Reviews

GLCD 5183 – The Golden Age of Light Music: A Return Trip to the Library

Various

To the CD in our Shop


The Delian Society – July 2012

Guild’s long running series of Light Music recordings always has many interesting selections. These transfers are all mono but date from the 40’s to 1960, a period much later than many others in the series.
Not all the composers on this release were British, but many are. Some of the conductors and even some of the orchestras appear under pseudonyms. But without going into great detail since collectors of the series will want this delightful CD anyway, I can mention that the names of King Palmer, Collin Smith, Trevor Duncan, Peter Yorke are among the composers represented. Perhaps the most unusual selection is Le Cabaret by John Foulds with the London Promenade Orchestra conducted by Walter Collins in 1946. Foulds isn’t thought of as a composer of Light Music, but here he is. Recommended to the initiated.

MusicWeb International November 2011

The library concerned is not the reference one, or your local one, currently facing an uncertain future, but publishers’ music libraries of recorded music likely to be useful for documentary or entertainment films. The proliferation of such material in the 1940s and 1950s has been profitably exploited by Guild, and it now returns for more offerings from specialist labels set up for this purpose, labels such as KPM Music, Francis, Hunter & Day, Chappell (of course), Harmonic/Charles Brull, and the rare birds of Conroy and Impress. Alongside them, you’ll find Paxton, always a happy hunting ground for the Classical cum Light Music maven.
Guild has sub divided this disc into chapters; ‘Marches’, ‘Romantic’, ‘Animals’, ‘National Character’ — you get the picture. Some chapter headings are represented only by a single track, as is the case with ‘Humorous’, whilst others have spawned a whole sub genre of adherents, as is the case with ‘Light Atmosphere’.
There are the expected big name composers and band leaders and also some much less well known personalities and bands — the conductor-less (or if there was one he’s not mentioned) Group-Forty Orchestra, for example, which has appeared on Guild before but I suspect it will still be a mystery to most.
There’s plenty to invigorate, as ever in this splendidly annotated series. King Palmer courts the Elgarian in his With Pomp and Pride — the first part of the title being a none-too-hidden allusion to the fact that he’s mining Elgar’s Fourth P & C March. The Harmonic Strings get quite sassy on Lovely Day, directed by the composer himself, Tom Wyler, whose real name was Toni Leutwiler, the Swiss born, ex fiddle player who died a couple of years ago. Farnon directs a lusty version of Looking Around with the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra whilst stalwart Dolf van der Linden, masquerading as the more Anglophone ‘Paul Franklin’, presents a zippy piece called Making Merry with witty panache.
It’s unusual to hear Farnon play some cod Dixieland for Chappell — under Guild’s rubric ‘Dance Music’— but the fellers in the band seem to have listened to all the right people; Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman and George Wettling from the sound of it. I wonder who these English musicians were in ‘The Dance Band’, back in 1948?
Clive Richardson’s teasing arrangement of ‘Knick, Knack, Paddy Whack’ comes out as This Old Man but surely Jos Cleber’s Rickshaw Ride is altogether too cosmopolitan to quality as a real ‘National Character’. Mind you, and fortunately, it’s followed by John Foulds’s Le Cabaret, one of Walter Collins’s plentiful Paxton 78s. Van der Linden gets as avant-garde as the genre could get in his own Man from Mars (filed under ‘Novelty’) where Holstian elements prevail. Lovers of Ronald Binge’s evergreen The Watermill will be amused that the performers, the very English sounding Lansdowne Light Orchestra were, in all probability, the very German Stuttgart Radio Orchestra under its equally Teutonic director, Kurt Rehfeld. It’s certainly quite a fast running stream: I’d play it quite a bit slower. There’s a touch of La Valse in Ronald Hanmer’s Blood and Sand March and some chic chicanery in Charles Williams’s A Machine Ballet, which is more ballet than machine, I think.
All these mono tracks sound good, albeit some of the earlier ones are just too dampened down for my own tastes. Otherwise, no quibbles about this one.
Jonathan Woolf
All these mono tracks sound good.

