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26 May

1953 And All That - Jim Palm remembers the Music of Coronation Year

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Jim Palm


Sixty years ago the British nation was gripped by Coronation fever: we had had the 1948 Olympics, the 1951 Festival of Britain and, early the following year, a new Queen had come to the throne. Now, on 2nd June 1953, she was to be crowned in Westminster Abbey; the event was to be televised and would be seen all over the world. The British record industry was in fine form; 78s still held sway but 45s and LPs were appearing in increasing numbers and would gradually take over.

Unless Vivaldi, Benvenuto FineIIi and Helga Mott were your particular favourites there was little to get excited about amongst the January LP releases but, at other speeds, it was a different story. On

Columbia we had Coronation Scot and The Horse Guards, Whitehall from the

Queens Hall Light Orchestra, the 78 having been with us since May 1948. Blue Tango. Belle Of The Ball, The Waltzing Cat and Marching Strings filled a pair of 45s by RayMartin and, on Parlophone, half a dozen titles from Sidney Torch included Valse Grise, Mexican Fiesta and Claude Yvoire’s Cresta Run.

78s at the start of the year included Leroy Anderson’s own recordings of A Trumpeter’s Lullaby, Jazz Pizzicato and Jazz Legato; Ray Martin’s Tickled Pink and Henpecking and the QHLO under Bob Farnonwith Champagne March and Tony Lowry’s superb Seascape. George Melachrino brought usReginald King’s Song Of Paradise and Ron Goodwin popped up on Polygon with Heyken’s Serenade and The Wedding Of The Rose.

In February there was a pot-pouzri of Leroy Anderson titles on a Brunswick LP. while a certain Robert Famon appeared on Decca with The Fleet’s In, Sand In My Shoes, Lazybones and nine or ten other items; David Rose, meanwhile, offered Portrait Of A Flirt on an MGM 45. Leroy Anderson came up with two more of his own pieces on a Brunswick 78 and Charles Williams, on a 12-inch Columbia, showed the Coronation Year spirit with Long Live Elizabeth and The Yeomen Of England. On Decca Bob Farnon gave us two of his "Fleet’s In" titles on a 12-inch 78 and George Melachrino paraded the film hits on HMV. Nick Acquaviva made a rare appearance on with Holiday In Rio and Her Tears while Sidney Torch offered a pair of popular titles on a Parlophone ‘R’.

As winter gave way to spring, LPs had little to offer but there were some 45rpm issues by Ray Martin and his London Saga on a Columbia 78, while on Parlophone Sidney Torch brought us The Last Rhapsody and Ron Goodwin took off with his scintillating Jet Journey, and Ron was also on his original label Polygon, with Rainbow Run by Eddie Mers. April’s light music ‘hit’ was undoubtedly Acquaviva’s breathtaking recording of Curtain Time on an MGM 45; Ray Martin was still in the Columbia lists with Waltzing Bugle Boy and Lazy Cowboy on DB3258. The Melachrino Strings gave us a TV hit of the day with Little Red Monkey and Sidney Torch, was Meandering on Parlophone R3674.

With the Big Event approaching rapidly, Decca brought us, on LP, The Three Elizabeths and Four Centuries Suites by Eric Coates as part of a release of all-British music in specially-designed sleeves. Bob’s Lincolnshire Poacher was at large on one of their ten-inch LPs and Coates was again to the fore with his London and London Again suites on a Parlophone LP. Those two patriotic Charles Williams titles reappeared on a 45 and Parade Of The Clowns was the May MGM offering fron David Rose. The new Charles Williams titles were The British Grenadiers and Heart O’London while Ray Martin brought us Veradero and the catchy One Finger Serenade.

Tuesday, 2nd June dawned dismal, dull and damp - in fact it was one of the wettest days that anyone could remember. But everything went ahead as planned: Sidney Torch gave us Magic Circles and Cornflakes but the only really noteworthy light music accolade went to Frank Chacksfield for his famous recording of Ebb Tide. The major July issue was the HMV LP set of the Coronation service which still sounds impressive today; on Columbia Ray Martin countered with Begorrah and Serenade To Eileen and Sidney Torch ignored his own compositions in favour of a selection from Chu Chin Chow.

August was traditionally the month when EMI went on holiday: very brief release sheets mention two minor titles from Melachrino, and David Rose’s Waltz Of The Bubbles. But things were looking up the following month when Sidney Torch offered us A Canadian In Mayfair on Parlophone R 3732 and Ron Goodwin recorded two attractive titles: Shane and The Melba Waltz on R3736.

In October I began my National Service and would not have had time to note down any record releases, but looking back I see that Leroy Anderson had another LP of his own compositions on Brunswick, Bob had one - LK 4067 - on Decca and the Melachrino Strings had a ten-inch LP on HMV. Leroy Anderson presented us with his Serenata and Horse And Buggy on a Brunswick 78 and Camarata, on the same label, greeted us with Rendezvous and Fiddlesticks. The then-popular Swedish Rhapsody was Ray Martin’s contribution and Charles Williams introduced us to A Girl Called Linda.

The November fogs were much in evidence when Peter Yorke turned up, surprisingly, on the Brunswick label with an LP of standards while Ray Martin was on familiar territory with a clutch of his classics on the ‘Magic Notes’ label and Sidney Torch did a similar job on Parlophone. Wally Stott made a very rare appearance on MGM with My One And Only Love and Serenade For A Tin Horn; Charles Williams was on Parade with the Clowns on Columbia and, by way of a change, the youngsters were being catered for on HMV with Noddy, Muffin the Mule and dear old Uncle Mac. Tropicana and Blue Night were Sidney Torch’s titles and Philip Green, also on Parlophone, was having a Spanish Affair.

And so to December. Appropriately. Leroy Anderson gave us a Christmas Festival on a Brunswick 78; Axel Stordahl brought us a very attractive version of The Piccolino on Capitol and George Melachrino pleased this enthusiast immensely when he recorded Ken Warner’s Scrub Brother Scrub for HMV. Mind you, this had been recorded before - in 1947 on a Columbia DB.

But nobody told me …..

This feature appeared in the August 2013 issue of ‘Journal Into Melody’

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