JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 982
An article by William Zucker.
We are all familiar with the fact that different arrangers, when they endeavor to create a setting for a well known song or ballad, can produce results sufficiently different from one another as to properly be considered as individual and distinct compositions. These bear virtually no comparison with one another, and forming a preference is a matter of individual taste, although, as sometimes will occur, one might be sufficiently impressed with such multiple settings as to be unable to form a preference and properly say which one considers better.
But what happens when the same setting or composition is taken over, in a rerecording by the same artist or even by different artists? This becomes an interesting situation and in some but not all cases will approach that of individual interpretation in a serious musical selection. where in a sense everything is already set in place.
Composers may additionally revise their own work. and may record such in alternate versions. Opinions will of necessity differ as to whether the composer, by revision, has actually improved on the work or not. The same might happen with established arrangers and conductors of light music, rerecording selections that they previously released, similarly engendering sharply divided opinions.
In all forms of music, it will always be a matter of how we might receive an individual work, what implicit images are formed, and what may occur when we receive further insights into the process, and because of the impressions initially received, which tend to be lasting as they in a sense are what introduced us to the music to begin with, such further insights I refer to may or may not be taken as welcome. Each instance must be approached individually.
What I am attempting to cover and thus outline in this essay may be seen to encompass a wide area for some, but I think that the subject for all who have made a specialty of this genre should be at the very least absorbing. And as a final preliminary note, I must point out that all opinions expressed are of necessity subjective, but the whole idea of posting such is to invite others to comment, even with diametrically opposed views.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
As my original introduction to the field of light music in 1950-1, and my acquisitions of recordings of such beginning the following year started with Leroy Anderson (on whom I've already written a number of essays), this would be the logical place to begin my survey on the sort of differing versions of the same work that I'm attempting to cover.
As is generally known, Leroy Anderson was engaged as a staff arranger for the Boston Pops Orchestra by its director at the time, Arthur Fiedler, and served as such through the late 1940's and early 1950's.. The orchestra in turn was the first to introduce many of Mr. Anderson's original short selections, but at the same time, they featured a whole bunch of his arrangements which were virtually unparalleled in their day, with many approaching the level of serious music in their individual musical insights.
Some of the Pops earliest recorded selections were namely "Jalousie" and "The Continental." They were rerecorded many years later as part of an album released that was entitled "In the Latin Flavor." In this latter recording, they had received many enhancements which by listening, one could easily credit Mr. Anderson for, even though he in turn never received credit for this work. And in this opinion, these enhanced versions are quite superior in musical qualities and insights to their earlier counterparts from the 1930's.
Mr. Anderson's individual selections have been recorded many times over the years, essentially in the form they were written, but with some subtle differences amongst them.
My own preferences in general are for Mr. Anderson's first recordings with his own orchestra, with the exception of certain selections where I would give the palm to the Fielder/Boston Pops recordings ("Serenata," "Sleigh Ride," "Fiddle Faddle," "Irish Suite").
The individual selections were revised in the matter of touchings up of the orchestration, mostly in the matter of sound effects and novel instruments, presumably for purposes of illustrating the alleged inspiration of the music for listeners in the hope of stimulating them. What was unfortunate in these cases, at least in my own opinion, was that these instrumental intrusions did not lie comfortably alongside an idiom of music essentially refined in its nature. Thus I refer to the barking dog effect at the end of "The Waltzing Cat," the crack of the whip preceding the more animated sections in "Horse and Buggy," (neither of which was evident in their original recordings) and finally the ringing alarm clock in the middle section of "The Syncopated Clock."
Others I have spoken to expressed an objection to this last intrusion, but I'm happy to say that for those who would like a "clean and no-frills" version of this piece, I can recommend the one by Percy Faith which treats the piece very respectfully even though not the same as the original version.
And with Mr. Anderson's "A Christmas Festival," it is to be noted that the effect at the very end (in this opinion very tacky) of the sustained organ against the final detached chords is very much restrained and unintrusive in his original recording (it is really not necessary at this point), so that most listeners would not be aware of it unless they specially listen for it, which I feel is as it should be; in later recorded versions I refer to it is quite overwhelming and something I would gladly dispense with.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Reuben Musiker, in his excellent book, "Conductors and Composers of Popular Orchestral Music," frequently expressed his disappointment with many of the top notch arrangers for having cheapened the essence of their style in the interest of commercialization. Nowhere can this be more readily seen than in the rerecordings and recastings of popular settings as well as original compositions produced by many of these hitherto first rank figures.
During the 1940's and extending into the early 1950's, Morton Gould produced a series of albums featuring many popular standards of the time, offering many engaging settings of these ballads, notably individual in their manner. Some of the albums of this series that were produced later featured Mr. Gould himself at the piano, providing an added touch to these various and varied arrangements.
Around 1955, Mr. Gould, who had hitherto recorded for the Columbia label, switched his allegiance to RCA Victor, and thereupon rerecorded virtually his entire repertoire of the popular standards he had presented years before on Columbia. These newer RCA Victor releases in the main were less assured in their general manner, in addition to which some of these settings had certain additions to them, such as in "Tropical," aside from a flaccid tempo (compared to the snappiness of approach in the earlier version), special sound effects were added ostensibly to illustrate the title, not to the musical benefit of the piece in this opinion, and in "Stardust," where in the middle, more animated section, a few bars were added which structurally provided nothing of substance to this piece.
(Mr. Gould himself advised me, upon my questioning him about this disparity and expressing my preference for the earlier, Columbia versions, that there had been a bit of finagling in the production of the later, RCA Victor recordings. I never did find out just what he had in mind when he gave me this response to my query.)
A word about the "Pavanne," which had been recorded by numerous groups in addition to his own. With this piece, I have always preferred the recording by the Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler, rather drier and more matter-of-fact in its approach, but avoiding the rather saccharine and sticky aspect that Mr. Gould's own rendition evinces. Additionally, there is a very interesting band arrangement by one Paul Yoder, which contains numerous harmonic enhancements that are worth noting; the only problem as I see it is that he did not include the background pulsating accompaniment in these changes, resulting in some unintended dissonances that can be picked up if one listens carefully, although the necessary adjustments to take care of these can be easily implemented.
David Rose similarly went through various phases in his recording career, making a few cuts for RCA Victor before finally settling with MGM for the remainder of those years.
A direct comparison may be made between the two series with three selections: "Holiday for Strings," "Our Waltz," and "Dance of the Spanish Onion." Aside from the generally emaciated sound of these pieces in the earlier series, the last named piece is missing a bar or two at the very end, as though Mr. Rose had revised this ending during the interim period. But by all odds, his best work and results may be heard in his earliest MGM recordings, covering a period extending to about the late 1950's.
"Holiday for Strings" and "Our Waltz" were recorded on myriad occasions by numerous artists, including Mr.Fiedler and the Boston Pops (which versions I find far too fast for my taste), but one may safely stick with Mr. Rose's original MGM presentations which present these pieces in the best possible manner so that one need look no farther in this instance.
Another Rose specialty that enjoyed some esteem when it came out: Jean-Jean's "Fiddlin' For Fun" similarly received a degree of competition from a Boston Pops Fiedler recording. Once again, the latter is a bit too fast for me, but on that recording one can better pick up some salient features that need to be heard, as opposed to the Rose version where they were somewhat obscured in the recording process.
In the late 1950's, Mr. Rose presented revised versions of two of his original selections: "Holiday for Strings" and "Gay Spirits." These had extensive changes structurally, making for quite different compositions in essence, and might not be readily accepted by those who found the original versions so engaging - what I mean to say is accepted under the same title as a replacement rather than as an entirely separate piece. I myself vastly prefer the original versions of these pieces. There may be other instances where he made revisions like this, with other pieces - one possible one would be the "Manhattan Square Dance" where in the piano version, the bassoon episode before the reprise is omitted, though it is perfectly playable on the piano.
When I think of Reuben Musiker's comment in his excellent book that many of the top notch arrangers in the field of light music allowed their styles to cheapen over the years in the interest of commercialization, nowhere is this point driven home for me more vividly than with the case of Percy Faith.
Percy Faith, in his earlier years, made recordings on the RCA Victor and (American) Decca labels, before joining Columbia records, remaining with that label for the remainder of his career. Virtually everything that he came out with in those first 20 years he was producing recordings was of exemplary quality and bore comparison, with very few exceptions, with competing versions by other artists.
Some time in the late 1960's, he began to produce "updated" (for want of a better word) versions of some of the standards that he had come out with years before, versions that in this considered opinion were quite inferior to his originals. The newer versions were rougher and less refined in sound - probably a concession to the demands of the time which very much cheapened his overall style. Worst of all, in many of these later conceptions, he left his work in a sense incomplete, as these versions lacked the musical closure that the originals afforded the listener. The selections I specifically have in mind - and there may be others I have not as yet discovered - are "My Shawl," "Ba-Tu-Ca-Da," "Bim-Bam-Bum," "Amorada," "Tropic Holiday," "Enlloro," and "I Got Rhythm."
His "Brazilian Sleigh Bells" was picked up by many groups and has been recorded and even performed many times; however, I think that Mr. Faith's own original version gives us the best presentation of this very vibrant and lively piece.
