Reviews

GLCD 5182 – The Golden Age Of Light Music: A Second A-Z Of Light Music

Various

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MusicWeb International Dec. 2011

Guild’s inventive programming embraces a wide range of options, from Transcription series, to multi-volume discs on diverse themes. This is the second in its catch-all A-Z series in which titles are presented alphabetically. In this volume we start with At the Theatre and end with Zip Along. The only cheat comes via the tricky to place ‘X’ – so we get Exotica instead, with an emphasis on the second letter.
As usual there’s a cavalcade of bands and composers, and conductors. The Regent Classic Orchestra, conductorless, gets things off to a fine, confident Eric Coates-like start. It’s soon followed by the snappy Curtain Time played, with no conductor credit once again, by the New World Theatre Orchestra in 1957. By this time arrangements could sprawl just a bit more then in the days of 2:35 or whatever – this one almost touches five minutes in length and is the longest cut in the programme. Naturally the genre is susceptible to modish batteries of percussion and rhythms, and this is fate not wholly escaped by Percy Faith on Edelma with the near-ubiquitous Mitch Miller doing his thing on oboe.
There’s a refugee from Guild’s Music While You Work series in the shape of the tune Fairy Tiptoe played by Harry Davidson and his orchestra in 1946. The war being over, productivity wasn’t quite so dependent on strict up-tempo Fairies – though the ubiquitous Fairy in the Light Music genre might make an interesting trope for the inquisitive and musical post-graduate.
Gazelle, a lovely tune by Montague Ewing, is charmingly light on its feet courtesy of the New Century Orchestra under its exacting maestro Sidney Torch(insky). This ingenious opus courts the Graingeresque. Unlike, however, the gargantuan arrangement of Ketèlbey’s In A Monastery Garden from the New Century Orchestra under the symphonically-inclined Stanford Robinson, who manages to make the thing sound positively Tchaikovskian. There’s another trope; the influence of Russian orchestral music on British Light Music composers.
If you want newsreel zip turn to Jack Beaver’s Kings of Sport in Robert Farnon’s top-notch recording for Chappell of 1947. And if you want a confluence of elite talents try the next track, Let Us Live For Tonight, wherein Adrian Bernard’s tune is arranged by Sidney Torch and the band is conducted by Reg Leopold, erstwhile maestro fiddler. One conductor of whom the notes are silent is Ernest Maxin who directs his own orchestra in No Orchids for My Lady for Top Rank LP in 1960. Surely this is the Ernest Maxin associated with Kathy Kirby, and who directed and choreographed Morecambe and Wise in some of their greatest TV shows?
There’s a mild dash of exotica courtesy of a Singapore jaunt from Monty Kelly, and a well characterised piece from Charles Williams, as ever on top form for Columbia in 1952. Charles Brull directs The Harmonic Orchestra in a Spoliansky tune. Listen out for Bill McGuffie’s memorable The Unstoppable Man, his film theme of 1960. Then we go right back to Jack Hylton’s somewhat creaky performance of Vienna City of My Dreams in 1936.
So, from A-Z there’s much fun to be had from this latest compilation.
Jonathan Woolf

From A-Z there’s much fun to be had from this latest compilation.