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The Golden Age of Light Music – In Town Tonight: The 1930s - Volume 2
John Belton, alias Tony Lowry & Douglas Brownsmith

Down The Mall
Philip Green & his Orchestra [2:40]
Noel Coward (1899-1973)

Bitter Sweet Waltz: I’ll See You Again
Paramount Theatre Orchestra conducted by Anton with Al Bollington organ [3:22]
Josef Rixner (1902-1973)

Barnabas Von Géczy and his Orchestra [3:14]
Happy' - Selection intro: I Want To Be Happy, Happy Days Are Here Again, Happy Feet, Back To Those Happy Days, Many Happy Returns Of The Day, Spread A Little Happiness, I Want To Be Happy

Coventry Hippodrome Orchestra conducted by Charles Shadwell, piano soloist: Jack Wilson [6:18]
Sebastian de Yradier (1809-1865)

La Paloma
Regal Virtuosi conducted by Emanuel Starkey with Sidney Torch Organ [2:57]
Ludwig Siede arr. Crook

Chinese Street Serenade
Alfredo Campoli and his Marimba Tango Orchestra [3:06]
Victor Herbert (1859-1924)


Harry Horlick and his Orchestra [3:20]
H. Elliott Smith

Squirrel Dance

Marek Weber & his Orchestra [2:58]
Erich Börschel (1907-1988)


International Radio Orchestra [2:51]
'Ice Rink Selection' intro: Skaters Waltz, Wine Women and Song, Casino Tanz, Artist's Life, Count Of Luxembourg, Valse Septembre, Nights Of Gladness, Amoretten Tanz, Gold And Silver Waltz, Wiener Blut, Espana
Debroy Somers Band [6:07]
Eric Coates (1886-1957)

In Town Tonight "Knightsbridge" from "London Suite"
BBC Dance Orchestra directed by Henry Hall [2:54]
Hermann Schulenburg arr. Etlinger

Chinese Legend
Richard Crean and his Orchestra [3:20]
Harry Engleman

Harry Engleman’s Quintet [2:58]
'A Bouquet Of Flowers' intro: Won't You Buy My Pretty Flowers, Valse Des Fleurs, Roses Of The South, Hearts & Flowers, Wedding Of The Rose, Dear Little Shamrock, Won't You Buy My Pretty Flowers, Pas Des Fleurs, Narcissus, Last Rose Of Summer, Valse Des Fleurs.
Gaumont State Orchestra conducted by Alfred Van Dam [6.42]
Wilhelm Gabriel

Donna Juanita - Paso Doble
Robert Renard and his Orchestra [2:56]
Herbert Küster


Herbert Custer’s Piano Orchestra [2:49]
Sidney Baynes

Ecstasy Waltz
Edith Lorand and her Viennese Orchestra [3:15]
Mikhail Mikhailovich Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935), arranged by Herman Finck (1872-1939) Procession of the Sardar from 'Caucasian Sketches'
Commodore Grand Orchestra Conducted by Joseph Muscant [3:12]  "Mr. Whittington" - Selection John W. Green, Jack Waller, Joseph Tunbridge intro: Oceans of Time, Whoops for the Derby Day, Weep No More My Baby, Who Do You Think You Are, the Sun is Round the Corner, What A Pleasant Surprise, Finale.
New Mayfair Orchestra Conducted by Ray Noble [7:41]
Bonus Track: Rare Experimental Stereo from 1934 Excerpt from "Mr. Whittington" intro: The Sun is Round the Corner, What a Pleasant Surprise, Finale.
New Mayfair Orchestra conducted by Ray Noble (Binaural EMI TT 1557-1 Recorded 11 January 1934) [2:55]
All recordings made between 1931 and 1939.

