Light Music CDs. Some highly recommended releases.
Light Music is ignored by most Record Stores and Radio Stations, yet it is enjoyed by millions of people around the world.
You may know it as Easy Listening or Concert Music ... or maybe Middle-of-the Road. Whatever you happen to call it, Light Music offers relaxing enjoyment at any time of the day or night, and we hope that you will return regularly to this page in the Robert Farnon Society website to keep fully informed on the latest releases.
British Cinema and Theatre Orchestras
1 The Juggler (G. Groitzsch)
COMMODORE GRAND ORCHESTRA Conducted by JOSEPH MUSCANT
2 Grasshoppers’ Dance (Ernest Bucalossi)
PARAMOUNT THEATRE ORCHESTRA Conducted by ARTHUR ANTON featuring AL BOLLINGTON, Organ
3 "Show Boat" – Selection : Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man; Why Do I Love You; Ol’ Man River (Jerome Kern)
COVENTRY NEW HIPPODROME ORCHESTRA Conducted by WILLIAM PETHERS
4 Nola (Felix Arndt)
REGAL CINEMA ORCHESTRA Conducted by EMANUEL STARKEY
5 Doll Medley: Dainty Doll (Barnes), Lonesome Little Doll (Phil Boutelje), Rag Doll (Nacio Herb Brown), Little Dutch Doll (Ravel), Doll Dance (Nacio Herb Brown), Wedding Of The Painted Doll (Nacio Herb Brown), China Doll Parade (John S. Zamecnik).
PARAMOUNT THEATRE ORCHESTRA Conducted by ARTHUR ANTON featuring AL BOLLINGTON, Organ
6 Bal Masque – Valse Caprice (from Two Parisian Sketches) (Percy Fletcher)
PLAZA THEATRE ORCHESTRA Conducted by FRANK TOURS
7 "Conversation Piece" – Selection : Brighton Parade; Danser, Danser; I’ll Follow My Secret Heart; There’s Always Something Fishy About The French; Regency Rakes; Nevermore; Dear Little Soldiers; English Lesson; Lady Julia’s Theme; Melanie’s Aria (Finale Act II); I’ll Follow My Secret Heart (Noel Coward) Recorded 17th January 1934
HIS MAJESTY’S THEATRE ORCHESTRA Conducted by REGINALD BURSTON
8 Speakeasy (Lewis Gensler)
TROXY BROADCASTING ORCHESTRA Conducted by JOSEPH MUSCANT
9 Ye Merry Blacksmiths (John Belton)
GRANADA WALTHAMSTOW ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES MANNING
10 "The Cat And The Fiddle" – Selection : Entr’acte; She Didn’t Day "Yes"; Dance; Try To Forget (Jerome Kern)
PALACE THEATRE ORCHESTRA Conducted by HYAM GREENBAUM
11 Bells Across The Meadow (Albert W. Ketèlbey)
LONDON PALLADIUM ORCHESTRA Conducted by RICHARD CREAN
12 Babylonian Nights (John S. Zamecnik)
GAUMONT STATE ORCHESTRA Conducted by ALFRED VAN DAM
13 "The Vagabond King" – Selection : Only A Rose; Huguette Valse; Song Of The Vagabonds (Brian Hooker / Rudolf Friml)
COVENTRY NEW HIPPODROME ORCHESTRA Conducted by WILLIAM PETHERS
14 Fifinette – Intermezzo Gavotte (Three Light Pieces Suite) (Percy Fletcher)
PRINCE OF WALES PLAYHOUSE ORCHESTRA Conducted by FRANK WESTFIELD
15 Fairies In The Moon – Intermezzo Entr’acte (Montague Ewing)
TROXY BROADCASTING ORCHESTRA Conducted by JOSEPH MUSCANT
16 "The Fleet’s Lit Up" – Selection: They’ve A Way Of Doing It In The Navy, Guess It Must Be The Spring, Little Miss Go-As-You-Please, How Do You Do Mr. Right?, It’s d’Lovely*, Change Of Address, I’m A Dictator, Hide And Seek, The Fleet’s Lit Up (composed by Vivian Ellis, except ‘It’s d’Lovely’* by Cole Porter)
GERALDO AND HIS LONDON HIPPODROME ORCHESTRA
17 Scarf Dance (Cecile Chaminade)
PLAZA THEATRE ORCHESTRA Conducted by FRANK TOURS
18 In The Sudan (Gabriel Sebek)
GAUMONT STATE ORCHESTRA Conducted by ALFRED VAN DAM
19 "King Of Jazz" – Selection : Ragamuffin Romeo (Harry de Costa/Mabel Wayne), It Happened In Monterey (Billy Rose/Mabel Wayne), I Like To Do Things For You, Happy Feet, A Bench In The Park, Song Of The Dawn (all by Milton Ager/Jack Yellen)
REGAL CINEMA ORCHESTRA Conducted by EMANUEL STARKEY with QUENTIN MACLEAN, Organ
Guild Music GLCD5108
Considerable research has revealed that, although cinema and theatre orchestras undoubtedly existed in various countries around the world, it was only in Britain that record companies seemed to consider them worthy of inclusion in their catalogues.
Possibly this is because the owners of major cinemas and theatres in Britain wanted to engage conductors ‘of note’ to front their orchestras, thus adding some additional prestige. This, in turn, resulted in radio broadcasts, which further added to their status in the eyes (and ears) of the general public. Whatever the reasons, these ensembles offered record buyers a wide choice of light music from leading composers in Europe and America, as well as nearer home.
Several tracks in this collection feature the short-lived phenomenon of a theatre organ accompanying a light orchestra. In the early years of the last century, silent films were often shown to the accompaniment of music provided by a pianist or a small group of musicians. The larger cinemas gradually engaged bigger musical ensembles, until by the 1920s a decent-sized orchestra would often perform music specially composed to accompany the film being screened. However the arrival of talking pictures towards the end of the 1920s heralded the gradual demise of the orchestras, but the general public had become accustomed to an element of live musical entertainment on their frequent visits to the cinema. Partly as a cost-cutting exercise, most orchestras were replaced by theatre organs, but in some cases the change-over was gradual, and for a few years both organs and orchestras co-existed. Some of the tracks on this CD reflect this temporary transformation.
Things were different in theatres (not to be confused with movie theatres, where films were screened): technology was not the enemy of musicians – the culprit was changing tastes in entertainment. The once ubiquitous variety theatres in provincial towns and cities have become just a memory, and today it is noteworthy when more than a handful of players support a musical stage performance.
It may be of interest to mention a few of the cinemas and theatres where some of the orchestras featured in this collection were based. The stories of some are unfortunately typical of most: from being wonderful escapist venues for the masses in the 1930s, they eventually became too large to sustain financially, with very few exceptions. Many names are now just memories, although others are still very familiar.
‘Paramount’ still crops up at the start of films, and the original Paramount Pictures opened their third London movie theatre (after the Plaza, Lower Regent Street, and the Carlton in the Haymarket) in Tottenham Court Road in 1936, with a capacity of 2,568 seats. The organ installed was a Compton with ten units of pipes, together with one of the recently developed Melotone units, which produced a variety of voices together with carillon, chimes and other effects produced by electrostatic tone generation. The first resident organist, Reginald Foort (heard on Guild’s 1930s CD with the BBC Variety Orchestra – GLCD5106) was keen to exploit this new feature, and it was used to even greater effect by his successor, Al Bollington (1904-1991). The cinema was taken over by Odeon in 1942, and eventually closed by the Rank Organisation in 1960 and largely demolished. Four years later the site was used as a ‘temporary’ car park, and the lower sections of the auditorium’s walls could be seen, still showing traces of the original peeling and crumbling plasterwork. Sadly the final remains of the Paramount were being obliterated in mid-2004 as this CD was nearing completion.
Russian-born Joseph Muscant is credited with making the Commodore Grand Orchestra into one of the finest ensembles playing light music at that time. It was formed when the Hammersmith cinema opened on 14 September 1929, and soon became popular throughout Britain thanks to its regular BBC radio broadcasts. The resident pianist was Louis Mordish, who is probably featured on our opening track The Juggler. Long after the second World War, Mordish was still broadcasting regularly on the BBC with his own ensemble in programmes such as ‘Music While You Work’.
The Regal Cinema Orchestra, under its conductor Emanuel Starkey gained a fine reputation, and is remembered today partly through its early recordings of Eric Coates’ music. That great light music composer Sidney Torch (1908-1990) was at one time a pianist in Starkey’s orchestra at this famous Marble Arch movie theatre, and for a while he served as assistant to the first resident organist, Quentin Maclean (1896-1962), who is featured in the superb "King of Jazz" selection which closes this CD. This scintillating 78 is reputed to be the very first orchestral arrangement by Sidney Torch, and gives an exciting foretaste of the wonderful sounds he would create for his own orchestra in the years to come. The Regal Cinema opened in November 1928, and the organ was the largest in Europe, with an amazing 36 ranks. It was eventually removed from the cinema in 1964, and today it is apparently rotting away in a barn in Cornwall, and it is highly unlikely that it will ever play again.
Probably the best known British theatre orchestra was that of the world famous London Palladium. In recording terms it was also the most prolific, with almost 150 recordings made between 1927 and the early 1940s, most of them conducted by Richard Crean who was in charge from 1930 to 1937. Bells Across The Meadow, one of Albert Ketèlbey’s descriptive pieces which formed a staple part of the British musical scene in those days, clearly demonstrates what a fine orchestra this was. Crean’s deputy was William Pethers who moved on to conduct The Coventry Hippodrome Orchestra, featured on tracks 3 & 13 and one of the few provincial theatre orchestras to make recordings.
