Reviews

GLCD 5234 – The Golden Age of Light Music: More Animal Antics – Donkey Serenade

Various Artists

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MusicWeb International, October 2016

Take some bugs, butterflies and bees, and add some donkeys and a pink elephant, and what do you have? A new release from Guild bringing us 25 more light music tunes from the animal world.

In 1953 Harold Arlen and Truman Capote collaborated on a short musical called “House of Flowers”, about a bordello in Haiti and one of the girls employed there. From that musical comes A Sleeping Bee, a lovely number performed by Percy Faith and his Orchestra, originally recorded in 1955 in New York City by Columbia Records. The sound of a shimmering steel drum provides a heady background throughout the tune.

David Carroll was musical director for Mercury Records in the 1950’s, and he arranged and recorded many popular music albums during his tenure there. His Orchestra performs a lush version of Inchworm, with several short instrumental solos by guitar and bassoon supported by a full string section. The song originally appeared in the 1952 film “Hans Christian Andersen” starring Danny Kaye. Lawrence Welk recorded three albums for the Dot Records label. In 1962 he led his Champagne Music band performing Firefly Serenade, a sprightly romp with clarinets, guitar and accordion alternately leading the procession.

From the Francis, Day & Hunter label comes a 1959 recording of Pink Elephant. Erich Borschel takes the baton and conducts the New Century Orchestra on a happy pachyderm stroll, led by a bouncy horn solo followed by marimbas. Frank Chacksfield was an accomplished music conductor and arranger, who formed his first band in 1936. Little Red Monkey, recorded in 1952 on the Parlorphone label, was his first top-ten hit. This novelty number features Frank’s band, the Tunesmiths, with composer Jack Jordan performing on the clavioline, a forerunner to the synthesizer. It became the first recording on the UK pop chart to showcase an electronic instrument. The song has some amazing sound effects, with various whistles and shrieks, and an unworldly collection of vibratos accompanying a spooky rhythm.

Ron Goodwin was a highly successful light music composer and conductor who started his first band at the age of 15. His Concert Orchestra performs two Joseph Horovitz numbers from the ballet “Alice In Wonderland”: the stately Lobster Quadrille, a charming crustacean square dance arranged to a marching rhythm, and the swirling Grand Waltz Of the Flowers And Dragonflies, a sensory garden feast for the ears.

Alan Bunting was responsible for compilation, audio restoration and remastering. Reynolds Mastering, Colchester performed the final master preparation. A 12-page booklet is included with liner notes by Tony Clayden. The sound quality is very good.

Bruce McCollum