Just before receiving this CD to review I was having drinks with a friend in the St George’s Hotel in Langham Place. There are two things - or is it three - to say about this hotel. Firstly it was built – more or less – on the site of the old Queen’s Hall famed for Sir Henry Wood and the ‘Proms.’ Secondly the view from the ‘rooftop’ bar is stunning – some twenty storeys in the sky, much of London is visible. St Paul’s Cathedral, Charles Holden’s stunning Senate House, the Post Office Tower and Canary Wharf to name but a few. However we were actually looking towards the Langham Hotel; did Rachmaninoff not stay here when in London? We were almost at eye level with the top of the spire of All Souls Church. And behind the spire is the BBC building recently revealed in all its glory. On the street below, taxis were coming and going – delivering hotel guests and revelers: a Red London bus was stopped at the traffic lights. My friend remarked to me that when she saw a view like this the tune In Town Tonight ran through her head. All that was needed to complete the picture was the Christmas Lights in Regent Street and the seasonal displays in Selfridges and the late Dickens and Jones. If any tune epitomises the mood and feel and soul of London in the evening it is this great tune by Eric Coates. The story is well known and does not need to be rehearsed here. However let us never forget that it is actually called the Knightsbridge March – the popular title accrued after being associated with the radio show which was broadcast for some 27 years.

Almost the entire CD has the In Town Tonight mood. All the pieces were recorded in the rather strange years before the Second World War. It was a time when the Depression was over, but worrying developments in Continental Europe were either scaring people or were being studiously ignored. Folk were wealthier than they had been for quite some time – even the motor car was well on its way to dominating the roads. Musically the ‘dance bands’ held sway. And of course none was more popular than Henry Hall.

However there are many ensembles represented on this disc - including some from countries with which Britain would soon be at war. But at that time the geographical realities made little difference to those who wanted to dance or listen to the latest hits whilst sipping cocktails.

For example, Barnabas Von Géczy was a Hungarian who later ran an orchestra in one of the best hotels in Berlin. The piece given here is quite simply called Pony by Joseph Rixner – I suppose that it represents a gambol through the English (rather than the Bavarian) lanes on a cool spring day.

The first number on the CD is John Belton’s Down the Mall – which opens with military fanfares. An Eric Coates style march soon gets going and leaves us in no doubt that we are watching the troops marching towards the Palace – even if it is quite a jaunty little number.

My personal favourite on this CD is the Paramount Theatre Orchestra’s rendition of the fine Bitter Sweet Waltz by Noel Coward. Of course for ‘us’ cinema organ buffs there is the added bonus of Al Bollington on the Wurlitzer!

One of the curious things on this recording is the number of Eastern-influenced works. I can only assume that ‘chinoiserie’ must have been popular at this time. Alfredo Campoli conducts the Chinese Street Serenade, whilst Richard Crean and his Orchestra entertain us with a Chinese Legend. I assume that the International Radio Orchestra’s version of Kismet falls into this category. Not quite the Far East - but further East than Southend comes an arrangement of Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Procession of the Sardar from the Caucasian Sketches. I am not sure if the Commodore Grand Orchestra does justice to the original composer’s inspiration

But Europe is not forgotten – there is a lovely version of Yradier’s La Paloma – with Sydney Torch on the Wurlitzer. And the Spanish theme is continued with Donna Juanita which is really a novelty piece rather than an impressionistic account of a Spanish senorita!

Of course there are a few ‘selections’ from the ‘shows’ and compilations of well known tunes. The Coventry Hippodrome Orchestra recalls a number of melodies that insist we be ‘Happy’. The Debroy Somers Band encourages us to get our skates on and get down to the Ice Rink. We hear short snippets of The Skater’s Waltz, Gold and Silver Waltz, Wiener Blut and, hardly an icy theme, back to sunny Spain, Espana.

Another selection is from ‘Mr. Whittington’ played by the New Mayfair Orchestra. This was based on numbers from the musical starring Jack Buchanan and Elsie Randolph. Included in this recording is a rare example of experimental stereo from as long ago as 1934.

A number of old favorites are well presented. Victor Herbert’s Badinage is played by the American Henry Horlick (what a wonderful name! – nearly as impressive as Bassett-Lowke the model railway engineer!). The Squirrel Dance by H. Elliott Smith was popular in its day. Of course Sydney Baynes' Ecstasy Waltz was always guaranteed to entertain both dancers and listeners. It is well played here by Edith Lorand and her Viennese Orchestra. One of my personal favorites is the evocative and slightly jazzy Fingerprints by Harry Engelmann. Shadowsplay is almost like something that Russ Conway might have played on the Morecambe and Wise Show.

This is a fine addition to the Light Music series that Guild has embarked upon. As for the recordings, they have been well cleaned up. As a rule I do not go for ‘historical recordings’, however this release gives me no problems with my listening pleasure.

John France

see also review by Jonathan Woolf



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