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If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

 

alternatively Crotchet  

 

Golden Age series: Light Music While You Work
Calling All Workers (COATES) (1948) [3:00]
Tivoli Concert Hall Orchestra/Felumb
The Band Plays (REED) (1944) [2:50]
White Horse Inn selection (BENATZKY/STOLZ) (1943) [2:53]
Harry Fryer and his Orchestra
The Haunted Ballroom - waltz, from the ballet The Haunted Ballroom, (TOYE) (1945) [3:24]
Folie Bergère (from Three Light Pieces suite) (Eastman FLETCHER) (1944) [2:46]
Tristesse (So Deep is the Night) (CHOPIN, arr. MELFI) (1944) [3:08]
Ciribiribin (PESTALOZZA) (1945) [2:50]
Demande et Reponse (from "Petite Suite De Concert") (COLERIDGE-TAYLOR) (1944) [3.18]
Richard Crean and his Orchestra
In an 18th Century Drawing Room (SCOTT) (1944) [3:02]
Reginald Pursgilove and his Orchestra
Rendezvous (Wilhelm ALETTER)(1945) [2:50]
Schön Rosmarin (Fritz KREISLER, arr. ROBERTS) (1944) [2:55]
Tango (Isaac ALBENIZ) (1944) [3:15]
Valse Septembre (GODIN) (1945) [2:53]
Harry Davidson and his Orchestra
Memories of Spain (RICHARDSON, NICHOLLS: real name WRIGHT) (1945) [2:56]
Adios, Conchita (MANILLA, real name MANTOVANI) [3:09]
Mantovani and his Orchestra (1945)
Be Honest with Me (Gene AUTRY, Fred ROSE);
You Rhyme with Everything that's Beautiful (Bert REISFELD, Michael STONER) (1943) [2:52]
The Studio Orchestra/Phil Green
Lisbon Story - Selection (DAVIES) (1943) [3:03]
Gaily through the World (MACBETH) (1946) [2:50]
Bravada (CURZON) (1944) [2:58]
Fascinatin' Manikin (WIRGES) (1951) [2:53]
The Call (ALSTYNE) (1945) [3:13]
Bunch of Roses (CHAPI, arr. LOTTER) (1945) [3:01]
Kwang Hsu - Japanese Intermezzo (LINCKE) (1944) [3:01]
Something in the Air - Selection (SHERWIN) (1943) [3:13]
Harry Fryer and his Orchestra
Thousand and One Nights (Johann STRAUSS, arr. Ronnie MUNRO) (1944) [2:53]
Ronnie Munro and his Scottish Variety Orchestra
Note: the dates above refer to the recordings, not when the pieces were written
The above version of ‘Calling all Workers’ was not used for the original "Music While You Work" series and was recorded in 1948
rec. Decca Studios, London, 1943-1951. ADD
GUILD GLCD 5128 [77:52]

 

This is perhaps some of the most interesting material transferred to CD by Guild for it all comes from a source little known outside the broadcasting and recording industries. The tunes will be very familiar to those who enjoyed their radios during daytime in the 1950s.

When in 1940 the war raged, the BBC decided that the British public needed a spiritual lift, and many morale-boosting radio programmes were put together. Cheerful music could help motivate factory workers and thus enhance output from the production line. The first broadcast took place at 10.30 a.m. on Sunday 23 June 1940. It grew into something of an institution in British broadcasting, where the programmes were transmitted for an unbroken run of 27 years. When the BBC celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1982, "Music While You Work" was one of several popular programmes brought back for a few editions, and the positive public reaction resulted in additional broadcasts before they ended in 1995.


David Ades' interesting booklet notes tell us that the man credited with the original idea, and its successful implementation, was Wynford Reynolds (1899-1958). 'Live' musicians were usually engaged for the programmes, ranging from solo performers, such as organists, to small groups, dance bands, light orchestras and military bands. After some early experiments with light classics the feedback from the factories soon indicated that workers preferred tunes they knew and which they could sing along to. Since continuous studio playing was both impracticable and expensive, gramophone records would provide the answer. These could be purchased by factories and played internally via a public address system. Decca realized that a dedicated series of 78s would fit the concept and their own "Music While You Work" label was born. Sensibly they sought Wynford Reynolds' advice from the outset. These were not intended to be an accurate carbon copy of the BBC broadcasts, and the orchestras on the Decca records - mostly their contract artists - did not necessarily perform on the radio.

The first records were released in 1942, on Decca's usual blue and gold label 'F' series of popular 78s. By September 1943, 27 discs were pressed and by January 1947 nearly 400 more had been released. Some of the later 78s were recorded using Decca's revolutionary 'ffrr' process. This had been originally developed to technically assist the Ministry of Defence. This improved sound quality can be detected on several of the tracks of the CD though it should be said that Bunting's mastering for the rest is first class. To hear 78s nicely equalized, without their clicks and bumps, would have delighted the original engineers.

It is amusing to me to find that a number of composers here are German/Austrian, the very people the British did not wish to be reminded of whilst they were being bombed — Benatzky, Stolz, Aletter, Kreisler, Strauss, Lincke could have been Hitler’s henchmen!

Of the bands, both the Harry Fryer and Harry Davidson orchestras are lightweight and somewhat thin in strings, particularly the Fryer orchestra. The earlier Davidson issue (track 7) provides fuller, more mellow, strings and on this track his forces are larger. He became a permanent BBC fixture following his successful ‘Those were the Days’ broadcasts and these recordings hail from this period. Richard Crean comes from a more classical baseline than the other conductors, having worked with Boult and Covent Garden. His orchestra had its foundation in the London Palladium and its bigger sound is noticeable.

Amongst the tracks are familiar favourites you may not know by name such as Rendevous and Valse Septembre. Melodies such as these are catchy and fulfil their purpose in being generally uplifting. Familiar show selections included are, White Horse Inn with Your Eyes, My Song of Love, and the star hit, Leopold's Goodbye. The Lisbon Story selection contains Pedro The Fisherman, Never Say Goodbye, Someday We shall meet Again while the Something in the Air selection includes, You've done Something and You happen once in an Lifetime.

The booklet gives a full background to the ‘Music While You Work’ phenomenon and provides good information on the conductors and their bands. It would have been helpful to have the dates of composition of the lesser-known pieces. It is likely that there was a pipeline industry of churning them out and so their dates could well be the same year in which they were recorded/broadcast.

Once again we have a memorable library of nostalgic reminiscences thanks to Guild, and the careful selection and transfers provided by David Ades and Alan Bunting respectively.

Raymond J Walker

 



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