One of Mr. Faith's best albums featured a collaboration with Mitch Miller, that was entitled, "Music Until Midnight," a notably superlative collection of mood pieces of absolutely top quality, of a stature such that many serious music lovers expressed their admiration of it at the time it first appeared. Mitch's oboe and cor anglais solos gave these pieces a certain textural focus, so that one could seriously question Mr. Faith's enterprise in rerecording many of the selections from this album without the woodwind solos, with the orchestra left to play all those by itself, which was clearly far less effective.
However, in the earlier part of his career he was supreme and second to almost no one, especially when it came to Latin American music, and many comparison recordings of the same selection could be cited to illustrate this point. I have indicated a few exceptions with a comment I made in a recent issue of the JIM magazine. These were, namely: "Delicado" (Fiedler/Boston Pops), "Jamaican Rhumba" (Newman/Hollywood Symphony), "Petit Bolero" (Dolf van der Linden), and would like to add here "Enlloro" (Carmen Cavallaro - double length version). In all others, he had no peer in this genre.
Around 1953, he released his own adaptation of Alfven's "Swedish Rhapsody" which was so successful that Hansen Music Publishers, which put out the works of Alfven along with other notable Scandinavian composers, decided to publish Percy Faith's version as well. With its success, other light music conductors such as Mantovani and Hugo Winterhalter made recordings of the piece. These were nowhere as successful in the sense of being musically viable, but as a side comment, I would imagine that neither of these latter two would have ever admitted that if not for Mr. Faith's amazingly successful conception, they would not even be recording the piece!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The situation in the UK gets rather complicated, when one considers all the alternate versions of pieces that came out of the Chappell Mood Library, most performed by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra under various conductors such as Charles Williams, Robert Farnon, Sidney Torch, and perhaps others. In many instances, compositions by the above named and by others such as Felton Rapley and Peter Yorke were performed both by the Queen's Hall group and by the composers themselves leading their own orchestras. In many cases, the differences if any are so slight as to cause one to wonder if it is the same recording being heard.
With Robert Farnon, many of his original compositions, exactly as was the case with Leroy Anderson, have knocked around by being recorded by many other conductors of light music, and similarly, Mr. Farnon himself made alternate and later versions of many of his selections. The choice is perhaps not as clear cut as was the case with Leroy Anderson, but in general, I would similarly recommend the earlier versions by his own orchestra, with a few exceptions I note for the Queen's Hall recordings (which obviously originated in the Mood Library). Those exceptions I would cite are "Journey into Melody" (for its expanded opening portion), "How Beautiful is Night" (for superior execution of the all-important flute solo), "A Star is Born" (for the sumptuousness of the fuller sized ensemble), and "Lake of the Woods" (which I quite prefer in the abbreviated form offering only the dissonant main section by itself, feeling that the middle portion, while beautiful individually, does not properly relate to the other part). It is different with "Pictures in the Fire," one of Mr. Farnon's best pieces, where in the Queen's Hall recording, a few bars may be heard to be lacking. Very conceivably, the composer noted this and revised it by the time he made his own recording.
I also note that David Rose, of all conductors, made a recording of "Portrait of a Flirt," which for me is strictly a curiosity. The presentation is unacceptably rough for my taste, and worst of all, the final downswoop at the end is completely cut off in its course, depriving us of the last held chords which one would think would perfectly seal off the original conception. One could not say whether this was an engineering accident or actually intended so by Mr. Rose, but I feel that all I describe of this recording would rule it out of any serious consideration.
Very interestingly, Sidney Torch led two different versions of his piece "Meandering," which bear virtually no resemblance to one another. They are almost like two conceptions of the same song by two totally different arrangers. Which one prefers is a matter of personal preference; I myself lean more toward the one offered in the Queen's Hall recording.
Sidney Torch's own "Samba Sud" was also recorded in the USA by Ray Bloch, in addition to Mr. Torch's own recording. It is here a matter of individual preference as to which a listener would find better.
I have to mention Haydn Wood in regard to two of his pieces: "Soliloquy" and "Wellington Barracks." I may have noted that Mr. Wood's level of light music creation is very strongly akin to serious music in the same sense as Albert W. Ketelbey, Eric Coates, and Edward German.
His "Soliloquy" always impressed me on such a basis, having acquainted myself with it originally as the fittingly final number (as an epilogue) in an album by the Queen's Hall group entitled "Concert of Popular Music." It always seemed to me altogether perfect as I was hearing it on this recording, but very recently I encountered a version of it on YouTube played by I don't know which orchestra, and in this version there is additional material at the very outset, which to me gives the sensation of beginning in the middle of nowhere, as well as an expanded reprise section toward the end which seems similarly unneeded.
With "Wellington Barracks," I refer to the very end of the piece, where in the Queen's Hall version, the last two chords are taken strictly in tempo with the rest of the piece, but in a version I've just discovered conducted by Sidney Torch (did he record this piece with this group more than once?), those last two chords are broadened out , with a momentary halt in the beat. I myself vastly prefer it strictly in tempo, but others may feel differently about it.
Changing the focus somewhat, I note that Mantovani, especially in his earlier years, tended to share light music repertoire with Charles Williams, George Melachrino, Ronald Binge, and later on, with Percy Faith. I could provide a number of examples here, but in two cases, I feel that some comments might be made.
In the case of Addinsell's "Festival," the Melachrino version gives us a double run through of the piece, with varied instrumentation and with transitions to provide for the second presentation. Mantovani's version is somewhat abridged but by no means to be dismissed on that account; additionally, it has that sharp punctuation gesture at the very end (which is in the piano version) that Melachrino's unaccountably and disappointingly lacks, for that gesture really helps to give proper closure to the piece.
"Madrugado" is one of the most beautiful pieces that composer Ronald Binge ever wrote. However, his own version of it sounds pallid by comparison with Mantovani's, which latter provides a marvelous effect by clever manipulation of the instrumentation, sounding far more vibrant and gripping as it builds to its ultimate climax.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
At this point, what essentially remains, is a grab bag of odds and ends by various composers whose work happens to exist in more than one version, and not falling readily into any category I've outlined above.
Camarata was a notably individual figure in light music, turning out some really unique compositions and arrangements before as I see it burying himself in the Walt Disney studios as a recording executive. The recordings he made dating from the late 1940's and early 1950's should amply demonstrate his true skills, which incidentally extended over at times into more serious forms of music.
"Fingerbustin'" was a swing type affair written for Jimmy Dorsey, with whose band he was briefly associated. This latter group actually made a recording of the piece which was little more than an improvisation, and this rendition did not properly finish off the piece by providing the reprise to give it full closure. I would definitely recommend Mr. Camarata's own version which sets everything out in a perfectly clear manner and makes complete formal sense.
"Rumbalero" was one of Mr. Camarata's truly great compositions, with a steady build up that almost suggests Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" by its offering of two alternating themes in its course as it proceeds to its ultimate climax. It was very much acclaimed at the time it appeared, and although I'm not aware of any recording aside from the composer's own, I claim to have heard a radio broadcast of a live concert in 1953 conducted by Paul Whiteman which offered this piece, and it sounded fully as impressive in this presentation. One would somehow wish that it might in some manner have been recorded for posterity.
One item in his recording repertoire was "Fiddlesticks" by De Freitas. I have heard the rather dry sounding, non-committal account by the composer, along with yet another version by Roger Roger, but for me there is nothing to equal Mr. Camarata's full blooded presentation that gives me absolute pleasure.
Victor Young recorded his warmly romantic "Moonlight Serenade" at least twice; the first time playing it straight without too much in the way of rubato (which is how I personally prefer it), and the second time in a much more luscious and explicitly forward manner (perfectly feasible a conception for this music, but I prefer it just a bit more laid back).
Another selection that Mr. Young recorded, a rather odd-sounding novelty, was a very frenetic, jaunty affair entitled "Spring Madness." There is a slower, lyrical interlude, but the faster sections should really drive forward as they do in this recording. I was surprised to discover very recently in my on line travels that there is a version of this piece by Camarata (assuming that names have not become jumbled as has happened so often in recent postings). This new version is identical musically to what we hear on Mr. Young's recording but with a noticeably different instrumentation, and in a considerably slower tempo. As I feel that speed is of the essence in the main section of the piece, and in fact is the whole point of it to begin with, I cannot see myself preferring this latter version.
Mr. Young also recorded his "Twilight Nocturne" which is a notable mood piece somewhat impressionistic in its bearings, and rather nicely reflecting its title. While there are no other recordings of it that I'm aware of, I was intrigued to note that in a piano version, there is considerably more music in its latter portion, and with it the piece concludes in a far more satisfactory manner. One would hope that there might be a recording of this version in existence, or if not, that an enterprising conductor who delves extensively in light music would seek to commit this version to disc.
Bernie Wayne composed many novelty pieces reflecting the urban entertainment scene of Broadway, even giving some of these titles reflecting names of his favorite star performers. His "Vanessa" was particularly popular and was recorded by numerous light music artists - aside from himself, we have versions by Hugo Winterhalter, David Rose, with some interesting commentaries on it from the UK in the form of renderings by George Melachrino and Charles Williams. The Hugo Winterhalter version is the one that made the charts, and in its own way is quite satisfactory, but I'm on the verge of preferring the David Rose version, which would be perfect for me if not for the fact that he misses a beat in the first section, during the "break" portion of the melody.
