Notes and Editorial Reviews
Rush to add this exciting disk to your collection.
When I received this disk I looked at the title and thought, ‘Oh no, not another show tunes compilation!’ but imagine my surprise, and delight, when I discovered that this was mainly a collection of pieces which had very tenuous theatrical connections – mainly through the titles of the pieces (29 of them) – and all of them highly enjoyable.
Let’s start with a piece which does have some connection with the theatre. Eric Rogers is best remembered for his work on the Carry On films. Rogers was MD at the London Palladium and Startime (heard here complete) was used as the signature tune for the television variety series Sunday Night at the London Palladium
which ran from 1955 to 1967. Here we have a marvelous piano solo from the great Winifred Atwell, and some over–the–top “ahhhh–ing” from a female chorus. Wonderful stuff!
The two pieces by Jack Beaver are real winners, I might overuse that expression if I am not careful in this review. News Theatre is fabulously racy whilst Picture Parade (which was used as the signature tune for a BBC TV series of the same name) was obviously written to sound “cinematic” and it sounds as if we should be hearing it from the big screen.
Rufus Isaacs appears under two of the many pseudonyms he used. Vane’s Chorus Girl made me immediately think of scantily dressed young women doing high kicks in formation and Gay and Glamorous could easily fit in any newsreel concerning high fashion. It contains a very debonair middle section.
With publishers desperate to earn money, for themselves as well as their composers, it seems that Weinberger named Len Stevens’s piece Television Playhouse in the hope that it would have a life outside its Library Music origins. It’s a smooth, balled–style intermezzo. With his Floor Show we’re back in the world of the dancing girls.
How could this collection exist without examples of the marvellous work of the great Angela Morley? Lap of Luxury is rich and languid – very stringy – and her rumbustious arrangement of Irving Berlin’s theatrical anthem, There’s No Business Like Show Business brings matters to a brilliant close.
The other composer represented twice is Jack Strachey. Strachey’s two biggest hits were the songs These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You) and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and these prove his melodic fluency. Up with the Curtain is a brisk overture–like piece and it’s conducted with real flair by Frederick Curzon – the man responsible for one of the great light music pieces – The Boulevardier. Top of the Bill is march–like with a quick step to it.
Ivor Slaney’s The Show Goes On seems to epitomise the spirit encapsulated in its title, and Nacio Herb Brown’s Broadway Melody, written for the film of the same name, seems, unless my ears deceive me, to keep quoting George M. Cohan Give My Regards to Broadway, a nice tribute to "the man who owned Broadway".
King Palmer’s The Film Opens was used as the signature tune for American TV series Eleventh Hour Theater. It has the kind of imposing sound one associates with American TV of the time – think of Herschel Burke Gilbert’s title music for The Dick Powell Show (1961) and you’ll know what I’m talking about. However, it is yet another example of a piece of Library Music which found a good home.
The de Sylva/Brown/Henderson classic If I Had a Talking Picture of You receives a very restrained and sumptuous arrangement by Robert Farnon, lots of smooth trombones and saxophones. Eric Coates was more than a little naughty when it came to this composition. When asked to write what we now know as the Dambusters March he offered the film producers a march he had already written. When asked by the commercial television company ATV to write a piece for the station he dug up a 1937 composition, Seven Seas, and changed the name to that of the TV company. It just proves that it wasn’t earlier composers who re–used already existing material. It’s a very nautical march, you can almost smell the salty tang of the water in the music.
Curtain Time is all rush and bustle – another of those pizzicato scherzos so beloved of light music composers. Stars in My Eyes is one of five songs Kreisler wrote for the Grace Moore film The King Steps Out – the lyrics, not heard here, are by Dorothy Fields. It’s a Viennese waltz which gets the full treatment from Andre Kostelanetz.
South African born Harry Rabinowitz came to England immediately after the war and was appointed conductor of the BBC Revue Orchestra in 1953. He became Head of Music at London Weekend Television in the 1970s. Rabinowitz scored many films – including Chariots of Fire, Time Bandits and Heat and Dust and in 1981 he returned to the West End theatre to conduct Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats; following this with the same composer’s Song and Dance the next year. Back Stage is another of these pieces which simply reek of the final moments before the opening of a production.
Edward White, he of Puffin’ Billy fame, gives an ebullient picture of a Prima Dona, with an heart of gold. The lyricist for The Man on the Flying Trapeze was known to millions as Champagne Charlie and his lyrics were based on the phenomenal success of French acrobat Jules Léotard, who had made his English début in 1861. He is probably bext remembered today for his invention of what he called a maillot – a skin–tight one piece garment which had long sleeves. After its adoption in the Parisian ballet studios it became known as a leotard. Tzipine’s performance is of a fairly straight forward arrangement of the tune.
George Formby kept the British public laughing with his toothy grin, slightly risqué songs, always accompanied by his own ukulele playing, and many film appearances – between 1934 and 1945 Formby was the top comedian in British cinema. It’s In The Air sees Formby rejected by the RAF and after wearing an RAF uniform is mistaken for a pilot. Harry Parr–Davies’s jaunty theme tune gets a rousing performance from the Royal Air Force Orchestra conducted by Wing Commander R P O’Donnell MVO. What better performer could there be for this music?
