Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

ON THE RIGHT TRACK: Classic Railway Music.

Various orchestras, ensembles and soloists.
Available only from
This England, PO Box 52, Cheltenham, Glos, GL50 1YQ
(tel 01242 515156;
CD (TRC) £7.95, MC (TRT) £5.95, both inclusive of p&p.

Railways and the music they inspire have had a fascination for some 170 years. Every country, it seems, has contributed its share of railway music, Britain more than most. This often seeks to reproduce characteristic train rhythms and unsurprisingly therefore is particularly suited to music's lighter forms - pop, jazz, dance music of all kinds and so on, though "classical" railway music is by no means unknown. This attractive release, in which the musical items are linked by railway sounds and rounded off by Reginald Gardner's amusing (spoken) Trains commentary, presents vintage recordings of mainly British pieces, ranging from On the 5.15 (dating from 1914), through popular dance band numbers of the twenties and thirties and a couple of Sidney Torch's solos on theatre organ (George Scott-Wood's Flying Scotsman is particularly ingenious) to - and this is for me the highlight of the issue - seven (out of many more at the time and since) marvellously entertaining British light orchestral miniatures of the thirties and forties: Coronation Scot (Vivian Ellis), most familiar of them all and in the Sidney Torch Orchestra's famous version of 1948; Golden Arrow (Jack Beaver, a less known figure, but important in his day); Rhythm on Rails by Charles Williams; Clive Richardson's Running Off the Rails; Jack Coles' Seaside Special; Anthony Mawer's Riviera Express; and Sidney Torch, once again, his composition WagonLit. A variety of titles, then, though the music, deliciously tuneful and well crafted though it is, displays a family likeness. But railway buffs and admirers of the British achievement in light music will love this trip down Memory Lane (or should that be Memory Track?). The transfers have been well done; I would have welcomed a note of the date of each recording.

Philip Scowcroft

See also Philip's article Railways in Music

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