up stories around any particular piece. Many of their titles seem to encourage this self-indulgent elaboration that the listener would avoid whilst listening to a Beethoven Sonata or a Dvorak String Quartet.
Shopping Spree has been described as being ‘very Bob Farnon-ish’: it is an ideal evaluation of the mood of this piece of music which describes a day ‘In Town’ at the shops. Perhaps I have a vivid imagination, but I can picture a vivacious lady walking purposefully down a leafy avenue to a suburban Surrey station before taking the electric train up to Waterloo. Then, hopping onto the Bakerloo Line she travels across to Oxford Circus tube station before heading off down Regent Street.  
Perchance, she called in at Dickins and Jones for a morning coffee? Maybe met up with a friend? As the day wears on, more and more parcels are accrued and eventually it is time to return home, this time by taxi to Waterloo. This was in 1956, long before credit cards. Any payments would be cash or cheque and in proper money, £.s.d.

The music opens with a short introduction suggesting a bustling street. After a short jazzy passage it drops into something with a romantic sweep. The middle eight is a lot slower and much more relaxed than what has gone before. Soon the scurrying music returns and the day’s shopping is finally done. Bill Worland (1921-2011) makes good use of brass and percussion in this piece. Vibrant and rhythmically exciting, this makes a perfect miniature. The work was first broadcast on a BBC Radio Breakfast Special programme.  It later featured as background music to the film We Think the World of You (1988) which starred Alan Bates and Max Wall. It was uncredited.

Bill Worland Shopping Spree can be heard on Marco Polo 8.225161

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