Many of the orchestra leaders and soloists in this collection were ‘household names’ in their day. Arthur Anton (who died in 1980) conducted for many light music broadcasts over the years, and he later made some recordings of library music for London publishers Boosey & Hawkes. In 1959 he conducted the orchestra at the Astoria, Charing Cross Road, London, during the run of Mike Todd’s epic "Around The World In 80 Days". Frank E. Tours (1877-1963) combined his conducting and arranging with occasional compositions for the musical stage, although his most successful work was not a show number but his setting of Rudyard Kipling’s Mother o’ Mine. Geraldo (Gerald Bright, 1904-1974) was a major figure on the British entertainment scene for four decades, having fronted just about every kind of ensemble and influenced the successful careers of numerous top singers.
It is slightly surprising (given the technical problems that must have been involved) that many recordings from this period proudly state that the orchestra was actually recorded in the theatre or cinema where it usually performed. Of course, this was necessary if the organ was to be featured, but in other cases it would have been a simple matter to get the orchestra into a studio, and in fact there are instances where a studio-based orchestra and a cinema organ were recorded together via what used to be known as a land line.
One of the most famous to have been recorded on-site was the afore-mentioned Commodore Grand Orchestra (also known as the Commodore Gold Medal Orchestra) at Hammersmith, conducted by Joseph Muscant. He then moved to Stepney, in East London, where the Troxy Cinema’s orchestra was labelled the ‘Troxy Broadcasting Orchestra’ to reflect its national importance. Another example of the kudos attached to these orchestras is evident on the label of Ye Merry Blacksmiths by the Granada, Walthamstow Orchestra. Sidney Bernstein, creator of the Granada chain of cinemas, was obviously very proud of his orchestra, as the top line above the title proclaims: ‘The Bernstein Theatres Present’. The name ‘Granada’ still lives on: Sidney Bernstein used it when he formed one of Britain’s leading commercial television companies in the 1950s.
The Gaumont State in Kilburn opened on 20 December 1937, and it was the largest cinema ever built in England, with a capacity of over 4,000 seats. As well as screening films, the cinema also mounted lavish stage shows featuring the top stars and bands of the time, and Sidney Torch appeared on the opening night playing the Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ which had been designed by Quentin Maclean. The Gaumont State’s own orchestra soon began making records, under its London-born conductor Alfred Van Dam (1902-1973) who embarked upon a twelve-year association with the Gaumont-British organisation when aged only nineteen. He made his first broadcast in 1931, and immediately prior to his appointment at the flagship State cinema he had been musical director at the Trocadero, Elephant & Castle in south London. During his later career he contributed no less than 140 broadcasts to the BBC’s famous ‘Music While You Work’ programme, his last broadcast taking place in 1958 at a time when so many small light orchestras were disbanding.
Turning to the composers, keen collectors will recognise several distinguished names. Jerome Kern (1885-1945), Cole Porter (1891-1964), Noel Coward (1899-1973), Vivian Ellis (1903-1996), Albert W. Ketèlbey (1875-1959) and Rudolf Friml (1879-1972) are all among the finest from the 20th century, with their achievements well documented. Space only permits brief notes on some of the others, but pride of place must surely go to Ernest Bucalossi (1859-1933). His greatest success (indeed, one of the most memorable pieces of light music from the last century) was The Grasshoppers’ Dance which he composed in 1905, and it has since been performed and recorded by numerous ensembles of every kind throughout the world. Ernest followed in the footsteps of his father, Procida, conducting in various establishments (including leading West End theatres) as well as composing.
Felix Arndt (1889-1918) was an American pianist and composer who is reputed to have once given the young George Gershwin a job. Nola was his best-known piece, dedicated to his sweetheart, Nola Locke, whom he married ten months after he wrote it. Sadly he did not live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his talents, having died while still a young man during an influenza epidemic in New York.
The American John S. Zamecnik (1872-1953) appears to have been a very prolific composer, but his name means very little today. The same comment almost applies equally to Lewis E. Gensler (1896-1978), although during a long career he collaborated with some of the best writers and lyricists in the USA. Speakeasy was the name coined for the illegal drinking clubs that sprang up in response to prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933, and succeeded in spawning a breed of world-famous gangsters.
Percy Eastman Fletcher (1879-1932) is probably best remembered today for his Bal Masque, although he was also active as a writer of band music. ‘John Belton’ hides the true identities of Tony Lowry and Douglas Brownsmith. Their biggest early success as Down The Mall, but each went on to compose independently for some years. Lowry was also one half of ‘Four Hands in Harmony’ with celebrated composer Clive Richardson.
Herbert Carrington was a prolific British composer, who used several different pseudonyms, his preferred ones being Sherman Myers and Montague Ewing. As the latter he is featured in this collection with Fairies in the Moon – apparently one of his popular subjects because he also had considerable success with Fairy on the Clock.
Cecile Chaminade (1857-1944) is reputed to have started composing when only eight, although her first public performance as a pianist took place ten years later. She became very popular in her native France, and in 1908 she repeated her success in the USA. Her Scarf Dance (Pas des Echarpes) was one of her best-known works, which included numerous songs as well as instrumental pieces.
Hopefully this collection of memorable selections from films and shows, plus a good helping of novelty pieces and popular tunes of the day, will serve as a fitting tribute to the high standard of musicianship displayed by all of the once-famous orchestras featured here.
Many of the best films have benefited from a soundtrack featuring light music, and this new Guild Music collection in the ‘Golden Age of Light Music’ series reminds us of some gems from a little over 50 years ago.
Light Music From The Silver Screen
1 Early One Morning (trad., arr. Robert Farnon) featured in "Spring In Park Lane"
Robert Farnon and his Orchestra
2 Song of the Mountains (La Montanara) (Ortelli, Pigarelli) from film "The Glass Mountain"
Sidney Torch and his Orchestra
3 Dancing in the Dark (Arthur Schwartz) soundtrack recording from "The Band Wagon"
MGM Studio Orchestra Conducted by Adolph Deutsch
4 Adoration (Bronislau Kaper) soundtrack recording from "Lili"
MGM Studio Orchestra Conducted by Hans Sommer
5 Call of the Faraway Hills" (Victor Young) from film "Shane"
Ron Goodwin and his Concert Orchestra
6 The Beggar’s Theme (Francis Chagrin) from film "Last Holiday"
Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra
7 Seascape (Clifton Parker) from film "Western Approaches"
London Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Muir Mathieson
8 Theme from the film "The Man Between" (John Addison)
Cyril Stapleton and his Orchestra with Dave Shand, saxophone
9 Dedication (Mischa Spoliansky) from film "Idol Of Paris"
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra Conducted by Sidney Torch with Mischa Spoliansky, piano
10 La Violetera (José Padilla) from film "City Lights"
Philip Green and his Orchestra
11 Theme from the film "This Man Is Mine" (Allan Gray)
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra Conducted by Charles Williams
12 Men of Arnhem – March (Guy Warrack) from film "Theirs Is The Glory"
London Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Muir Mathieson
13 Romance (Philip Green) from film "The Magic Bow"
Louis Levy and his "Music From The Movies" with Reginald Leopold, violin
14 Quebec Concerto (Andre Mathieu) from film "Whispering City"
Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra with Arthur Dulay, piano
15 Valse Grise (Maurice Jaubert) from film "Le Carnet De Bal"
Sidney Torch and his Orchestra
16 Throughout the Years (Charles Williams) from film "Flesh And Blood"
Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra
17 Vision d’Amour (George Melachrino) from film "Woman To Woman"
Melachrino Strings Conducted by George Melachrino
18 Hour of Meditation (Philip Green) from film "Twenty-Four Hours Of A Woman’s Life"
Sidney Torch and his Orchestra
19 Saga of Odette (Anthony Collins) from film "Odette"
Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra
20 Danse d’Extase (George Melachrino) from film "No Orchids For Miss Blandish"
The Melachrino Orchestra conducted by George Melachrino
21 Mansell Concerto (Kenneth Leslie-Smith) from film "The Woman’s Angle"
Charles Williams and his Concert Orchestra – piano Arthur Sandford
22 Gaelic Fantasia (Philip Green) from film "Saints And Sinners"
Philip Green and his Orchestra
In selecting the music for this collection, a deliberate decision was taken at the outset that it should not attempt to be a "Best Of…" CD. There are already many interesting compilations of film themes available, and collectors understandably prefer not to keep duplicating music already on their shelves, merely to obtain one or two new items. Just a few of the tracks included here may be familiar, but it is believed that the majority are appearing on CD for the first time.
Some of the films will already have faded from memory – perhaps with good reason! But if weak plots and wooden acting have consigned such efforts to the rubbish bins of history, the same criticism does not necessarily apply to their musical scores. This collection includes many well-constructed and tuneful compositions by talented writers, who merit having their music preserved for posterity.
Film music takes many different forms, and it sometimes has its origins far away from the silver screen. Our opening track is a case in point: Early One Morning is a well-known traditional English folk song, but in the hands of a master arranger such as Robert Farnon (b. 1917) it can become something very special. Farnon first worked with his Canadian Army Band briefly for Herbert Wilcox in 1945 as World War II was coming to an end in the film "I Live In Grosvenor Square". But he had to wait until 1948 to have his name prominently on-screen in a Wilcox production when he was musical director of "Spring In Park Lane", which proved to be the most successful British film at the box office up to that time. The star was Wilcox’s wife Anna Neagle, and the same successful formula was repeated in several more films, notably "Maytime In Mayfair".
The opening title sequence of "Spring In Park Lane" featured Early One Morning taken at a slow pace by the full orchestra, which then developed into a faster, catchy tune lightly scored mainly for strings and woodwind as the story commenced with Michael Wilding walking through Mayfair. When Robert Farnon adapted his film score for broadcasts (and the recording on this CD), he reversed the running order of the two main movements, and added a strong finale. Otherwise, there is a distinct similarity with the original soundtrack.