In the field of light music originating on the European continent, the recordings of Dolf van der Linden reign supreme, when one considers competing versions of such pieces as Deltour's "Fiddles and Bows," Heyne's "Petite Valse," Luypaerts' "Whimsy," and Steggerda's "Bahama Buggy Ride," although in this last case I would give the Hugo Winterhalter version some attention, as it treats the piece very respectfully even while giving full flower to Mr. Winterhalter's own style.
Frank Chacksfield and Malcolm Lockyer both turned out twin versions of the latter's "Picnic for Strings" and "Fiddler's Boogie," musically identical even though noticeably different performances. Both are equally good in my opinion, with preference for one or the other to be a strictly individual matter. The same would apply to Ray Martin's "Dancing Bells" as presented by himself and by Woolf Philips.
With Cyril Stapleton, I find myself preferring his versions of Latin American selections over other competing versions, referring to "Carnavailto," "Eleanora," and "Signal Samba."
One of Richard Hayman's first compositions to appear on record was a snappy affair entitled "No Strings Attached." It is a very engaging piece, but his original recording sounds as from hunger, and very echoey, besides. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I could hear that piece as done by the Boston Pops Orchestra under Arthur Fiedler. This latter version more than does the piece justice - I could easily imagine that it may well have been another enhancement by Leroy Anderson that was never credited.
And finally, I have to mention the superb arrangement of Arthur Pryor's "The Whistler and His Dog," perhaps best known in the classic rendition by Mr. Pryor's own band. However, I mentioned in a recent issue of the JIM magazine, in response to a reader's query, an absolutely superb version of this piece by Henri Rene that I cannot praise highly enough. A perfect note on which to end this survey!
It has been an absolute pleasure for me to share my impressions of these alternate versions, at the very least to point out that many were and are given individual attention by various artists. Inevitably, some of my readers' favorites may well have been overlooked in this account; if so, then I apologize for any such omissions. Moreover, the opinions expressed here were of necessity subjective, as I stated at the outset of this essay, but for what it is worth, it should hopefully invite other comments expressing such opinions, whether in agreement or not.
Over this past summer, since the JIM ceased publication, I have discovered on line another site where one might partake of all varieties of music - serious, light, and popular - namely, X-Box Music, where I was enabled to listen to many examples of light music - familiar and unfamiliar - that at the time were not available for listening on more traditional sites, such as YouTube.
This was a boon for many who were keenly interested in further exploring this genre of music, and my own personal experience has been rewarding to a degree - I have to nonetheless qualify this experience, which I will come to shortly. Unfortunately, this site, offered free to those with a Microsoft account such as myself, has now become a paid site, effective the first of this month. Moreover, in my attempts to share some of the selections I took delight in with others, I discovered that not all of my recipients had equal accessibility to this material.
Happily, much of the material has been appearing en masse on YouTube - not all of what I had discovered as yet at this writing, but hopefully more of it in time, so that I at least can once again start to enjoy my explorations of it, but universal accessibility to those I wish to send it to is still not in place.
This newly rehoused material is listed as "automatically generated on YouTube" which provides no answers for me as far as point of origin. I note that very few views are indicated of such videos and I have seen no posted comments on those aside from my own.
I have additionally noted that when searching for any selection on either X-Box Music or subsequently with these transferred videos on YouTube, I had to be extremely inventive when specifying material - in some cases it had to be done by title, in others by artists, and in still other instances by album title.
There are additional problems, and I couldn't say at this point whether or not this has originated in the manner the information was transmitted to X-Box Music and subsequently transferred to YouTube, or was needlessly jumbled on these sites.
About two dozen albums from the Guild Golden Age of Light Music series are extant on these sites, most of which have been transferred, along with other similar albums. With those featuring multiple artists, there was a mere designation "Various Artists" with little more to go on, and one thus had to work entirely by means of the title, and not know whether it was the desired version or not unless one really delved into the album and opened it. Even worse, where this information was given, artists names were jumbled, so that in one Guild album represented, pairs of artist's names were incorrectly swapped with one another. Two selections appearing in entirely different albums, were similarly incorrectly exchanged. And in one other album (single artist) the selections in the album similarly had their names jumbled, and I here posted a correction for each of these, as I happen to own that particular album.
I am prepared to furnish specifics on the above, should it be desired. However, I would now like to share some of the happy discoveries that I have encountered, both familiar and unfamiliar.
In recent articles I furnished for the JIM publication, I mentioned the original work of both Felton Rapley and Peter Yorke, commenting on both very favorably. As a result of this new source of material, I promptly sought out the work of these two top notch purveyors of light music.
With Felton Rapley, I uncovered only three additional selections beyond what I was already familiar with, all of which I found to be worthwhile and deserving of attention, these were "Fanfare and Cortege," "Ocean Rhapsody', and "Jingles". With Peter Yorke, I'm happy to say, I've come upon three or four full albums of original music of his ostensibly conducted by himself, although I would be hard pressed to distinguish between those performed by his own orchestra and by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra.
I listened to each of these albums in their entirety. I was amazed by the range shown in his work, although individual trademarks can always be spotted, which makes them for me so endearing, and this without the need to demonstrate any unusual harmonic scheme or melodic shape. By listening to a sufficient number of these selections, one can soon pick up the individual flavor, as would be the case with any notable figure in the field of light music.
Some of these pieces are exceedingly short and were obviously written to illustrate a transient mood in a dramatic scenario, and are not meant to stand on their own. Others, to achieve similar ends, tend to be rather generic in quality (far from unpleasant in that sense). But I must say that there are some pieces that are absolute gems that really do deserve to stand on their own and be listened to for their own sake, such as "Spring Cruise," " Blue Mink," "Little Miss Mink," "Emeralds and Ermine," and "Whipper Snapper." These are titles that come to mind but would hardly exhaust my list.
Also, I have found a Victor Young album entitled "Sugar and Spice" consisting of selections from his earlier years, which album was known to me as "Victor Young and his Concert Orchestra, Volume 2." I recall such titles as "Overnight" and "Latin Rhythm" which are among his best original pieces, and may I add, Mr. Young was quite an accomplished composer of light music selections of this type independently of his work in films which he is better known for.
Many of the original versions of Percy Faith's selections may now be accessed so that one does not have to settle for the bowdlerized, later versions of these. Reuben Musiker, in his wonderful book on the subject of light music, lamented the fact that so many of these artists allowed the essence of their style to cheapen in the interest of commercialization.
One can now listen to David Rose's wonderful rendition of Arlen's "That Old Black Magic" with its very interesting rhythmic accompaniment, and compare it to that by Morton Gould, whose own original (Columbia) recording of it has been on YouTube for years. These two renditions make an interesting comparison, and one would be hard pressed to express a preference and say which one is better. It is simply a matter of how vitally important the arranger's work is compared to the person who simply bangs out the tunes. Incidentally, in this connection, do not overlook Andre Kostelanetz's version of this song either.
I could go on and on, most particularly regarding alternate versions of the same set selections, but I will leave such thoughts for another occasion, as this in itself could conceivably become the subject of another essay.
I will always welcome feedback on any material or opinion that I present.
BOOK REVIEW - ‘ THOSE WERE THE DAYS With Harry Davidson and his Orchestra ‘
Author : David Corbett (2013)
Publisher: YouCaxton Publications - ISBN 978-1-909644-12-0
It is quite a few years since the publication of Brian Reynolds’ book ‘ Music While You Work – An Era In Broadcasting ’. This recounts the story of that eponymous BBC ’institution’ – together with several associated programmes- from the time when live light music was a mainstay of the Corporation’s output.[That situation was very different from today’s radio broadcasting scenario, with its personality presenters, interminable pop records, and a distinct ‘sameness ’ - and lack of imagination- in its programming schedules].
Inspired and encouraged by Brian Reynolds, David Corbett has recently produced this handsome new volume, chronicling the fortunes of yet another BBC phenomenon that achieved a great deal of popularity for nearly half-a-century, viz :- programmes of Old Time Dance Music. These commenced in the dark days of WWII and continued until the last decade of the Twentieth Century.
One is immediately struck by the sheer size and scope (and indeed weight!) of this book. Within its glossy A4 – size covers are contained no less than 606 pages – inclusive of a comprehensive index.
It is an amazing mine of information about the original ‘Those Were The Days’ programme on the Home Service/Radio 4, (subsequently moved to Radio 2), together with its rival siblings, ‘Take Your Partners’, ‘ Time For Old Time’ and finally ‘Sequence Time’ on the Light Programme/Radio2.
TWTD came about almost by accident. Its progenitors, Fred Hartley (then Head of Light Music at the BBC) and one of his producers, Douglas Lawrence, (who would eventually occupy the same post), had, on a number of occasions, suggested an Old Time Dance Music programme. The planners were not impressed –they didn’t much like ‘nostalgia programmes’! However, towards the end of 1943, a scheduled broadcast by the famous organist Reginald Foort had to be cancelled at short notice, (due to the non-availability of a suitable instrument), and to fill the gap, it was – albeit reluctantly - agreed that a hastily- arranged Old-Time programme could go on air. This would take place on the evening of Tuesday November 2nd; to be broadcast from London on the BBC Forces Programme and compered by the well-known sports commentator Raymond Glendenning.
It seems that Hartley was very keen to engage Harry Davidson to be in charge of the music, and the latter’s orchestra, (which had been regularly appearing on ‘Music While You Work’), was augmented by extra strings. The venue was the Methodist Mission Hall, Marylebone, with BBC secretaries recruited to take part in the dancing . The show’s title, ‘Those Were The Days’, was ‘borrowed’ from Osbert Sitwell’s book on manners ! The broadcast was a success, and following some further (intermittent) appearances, the programme was eventually accorded the status of a regular series in the schedules, this situation continuing until March 1971 !