Robert Farnon’s A Star Is Born – which has nothing whatsoever to do with the films of the same name – is a sumptuous and sultry score whose atmosphere is immediately destroyed by that Man Again; Michael North’s signature tune for the BBC hit radio show ITMA – hence It’s That Man Again. The programme, which was built round comedian Tommy Handley, supplied much needed relief from the war in Britain and only ended with the untimely death of its star. This is quite an arrangement of a not very distinguished tune, which lifts it from a brief signature tune almost into the realms of symphonic light music! Another fine Ronald Hanmer arrangement follows of Jimmy Kennedy’s The Spice of Life which is given a jaunty performance conducted by Charles Shadwell, who conducted the BBC Variety Orchestra in the radio broadcasts of ITMA!
Radio Romantic is a fine, full bloodied, miniature by one of the great figures in British light music – Sidney Torch.
Paul Fenoulhet might be best remembered as leading the Hornblowers in the first six programmes of the first series of the BBC radio comedy series Round the Horne, starring Kenneth Horne. His South Bank sounds as if it has nothing to do with the place of the same name in London, surely this is all about summer holidays. Trevor Duncan’s Première has a very American sound to it, which I would never have expected from this very British composer. It’s yet another back stage rush to be ready for opening night.
Peter Yorke was a talented composer and arranger – before the war Louis Levy hired him as chief arranger – and his programmes with his own concert orchestra were a mainstay of British radio right up to his death. Melody of the Stars is almost Elgarian in its sweep and long melodic line.
This is the sixth CD in this series which I have had the pleasure to review, and enjoy! And I would say that it’s the most enjoyable so far for it has such a wide variety of music and could almost be a sampler for the series. And what a sampler! There’s a theatrical expression “break a leg” meaning good luck in your performance. What you mustn’t do is break a leg as you rush to add this exciting disk to your collection.
-- Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International
Ivor SLANEY (1921–1998)
The Show Goes On
NACIO HERB BROWN (1896–1964)
Broadway Melody (1929)
King PALMER (1913–1999)
The Film Opens (Eleventh Hour Melody)
Buddy De SYLVA (1895–1950), Lew BROWN (1893–1958), Ray HENDERSON (1896–1970)
If I Had a Talking Picture of You (1929) (arranged by ROBERT FARNON) Jack BEAVER (1900–1963)
Eric ROGERS (1921–1981)
Eric COATES (1886–1957)
South Wales and West – Television March (1937)
Len STEVENS (full name Herbert Leonard STEVENS) (d 1989)
Bob HAYMES (1922–1989)
Fritz KREISLER (1875–1962)
Stars In My Eyes (from “The King Steps Out”) (1936)
Jack STRACHEY (1894–1972)
Up with the Curtain
Harry RABINOWITZ (b 1916)
Edward WHITE (1910–1994)
Top of the Bill
Claud VANE (pseudonym for Rufus ISAACS)
Alfred LEE, George LEYBOURNE (pseudonym for Joe SANDERS, better known as Champagne Charlie)
The Man On The Flying Trapeze (1867)
Harry PARR–DAVIES (1914–1955)
It’s In the Air – theme from the film (1938)
Angela MORLEY (b 1924)
Lap of Luxury
Kenneth ESSEX (pseudonym for Rufus ISAACS)
Gay and Glamorous
A Star Is Born
ITMA Signature Tune (arranged by RONALD HANMER)
James KENNEDY (1902–1984) and Michael CARR (pseudonym of Maurice Alfred Cohen) (1905–1968)
The Spice of Life (arranged by RONALD HANMER)
Sidney TORCH (pseudonym for Sidney TORCHINSKY) (1908–1990)
Paul FENOULHET (1906–1979)
Trevor DUNCAN (pseudonym for Leonard Charles TREBILCO) (1924–2005) Premiere
Peter YORKE (1902–1966)
Melody of the Stars
Irving BERLIN (1888–1989)
There’s No Business Like Show Business (arranged by ANGELA MORLEY)
Acquaviva (Curtain Time), Frank Chacksfield (Broadway Melody), Eric Coates (South Wales and West), Robert Farnon (If I Had A Talking Picture Of You, A Star Is Born), Andre Kostelanetz (Stars In My Eyes), Charles Shadwell (The Spice Of Life), Wally Stott (There’s No Business Like Show Business), George Tzipine (The Man On The Flying Trapeze), Dolf van der Linden (Leading Lady) all with his “own” orchestra; Peter Yorke and his Concert Orchestra (Melody Of The Stars); BBC Variety Orchestra/Charles Shadwell (ITMA Signature Tune); Frank Chacksfield and his orchestra and Chorus, with Winifred Atwell (piano) (Startime); The Crawford Light Orchestra (Television Playhouse); Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon (Gay And Glamorous); Hudson Orchestra/Walter Warren (pseudonym of Meyer de Wolfe) (The Show Goes On); London Promenade Orchestra/Walter Collins (The Film Opens); New Century Orchestra/Erich Börschel (Back Stage, Floor Show); New Concert Orchestra/Frederick Curzon (Up With The Curtain); New Concert Orchestra/Jack Leon (Premiere); Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Sidney Torch (News Theatre, Radio Romantic, Top Of The Bill); Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Charles Williams (Picture Parade); Royal Air Force Orchestra/Wing Commander R P O’Donnell MVO (It’s In The Air); Stuttgart Radio Orchestra/Kurt Rehfeld (South Bank); Telecast Orchestra/Elliott Mayes (Lap Of Luxury); West End Celebrity Orchestra (Chorus Girl)
Re-issues from 78 rpm discs and early 33 rpm LPs, recorded between 1942 and 1957 ADD
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