Reviews

GLCD 5204 – Salon, Light and Novelty Orchestras

Various

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Memory Lane – Autum 2013

This CD gives some back-of-stage instruments, such as the Xylophone and Tuba, the chance to impress. Many celebrated conductors and orchestras embraced this occasionally quirky world and on this CD we find Alfredo Campoli, Louis Voss and Reginald King mixing comfortably with the International Novelty Orchestra, Ray Noble, Rudy Starita and Jay Wilbur. Tunes such as Parade Of The Pirates, Tango Habanera, Hiawatha – Cake Walk and the Dancing Doll give a flavour of the treats in store. As always, the CDs are produced and remastered to perfection.
GH

Musicweb International – August 2013

The CD title makes it very clear what to expect from this release, the latest in Guild’s huge and continuing ‘Golden Age of Light Music’ series, which features pieces from an era when “the boundaries between light music and dance bands became somewhat blurred”. Incredibly, the label has now released over a hundred CDs under this rubric, all of which are listed in the back of the accompanying booklet. Whether or not each and every one of these can be said to be part of that Golden Age is debatable. Some of the recordings have seemed more Bronze Age than anything, and others might as well have been issued by a company called Gild. Moreover, as books can sometimes be judged by their covers, so CDs by their titles: ‘Strings and Things Go Stereo!’, ‘A Trip to the Library’, ‘Mantovani – by Special Request, vol.2’ and ‘Melodies for the Starlight Hours’ are typical of anonymous commercial compilations rather than the catalogues of serious, high-quality labels like Guild.
Furthermore, when ensembles have names like ‘Alfredo Campoli and His Salon Orchestra’, ‘Reginald Pursglove and His Music Makers’, the ‘International Novelty Orchestra’ and even “unnamed orchestra”, musical expectations should not be high. In that respect ‘Salon, Light and Novelty Orchestras’does not disappoint. Nonetheless, within their own realm, these orchestras had good reputations and their performances are professional and polished. The music itself is what it is – predictable, glutinous, derivative – and in combination with the sound quality – see below – would not be out of place as the soundtrack to a pre-talkies Laurel and Hardy or Mickey Mouse short; the later ones, an Ealing comedy. Yet thanks to its tunefulness, rhythmic certainties and above all its nostalgic properties, this music is unarguably attractive to certain demographics, above all those that grew up listening to it.
Even those who enjoy this kind of thing should take note that these are antediluvian analogue recordings in mono, all taken from the private collections of two individuals. On the other hand, engineers can sometimes work wonders on items of this vintage, and, whilst the generally hissy, narrow-band sound experience offers no actual miracles, there is no denying either that quite a remarkable restoration job has been done by Alan Bunting for Guild. In some cases he has even managed to fashion a sense of true stereo.
The booklet notes provide plenty of information on the various band leaders, cuttings from an old scrapbook bandying names and places from a bygone age. The track-listing supplies original catalogue IDs for those who may be inspired to head off to rummage through independent record store basement bins or charity shops.
Byzantion