David Corbett charts in considerable detail the career of Harry Davidson. He had started in the music profession at the age of fifteen, pounding away on the piano in a Croydon cinema and worked his way up, firstly as an organist and then as Orchestra Director, in various UK cinemas, before becoming MD of the prestigious Commodore Grand Orchestra in Hammersmith. This had a regular weekly broadcast slot on the pre-WWII BBC National Programme and was also relayed via the Empire Service to Australia and the Far East. When Davidson retired in 1966, he had taken part in more than two- thousand live broadcasts.
Later chapters concentrate on Harry Davidson’s successors- Sidney Davey (his one-time pianist and deputy conductor) – Sydney Thompson, Sidney Bowman and finally Bryan Smith.
Here we have a real ‘labour of love’, which has been painstakingly researched by its author, who is an acknowledged authority on, and a passionate devotee of, his subject. He must have burned a good deal of ‘midnight oil’, (much of it, I suspect, at the BBC Archive at Caversham), to assemble such comprehensive programme information, together with listings of the personnel involved and the music performed.
Copiously illustrated, it describes how the character of that music changed over the years and how the popularity of Old Time Dancing developed and ultimately declined, eventually metamorphosing into modern Ballroom Dancing.
This magnificent book surely deserves a place on the shelves of all serious students of Radio Broadcasting, lovers of Light Music, and devotees of Old-Time Dancing.
© Tony Clayden- July 2014
Keith Mansfield (b. 1941) is a British composer and arranger whose name may not be familiar at first mention. However, he was a key player in the 60s music scene arranging and conducting for many popular artists of the time – mostly on CBS where, in the mid to late 60s, he was musical director; before moving onto compose library music – essentially for KPM.
He became one of their most prolific composers in the 1960s and 1970s, writing some of the funkiest, grooviest and memorable orchestral themes – which would be used for Film & TV productions all over the world, and especially in the United States. US sports fans will recognise many of Mansfield’s tunes on NFL Films team highlights and Super Bowl documentaries. As we explore the world of Keith Mansfield, music lovers will realise that there is more to Keith’s talents than being responsible for composing the memorable ‘Grandstand’ theme used by the BBC from 1976 till the series ended in 2002 and that he is best known for his modern big band compositions incorporating the rhythms and sounds of rock and funk and pop music.
Born in Slough, Mansfield loved jazz music, started playing piano at the age of nine and first composed aged twelve. Aged 16 and having taken up alto sax, he formed a big band which included pianist Cliff Hall and drummer Johnny Butts both of whom later became professional colleagues. He worked for five years as a professional saxophone player, and moved from boys club bands – he played in the Slough Town Military Band, based at the Slough Boys’ Club, playing a number of instruments including oboe and cornet – into professional jobs playing alto sax with big bands in and around London, getting to know band-leaders Joe Loss and Alan Moorhouse.
Throughout his mid to late teens he continued to arrange tunes for people – one of the first being ‘This Is a Lovely Way To Spend an Evening’ as a signature tune for a local band. Mansfield said "What I did, is that I took a big band score – what they called commercial scores – that we all used to sit and play, and I put each individual part onto what we call a score. Most of the work was given to the saxophones, because saxophones don’t tire as easily at trumpets… and they played it and it became their signature tune for years. So I'd go there on a Saturday night, trying to get a dance with somebody, and they’d be playing my arrangement when I was aged sixteen."
Mansfield played tenor sax in Nat Allen’s Band at London’s Streatham Locarno Ballroom and turned professional at Streatham Locarno after he auditioned for a job playing in the Mecca ballrooms and by age 19 he was touring the country with a big band in the major cities: "By the time I got to eighteen, I knew I couldn’t face my day job any more; I decided I had to become a professional musician".
He also played in a jazz group in Slough called Melody Quintet; ‘It was an amorphous group, all of us in our late teens and all wanting to do something in the music world. I joined up and went professional, playing locally first of all and then at various Mecca ballrooms, pantomime productions and summer season variety shows all over the country. It was the way in which most of us started up in those days. It was good experience.
During his time with the Slough Town Military Band, a fellow bandsman was trumpeter Alan Bown. In 1964, Bown became the leader of The John Barry Seven and he and Mansfield co-wrote "Seven Faces" for the group, which was released by Columbia. It turned out to be the final JB7 single, and Mansfield also played trombone on the recording.
The following year, aged 24, he decided to go it alone as a freelance composer / arranger. ‘I’m really doing what I always wanted to do. My big aim is to write entirely my own compositions and I think film scores offer the most challenge and excitement to me in the future (he recently scored ‘Loot’).
Around the same time he secured professional arranging assignments that included writing several ‘ghost’ arrangements for friends and fellow composer Alan Moorhouse who at the time was Joe Loss’ arranger.
In the mid 1960s he was working as ‘in-house arranger’ with Eddie Kassner’s Publishing Company where he contributed to recordings by artists such as Robert Plant. This work brought him to the attention of the musical director of CBS Records, Mike Smith, who offered him the job of arranging a batch of new signings to the label, including The Chanters, The Kool, Val & The Vs and The Peddlers. At the end of 1966 he became a staff arranger and producer at CBS Records in the UK, working with artists such as Dusty Springfield, Georgie Fame, Brotherhood of Man, Marmalade, Love Affair, Ken Dodd, Vince Hill, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Robert Plant (under the name ‘Listen’) and many others.
Mansfield also produced and arranged albums for many top name CBS artists such as Alan Haven – ‘Haven For Sale’ in 1969 was also backed by Mansfield’s Orchestra, and featured guest artist Maynard Ferguson with backing vocals by The Ladybirds. A CD of the Haven album was issued by RPM in 2010 combining it with his later release from 1971 – ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’.
Mansfield recorded two albums with Salena Jones, whom he later married – ‘The Moment of Truth’ (1969) and 'Everybody’s Talkin' About Salena Jones' (1970); sharing the arranging duties with Eddie Harvey and David Gold respectively. Both albums were issued by Vocalion on a single CD in 2006, now deleted. A single, produced by Mansfield, was issued on CBS in January 1970 – ‘This Is Love’ / ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ – with the A side arranged by him. ‘After You’ and ‘My Whole World’s alive’ was issued in October of that year.
He also recorded a series of albums for Maynard Ferguson. The first, ‘The Ballad Style of Maynard Ferguson’, included a handful of film themes such as ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, ‘Born Free’ and ‘You Only Live Twice’. Recorded in London in 1969, it was his first British CBS album. Mansfield arranged and produced the tracks but the conductor was Alan Moorhouse.
Mansfield contributed two original compositions for the second (of four) Ferguson albums, ‘The World of Maynard Ferguson’. One was ‘L-Dopa which was also issued as a single and previously recorded as ‘Powerhouse Pop’ the same year (1970) for KPM’s ‘Flamboyant Themes, Volume 4’ LP. Mansfield’s third album with Ferguson, again adapting progressive jazz arrangements to modern pop covers, was ‘Alive & Well in London’ in 1971 with arrangements by John Cameron. This included the 6 minute plus version of Mansfield’s self-composed ‘The Serpent’ which appeared a year later as a KPM library track called ‘Jazz Rocker’ on an LP titled ‘Life Is For Living’. These two albums also featured compositions and arrangements by many of Mansfield’s musical associates including John Cameron and were recorded at Lansdowne Studios by sound engineer Adrian Kerridge. The drummer was Randy Jones, who stayed with Ferguson for ten years. Maynard’s ‘M.F. Horn’ was issued in 1970 and ‘M.F. Horn 2’ in 1972.
Mansfield commented: "I had some of my own tunes on the Maynard Ferguson albums – at that point I had decided to give up arranging so I could concentrate on composing, in particular for the libraries. Then Mike Smith and Derek Everett at CBS came along and offered me the job producing artists like Maynard, Salena and Alan Haven and these were opportunities I couldn't possibly turn down. Mike and Derek knew I would love working with these people. Originally I was only supposed to be the producer on the sessions for Maynard's albums but when it came to actually doing them I found we had a shortage of material – some people hadn't come up with tunes as promised. That's why I ended up re-working things like ‘Powerhouse Pop’, which I had originally written for KPM, as ‘L-Dopa’. It was Maynard rather than myself who re-named that tune as ‘L-Dopa’, which is the abbreviated name for the medical drug L-Dopamine. Maynard is such a brilliant, versatile musician – he can adapt to so many styles of music. The ‘L-Dopa’ arrangement has sections in it that are funky and sections that are straight-ahead jazz and Maynard moved between these styles so effortlessly within the space of one tune. At the time the Maynard Ferguson albums came out they didn't exactly receive very favourable reviews from the British music press. I remember Melody Maker being particularly critical of them, which was a shame as they're great albums."
"The reason why some of the brassy, funky library music did much better in America than it did in the UK is that brassy, aggressive music has never really been a part of the UK's culture like it is in America. People in the US are used to seeing and hearing marching bands everywhere, they're much more used to this sort of sound whereas in the UK we're more likely to say this music sounds too busy or too brash. Also, the media didn't really like this sound and in some ways this hindered the music's success in the UK."