Before he became one of the finest film composers through his work in many great Italian movies, Nino Rota (1911-1979) was engaged for several British films, perhaps the best-known being "The Glass Mountain" in 1949, which achieved box office success largely due to the popularity of the music. Many orchestras recorded Rota’s Legend of The Glass Mountain, but another piece from the film – La Montanara (Song of the Mountains) – has been unfairly neglected. It was not composed by Rota, but has its own simple charm, and it deserves to be included in this collection.
Not all of the music featured here was composed specifically for the films where it gained recognition. A prime example is the outstanding Arthur Schwartz (1900-1984) melody Dancing In The Dark. It was first heard by the public as long ago as 1931 in John Barker’s stage revue "The Band Wagon". Artie Shaw made a memorable recording in 1941, but even that was surpassed by the MGM film version of "The Band Wagon" in 1953, when Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse danced their way into the hearts of millions. This remains one of the greatest moments in the history of 20th century cinema, and the original soundtrack is heard on this CD. Much of the credit has to go to Conrad Salinger, a brilliant arranger responsible for that unique sound achieved during a period of 23 years in so many MGM musicals of that era. Sadly during his lifetime (he died tragically in 1961 aged only 59) he didn’t receive the public acclaim he richly deserved, although his invaluable contribution is now being recognised through the efforts of admirers like English conductor John Wilson, who is painstakingly reconstructing many of Salinger’s scores for concert performances.
Still with MGM, we recall the young Leslie Caron’s great success in "Lili" (1953) through a rarely heard piece of pure light music lifted from the soundtrack – Adoration by Bronislau Kaper (1902-1983) who had around 100 scores to his credit between 1930 and 1968.
Victor Young (1900-1956) enjoyed a glittering career as a major Hollywood film composer and songwriter, with his standards such as Sweet Sue, Can’t We Talk It Over and My Foolish Heart receiving the attention of all the top singers and bands. He went to Hollywood in 1935, where he remained for the rest of his life. Among a string of top films, he scored "Shane" starring Alan Ladd in 1953, and the theme became popular worldwide as Call Of The Faraway Hills.
The British cinema has always been able to call upon a large pool of talented composers, not all of whom are widely known to the general public. Francis Chagrin (real name Alexander Paucker 1905-1972) was such a writer, and his gentle score (particularly The Beggar’s Theme) for "Last Holiday" (1950) – could hardly have been bettered. The film starred Alec Guinness, but this unpretentious, yet moving, comedy seems to have been largely forgotten among his other great successes around this time.
"Western Approaches" was a documentary notable for being filmed in colour during the war (1944). Produced by the Crown Film Unit (ie. the British Government), it cost a total of £100,000 out of which the composer Clifton Parker (1905-1989) received £100 for his highly-praised score. Seascape has become recognised as a fine piece of film music; it was conducted by Muir Mathieson on the original soundtrack, and he also fronted the London Symphony on the commercial 78 rpm recording at the Kingsway Hall, London for Decca as part of the label’s sadly short-lived ‘Incidental Music from British Films’ series.
The producers of "The Man Between" (1953) may have modelled this spy saga on "The Third Man", but even with James Mason in the starring role it failed to make much impression. The same cannot be said of John Addison’s (1920-1998) music. This was just one of around 90 scores he eventually supplied for a wide variety of films, and he won an Oscar for "Tom Jones" in 1963. From his later career he is probably remembered best for his catchy theme to the television series "Murder She Wrote".
Mischa Spoliansky (1898-1985) was one of several Russian-born composers who left the German film industry during the 1930s to work in Britain, and later the USA. The British film "Idol Of Paris" (1948) was panned by the critics, but the long-forgotten score is not to be dismissed lightly, and the commercial recording conducted by Sidney Torch has the added bonus of featuring the composer on the piano.
The Spanish composer José Padilla (1889-1959) was responsible for two of the most popular numbers in the Latin-American repertoire – Valencia and El Relicario. Although released in 1931, "City Lights" – generally regarded as one of the finest films made by Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) - was essentially a silent movie with a music soundtrack. Padilla’s La Violetera perfectly suits the sad story of the blind flower girl, although she is certainly wearing a bright new dress in Philip Green’s charming arrangement. Three further tracks feature Philip Green (1910-1982) as a composer – Romance (from "The Magic Bow"), Hour of Meditation ("Twenty-four Hours in a Woman’s Life") and Gaelic Fantasia ("Saints and Sinners").
Allan Gray (1902-1973) established his film scoring credentials in the German cinema before moving to England in 1936. His handful of notable scores included "I Know Where I’m Going", "A Matter of Life and Death" and "The African Queen". The 1946 film "This Man is Mine" is now largely forgotten, but the music still stands up well.
The ill-conceived campaign to capture the bridge at Arnhem towards the end of World War II has prompted several films, but possibly the first - "Theirs Is The Glory" - seems to have escaped most reference books. Filmed in 1945, it used Arnhem veterans to tell the story, and the score was written by Guy Warrack (1900-1986) who also composed the title music for the official film of the 1953 Coronation "A Queen Is Crowned". In an article for the British Music Society, Philip Scowcroft informed us that Guy Warrack, father of the writer and critic, John Warrack, was educated at Oxford University and the RCM (under Vaughan Williams for composition and Adrian Boult for conducting) and was on the College’s teaching staff from 1925 to 1935, during which time he had conducting experience at home and abroad. Between 1936 and 1945 he was Conductor of the BBC Scottish Orchestra, founded in 1936 and later of Sadlers Wells Theatre Ballet. His compositions include a Symphony in C minor (1932), the Variations for orchestra (1924), Fugal Blues, a Lullaby, a ballet on Don Quixote, the Divertimento Pasticciato in three movements entitled Prelude, Fugue and Furiant, some film music (including one for the XIV Olympiad in London in 1948). Warrack wrote a history of the Royal College of Music and a slim but fascinating volume on Sherlock Holmes and Music (1947).
Canadian pianist Andre Mathieu (1929-1968) was a child prodigy known as the ‘Quebec Mozart’, and his music in "Whispering City" comes from a longer Concerto de Quebec, composed before he was 14. Sadly his genius caused him to ‘burn out’ and when he died in poverty in Montreal he was aged only 39. His early career was brilliant, including a well received debut at Town Hall in New York in 1940. But Mathieu's development as an artist seemed to end by about 1947, although he continued to compose. Both the welcoming song and official theme music of the
1976 Montreal Olympics were arranged from excerpts of Mathieu's works.
French composer Maurice Jaubert (1900-1940) composed Valse Grise for "Le Carnet de Bal" in 1937 (it was revived in the 1950s which prompted the Sidney Torch recording). Jaubert was a prolific composer, highly regarded in France during the 1930s. He would probably have had a distinguished career, but he died fighting in World War II.
Charles Williams (1893-1978) and George Melachrino (1909-1965) both made a large number of commercial recordings, and became familiar names to music-lovers worldwide. They also contributed numerous scores to British films which rose above the often trite plots. Anthony Collins (1893-1963) wrote a light music classic – Vanity Fair – but he was also a respected film music composer, with three Academy Award nominations to his credit. Kenneth Leslie-Smith (d. 1993) seems to have specialised in composing for radio musicals and stage revues. One of his best-known songs was Always and he contributed several works to publishers’ background music libraries.
There was a time when films would enjoy national release for maybe a week or two, then they would be replaced by something new. If particularly successful they might return for a special run a few years later, but the opportunities to see old favourites were strictly limited over half a century ago. Thanks to television, videos and – more recently – DVDs, films can now be seen virtually ‘on demand’ whenever we wish. Even run-of-the-mill ‘pot boilers’, once considered of little merit, can acquire a new lease of life and reach a fresh audience. Music plays an important role in the nostalgia that surrounds old films, and the contemporary recordings made when the films first appeared can have a special attraction that far exceeds the limitations imposed by the action on-screen which usually forces the score into a secondary role. Thus recordings can assume a separate identity that transcends the circumstances that dictated the music’s original creation. Film scores can often emerge as a completely separate art form, and it is to be hoped that all of the tracks on this CD will contain an appeal that touches the psyche of everyone who can appreciate the experience on offer.
Mantovani – By Special Request
MANTOVANI AND HIS ORCHESTRA
1 Begin The Beguine (Cole Porter)
2 Carriage And Pair (Benjamin Frankel/Purcell)
3 Destiny Waltz (Sydney Baynes)
4 The Way To The Stars – theme from the film (Nicholas Brodszky)
5 Tropical (Morton Gould)
6 Blithe Spirit – Waltz Theme – from the film (Richard Addinsell)
7 Whirlwind (Ronald Binge)
8 September Nocturne (Mantovani)
9 The Timbalero – Rumba (Stanley/Borguno/Arres)
10 Passing Clouds (Phil Cardew)
11 Blue Mantilla (Pedro Manilla)
12 Flying Saucers (Bees in the Bonnet) (Dennis Fern)
13 El Choclo (Kiss Of Fire) (A Villoldo arr. Barry)
14 Love Here Is My Heart (Adrian Ross/Lao Silesu)
15 When The Lilac Blooms Again (Doelle/Mair)
16 Love’s Roundabout (La Ronde de L’Amour) (Oscar Straus, Ducreux, Purcell)
17 A Media Luz (E Donato)
18 Poème (My Moonlight Madonna) (Zdenek Fibich)
19 Love’s Dream After The Ball (Alfons Czibulka)
20 Amoureuse (So Madly In Love) (Berger)
21 Chiquita Mia (Paul Remy/Felix King)
22 Love’s Last Word Is Spoken (Bixio/Sievier)
23 Blauer Himmel (Josef Rixner)
24 Suddenly (Im Chambre Separeé) (Heuberger/Cochran)
25 The Whistling Boy (Ian Stewart)
26 The Agnes Waltz (Hannah/William/Kennedy)
I must admit that there have been times during the past thirty years when I have tended to pay little attention to recordings by Mantovani and his Orchestra. Things were certainly different in the early 1950s: just in my teens, I was captivated by the wonderful string sounds emanating from his orchestra, possibly partly due to the considerable enthusiasm exhibited by my mother. She bought his records, and was over the moon when she read that he would be conducting a concert locally. I can still recall accompanying her on that magical occasion, and being slightly embarrassed by the adulation she displayed in her front row seat – (Mantovani certainly didn’t mind!).