Journal Into Melody September 2011

This latest Guild release is just up my alley, and it begins with a real corker, King Palmer’s majestic theme With Pomp and Pride from the Paxton Library. This was the very first Paxton 78 I bought from a local record and piano store and I’m sure UK readers from the Birmingham area will remember Dale Forty’s shops and they had a branch here in Leamington. I still have that 78 and I was thrilled to bits that I could buy Paxton discs locally over the counter. Paul Fenoulhet’s Happidrome on track two is a perfect picture of variety acts rushing on and about the stage in frantic haste, but Tom Wyler’s Lovely Day which follows is a perfect relaxing antidote. Laurie Johnson’s Rue De La Paix first came into my possession on an LP of mood pieces issued by Amateur Movie Magazine in the 1960s with a photo of a young couple and a Eumig 8mm Projector on the sleeve front, the same model as I still have. Another good old’un, Looking Around by Colin Smith (Lloyd Thomas) and Cyril Watters’ Making Merry keep up the momentum on this `Library Trip’, quietening down somewhat as The Symphonia Orchestra conducted by Curt Anderson play Cecil Milner’s Wide Horizon. Two cracking pieces follow: Dog Gone by George French and a scintillating number from Trevor Duncan, Little Debbie, dedicated to his daughter. The Club Quintet, whoever they were, on the Conroy label continue the programme with Reg Owen’s Secret Serenade, a familiar tune but I’m Mowed if I can remember where I’ve heard it before. Robert Farnon’s Dixiefander played by The Dance Orchestra and conducted by him is the sole dance number on the disc under that classification because the items are listed under “moods” as they would be in a publishers catalogue, so under “modern movement” are Anthony Mawer’s Transcontinental from Conroy and Holiday Excursion by Peter Yorke from Chappell, both pieces bringing to mind Rank’s series `Look At Life’. During the lifetime of radios ITMA arrangements of well known numbers were written by various composers and Clive Richardson was one of them, and it’s his version of This Ofd Man Came Rolling Home played by The Group Forty Orchestra from KPM under “humorous” which I suppose it is if you like that sort of thing. However two more Paxton records caught my eye: Le Caboret by John Foulds and Jack Strachey’s Ascot Parode, both of which I have in their 78 form and played by The London Promenade Orchestra conducted by Walter Collins who remains (to me) a mystery figure. Apart from his connection to the De La Warr Pavilion of Bexhill-on-Sea in I think the 1930s and his own compositions, I know nothing else about him but I’d like to. Two quirky numbers by Van Phillips and Dolf Van Der Linden, Buffoonery and Man from Mars, keep the tempo moving as the library shelves begin to empty. “Space, the final frontier” …no, really it’s just that we’ve reached Stratosphere by Eric Spear (wonder if he called it that to rhyme with his name?) and played by The New Century Orchestra conducted by Sidney Torch who also do the honours with Ronald Hanmer’s warlike Blood and Sand March and I suppose you could couple it with Shades of Destiny by Wilfred Burns, equally dramatic, and played by the Regent Classic Orchestra from the Bosworth library. But we end with a cracking piece of “Industrial” mood music by Charles Williams, A Machine Ballet played by the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra conducted by him. I have three British Rail LMS Gaumont-British Instructional Films and one of them, `The Wheels Behind the Walls’ features a factory making steel window frames and A Machine Ballet is used to good effect behind this sequence. The other two films are `The Butcher, The Baker’ and `The Highway of Steel’, all in colour and made around 1947, needless to say very interesting and like this CD packed with libraries’ vintage mood music. I believe a small amount of distortion was supposed to be on the original 78 but thanks to Alan Bunting’s restoration technique, you wouldn’t know it.
Ken Wilkins