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The Golden Age of Light Music; The 1950s Volume 2 – Midnight Matinee
Len STEVENS (d.1969)
Midnight Matinee; Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Leslie Julian JONES (b.1910)
Postman’s Knock; Wally Stott and his Orchestra
Bernie WAYNE (1919-1993)
The Magic Touch; Hugo Winterhalter and his Orchestra; Veradero
Geoff Love and his orchestra
Cyril ORNADEL (b.1924)
Moonlight Fiesta; Winifred Atwell with Cyril Ornadel and his orchestra
Belle FENSTOCK (b.1914)
Simonetta; Hamburg Radio Orchestra/Harry Hermann
Jack BEAVER (1900-1963)
Holiday Funfair; Dolf van der Linden and his orchestra
Paul DUBOIS [Clive RICHARDSON] (1909-1998)
Shadow waltz; Nelson Riddle and his orchestra
Ronnie PLEYDELL (d.1994)
On Fifth Avenue; Ronnie Pleydell and his concert orchestra
Boulevard Waltz; Reg Tilsley and his orchestra
Frenchman’s Creek; Laurie Johnson and his orchestra
Jose BELMONTE [Philip GREEN] (1910-1982)
Ecstasy; Edmundo Ros and his orchestra
Bahama Buggy Ride; Hugo Winterhalter and his Orchestra
Robert FARNON (b.1917)
Poodle Parade; Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Ray MARTIN (1918-1988)
Ballet of the Bells; Johnny Douglas and his orchestra
A Girl called Linda; Jeff Morley and his orchestra
Philip GREEN (1910-1982)
Park Plaza – film; Philip Green and the Cameo Players; Follow Me Around; Dolf van der Linden and his orchestra
Ditto; Michael Fredericks and his orchestra
Trevor DUNCAN (b.1924)
Panoramic Splendour; New Concert Orchestra/R de Porten
Carefree; Axel Stordahl and his orchestra
George SIRAVO (1916-2000)
Palsy Walsy; George Siravo and his orchestra
Midnight Blue; Ron Goodwin and his orchestra
Anthony COLLINS (1893-1963)
With Emma to Town; London Promenade Orchestra/Anthony Collins
Limelight – theme and incidental music;
Wally Stott and his orchestra
Recorded 1952-54

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The latest brace of releases from Guild continues the varied work of previous issues. Once again some rarer labels have been scoured – it’s especially good to see Melodisc here – and we therefore have some Polygons, Chappells, Paxtons and Boosey and Hawkes alongside the bigger companies such as Parlophone, Decca, Brunswick and Philips. These recordings come from a concentrated period of two or three years between 1952 and 1954.

Most of the sides are British originals but there are some Capitols as well as the Hamburg recordings overseen by the talented Harry Hermann and examples of Robert Farnon’s Danish recordings for Chappell in 1954. The mix is a good, entertaining one therefore, right from the off where a newsreel opener from Len Stevens sees us on our way. One of the things Guild compilers clearly enjoy is juxtaposing contrasting styles. And this release sees no let up. A big screen introduction is followed by the witty Postman’s Knock which in its turn is succeeded by the pizzicati laced The Magic Touch, a Bernie Wayne tune the middle section of which has an electric guitar solo and a hint of a studio band crypto-jazz back beat. Then there’s Winifred Atwell pounding nobly in Moonlight Fiesta whilst suffering the slings and arrows of a bongo, whooping trombones and string slurry attack courtesy of Cyril Ornadel (and he should know; he wrote it). Hermann’s Tales of Munich is a delight though it sounds rather treble starved in this transfer. Similarly Clive Richardson’s Shadow Waltz (credited to his pseudonym Paul Dubois on the record label) is an insinuating charmer – lush orchestration with a slightly ominous veil hanging over it all; it shows how much a creative composer can pack into even a three-minute genre piece of this kind.

Still those Guild compilers don’t let us sleep; it’s off to Veradero with some shaking-it-on-down stuff from Geoff Love – strong on the maracas and the ambre solaire. And then Ronnie Pleydell (and orchestra) nabs a few bars from An American in Paris for his own On Fifth Avenue, a punchy and jaunty piece that has the considerable merit of not being over orchestrated. The geographical theme continues throughout the rest of the disc; we have Cornish waves lashing into the coastline of Frenchman’s Creek and the exotic sounding Ecstasy comes courtesy, unusually, of the full Edmundo Ros Concert Band with a complement of strings, saxes and tango-leading paraphernalia. There’s a fair amount of corn ball – it was very much the spirit of the time – in which category the Bahama Buggy Ride can hold it head high but the immediately succeeding track, Farnon’s Poodle Parade shows how a master can handle even the cornier stuff – superbly orchestrated and with a witty poodle bark integrated into the musical fabric – and a lovely B section.

Novelty reappears (with guitar once more) with the excruciatingly titled Palsy Walsy but there’s a more modish up-to-dateness from Eric Spear, who wrote the theme tune for the long running British soap Coronation Street, in his Midnight Blue. He’d clearly been lending an ear to alto sax and bluesy back beat combos of the time and it opens a little vista on the directions to be taken – and refined – by future composers in the field. We end with a couple of classics; Sibelian and Elgarian and erstwhile violist Anthony Collins turns up on a Decca and Wally Stott does well by Chaplin’s Limelight music.

So another success in the formidable collection of Light Music from Guild. The notes are always good, the selection entertainingly eclectic, the transfers tend to smoothness and noise reduction rather than opening out at the top. Good fun, as well.

Jonathan Woolf



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