Mansfield arranged Marmalade’s ‘There’s a Lot Of It About’ album (1968) and produced Georgie Fame’s ‘Going Home’ LP issued in 1971, arranging and producing the latter. Mansfield also arranged The Peddlers’ first album, ‘Freewheelers’, for CBS in 1967, engineered by Keith Grant, and arranged the strings on their second CBS album, 'Three In A Cell', a year later. He arranged four tracks on a Clodagh Rodgers album for RCA, and a Madeline Bell LP, ‘Doin’ Things’, for Philips in 1968. Other albums featuring tracks arranged by Mansfield including The Flirtations’ 1975 funk / soul album for RCA titled ‘Love Makes the World Go Round’.
Perhaps one of the rarest albums on which Mansfield worked was DJ Tony Blackburn’s 2nd LP – for Polydor in 1969, which features 12 tracks with arrangements and musical direction by Mansfield, Les Reed and Johnnie Spence.
Mansfield also recorded with his own orchestra (and chorus) and in December 1968 CBS issued two tracks on a single – ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Soul Thing’ with the B side being a self-composed track coming from his first album – ‘All You Need Is Keith Mansfield’, issued by CBS in 1968, containing 12 pop tracks including instrumentals of those he had arranged for The Love Affair – ‘Everlasting Love’ and ‘Rainbow Valley’.
‘All You Need Is…’ was later issued on CD in June 2011 by RPM, who included 8 bonus tracks (including the self-composed ‘Soul Confusion’) to compliment the original album – 'Rainbow Valley' and 'Everlasting Love' by Love Affair; two tracks by US jazz singer Salena Jones. 'Serpent' and 'Spinning Wheel' from jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson; and 'Love For Sale' by organist Alan Haven. The recordings cover the years 1968-1972 and are a splendid mix of pounding drums, rousing brass, and pulsating bass, and featuring Alan Hawkshaw on Hammond organ. It was Mansfield’s interpretation of the hits of the day plus his own compositions ‘Soul Thing’ and ‘Boogaloo’. The former was originally recorded as ‘Funky Fanfare’ for KPM in 1968 (‘Flamboyant Themes Volume 2’ / ‘Beat Incidental’) and had been used during the feature presentation trailers in cinemas in the late 60s / early 70s, whilst the latter was also later rearranged as Slow Rocker’ for KPM’s ‘Flamboyant Themes Vol.2’ album (1968); ‘Funky Fanfare’ was sampled by Danger Mouse (Mansfield’s music became very popular in the 70s by hip-hop producers) and used in the Astro Daters series of snipes produced by the National Screen Service in the late 60s. That song was used during the opening credits of the show ‘Pit Boss’ on Animal Planet.
DJ Tony Blackburn wrote the sleeve notes for this album saying ‘the exciting Mansfield sound will blow your knees with excitement’.
In the States Epic issued his ‘Soul Confusion’ on a single in 1969. In the UK this track was not commercially issued until RPM released the above-mentioned CD. It was adapted for Sugar’s ‘11am Tuesday Morning Taxi’ on CBS, the flip of ‘It Was Yesterday Today’ released in May 1969.
Mansfield recorded a second album for CBS in 1969 – which was released that year in the States, but not until 1971 in the UK. ‘Face On the Wind’ consisted of 11 tracks with an orchestra and chorus featuring vocals by Tony Burrows; Russell Stone; Sue Glover; and Sunny Leslie – The Brotherhood of Man – who, at the time, were produced by Mansfield; and Scott English.
A single was issued in January 1972 (both in the UK and USA) – ‘ Face on the Wind’ / ‘All For You’. The full track listing for this very rare album is as follows: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me / Face On the Wind / Going Home / Easy Lovin’, Easy Livin’ /All For You / Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) / And I Love Her / Love Song / The Look of Love / Love Story (Where Do I Begin) / Love Means (Never Having To Say You’re Sorry)
Another scarce album featuring music by Mansfield was the ‘The London Theme’ issued on Carnaby Records in mid 1969 which become one of the most sought-after albums today. It was issued on CD by Recur in 1999 (with additional tracks – 20 in total). These were mostly KPM tunes and included the popular ‘Young Scene’; ‘Piccadilly Night Ride’; ‘Teenage Carnival’; and ‘Funky Fanfare’; a theme from the Southern library, plus his own versions of the Eurovision songs ‘Puppet on a String’; ‘Congratulations’; ‘Boom Bang a Bang’, etc. The album featured full orchestra and choir. Carnaby issued a single in New Zealand featuring ‘Teenage Carnival’ and ‘Funky Fanfare’.
The full track listing was: Young Scene / Puppet On a String / Slow Rocker / Piccadilly Night Ride / Congratulations / London Hilton / Dr. Jekyll and Hyde Park / A Taste of Excitement / Boom Bang a Bang / Drum Diddley / Teenage Carnival / Funky Fanfare.
The following 8 tracks were added to the CD from the KPM library: Monday’s Child / Double Act / Pop Package / Main Line Special / Power Montage / Soul For Sale / Pop Fugue / Gold Medal.
‘London Hilton’ was the theme selected by Tony Currie, the producer of the CD, as the signature tune for ‘Through the Night’, which he hosted on Radio Clyde in 1975. ‘Drum Diddley’ was used by Terry Wogan for his BBC Radio Show in 1967. The tune, was composed by Gordon Rees; and Alan Moorhouse, who recorded his own version for his 1972 Music For Pleasure album ‘ Alan Moorhouse and His Bond Street Brigade’.
Mansfield arranged and conducted for many of the artists on the CBS roster, including UK hits for Love Affair in 1968-69 – ‘Everlasting Love’ (No. 1); ‘Rainbow Valley’ (No. 5); ‘One Road’ (No. 16); plus the singles ‘Baby I Know’; and ‘Lincoln Country’.
The Marmalade’s ‘Baby Make It Soon’ reached No. 9 in the UK singles charts in June 1969 but he had also backed their first hit in May 1968 called ‘Lovin’ Things’, which reached No. 6 in the UK and arranged ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ issued in December ’68 which reached No. 1 and spent 20 weeks in the UK singles charts. Mansfield worked on their last CBS single issued in Nov 1969 (‘Butterfly’ / ‘I Shall Be Released’).
During his time as a founding member of The Marmalade, Junior Campbell reportedly studied Mansfield’s scores closely. Being impressed with the craft of arranging for orchestras, as well the expertise of orchestral musicians in general, led to him handling accompaniment arrangements on the band’s future sessions himself.
The Keith Mansfield Strings were added to The Tremeloes track ‘I Shall Be Released’ in December 1968 and it reached No. 29 in the charts.
The following are just some of the other artists Mansfield worked with at CBS, the first being with Listen (Robert Plant) in November 1966 on ‘You’d Better Run’ / ‘Everybody’s Gonna Say’.
1967 – Bernie Winters / Mike Winters / Donnie Elbert / Thelonious Monk / Val & The V’s / Gene Latter / Johnnie Lee / Emil Dean / Danny Street / Brian Poole / The Love Affair
1967-68 – Gilbert O’ Sullivan) / The Mud
1967-69 – The Kool / Kim Davis / The Marmalade
1968 – Springfield Park / The Boots / The Detours / The Tremeloes* / The Medium / Roy Harper / The Chanters / The Mud / Ronnie Jones / The Boots
1968-69 – The Peddlers / Kim Davis / Georgie Fame – ‘Peaceful’ / ‘Hideaway’**
1969 – Bob Monkhouse / Sugar / Lisa Carroll / Jimmy Crawford
1970 – Marilyn Powell / J. Vincent Edward
1970-71 – Steve Ellis
1972 – Robert Young
1974-75 – Frankie Stevens
1975 – Vince Hill
*Reached No. 29 in UK singles chart in December 68 with ‘I Shall Be Released’.
**This single entered the UK singles charts in July 1969 and reached No. 16.
Another of the CBS artists whom Mansfield had worked with was James Royal (1967-70) including an arrangement of Laurie Johnson’s theme to ‘And Soon the Darkness’ (June 1970); and ‘House of Jack’ released a year earlier, being a vocal version of ‘Funky Fanfare’ recorded for CBS in 1969 with lyrics by R. Murphy. He even worked with Michael Crawford in 1974 on his single from the stage musical ‘Billy’ – ‘Some Of Us Belong To the Stars’. One of his last CBS assignments was with Vince Hill in 1975-76.
Mansfield also directed artists assigned to other labels including the following.
UK singles chart positions are detailed where applicable.
Aurora – Together (1969)
Columbia – Salena Jones (1967); Dave Clarke Five (‘Put a Little Love In Your Heart’ – No. 31) (1969)
Decca – Denny D’Ell / Dave Berry (1967); Tony Newman / Judy Kay / Tony Newman /
Errol Dixon (1968); Philip Goodhand-Tait (1969); K.C. Krane (1970)
Deram – The Flower Pot Men / The Virgin Sleep (1968); Brotherhood of Man (1971)
Direction – Gene Latter (1968)
EMI – Ken Dodd (1974); Frances Yip (1976); The Nuptown Keys (1981)
Galaxy – The Vernons (1975)
Gull – Vince Everitt (1976)
MAM – Susan Mellen (1975)
MGM – Barry Ryan (1968) (‘Love I Almost Found You’ – ‘B side of ‘Eloise’ – No. 2)
Mercury – Shades of Morley Brown (1968)
Philips – Marty Wilde / Dusty Springfield / John Walker (1968); Nicky James (1968-9); Silk (1970)
Plexium – Freedom (1969)
President – The Symbols (1966-7)
RCA – Donnie Elbert (1972); Clodagh Rodgers (1972-74); The Flirtations (1975)
Sonet – Peter Gosling (1970)
Stateside – Gene Pitney (1969) (‘Maria Elena’ – No. 25)
Toast – The Cameos (1968)
York – Lovelace Watkins (1972)
Along with Les Reed and Johnnie Spence, Mansfield arranged the 1978 single ‘I’ll Do Anything (Anything She Wants Me To)’ by Lenny Gamble (DJ Tony Blackburn). This was issued on the Casino Classics label.