But as the years rolled by I paid more attention to original compositions in the world of light music, and tended to disregard what I considered to be predictable arrangements of tunes I didn’t particularly like. I now realise that the Mantovani recordings I heard on the radio were only part of the story, and that I was ignorant of his true achievements. In particular, the years immediately prior to Charmaine, when he was making records of light music that now stand out as being very fine indeed. For example, I was very familiar with the George Melachrino 78 of the film music from "The Way To The Stars", yet I now consider the Mantovani recording more enchanting. And what a superb recording of Out of this World he made – not to mention Carriage and Pair and the Waltz from "Blithe Spirit".
His later recordings also deserve far greater praise than I gave them at the time. I grew tired of the ‘cascading strings’, yet they really didn’t overwhelm his records as much as I seemed to imagine. The Vocalion CDs of his Decca LPs have been a revelation, yet they have only scratched the surface of his vast recorded repertoire.
I don’t think that anyone can honestly argue with the statement that Mantovani was one of the greatest conductors of popular orchestral music during the 20th century. Therefore it was inevitable that the Guild series honouring ‘The Golden Age of Light Music’ would eventually turn the spotlight on him.
In compiling this collection, Guild Music has asked many Mantovani collectors exactly which pieces they would like to have digitally restored on a new CD. The intention has been to provide a selection of music that has been largely ignored so far – not due to it being inferior in any way, but simply because no one has yet taken the time and trouble to do the necessary research to discover which musical gems are missing from the current catalogues. Thus this is not intended to be a ‘Best of …’ collection (there are plenty of those around already), but more importantly a CD that will be welcomed especially by Mantovani fans around the world – because it is just what they, themselves, have requested.
At this point it is appropriate to remind ourselves about the great man himself. Annunzio Paolo Mantovani was born in Venice, Italy on 15 November 1905. His father was principal violinist at La Scala, Milan, with the legendary Arturo Toscanini. Although details are difficult to confirm, Mantovani always maintained that he came to England when aged only four, and it is believed that he may have accompanied his father who was playing with a touring Italian opera company which performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1909. The family seems to have settled permanently in England in 1912.
During his formal studies at Trinity College he excelled on the violin, performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 when only 16. But the young Mantovani showed leanings towards the popular music of the day, and he embarked upon a career that was typical for many aspiring musicians in the early years of the last century. His studies had equipped him well as both a violinist and pianist, and it was not long before he became proficient at composing and arranging. Living in the capital city there were plenty of opportunities for work in restaurants, hotels and theatres, and while still in his teens he realised that conducting was another skill that came easily to him. In 1923 he took a quintet into the Midland Hotel in Birmingham; by 1925 he was at London’s Metropole Hotel where one of his later players was another talented youngster who would one day become one of the most famous light music conductors alongside Mantovani – none other than George Melachrino. (It seems that Mantovani engaged Melachrino as his first violinist; with other dance bands during the 1930s he could be heard on various instruments, and he also had a pleasant singing voice.)
This was the era that witnessed the birth of radio, and the emergence of gramophone records as a major source of home entertainment. Naturally Mantovani was in demand for both, and by 1932 his name was starting to be recognised by music lovers: it was in this year that he began his series of popular recordings conducting his Tipica Orchestra. There was a steady demand for dance music, and Mantovani tended to specialise in Latin American styles, resulting in two minor hits in the USA in 1935 and 1936 (Red Sails in the Sunset and Serenade in the Night). Gradually his recorded repertoire expanded to include pieces of concert-style light music, and this laid the foundations for the large orchestra, with the emphasis on strings, that was to bring him universal acclaim from the early 1950s onwards.
In addition to all his other commitments, he conducted the theatre orchestra in West End productions such as "Sigh No More", "Pacific 1860" and "Ace of Clubs" (all Noel Coward shows), and Vivian Ellis’ "And So To Bed". But the world-wide acclaim that greeted Charmaine in 1951 forced him to devote all his energies thereafter to recording and performing concerts with the great orchestra that has ensured his well-deserved place in the history of popular music.
Today it is well-known that Ronald Binge (1910-1979) deserves recognition as the talented arranger responsible for creating the distinctive string sound (sometimes called ‘cascading strings’) which made Mantovani famous throughout the world. At times it has been unkindly suggested that the Maestro unfairly took the credit for this, but this criticism does not seem justified: for example, the label of the 1952 Decca 78 of Poème (My Moonlight Madonna) clearly states ‘orchestration by Ronald Binge’, and this appears on other titles as well.
It is far better to regard both Mantovani and Ronald Binge as partners in a famous musical team that produced numerous recordings over a long period, stretching way back many years before Charmaine took the musical world by storm.
Binge’s success with the ‘Mantovani sound’ sometimes eclipses his own distinguished career. Their partnership began in 1935 when Ronnie joined Mantovani to write arrangements for the Tipica Orchestra, and this collaboration lasted well into the 1950s. He once explained that he achieved the ‘cascading strings’ effect by emulating the technique of sacred music composers from previous centuries, who had to allow for the long reverberation in large cathedrals. Binge divided the strings into several separate sections, each allotted a different note in turn, which they would sustain until required to move on to the next passage.
Although the major part of his work closely involved Mantovani, Ronnie was keen to develop his own career in composing and arranging, and eventually he branched out on his own. Several of his works had been recorded by Mantovani during the 1940s (one example is Whirlwind on this CD), but his first major success as a composer came with Elizabethan Serenade (this was actually performed as early as 1952 by Mantovani on a transcription recording), to be followed by titles such as The Watermill, Miss Melanie and Sailing By – familiar to millions of radio listeners as the closing theme for BBC Radio 4.
Mantovani himself is represented as the composer of three titles in this collection: he wrote the charming September Nocturne which features Arthur Sandford on piano, but for Blue Mantilla he uses the pseudonym ‘Pedro Manilla’, and he appears as ‘Paul Remy’ as the co-composer with Felix King on Chiquita Mia. Other ‘hidden identities’ also include ‘Roy Faye’, ‘Leonello Gandino’, ‘Paul Monty’ and ‘Tulio Trapani’ – to name just some.
Our collection opens appropriately with the melody which Mantovani was using as his theme song at the time – Begin The Beguine. This style (reminding us of his earlier successes with his Tipica Orchestra) resurfaces again in Tropical and The Timbalero. Music from three notable British films – "So Long At The Fair" (from which comes Benjamin Frankel’s catchy Carriage And Pair), "The Way To The Stars" and "Blithe Spirit" – all offer refreshingly different arrangements from others that were recorded at the time.
The influence of Charmaine is evident from the recordings dating from the 1950s, but even in 1946 (for example Chiquita Mia) there are strong hints of the way in which Ronnie Binge’s arrangements were already exploring new ideas with the strings – all achieved by clever scoring.
The Mantovani story contains many highlights, such as the numerous awards from his colleagues in the profession, and the fact that he was the first person to have sold more than one million stereo LPs. His tours, both at home and abroad, brought him into close contact with his loyal fans, and he became a familiar friend to millions more through his television broadcasts.
By 1975 the constant travelling and concert appearances were proving to be too much of a strain, and Mantovani finally made the reluctant decision to retire through ill-health. He and his wife Winifred moved the following year to their last home together at Canford Cliffs, in Dorset. Eventually he had to go into a nursing home in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where he died on 30 March 1980 aged 74. He gave the world so much wonderful music, and he truly was one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.
So far Vocalion’s releases of Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra recordings have concentrated mainly on the 1940s. This new collection takes us forward to the end of the 1950s, when the Musicians’ Union once again allowed this famous orchestra to make recordings for Chappell & Co.
QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA Volume 4 Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
Chappell Recordings from 1959-1961
1 MONTMARTRE MARCH (Haydn Wood)
2 THE FIRST WALTZ (Robert Farnon)
3 GIRL ON THE CALENDAR (Clive Richardson)
4 AFRICAN MOON (Robert Stolz)
5 FASHION SHOW (Angela Morley)
6 DOMINION DAY (Robert Farnon)
7 BY THE WILLOWS (Horace Shepherd)
8 THE WHITE KNIGHT (Charles Williams)
9 MR. PUNCH (Robert Farnon)
10 COMMONWEALTH MARCH (Angela Morley)
11 NEW HORIZONS (Robert Farnon)
12 LIFT GIRL (Bruce Campbell)
13 MORE COMIC CUTS (Sidney Torch)
14 DRUM MAJORETTE (Arnold Steck)
15 FUN IN THE SUN (Angela Morley)
16 EMERALDS AND ERMINE (Peter Yorke)
17 RED SQUARE REVIEW (Denis Rycoth)
18 THE BIG NIGHT (Robert Farnon)
19 HYDRO PROJECT (Charles Williams)
20 HOLIDAY EXCURSION (Peter Yorke)
21 HEADLAND COUNTRY (Robert Farnon)
22 MANNEQUIN MELODY (Clive Richardson)
23 SOFT MOMENT (Robert Mersey)
24 HOLIDAY FLIGHT (Robert Farnon)
25 PAPER CHASE (Cyril Watters)
26 SPORTING OCCASION (Arnold Steck)
27 PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT (Angela Morley)
28 CITY STREETS (Robert Farnon)
Conducted by ROBERT FARNON except
ANGELA MORLEY 5, 15, 23 & 27
CHARLES WILLIAMS 7, 8 & 25
PETER YORKE 20
Politics and music make uncomfortable bedfellows, and with hindsight it seems a great pity that Chappells, and many other London publishers, were forced to stop using British musicians for their library recordings around 1950. This didn’t stop the music being recorded, and the libraries continued to expand rapidly: the losers were British musicians, who saw their colleagues on the Continent of Europe being paid for numerous sessions in many different countries.
