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Len Mullenger:

The Decca Years 1953-75. Orchestral favourites.
Decca 466-927-2 2 CDs 153m DDD.

Theme from Limelight. In old Lisbon. The Donkey Cart. Memories of you. On the beach. Cuban boy. Lady of Spain. Port au Prince. The 'Lawrence' Theme. Clair de Lune. Swedish Rhapsody. Love in Madrid. Theme from 'Fantasy Overture'. My Prayer. Humoresque. Temptation. El relicario. Fascination. Blue Danube. Flirtation Waltz. Born Free. Some Enchanted Evening. One fine day. E lucevan le stelle. The Sky at Night. 20th century blues. Ebb Tide. A man and a woman. I won't dance. Who? Coco-nut. Theme from 'Picnic'. Michelle. Come rain of come shine. Don't let the stars get in your eyes. Moon river. Stranger on the shore. Peter Gunn. The Lady is a Tramp. Theme from 'The Man from UNCLE'. Nrs Robinson. Skylark. Night and Day. Fascinating Rhythm. Alexander's Ragtime Band. Almost like being in love. A hard day's night. The 'James Bond' Theme. Wunderbar. The man I love. Raindrops keep falling on my head. Trains and boats and planes.    

The name of Frank Chacksfield is forever linked with lush orchestral arrangements of many popular traditional and modern themes, which sold like hot cakes in Decca's 'big-band' heyday. The recordings have resurfaced as fresh as an ice cold drink on a hot summer's day with many nostalgic tunes really sounding as if they were taped yesterday. The evocative and soulful 'Theme from Limelight' opens the selection of fifty two tracks which ranges from the hilariously funny 'Donkey cart' on to the more serious stuff such as 'Swedish rhapsody' or the evergreen 'Clair de lune'. It is difficult to put on these CDs without being spellbound by Chacksfield's masterly arrangements that include the famous Beatles tune, 'A Hard days night' matched by the sweet and sensual romanticism of 'Stranger on the Shore'. And I could go on for quite some time as I delve through the memories of post-war Britain up to the depressing days of the mid 70's when Chacksfield's music rather fell out of fashion. We know better now and the whole enterprise reminds us what we have bben missing for the last few years when these master recordings were unavailable. Chacksfield takes his place alongside Stanley Black (also in this series) and Robert Farnon whose work is being covered on Dutton and should also be reviewed shortly (Out of my Dreams), as a master orchestrator and single handed purveyor of some unforgettable melodies in lush arrangements. The booklet includes a suitably nostalgic essay alongside some charismatic photographs. Highly recommended to those who enjoy a nostalgia trip or who are candid to fill a dull winter's evening with some fantastic melodies!

Gerald Fenech

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