Other notable tracks were ‘Looking Out of My Window’ released in Nov 1968 as the flip to Tom Jones’ hit ‘A Minute of Your Time’ (No. 14); he arranged 5 of the 12 tracks on the Dusty Springfield album for Philips in 1968 – (‘Dusty…Definitely’) which reached No. 30 in the UK LP charts. This included the singles: ‘I Close My Eyes and Count To Ten’ / ‘No Stranger Am I’ (No. 4) and ‘I Will Come To You’ / ‘The Colour of Your Eyes’. With The Marmalade he had success with ‘Lovin’ Things’ (No. 6), ‘Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da’ (No. 1) for CBS, and ‘Reflections of My Life’ for Decca which reached No. 3 in the singles charts in the UK and No. 10 in the States.
In May 1970 CBS issued a single from the film ‘Loot’ by Steve Ellis – ‘Loot’ b/w ‘More More More’ – both co-composed with Richard Willing Denton and appearing on the CBS soundtrack album later reissued by RPM on CD in 2001. Mansfield played piano and the score also featured Alan Hawkshaw, Herbie Flowers, and Clem Cattini.
Ellis was the lead vocalist with Love Affair – with whom Mansfield had had hits in 1968, and on ‘Everlasting Love’ it was merely Ellis and a 40-piece orchestra and backing vocals by Madeline Bell, Kiki Dee, Kay Garner and Lesley Duncan. Ellis commented in 2002 that the first recording the group made was ‘scrapped in favour of the Mike Smith produced version which was recorded with a rhythm section and orchestra arranged by Keith Mansfield’. The follow-up ‘Rainbow Valley’ featured Sue & Sunny on backing vocals and was also recorded in Italian to Mansfield’s original backing track. Upon leaving Love Affair in December 1969 Ellis recorded various solo singles beginning with the theme from ‘Loot’ followed by a Jim Webb song called ‘Evie’ with Caleb Quaye, Sue and Sunny and of course Mansfield.
Mansfield arranged three of the six songs chosen for Clodagh Rodgers with a view to one being selected for the Eurovision Song Contest of 1971. Three of them were featured on the ‘Cliff Richard Show’ – ‘Look Left, Look Right’, ‘In My World of Beautiful Things’ and ‘Another Time, Another Place’. However, the winner voted by the public was ‘Jack In a Box’ which finished in 4th place and reached No. 4 in the UK singles charts. ‘Another Time, Another Place’ which had finished 4th in the heats was later recorded by Engelbert Humperdinck, reaching No. 13 in the UK charts in September 1971 with Laurie Holloway as musical director.
In the 1970s, Mansfield wrote endless tunes for the music libraries, Amphonic, Bruton, Conroy, Themes International – even Chappell – but essentially KPM, many still being used today. Apart from Mansfield, the library’s main composers were Johnny Pearson, Alan Hawkshaw and Syd Dale. Mansfield joined the arranging department of KPM in 1964 where the other arrangers were Neil Richardson, Alan Moorhouse and David Gold. Upon leaving this department he then went on to compose tunes in his own right from – 1965 until around 1984.
His very first LP for the KPM library was a joint effort with Johnny Hawksworth called ‘Happy Families’ issued in 1966. A 10" single ‘Jingle Bell Beat’ was also issued with three Christmas tunes written by Mansfield including the title track. A further three tracks were issued on ‘The First Christmas’ another 10" issued the same year.
One of his most popular compositions was ‘Grandstand’ (also seen listed as ‘Holiday Party Time’) which was composed especially for the BBC Saturday afternoon programme – used as the theme from October 1975 until its demise in 2006, replacing a short-lived theme by Barry Stoller. A re-recorded version was introduced to the programme in 1999 but was quickly withdrawn after complaints from viewers.
The tune originally appeared on the KPM LP ‘Solid Gold’ in 1976 and commercially on a BBC single in March of that year credited, for contractual reasons, to The Sound Stage Orchestra. It was also issued as part of the BBC’s album ‘Angels & 15 Other Original BBC-TV Themes’ in 1976 and appeared on Pickwick’s ‘BBC Sporting Themes’ CD issued in 1988 with his themes for ‘International Athletics’ and ‘Wimbledon’.
The BBC’s Wimbledon Tennis coverage still uses ‘Light & Tuneful’ as the opening music. It was recorded for KPM in 1972 for their ‘Life Is For Living’ album. A commercial issue first appeared on the BBC LP ‘Sporting Themes’ issued in 1979 – again with Mansfield’s themes from ‘Grandstand’ and another used for the BBC’s ‘International Athletics’ called ‘World Series’ – also lifted from the above KPM album.
Another TV theme, again from the KPM library, was ‘World Champion’ (from the 1977 ‘Olympiad 2000’ LP) which was used as the closing theme for NBCs coverage of the same tournament. ITV used Mansfield’s ‘The Young Scene’ from 1968 to 1972 as the signature tune for their ‘Big Match’ football series (it was replaced by Don Harper’s ‘Cheekybird’ – another library piece). ‘Young Scene’ was a track from KPM’s ‘Flamboyant Themes’ album from 1968 and, as mentioned earlier, was issued commercially in 1969 on the ‘London Theme’ album. Virgin issued the theme on their double CD ‘This Is Easy’ released in 1996.
Another lesser-known theme was that used for the main title theme for Southern TV Series ‘The Freewheelers’ (1968-1973) – ‘Teenage Carnival’ originally on ‘Colours In Rhythm’ issued in 1968. This received its première CD release in 1999 when Recur issued ‘The London Scene’ LP on CD. The end title to this series was another KPM piece titled ‘Private Eye’ composed by Laurie Johnson.
BBC Records issued the theme to ‘Spy Trap’ in 1971 (credited to Quator) composed by Mansfield with arrangements by Johnny Pearson. The rhythm section was led by Brian Wade of Trane.
‘International Event’ from the 1972 KPM album ‘Progress and Prestige Volume 2’ was used by ITV for their soccer coverage in the 70s ('ITV Soccer')
His ‘Big Shot’ theme first issued on ‘Metropolis’ in 1975 was used in the TV Series ‘The Sweeney’ which premièred the same year and was issued on a CD of music used in the series by Sanctuary in 2001. Mansfield also arranged an album of ‘Mr. Men’ songs for Arthur Lowe released in 1976 on Epic and later by BBC records in 1979.
In 1976 Mansfield recorded an LP of 11 tracks for the Conroy Music Library and two years later some tracks for Bruton with John Coleman and Johnny Pearson. In 1979 he released the popular ‘Night Bird’ album for Amphonic even though he was still working and recording albums for KPM till the mid 80s when, with the introduction of CDs, many of these KPM tracks were issued – albeit non-commercially. Mansfield had been one of the first composers invited to compose for the Amphonic library by its founder Syd Dale when they bumped into each other in New York in 1976. A whole album – ‘Night Bird’ – was recorded 3 years later.
‘Disco King’ was a track composed by Mansfield featuring the Biddu Orchestra and was from the unreleased soundtrack to the 1978 porn film ‘Maraschino Cherry’.
In 1981 EMI Records issued a single by The Nuptown Keys being the title track from an album they recorded for KPM in 1982 with Mansfield as arranger and producer – ‘The Best of Christmas’. The A side was ‘Part One’ – arrangements of well-known Christmas tunes, whilst the flip was the Mansfield’s self-composed ‘Superstar’ from his ‘Lifeforce’ album a year earlier.
The KPM track ‘Worlds Without End’ from the original album ‘Future Perspective’ (1982) was used in the BBC series 'Whicker’s World' around that time accompanying scenes of life aboard ship.
Whilst Mansfield recorded hundreds of tunes for KPM (he was possibly their most prolific composer) – spread over many compilation albums – for some albums the majority of the tracks were by him. Many of these were in their famous ‘1000’ series which started in 1966 the brief for which was ‘modern and with style’.