Towards the end of the 1950s the ban was removed, only to be reinstated a few years later. During this brief ‘window’, the name of the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra’ was brought out of forced retirement, and a number of superb recordings were made featuring splendid new compositions by the top writers in the Chappell stable.If ever proof was needed that Light Music was continuing to thrive at the end of the 1950s, there is ample evidence on this CD.
Let’s consider some of the composers whose work is included here. Big names such as Haydn Wood (1882-1959) - a contemporary of the man who, in the 1930s, had been dubbed "The uncrowned King of Light Music" - Eric Coates (1886-1957). Both of them enjoyed similar successes - originally with ballads in the early years of the century, before concentrating more on full-scale orchestral works and suites. This native Yorkshireman (from the difficult-to-pronounce town of Slaithwaite) often dedicated such works to London, yet the opening track actually comes from his "Paris" Suite. Montmartre first became popular during the 1930s, since when it has remained a favourite for light music concerts, and still receives the occasional new recording. Chappell obviously thought that it should be available for their clients to license, hence this slightly shortened version (so that it would fit comfortably on to a 10" 78 disc) conducted by Robert Farnon, who arguably took over Coates’ ‘crown’ as the "Uncrowned King of Light Music" in the post World War II years.
Robert Farnon (b. 1917) remains on the podium, this time conducting one of his own works – First Waltz. This was actually the second time that he had composed a work with this title; on the first occasion his publishers wisely decided to rename his piece Westminster Waltz, and it became one of his greatest successes. But the title was too good to forget, hence its reappearance here. First Waltz didn’t achieve the success of Westminster Waltz, but it possesses considerable charm and deserves to be remembered. Other Farnon compositions in this collection include Dominion Day (written as a tribute to his homeland, Canada), Mr. Punch, New Horizons (based on a movement from his first symphony), The Big Night, Headland Country, Holiday Flight and City Streets (developed from a series of short pieces called Pulse of the City).
Clive Richardson (1909-1998) was part of ‘Four Hands in Harmony’ (with Tony Lowry), but that was just a small interlude in a long and successful career. He accompanied several artists on the piano, and was an early contributor of scores to British films (especially some of the Will Hay comedies, although he wasn’t credited on-screen). London Fantasia was a big success in the 1940s, when mini-piano concertos were all the rage (thanks to the ecstatic reception given to Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto in the 1941 film "Dangerous Moonlight"). Other well-known Richardson compositions to succeed were Melody on the Move and Holiday Spirit, that exuberant theme for BBC Children’s Television Newsreel. In similar vein we hear two works which each offer an instant ‘time capsule’ of a period when young ladies were usually portrayed as possessing charm and poise, even when being photographed and appearing on catwalks – Girl on the Calendar and Mannequin Melody.
Robert Stolz (1880-1975) was an acclaimed Austrian composer, extremely popular in his homeland until he went to Hollywood to escape the Nazis, where he enjoyed success writing music for films such as "Spring Parade" and "It Happened Tomorrow". African Moon seems to be a rare example of one of his shorter pieces being recorded for mood music purposes. (Robert Farnon recorded Stolz’s Persian Nocturne for Decca in 1949 to thank him for performing his works on the Continent.)
By the time that the recordings on this CD were made, Angela Morley (b. 1924) had already established a fine reputation for her work as a composer, arranger and conductor. Originally she played alto sax with bands such as Geraldo (under her former name, Wally Stott), and her orchestra was an essential ingredient in the overwhelming success of BBC Radio’s "Goon Show" starring Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. Numbers such as Fashion Show and Commonwealth March give hints of her close association with Robert Farnon when she was perfecting her composing skills, but she quickly developed her own distinctive style which has won her so much praise, particularly in her later career writing for films. Also on this CD we hear Angela’s Fun in the Sun and Practice Makes Perfect. In 1953 Angela had joined the newly established Philips Records label in London, mainly accompanying their contract singers, but she was also allowed to make orchestral records in her own name. Some of these 78s are now reappearing on the Guild ‘Golden Age of Light Music’ series, and it is to be hoped that Angela’s LPs will soon be made available once again.
The world of mood music (or production music, to give it its current name) includes a number of talented composers who appear to have shunned publicity, being content to remain in the background and allowing their music to speak for itself. Horace Shepherd (here represented with By the Willows) also composed under the name ‘Escaro Pastore’ and is credited with writing the score for the 1941 film "Hatter’s Castle" starring Deborah Kerr, Robert Newton and James Mason. Robert Mersey (Soft Moment) used the pseudonym ‘Spencer Ross’, and presumably he is the same person as the staff composer and arranger for CBS Television and Columbia Records, born in New York in 1917, who is credited with writing incidental music for top TV shows such as "Route 66" and "Manhunt". He also worked with top singers such as Andy Williams and Barbra Streisand.
On the other hand, volumes could be written about Charles Williams (1893-1978) (real name Isaac Cozerbreit) who began his career accompanying silent films, then played violin under the batons of Beecham and Elgar. Right from the start of the ‘talkies’, he provided scores for numerous British films, and his Dream Of Olwen is still remembered long after the film in which it appeared – "While I Live". In 1960 he topped the American charts with his theme for the film "The Apartment", although in reality the producers had resurrected one of his earlier works Jealous Lover which itself originated in a British film "The Romantic Age" (1949) starring Mai Zetterling and Petula Clark. By far the greatest volume of his composing skills was employed in mood music, providing hundreds of works for Chappell alone, many of them also conducted by him. Devil’s Galop will forever remind schoolboys of the 1940s of "Dick Barton – Special Agent", while early television viewers became familiar with Girls in Grey, the theme for BBC newsreels; The Young Ballerina accompanied the famous ‘Potter’s Wheel’ TV interlude. The two titles featured here – The White Knight and Hydro Project were composed at a time when Charles Williams was gradually winding down his career, but they both prove that he still knew exactly what was needed by films and television at that time, and they remain perfect models of their genre.
Bruce Campbell was another writer who owed much to his association with Robert Farnon. He was a fellow Canadian, who actually came to Britain some years before Farnon, and played trombone with various British bands during the 1930s including Ambrose, Jack Harris, Jack Hylton, Sid Millward, Hugo Rignold and Lew Stone. Campbell assisted Farnon on his post-war BBC radio shows, and eventually became a frequent contributor to various mood music libraries. Lift Girl is a typical example of his gift for melody, and his ability to provide just what was being required by publishers.
Sidney Torch (1908-1990) composed mainly under his own name, but occasionally he used the anagram ‘Denis Rycoth’ as heard on Red Square Review in this collection. His ability to combine humour and music is well in evidence in More Comic Cuts – a popular sequel to his previous Comic Cuts (featured in Vocalion’s third volume of QHLO recordings, CDEA6094). This time the two movements are sub-titled Cockney Cameo and Busy Budgie. In his early career Sidney Torch became one of England’s foremost cinema organists, but after service in the Royal Air Force during World War II he concentrated on composing, arranging and conducting light music. He made numerous commercial recordings with his orchestra for EMI’s Parlophone label, and conducted a large amount of mood music for Chappell and Francis, Day & Hunter. He conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra for many years, and was closely associated with "Friday Night is Music Night", which he helped to devise in 1953.
Arnold Steck is a pseudonym used by Major Leslie Statham, conductor of the Band of the Welsh Guards, who retired from the regiment in 1962 to concentrate fully on composing. Not surprisingly he was a master of concert marches, and his two compositions on this CD both became familiar through their regular use on BBC Television – Drum Majorette as the original theme for "Match of the Day", and Sporting Occasion which can still be heard as the closing theme for broadcasts of Wimbledon tennis.
Peter Yorke (1902-1966) worked with many leading British bands during his formative years, some of the most notable being Percival Mackey, Jack Hylton and Henry Hall. In 1936 he began a fruitful collaboration as chief arranger with Louis Levy, one of the pioneers of music for British films, who employed several talented writers such as Clive Richardson, Charles Williams and Jack Beaver, but seldom gave them any credit on-screen. Later on Peter Yorke conducted one of Britain’s most popular broadcasting orchestras from the 1940s until the 1960s. He was also a gifted composer and he created many stunning arrangements that brought out some fine performances from the top musicians he always employed. As well as Chappell, several different London publishers were happy to accept his work for their background music libraries (Francis Day & Hunter, Bosworth, Harmonic, Conroy, Paxton, Southern and Josef Weinberger are some other examples), and Emeralds and Ermine reveals his ability to compose big numbers with a full, rich orchestral sound. In contrast Holiday Excursion finds him in lighter mood, and this is one of the few pieces he actually conducted himself for Chappell. Possibly Yorke’s best-known work was Silks and Satins which, for ten years from 1957, was heard on British television several nights each week as the closing theme for the popular soap-opera ‘Emergency Ward 10’.
Although not as well-known as Peter Yorke, Cyril Watters (1907-1984) was another composer, highly respected by music publishers, whose work was readily accepted for its unfailing high standards. At times he was employed as a staff arranger by Boosey & Hawkes and Chappell, and he willingly devoted some of his energies in running the Light Music Society for the benefit of his fellow musicians. He achieved a minor hit with his Willow Waltz when it was used as a television theme, but possibly the number on this CD – Paper Chase – is more typical of his bright and breezy melodies.
The QHLO was made up of the leading session players in the capital, and the same musicians also performed on various titles which were credited to ‘The Telecast Orchestra’ when issued on 78s. (The production music publishers continued to use 78s for several years after they had disappeared from the catalogues of commercial record companies. Like LPs they were pressed in vinyl, giving silent surfaces, and preferred by the professionals in the entertainment industry at the time for their easy access to the music. Of course, by then everything was first recorded on tape, and then transferred to disc).
Therefore a few of the tracks on this CD were actually shown on labels in the name ‘Telecast’ rather than ‘QHLO’, but there is no discernible difference between the performers and the repertoire. People involved at the time have supported the view that Chappell tended to use the tag ‘Telecast’ when a smaller number of musicians were engaged for works not requiring a full concert-size orchestra; there is also the observation that they simply wanted to introduce some variety in the names of the various ensembles on their releases – a trend which accelerated in later years. Chappell & Co. had their own studio in New Bond Street, but they also used other venues such as the original CTS studios in Westbourne Grove, and the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square.
Not long after these recordings were made, the dispute with the Musicians’ Union resurfaced, and once again London publishers were forced to employ orchestras on the mainland of Europe. Eventually after another decade or so differences were settled, but by then the nature of production music had undergone a significant change, and the style of music performed by the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra was no longer in great demand from films and television. So the famous name was allowed to die gracefully, thus ending an era when QHLO had long been associated with some of the finest pieces of contemporary light music being composed by leading composers of the 20th century.
"HEY THERE" a New Vocalion CD featuring
1 HEY THERE (Richard Adler, Jerry Ross)
2 LA CASITA MIA (Robert Farnon)
3 LITTLE MISS MOLLY (Robert Farnon)
4 IN A CALM (Robert Farnon)
5 MAGIC ISLAND (Robert Farnon)
6 FANTAISIE IMPROMPTU IN C SHARP MINOR (Chopin)
7 CAN I FORGET YOU (Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II)
8 THE GIRL WITH THE FLAXEN HAIR (Claude Debussy)
9 PICCOLO FLIGHT (Robert Farnon)
10 THE NEARNESS OF YOU (Hoagy Carmichael, Ned Washington)
11 THE SPHINX - flute solo (Trad. arr Debussy, Jobert)
12 I DREAM OF JEANNIE - featuring Rolph Wilson, violin (Stephen Foster)
13 WHEN I FALL IN LOVE (Victor Young, Edward Heyman)
14 FLUTE FANTASY (Robert Farnon)
15 TÊTE-À-TÊTE (Robert Farnon)
Vocalion Digital CDSA6811
In this magazine a year ago we reported that the eagerly awaited recording sessions for this CD were scheduled to take place in London in January 2004, and we are delighted to report that the final result is now in record stores. Even more satisfying is the fact that the CD is being released by Michael Dutton, who has been responsible for restoring so many fine Farnon albums of earlier years for CD release on his prestigious Vocalion label. Readers will not need reminding that Robert Farnon is generally regarded as the greatest living composer of Light Orchestral music in the world. He is also revered as an arranger of quality popular songs, having influenced most of the top writers on both sides of the Atlantic during the second half of the 20th century. His illustrious career has filled many pages in this magazine for almost five decades, and we are so fortunate that he continues to arrange and compose at an amazingly prolific rate. Long may he continue! Robert Farnon’s music has been at the forefront of the current revival of interest in Light Music. He is particularly pleased when new projects involve him working with talented young musicians, such as the flautist Jane Pickles, for whom he has specially arranged the music in this collection. Born on 5 December 1952, Jane Pickles completed her studies at the Guildhall School of Music with Peter Lloyd and Trevor Wye, and began her career with a summer season in Scarborough with the celebrated English violinist Max Jaffa. She then went on to work with the Welsh National Opera, Scottish Ballet and the BBC Northern Ireland orchestras, before joining the BBC Radio Orchestra in London as principal flute. This brought her into contact with all the major arrangers in the capital, including top names from abroad such as Nelson Riddle. When the BBC axed the Radio Orchestra, Jane moved over to the BBC Concert Orchestra, and was frequently heard live on radio as a featured soloist in "Friday Night Is Music Night". Since leaving the Concert Orchestra Jane has appeared as guest principal with all the major London orchestras, is currently principal with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, and has recently appeared on compact discs conducted by Johnny Douglas and Jack Parnell. She has long held Robert Farnon’s arranging and composing talents in the highest esteem, and hugely enjoyed making this CD. Over the years Farnon conducted many "Friday Night Is Music Night" broadcasts, and he recently said that he particularly noticed the marvellous flautist in the BBC Concert Orchestra. "I have no hesitation in saying that she is the finest orchestral flute player in Europe – she is absolutely marvellous". Whenever possible Jane has been booked for Farnon recording sessions, and her playing has made such an impression upon the maestro that he decided that she deserved to have a complete collection devoted to her talents. When it came to choosing a conductor for this recording, Robert Farnon had no hesitation in asking his old friend Jack Parnell. Their long friendship, and musical association, goes back over 50 years, during which time Jack’s distinctive drumming style has driven many Farnon sessions. Jack is certainly one of the best-known, and widely admired of British jazzmen. Born on 6th August 1923, his fans remember him as the superb drummer with the Ted Heath Band in its glory days after the war. Then his career took a different direction, and for many years he conducted numerous television programmes for Associated TeleVision – notably the famous "Sunday Night at the London Palladium", and in later years "The Muppet Show". But jazz has always been Jack’s first love, especially when sitting behind a drum kit. Yet his acknowledged accomplishments as a conductor have inevitably generated many offers of work, and commissions such as fronting Laurie Johnson’s London Big Band have been impossible to resist. The same applies to Jack’s association with Robert Farnon and the Royal Philharmonic. Their first major project together was an album called "Lovers Love London" released in 2002, where the magical flute of Jane Pickles first took centre stage. Farnon decided that she deserved to have an entire album firmly in the spotlight, and "Hey There" is the result. Writing about these latest sessions recently, Jack Parnell stated: "Once again I have been given the privilege of conducting and listening to some more of Bob’s beautiful music. The orchestra, again superb, led by the incomparable Rolph Wilson, who also contributes an emotional rendition of Stephen Foster’s I Dream of Jeannie that I understand Foster wrote just after the love of his life had left him! But the album really belongs to Jane Pickles, whose playing on all the flutes is quite beautiful throughout, and includes a very rhythmic Piccolo Flight. All very enjoyable, and my thanks to the great musicians involved in the making of this CD". In choosing the music to be performed in this collection, Robert Farnon has rescored a few of his memorable arrangements from earlier years adding some brand new settings, alongside a handful of his own compositions. Notable among the former are that classic song from "The Pajama Game" – Hey There; Chopin’s famous Fantaisie Impromptu in a Farnon tour-de-force for flute which the composer probably never imagined!; that mellifluous Hoagy Carmichael standard The Nearness Of You; and Victor Young’s When I Fall In Love – surely one of the great love songs by a master tunesmith. Robert Farnon’s own compositions range from the wistful La Casita Mia, In A Calm and Magic Island, to the perky Little Miss Molly. Another virtuoso piece Piccolo Flight, was developed by Farnon from a brief passage in his first symphony. Whether arranging the melodies of some of the greatest popular music writers, or composing his own individual cameos, Farnon’s inspired scores are brimful of the magical harmonies that have become his trademark. Musicians love playing his charts, and this respect and admiration always translates into superlative performances, such as are heard on every single track in this memorable collection.
Two more CDs are now available from Guild Music in their exciting new series:
The Golden Age of Light Music
1 Curtain Up – from "Ballerina Suite" (Arthur Wood) BBC VARIETY ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES SHADWELL with REGINALD FOORT, Organ 2 Wedding Of The Rose (Leon Jessel) JACK HYLTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA 3 ‘Westwards’ from "Four Ways Suite" (Eric Coates) NEW LIGHT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Conducted by JOSEPH LEWIS 4 Tea Dolls’ Parade (L. Noiret) WEST END CELEBRITY ORCHESTRA 5 Plymouth Hoe (John Ansell) LIGHT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Conducted by JOHN ANSELL 6 Glow Worm Idyll (Paul Lincke) NEW LIGHT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 7 March Of The Bowmen – from "Robin Hood Suite" (Frederic Curzon) LONDON PALLADIUM ORCHESTRA Conducted by CLIFFORD GREENWOOD 8 The Immortals – Concert Overture (Reginald King) LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Conducted by WALTER GOEHR 9 Butterflies In The Rain (Sherman Myers) FRED HARTLEY’S QUINTET 10 May Day Overture (Haydn Wood) LIGHT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Conducted by HAYDN WOOD 11 Moths Around Tbe Candle Flame (Dolphe, Gordon, Randal) ALFREDO CAMPOLI AND HIS SALON ORCHESTRA 12 Overture from "Tänzerische Suite" (Dance Suite) (Eduard Künneke) BERLIN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA Conducted by EDUARD KÜNNEKE 13 The Nightingale’s Morning Greeting (Recktenwald) MAREK WEBER AND HIS ORCHESTRA 14 Slaughter On Tenth Avenue – from ‘On Your Toes’ (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA 15 Dance Of The Icicles – from "The Wooing of the Snowflakes" (Kennedy Russell) LESLIE JEFFRIES AND HIS ORCHESTRA 16 Samum (Carl Robrecht, arr. Phil Cardew) BBC DANCE ORCHESTRA Conducted by HENRY HALL 17 Music From The Movies – 1937 selection March of the Movies, We Saw the Sea, Would You? Top Hat, My Heart and I, Broadway Rhythm, Where Are You? September in the Rain, Thanks a Million, Lovely Lady, I Saw a Ship a-sailing, March of the Movies LOUIS LEVY AND HIS GAUMONT-BRITISH SYMPHONY GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5106
Historic Recordings from Chappell Recorded Music Library (1942-1945)
1 London Calling (Eric Coates) C105
2 Morning at Bibury (Charles Shadwell) C107
3 Frontier March (John Holliday) C112
4 The Future (Charles Williams) C120
5 Dancing On The Green (Percy Fletcher) C125
6 Mirage (Eric Coates) C148
7 Moon In The Sky (Billy Reid) C154
8 Minuet in F (Sinclair Logan) C155
9 Empire Jubilee March (Denis Wright) C156
10 At The Court Of Cleopatra (Percy Fletcher) C159
11 Beachy Head Overture (Frank Tapp) C161
12 Lulworth Cove (Charles Shadwell) C163
13 Virginia – A Southern Rhapsody (Haydn Wood) C168
14 Overture to an Irish Comedy (John Ansell) C169
15 Hillside Melody (Montague Phillips) C170
16 Naval Splendour (Clive Richardson) C178
17 Manx Rhapsody (Haydn Wood) C180
18 Forest Melody (Montague Phillips) C182
19 Seaford Head (Charles Williams) C189
20 May Day at Helston (John Holliday) C192
21 Marianne (Charles Williams) C194
22 Rhythm on Rails (Charles Williams) C195
23 Witches’ Ride (Charles Williams) C203
24 Tom Tom The Piper’s Son (Charles Williams) C212
25 Always (Kenneth Leslie-Smith) C215
26 Summer Garden (Charles Williams) C217
27 Mulberry (Kenneth Leslie-Smith) C235
28 The Glass Slipper – Overture (Clifton Parker) C239
C105 to C192 were recorded at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London. From C194 onwards, recordings were made at Levy’s Sound Studios, 73 New Bond Street, London.
GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5107
These two latest Guild Light Music CDs include a good number of tracks that have never been available on CD before … in fact some are making their very first commercial release. The sound quality achieved by Alan Bunting on the 1930s collection is truly amazing, confirming yet again that the recording engineers at that time were getting far more of the music into those coarse grooves, than the contemporary playing equipment was capable of releasing. The 1930s CD contains several rare 78s that have been provided by RFS members, and even more ‘forgotten treasures’ will be turning up on later releases in this series. David Ades
At last! A new David Rose CD containing many of his brightest and most memorable 78s.
David Rose and his Orchestra
"Holiday For Strings"
1 HOLIDAY FOR STRINGS*
3 DANCE OF THE SPANISH ONION*
4 OUR WALTZ*
5 THE GAUCHO SERENADE
6 ONE LOVE*
7 MANHATTAN SQUARE DANCE*
8 HOW HIGH THE MOON
9 GAY SPIRITS*
11 SERENADE (from Student Prince)
12 WHY DO YOU PASS ME BY
13 PORTRAIT OF A FLIRT
14 SUNRISE SERENADE
15 AMERICAN HOE-DOWN*
16 SEPTEMBER SONG
17 FIDDLIN’ FOR FUN
18 ROSE OF BEL-AIR*
19 SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME
21 FIESTA IN SEVILLE*
22 AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
23 SERENADE TO A LEMONADE*
24 PARADE OF THE CLOWNS*
25 HARLEM NOCTURNE
*David Rose compositions
Sanctuary Living Era CDAJA5499
This September sees the release of an eagerly-awaited CD of vintage David Rose recordings. Compiled by Living Era A&R Manager, Ray Crick and Peter Dempsey, the tempting selection includes many 78s that collectors have been hoping to acquire on CD for a long time. Apart from David Rose’s own superb compositions, there are many other highlights, including Robert Farnon’s Portrait Of A Flirt which Rose arranged himself. His version is fairly true to Bob’s original, but it is surprising that Rose didn’t provide a more dramatic finale – it almost seems as if he ran out of ideas! The 78 transfers are mainly by Peter Dempsey, although a few have been provided by Alan Bunting and David Ades. The sound restoration was carried out by Martin Haskell.
Readers may like reminding that the following David Rose 78s are available on recent Guild CDs:
GLCD5101 Dance of the Spanish Onion (David Rose)
GLCD5102 Manhattan Square Dance (David Rose)
GLCD5103 Liza (George & Ira Gershwin); Waltz of the Bubbles (David Rose)
GLCD5105 The Bad and the Beautiful (David Raksin); Satan and the Polar Bear (David Rose)
We are all familiar with the great value Vocalion CDs offering two original LPs on one CD. Mike Dutton has been pursuing this policy since the very first CD in the CDLK series back in March 2000. But sometimes this can cause problems if the artist featured has not made more than one LP for the company from which the recordings are being licensed. Occasionally the CD can be ‘topped up’ with a few singles or an EP, but this isn’t always possible. Another solution is to pair two different singers or orchestras, but this hasn’t always met with general approval from record buyers.
Therefore Mike Dutton has launched a new series which will feature just one LP or, exceptionally, two smaller 10" LPs. The prefix for these is CDLF, and observant readers will note that ‘LF’ was familiar with Decca 10" LPs, whereas the 12" discs had ‘LK’. The price of this new series of CDs will be the same as for the CDEA and CDUS releases – typically £5.99 in most record stores. They appear to be excellent value for money, and it should now be possible for a number of artists to be considered for CD reissue who have previously been ruled out.
Here are the first releases:
CDLF8100 HARRY JAMES The Golden Trumpet of Harry James
CDLF8101 LES PAUL Les Paul Now!
CDLF8102 TED HEATH BAND In Concert
CDLF8103 VIC LEWIS Mulligan’s Music & Progressive Jazz Vol. 1
CDLF8104 KISMET Mantovani, Robert Merrill, Adele Leigh, Kenneth McKellar
CDLF8105 DAVID HUGHES 16-18th Century Songs of Love
CDLF8106 JOSEF LOCKE The World of Josef Locke Today
CDLF8107 BING CROSBY Feels Good, Feels Right
CDLF8108 ANTON KARAS Vienna City of Dreams
CDLF8109 JOHNNY KEATING Swing Revisited
CDLF8110 DAVID SNELL The Subtle Sound of David Snell
CDLF8111 JEANNIE CARSON The Girl with S.Q.
Other August releases from Vocalion include:
CDVS1942 FATS WALLER Ain’t Misbehavin’
CDEA6096 AMBROSE Volume 6 : As Time Goes By – The War Years
CDLK4241 RONNIE ALDRICH Two Pianos in Hollywood/Invitation to Love
CDLK4242 EDMUNDO ROS Latin Melodies/Standards A La Ros
No doubt some of these new CDs will be reviewed in our next issue. In the meantime, all of them are available now from the RFS Record Service.
ditor: we have already reviewed Alan Bunting’s excellent 2-CD compilation of PERCY FAITH recordings in this magazine. However, the respected author DONALD CLARKE has raised so many interesting points about this compilation, that I make no excuse for giving Alan (and Sanctuary Group) further publicity in JIM!
DELICADO …………. by Percy Faith
Living Era CD AJS 278 (www.sanctuaryclassics.com)
A double CD compiling all of Percy’s pre-Columbia recordings, and then some, remastered by Alan Bunting
Having moved from Texas to Iowa recently, and registering my motor vehicle in the land of corn and pork, I decided to buy myself a personalised licence plate. Every other car in Iowa is a NIKKI or a TINY3 or a TOYCAR2, so I thought I would give myself a number that I cannot forget, instead of an alphanumeric jumble generated by a computer. I chose 39708. Everybody will know it’s a personalised plate, but nobody will know what it means except me, which is cool.
So what is 39708? I am just about ready for my bus pass and my old age pension; I have forgotten scores of PIN numbers, telephone numbers and postal codes, but I cannot forget the American Columbia catalogue number of the international hit "Delicado", by Percy Faith. It blew me away in 1952, the first grown-up record I bought with my own money; I wore out several copies of the 78, and was launched upon a lifetime of musical discovery.
"Delicado" was written by a Brazilian bandleader, and turned by Faith into a slam-bang piece of pop; Waldir Azevedo’s "Cavaquinho" (which on the Brazilian record sounds like a sort of amplified mandolin) replaced with Mitch Miller’s favourite toy of those years, the amplified harpsichord. (Did anyone notice that in her autobiography a few years ago Rosemary Clooney said that it was Stan Freberg who played the harpsichord, and that he also aspired to a comedy career? It was of course Stan Freeman; somebody corrected the howler in the late Rosie’s paperback.)
But Faith was not overwhelmed by the Miller influence; there was a lot more to him than that. What I was listening to on a Faith record was effectively the sound of a symphony orchestra: voicings, harmonies, counter-melodies. I also enjoyed Paul Weston, Hugo Winterhalter, Les Baxter, Richard Hayman and all the rest, but to me, Faith was the master. If today I am a weirdo running around central Iowa playing symphonies by John Harbison and Roger Sessions in my pickup truck, it’s Percy Faith’s fault.
There were ten-inch LPs by Faith on Columbia, but there was also a twelve-incher on RCA, called Soft Lights And Sweet Music. I seem dimly to remember a mysterious ten-incher on American Decca, and in a Chicago department store I once saw an ten-inch LP pressed out of coloured vinyl, red or gold, I can’t remember (which then looked to me like the height of technological wizardry), on some label I’d never heard of. Then the dime-store labels proliferated: there were compilations of vintage Faith tracks in a great many editions. Where had they all come from?
The indefatigable Alan Bunting has sorted out the discographical info, now with more detail than ever. Only a few years ago it seemed like we would never see any of this stuff on CD, but now, thanks to Alan, we have a 2-CD set of all of Percy Faith’s pre-Columbia recordings, together with a sprinkling of the early Columbias, and all in better sound than ever before.