1010 – ‘Happy Families’ (10 tracks)
1043 – ‘Beat Incidental’ (19 tracks composed with Alan Hawkshaw)
1095 – ‘Theme Suites’ (17 of 23 tracks)
1124 – ‘Big Business’ / ‘Wind of Change’ (9 / 6 of 8 tracks)
1125 – ‘Voices In Harmony’ (11 of the 15 tracks)
1188 – ‘Contempo’ (10 tracks)
1190 – ‘Vivid Underscores’ (17 tracks)
1200 – ‘Olympiad 2000’ (24 tracks)
1220 – ‘Olympiad 2001’ (34 tracks)
1221 – ‘National Heritage’ / ‘Rural Heritage’ (40 / 18 tracks)
1222 – ‘Conflict & Consequence’ (47 of 49 tracks)
1228 – ‘Ideas In Action – Volume 1’ (30 tracks)
1229 – ‘Ideas In Action – Volume 2’ (18 of 21 tracks)
1240 – ‘Action World’ (33 of 38 tracks – 3 with Terry Cox)
1241 – ‘Technology & Movement’ (31 tracks – 13 with Terry Cox)
1242 – ‘Planet Earth’ /’All In the Mind’ (12 / 9 of 11 tracks)
1260 – ‘Lifeforce’ (33 tracks)
1261 – ‘Technomatics’ (19 tracks)
1277 – ‘Future Perspective’ (23 tracks – 1 with Richard Elen)
1278 – ‘Historical Perspective’ (47 tracks)
1283 – ‘Blue Perspectives’ (10 tracks with Terry Cox)
1284 – ‘The Four Elements’ (16 tracks)
1304 – ‘Contact’ (16 tracks – 1 with Richard Elen)
1315 – ‘Options’ (14 tracks)
1316 – ‘Options 2’ (14 tracks)
1321 – ‘The Video Connection’ (15 tracks – 2 with Richard Elen)
1325 – ‘Good News’ (23 tracks)
1344 – ‘Circles’ (21 tracks)
1364 – ‘Future Positive’ (31 tracks – 4 with Richard Elen)
1366 – ‘Jingles and Programme Cues’ – Volume 8’ (68 tracks)
1378 – ‘Innovations’ (35 tracks – 4 with Terry Cox)
1381 – ‘Stepping Stones’ (33 tracks – with Terry Cox) (1987)
Mansfield went on to record for Amphonic (started by fellow KPM composer Syd Dale in 1971), Bruton, Conroy, and Themes International for two decades and celebrated the 60th anniversary of KPM at Jarvis Cocker’s Meltdown at the South Bank Centre, London in June 2007 along with the other members of the KPM Allstars performing a selection of library tracks and TV themes.
One of the last appearances by the KPM Allstars was a one-off gig on Saturday 7th July 2012 where they performed as a 16-piece Big Band at the Islington Assembly Hall, with Brian Bennett, Alan Hawkshaw & The Mohawks, John Cameron, Duncan Lamont, James Clarke, and DJ Shawn Lee. They received a standing ovation and played two encores – one of which was a shortened version of the ‘Grandstand’ theme which had been ‘extended’ on its first playing. Hawkshaw played Hammond Organ, Brian Bennett was on drums whilst Keith Mansfield conducted. The popular ‘Funky Fanfare’ was amongst the other tracks played.
The first film featuring Mansfield’s music (although stock music) was the 1969 US production ‘Four on the Floor’. In 1970 he conducted his own music for ‘Taste of Excitement’ in addition to orchestrating the music for Richard Attenborough’s film ‘Loot’. He also scored ‘Three Bullets… for a Long Gun’ in 1971. More of his library music was used in a short documentary ‘It’s Sound Sense’ in 1978 and the film ‘The Great Skycopter Rescue’, the documentary ‘Fist of Fear, Touch of Death’, ‘Kill and Kill Again’ (all 1980), as the logo jingle for CBS/Fox video, and the 2009 film ‘Black Dynamite’. ‘Soul Thing’ was used in ‘Kill Bill’ (2003), and ‘Grindhouse: Death Proof’ (2007).
Some other productions that have used Mansfield’s music until the 80s are:
1965 – ‘I Think of You’ used in ‘Dateline Diamonds’
1966 – ‘World Cup March’ used in ‘Where the Bullets Fly’
1971 – ‘Exclusive Blend’ used in ‘Doomwatch’ TV episode ‘Public Enemy’.
1975 – ‘Disco Dynamite’ used in ‘Space 1999’
1976 – ‘Soul Thing’ in documentary short ‘Get ‘Em Off’
1977 – ‘Love of a Lifetime’ used in ‘Sweeney!’
1977 – ‘Hot Dog’ and ‘Barefoot in the Park’ used in ‘Are You Being Served’ TV series.
1978 – ‘Disco King’ for ‘Maraschino Cherry’ (wrote & performed)
1979 – ‘Ball Game’, ‘Baseball Blues’, ‘Hell For Leather’, ‘Pointer’ used in Heja Sverije!’
The following are some of Mansfield’s library compositions used in film and TV productions since the 80s:
‘Birth of a Nation – 2’
‘Energy & Movement’
‘Historical Perspective – 3’
‘Into Battle Again’
‘Life of Leisure’
‘Paris Love Breezin’
‘Paul’s Pleasure Dragster’
‘Proclamation – 1’
‘Run I’m a Natural Disaster’
‘Sex and Food’
‘State of War’
‘Tonight in Person’
‘Trombones In the Night’
‘Uneasy Atmosphere - 1’
‘Wargames Linking Section – 3, 4, 6, 7, 8’
‘West Coast Surf Ride’
His music was also used in more recent TV series:
The Ren & Stimpy Show (1994-95)
SpongeBob SquarePants (2000-2009)
Calendar Geeks / The IT Crowd (2008)
One of his most played themes was ‘Piccadilly Night Ride’ written with Alan Hawkshaw and this was used on the AR-TV children’s series ‘Orlando’ and in the ‘Blue Band’ TV commercials in 196 and the Yorkshire TV Friday evening ‘Yorksport’, YTV’s ‘Parkin’s Patch’ (1969-70) and many of the NFL (USA National Football League) films and many documentaries.
‘Gold Medal’ was also used for many of the NFL films in 1969 as was ‘Power Montage, ‘Slow Rocker’, ‘’Pop Package’ (also used in WCBS-TV’s ‘Celebrates New York’ promos in 1971, and ‘London Hilton’.
‘Pop Fugue' was used in a series called ‘Llusern’, ‘Statement 1’ was used in ‘UTV Reports’ which ran between 1969 and 1978 and ‘Funky Fanfare’ was used in a programme called ‘Weekend’ and as the theme for one of Thames’ first children's’ TV series in 1968 – ‘The Queen Street Gang'. 'Beat Boutique’, written with Alan Hawkshaw, was used in the famous TV commercial for ‘St. Bruno’ in the 70s.
Mansfield has acknowledged that he has become ‘a writer of sports themes’. We can all still enjoy his music since much of it is now becoming widely available on CD or MP3 format. His memorable theme to ‘Grandstand’ ended with the series some years ago, but in the UK his TV Themes still live on via the BBC’s annual Wimbledon coverage – a theme which has already lasted 36 years and will undoubtedly continue until their coverage comes to an end.
Having examined Mansfield’s career as musical arranger and conductor, film and library composer, and more recently as a member of the KPM All Stars, we will now have a look at some of CDs that have been issued commercially featuring his music. Collectors should note that this is not meant to be a complete and exhaustive listing – though most releases are covered.
Some of the main releases on compact disc by Mansfield have been previously noted, including those by Selena Jones, Maynard Ferguson and Alan Haven, but there are still many interesting releases – each containing different and rare examples of his music – many of which have never previously been issued commercially. Many of these releases have been issued by Michael Dutton on his Vocalion label.
Beginning with ‘Love Affair’, all the singles (A and B sides) from the group and the solo releases by its lead singer Steve Ellis can be found on Arcadia’s 2002 release ‘The Love Affair / Ellis – Singles As and Bs’.
‘Dusty…Definitely’ was issued on CD by Spectrum in 2001 including all five of the tracks which Mansfield arranged.
Georgie Fame’s ‘Going Home’ was released by BGO in 2010 with tracks from another album produced by Alan Price two years earlier.
Strut Records’ second compilation of library music ‘Music For Dancefloors: The Cream of the Chappell Music Library Sessions’ released in October 2001 contained Mansfield’s ‘Blockbuster’ lifted from the Bruton album ‘Light My Fire’ issued in 1978.
The Peddlers’ ‘Freewheelers’ and ’Three In a Cell’ albums have previously been issued on Japanese imports but the ‘complete CBS recordings’ are available on Sony’s ‘How Cool Is Cool’ issued in 2002 which includes 2 previously unreleased tracks.
Marmalade’s ‘There’s a Lot of It About’ was issued in Japan in 2009 but the complete album plus other tracks including the Decca single Mansfield worked on are included in Castle’s ‘The Definitive Collection’ issued way back in 1998.
Very little is available by Clodagh Rodgers but the 4 tracks Mansfield arranged are spread over two CDs – ‘The Masters’ issued on Eagle in 2002 and ‘You Are My Music…Best of’ issued by Sony in 1996.
The Madeline Bell material from 1968 was issued by RPM as recently as October 2012 and much of the Maynard Ferguson material has been issued on Wounded Bird Records. ‘M.F. Horn 2’ and ‘The Ballad Style of Maynard Ferguson’ were twinned and issued by Vocalion in May 2006.
EMI’s first ‘Sound Gallery’ CD issued in 1995 featured Mansfield’s ‘Life of Leisure’ and ‘Young Scene’ and the follow up volume issued in September 1996 included ‘Powerhouse Pop’. These were two of the first commercial CDs containing music from the KPM and other music libraries.
Also in 1996 Blow Up records released ‘Exclusive Blend Volume 1’ featuring 16 KPM tracks recorded between 1968 and 1970 including Mansfield’s ‘Exclusive Blend’, ‘Step Forward’, ‘Mexican D.J.’, and ‘Powerhouse Pop’. The first of these tracks was often used in the ‘Dave Allen At Large’ TV series to accompany sketches. Mansfield contributed to the sleeve notes on this release (along with Blow Up’s founder and DJ Paul Tunkin):
"Those of us who were part of the recording scene in the sixties can now look back and reflect upon how lucky we were to be around at the time that English ‘Pop & Rock’ music would become such a success. So many great musicians, such good recording studios and so many artists from The Beatles to the Rolling Stones who would dominate the musical culture of young people all over the world."