Percy Faith came to the USA from Canada in 1940 and was already becoming famous on American radio when he recorded 15 tracks for Decca in 1944-45. It is hard to describe their charm. It is a slightly younger Faith than we are used to, reaching his peak with an unlimited amount of energetic innocence. This was, after all, sophisticated stuff in those days: a roomful of the best musicians in town playing Faith arrangements for the microphone without any gimmicks was about as good as pop got.
Songs by Frank Loesser, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern etc were either brand new or had just been used in a film, or in any case were still in everybody’s mental jukebox, not pushed out by jingles. Ballads are interspersed here with Faith’s Latin-American specialties, and all of his arranging tricks were already well-developed: the throw-away arpeggio in the flutes, and the many ways to arrange a tune so it does not wear out its welcome on a three-minute record.
"Negra Consentida" (My Pet Brunette) is a good example of how Faith finds endless inspiration in a simple composition. Part of the intro to "Embraceable You" intrigues the listener with the first three notes of the melody, repeated in different registers. "Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year" breaks out in the middle with what I take to be muted strings playing the luscious tune full-heartedly and unadorned. "Bim, Bam, Boom!" has a wacky rhythm section; "Tico Tico" has a motif that later became the basis of Faith’s "Brazilian Sleighbells"; "Capullito de Aleli" at one point has a muted trumpet warbling the cute tune, while a trombone chorus plays a slyly humorous obbligato, another typical Faith touch.
"Baia" never fails to remind me of a lick from William Walton’s First Symphony, a decade earlier (a coincidence, or was Ary Barroso a Walton fan?). "If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You" has an unusual structure, and draws me in at the beginning with a viola solo, I think, and incidentally, sounds significantly better here than in any of its previous incarnations, thanks to Alan’s judicious intervention with a touch of reverb. The only thing more remarkable than the quality of the Decca studio sound of nearly 60 years ago is the way Alan has spruced it up.
Faith recorded only four tracks in 1946, accompaniments for Hildegarde; two of them are included here to fill up the CD. Hildegarde Loretta Sell, born in 1906 and raised in Milwaukee, worked in London in the mid-1930s and was big on USA radio in the following decade. She made quite a few records for Decca, but none made the Billboard retail chart. She also recorded with Guy Lombardo in 1946. She sings well enough, without the style of a Rosie or a Doris Day or a Jo Stafford, and she brings a taste of the 1940s with her: she sounds like a scene from a black-and-white movie. (Her dress is cut modestly, but it’s made of black lace; she looks like the girl next door, but she’s a saloon singer; on screen there’s a trio playing, but on the soundtrack it’s Percy Faith and his Orchestra. In the next scene she sets up the hero to be framed for murder. You get the picture.)
Whether dropped by Decca or whether Jack Kapp drove too hard a bargain, Faith next made eight tracks for Majestic in 1947. The label didn’t last long, but Eli Oberstein was involved from the beginning, which is the solution to the rest of the mystery.
Oberstein was a colourful wheeler-dealer. In the 1920s, Ralph Peer offered to record free for Victor in exchange for copyrights on the songs; he then discovered Jimmy Rodgers and the Carter Family, formed Southern Music in 1928 and sold it to what had then become RCA Victor on condition that the company would throw pop copyrights his way. We first hear of Oberstein when Peer recruited him from OKeh to RCA to keep an eye on Peer’s interests, but they became enemies, and Peer was not getting many copyrights. That impasse ended in 1932 when David Sarnoff, busy in other areas, was worried about anti-trust trouble, and sold Southern Music back to Peer.
Oberstein was suddenly fired with no explanation in 1938, so he tried to pull a Jack Kapp. Kapp had left Brunswick in 1934, hired to run Decca Records as a new subsidiary of British Decca; he brought Bing Crosby, the Mills Brothers and Guy Lombardo with him from Brunswick, sold records (during the Depression, mind) to jukebox operators for much less than the other companies and had soon created a major label out of nothing. But Kapp at Brunswick had those artists under personal contract, so he could take them wherever he went. When Oberstein left RCA he had produced a great many records by big-name recording artists and expected the likes of Tommy Dorsey to follow him, but none did, and his United States company floundered.
During WWII Oberstein had labels called Hit and Classic, selling recordings made in Mexico and new releases made as soon as he could sign with the musicians’ union, on strike against the other labels. He was hired back by RCA in 1945 and bounced again in 1947, a scapegoat when the record business was in complete disarray.
When Majestic was formed the label looked like a sure thing, because they had a ready-made distribution system of radio dealers (I think we had a Majestic radio when I was a kid). They bought Oberstein’s moribund labels and his masters to get started with, and Oberstein had a job again. The conservative company didn’t like his flamboyance and bounced him, but the label and its parent company soon collapsed. Many post-war labels died quick deaths because of raging inflation in the USA and the Battle of the Speeds, which began in 1947-8: small labels couldn’t afford to manufacture in two or three speeds, and there was an extra expense for cover artwork for albums. Mercury bought the remains of Majestic, probably to get singer/ bandleader Eddy Howard, who was making hits ("To Each His Own"), and Oberstein was later able to buy what was left of Majestic from Mercury, including the eight tracks by Percy Faith. He spent the rest of his career recycling whatever tracks he controlled, which is why, when I was a kid, Percy Faith tracks appeared on Royale, Varsity, Rondo-lette and perhaps others.
There is a falling off of the sound quality on the eight Majestic tracks compared to the Deccas, again a problem for small labels in that time of fast-changing technology. But Alan was working with the best source material he could get, six Majestic 78s, and the other two tracks, never issued on 78, from a Royale ten-inch LP. They are quite listenable and musically on a par with the Deccas. "The Touch Of Your Hand" is a song that always grabs me, with its exquisite yearning quality. "Tia Juana" is a memorable tune that was co-written by Raymond Scott; one would like to know the genesis of that. "Noche Caribe" (Caribbean Night) is a Faith tune that would soon be remade for Columbia.
The second CD takes us up to 1953. It begins with "Swedish Rhapsody", a reworking of Hugo Alfven, which was on the other side of one of Faith’s biggest hits, "The Song From Moulin Rouge" (Where Is Your Heart?). It ends with "Delicado" and "Moulin Rouge" itself, but Alan has conflated the hit version of the latter, including the famous vocal by Felicia Sanders, with the longer instrumental version, made for an album. The join is impossible to find and the result is a brilliant surprise every time you hear it, even if you know what to expect. And the sound of all three of these tracks is the final testament to Alan’s skill: "Delicado" has of course been issued by Columbia on CD at least twice, but Alan’s transfer sounds better: the harpsichord sparkles, and you can almost feel the rhythm guitar beneath your fingers.
The second CD also includes all 12 tracks recorded by Faith for RCA Victor in 1949. Ten of these were issued on 78s; a different selection of ten were issued on the RCA LP, and I cannot understand to this day why all 12 weren’t on the LP, but the other two were on an EP. This is the first time all have been issued in one collection. "I Got Rhythm", with its pizzicato strings, and "La Mer" (Beyond The Sea) with its feathery, rocking strings, are two of my all-time favourite Faith tracks. "Oodles Of Noodles" was written by Jimmy Dorsey as a vehicle for his expertise on the alto sax, but the centre section is one of those languid, unforgettably blasé Manhattan-at-night themes. Readers of a certain age from the Chicago area will recognize this track because it was used as the theme for a late-night old-movie showcase on local TV, sponsored by a car dealer ("Jim Moran, the Courtesy Man").
There is "Deep Purple" and "Soft Lights And Sweet Music"; and a word about "Body And Soul": this track is a superb example of Faith’s ability to find the best things in a great song. Not so long ago, during the best years of my life, in the back room of a pub in rural Norfolk, I heard the great English jazzman Brian Lemon play "Body And Soul" solo on an old upright piano. He got everything out of the tune that was in it, and I heard Coleman Hawkins, and yes, I heard Percy Faith. As the famous novelist said, everything that rises upwards must converge.
The rest of the second CD includes a sprinkling of Columbia tracks. There were four ten-inch LPs on Columbia in the early 1950s; my favourites were Carnival Rhythms and American Waltzes, but the others were fun too: Carefree Rhythms and Your Dance Date (soon reissued as Fascinating Rhythms). There is another CD called Delicado from Sony or Columbia which any Faith fan should have, because it includes all eight tracks from Carnival Rhythms, in my opinion Percy Faith’s single greatest achievement. The other three ten-inchers have recently been issued complete on a CD from Collectables (Sony Music Custom Marketing Group). Alan couldn’t have known that was going to happen, and he has included in the present set six tracks from the last two named ten-inch LPs. Oh, well. A transfer engineer and compiler of this quality should be allowed to indulge himself.
The remaining five or six tracks were Columbia singles, most of which I had never heard before. The premise of "Da-Du" is that the lover is tongue-tied upon seeing his beloved; the trouble is that one cannot imagine the buttoned down, tightly disciplined chorus of those Columbia years (under the control of Mitch Miller?) being tongue-tied at all; and the tongue-tied gag was worked many years earlier and funnier in a throwaway bit of monologue by Fats Waller.
It is interesting to know that Percy Faith made kiddie records (again, the influence of Miller, who was the boss at Golden Records for years?) It is even more interesting that "Mosquitoes’ Parade" has a Columbia master number and an RCA Victor catalogue number; was Columbia custom-recording kiddie records for RCA? In any case, do not put that catalogue number on my licence plate; I do not ever need to hear "Mosquitoes’ Parade" again.
There are few compilations of 50 tracks of which you can say that there are only two you do not much care for. Little did I know when Alan wrote to me out of the blue more than a decade ago, because I had included an entry for Percy Faith in the Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, that he would end up laying these riches on us all. Thanks, mate.