"And so many of them are still with us today! – Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Robert Plant, Georgie Fame, The Love Affair, Marmalade and the Tremeloes – all of these artists that I worked with have lasted the ‘test of time’. I hope that when you listen to ‘Exclusive Blend’, you will be taken back in time and can enjoy all the positive energy that was such a part of that era."
The follow-up release the following year featured music from 1968-1974 and included, amongst its 18 tracks, ‘Close Shave’ and ‘Fast Back’ from 1970, and ‘Teenage Chase’ and the popular ‘Funky Fanfare’ from 1968.
In 1997 Virgin issued a set of four CDs containing KPM library tracks and the first volume ‘Paco’s Poolside Bar’ featured Mansfield’s ‘New Images’ from 1970. The 2nd set ‘Playmates Penthouse’ included ‘Je Reviens’ from 1969, and the third highlighted seven tracks: ‘Grandstand’ (1975) / ‘Where the Action Is’ (aka ‘Mono Ski’) (1970) / ‘Tycoon’ (1973) / ‘Dangerous Assignment’ (aka ‘Ske) – a track he wrote with Alan Hawkshaw in 1968 / ‘Hot Property’ (1973) / ‘Sporting Highlights’ (aka ‘Pop Package’) (1969) / ‘Trombones in the Night’ (1969)
The final set – ‘La Scandale Discotheque’ contained ‘Pop Package’ (1969), ‘World Cup’ (aka ‘Power Montage’) (1968).
The second volume of ‘Music For TV Dinners’ – ‘The 60s’ – was an excellent mixture of library themes issued in the USA on Scamp in November 1997. It featured another 16 popular library tracks by their top composers: Syd Dale, Laurie Johnson, Johnny Scott, Neil Richardson, Johnny Pearson and two tracks by Mansfield – ‘Sporting Highlights’ and ‘Piccadilly Night Ride’, the latter another track he composed with Alan Hawkshaw.
Winchester Hospital Radio’s ‘Girl In a Suitcase’ CD issued in 2001 highlights ‘Men On the Move’, which was used as the theme for the BBC1 drama series ‘Spy Trap’ in the 70s. This 1969 track was slightly re-arranged by Johnny Pearson for its commercial release on a BBC single in 1971.
Alan Hawkshaw, another member of the KPM Allstars, issued 22 tracks they had recorded live at The Jazz Café London – October 2006, on his own label. This limited edition disc is sadly now deleted but the tracks are available for download and include ‘Funky Fanfare’, ‘Everlasting Love’, ‘Beat Boutique’ and others including the ‘sports themes’ medley featuring the popular ‘Grandstand’ theme.
‘On the Brink’ was one of the Psychic Circle releases issued in May 2007 and featured ‘Soul Thing’ whilst their release from November 2008 – ‘Roaring Blue’ included the track ‘Boogaloo’.
‘The Big Beat – Volume 1’ issued on CD and vinyl in September 2007 by Tummy Touch to mark KPM’s 50th anniversary reproduced the original 1969 album with five Mansfield tracks: ‘Exclusive Blend’, ‘Teenage Travelogue’, ‘Teenage Ton Up’, ‘The Mexican D.J.’, and ‘Red Square Stomp’. The remaining 11 tracks were by his colleague Alan Hawkshaw.
In May 2008 Vocalion issued Mansfield’s ‘Night Bird’ on CD – all 7 full versions from the Amphonic Music album recorded at the famous Lansdowne Studios in London in August 1979. The music featured Alan Hawkshaw (on Hammond), Barry Morgan (drums) and Dave Richmond (bass guitar and was produced by Syd Dale.
Another Vocalion release ‘When the Saints Go and Big Bands at KPM 1967-75’ was issued in 2008 and included ‘Behind the Scene’ (1970), ‘Hot Property’ (1973), and ‘ Man With a Mission’ (1974).
Show Up records began their series of ‘Dramatic Funk Themes’ CDs in July 2008 with a CD from the Themes International Library but amongst Volume 2’s 18 tracker issued in August 2009 were ‘Hot Property’ and ‘Jagged’, which were KPM tracks from 1974. The third volume issued in June 2011 included ‘Staying Power’ from 1976.
Vocalion’s ‘Sounds of the Times’ – recordings from the Conroy Recorded Music Library released in 2009 contained the tracks ‘Breezin’ (1976), ‘Soul For Sale’ (1970), ‘Tycoon’ (1973), and three from the 1976 album ‘New Dimension’ recorded at Lansdowne Studios engineered by Adrian Kerridge – ‘Before Summer Ends’, ‘Groovy Move’, and ‘Gospel Truth’. For the latter album Mansfield assembled key big band and leading jazz and session players of the time including Pete King who played alto sax, Brian Smith (tenor sax), John Taylor / Steve Gray (keyboards), Chris Roe (guitar), Brian Odges (bass guitar), and Barry Morgan on drums.
‘Big City Suite’ – (their third KPM release issued in 2009) featured music by David Gold + KPM 1000 series 1972-78. The Mansfield tracks included on this CD were ‘Trial of Strength’ (1974), ‘Good Vibrations’ (1976), ‘The Fix’, and ‘Snake Hips’ – the latter three being from his ‘Contempo’ album.
Mansfield’s ‘The Great Outdoors’ opened the ‘Time To Fly’ CD – another Vocalion issue in March 2010 featuring 28 tracks from the KPM 1000 Series (1970-76). Also included were ‘Sun Lover’, ‘Hollywood Première’, ‘Life of Leisure’ from 1972, ‘Whistle Stop Tour’, ‘The Loving Touch’, ‘Husky Birdsong’ from 1973, and ‘Towards the Sun’ originally issued in 1976.
A rare commercial issue of Mansfield’s ‘Bow Street Runner’ recorded for Syd Dale’s Amphonic Music in 1976 appeared on a 25 track CD issued by Vocalion in 2010 titled ‘Super Sounds Unlimited’.
Vocalion’s ‘Bedside Bond’ and ‘Number One Themes’ released in March 2010 includes a version of Mansfield’s ‘Soul Thing’ played by Tony Newman and originally released on Decca in June 1968. Both sides of this single were arranged by Mansfield but ‘Soul Thing’ had a slightly slower tempo than the original. Arzachel’s version (culled from the ultra rare Evolution’ LP) was used as the theme tune for the 1968 children’s Thames TV series ‘Queen St. Gang’. Paul Raven – better known to 70s fans as Gary Glitter – added lyrics to the tune and issued it on a single on MCA in August 1968.
In July 2010 Vocalion issued their 5th CD of KPM music ‘Liquid Sunshine’ containing:
‘Pretty Colours’ and ‘Je Reviens’ (1970), ‘Cote D’Azur’, ‘Summer Setting’, and ‘Scenic Journey’ (1972), ‘Clean Air’ (1973), and ‘Nice Feelings’, ‘Love De Luxe’ and ‘Sun Goddess’ from 1976. The 1970 album ‘Sweet Groove’ from which ‘Pretty Colours’ was lifted was recorded at the EMI Pathe-Marconi Studios in Paris, and the ‘Contempo’ tracks containing ‘Sun Goddess’ and ‘Love De Luxe’ were recorded by Mike Clements at KPM. The latter theme was used in the TV series ‘The Sweeney’ and featured Pete King on alto sax Derek Watkins on flugel horn.
‘Girl on the Beach’ + KPM Library – ‘Gentle Sounds’ (another Vocalion issue in Nov 2010) highlighted 12 tracks by James Clarke but included Mansfield’s ‘Soft Cell’ and ‘Floating Bossa’ amongst its other 15 selections which were all lifted from the KPM album ‘Gentle Sounds’ issued in 1968.
Another WHR 2 CD released in April 2010 – ‘Music While You Work’ – included ‘A Girl Like You’; ‘Superstar (A)’; and ‘All the Good Times (B)’ – tracks which were used in Channel 4’s Test Card transmissions during the 80s.
‘Music For Dancefloors – The KPM Music Library’ featured ‘Incidental Backcloth No. 9’, ‘Crash Course’ and some tracks with Mansfield with the KPM All-Stars – ‘Soul Thing’, ‘Dave Allen At Large’, ‘Beat Boutique’, ‘Crash Course’, and the ‘sports themes’ medley (’The Big Match’ / ‘BBC Wimbledon Tennis’ / ‘BBC Athletics’ / ‘Grandstand’). This was released in April 2013 on double CD and vinyl and previously on a single CD by Strut Records in 2000 called ‘Music For Dancefloors: The Cream of the KPM Music Green Label Sessions’ with 20 unreleased tracks. To launch the album the composers of many of the tracks were persuaded to perform the music live for the very first time and these tracks were issued on the 2 CD set reissue.
The latest release was from Soul Jazz Records’ – a two CD set titled ‘TV Sound and Image: British Television, Film and Library Composers 1956-80 (issued in June 2012). It included Mansfield’s ‘Soul Thing’ amongst its 36 tracks. Collectors should note that this is the 1968 CBS recording first issued on CBS in 1968.