When I received this disk I looked at the title and thought, ‘Oh
no, not another show tunes compilation!’ but imagine my surprise,
and delight, when I discovered that this was mainly a collection
of pieces which had very tenuous theatrical connections – mainly
through the titles of the pieces (29 of them) – and all of them
start with a piece which does have some connection with the
theatre. Eric Rogers is best remembered for his work on the
Carry On films. Rogers was MD at the London Palladium
and Startime (heard here complete) was used as the
signature tune for the television variety series Sunday
Night at the London Palladium which ran from 1955 to 1967.
Here we have a marvelous piano solo from the great Winifred
Atwell, and some over–the–top “ahhhh–ing” from a female chorus.
two pieces by Jack Beaver are real winners, I might overuse
that expression if I am not careful in this review. News
Theatre is fabulously racy whilst Picture Parade
(which was used as the signature tune for a BBC TV series
of the same name) was obviously written to sound “cinematic”
and it sounds as if we should be hearing it from the big screen.
Rufus Isaacs appears
under two of the many pseudonyms he used. Vane’s Chorus
Girl made me immediately think of scantily dressed young
women doing high kicks in formation and Gay and Glamorous
could easily fit in any newsreel concerning high fashion.
It contains a very debonair middle section.
publishers desperate to earn money, for themselves as well
as their composers, it seems that Weinberger named Len Stevens’s
piece Television Playhouse in the hope that
it would have a life outside its Library Music origins. It’s
a smooth, balled–style intermezzo. With his Floor Show
we’re back in the world of the dancing girls.
How could this
collection exist without examples of the marvellous work of
the great Angela Morley? Lap of Luxury is rich and
languid – very stringy – and her rumbustious arrangement of
Irving Berlin’s theatrical anthem, There’s No Business
Like Show Business brings matters to a brilliant close.
other composer represented twice is Jack Strachey. Strachey’s
two biggest hits were the songs These
Foolish Things (Remind Me of You) and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and these prove his
melodic fluency. Up with the Curtain is a brisk
overture–like piece and it’s conducted with real flair by
Frederick Curzon – the man responsible for one of the great
light music pieces – The Boulevardier.
Top of the Bill is march–like with a quick step
The Show Goes On seems to epitomise the spirit encapsulated
in its title, and Nacio Herb Brown’s Broadway Melody,
written for the film of the same name, seems, unless my ears
deceive me, to keep quoting George M. Cohan
Give My Regards to Broadway, a nice tribute to
"the man who owned Broadway".
The Film Opens was used as the signature tune for American
TV series Eleventh Hour Theater. It has the kind of
imposing sound one associates with American TV of the time
– think of Herschel Burke Gilbert’s title
music for The Dick Powell Show (1961) and you’ll know
what I’m talking about. However, it is yet another example
of a piece of Library Music which found a good home.
The de Sylva/Brown/Henderson
classic If I Had a Talking Picture of You receives
a very restrained and sumptuous arrangement by Robert Farnon,
lots of smooth trombones and saxophones. Eric Coates was more
than a little naughty when it came to this composition. When
asked to write what we now know as the Dambusters March
he offered the film producers a march he had already written.
When asked by the commercial television company ATV to write
a piece for the station he dug up a 1937 composition, Seven
Seas, and changed the name to that of the TV company.
It just proves that it wasn’t earlier composers who re–used
already existing material. It’s a very nautical march, you
can almost smell the salty tang of the water in the music.
is all rush and bustle – another of those pizzicato scherzos
so beloved of light music composers. Stars in My Eyes
is one of five songs Kreisler wrote for the Grace Moore film
The King Steps Out – the lyrics, not heard here, are
by Dorothy Fields. It’s a Viennese waltz which gets the full
treatment from Andre Kostelanetz.
African born Harry Rabinowitz came to England immediately after the war and was appointed conductor of the BBC Revue
Orchestra in 1953. He became Head of Music at London Weekend
Television in the 1970s. Rabinowitz scored many films – including
Chariots of Fire, Time Bandits and Heat and
Dust and in 1981 he returned to the West End theatre to conduct Andrew Lloyd Webber’s
Cats; following this with the same composer’s Song
and Dance the next year. Back Stage is another
of these pieces which simply reek of the final moments before
the opening of a production.
he of Puffin’ Billy fame, gives an ebullient picture
of a Prima Dona, with an heart of gold. The lyricist for The
Man on the Flying Trapeze was known to millions as Champagne
Charlie and his lyrics were based on the phenomenal
success of French acrobat Jules Léotard, who had made his English début in 1861. He is probably bext remembered today for his invention of
what he called a maillot – a skin–tight one piece garment
which had long sleeves. After its adoption in the Parisian
ballet studios it became known as a leotard. Tzipine’s performance
is of a fairly straight forward arrangement of the tune.
Formby kept the British public laughing with his toothy grin,
slightly risqué songs, always accompanied by his own
ukulele playing, and many film appearances – between 1934
and 1945 Formby was the top comedian in British cinema. It’s
In The Air sees Formby rejected by the RAF and after wearing
an RAF uniform is mistaken for a pilot. Harry Parr–Davies’s
jaunty theme tune gets a rousing performance from the Royal
Air Force Orchestra conducted by Wing Commander R P O’Donnell
MVO. What better performer could there be for this music?
A Star Is Born – which has nothing whatsoever to do
with the films of the same name – is a sumptuous and sultry
score whose atmosphere is immediately destroyed by that Man
Again; Michael North’s signature tune for the BBC hit radio
show ITMA – hence It’s That Man Again. The programme,
which was built round comedian Tommy Handley, supplied much
needed relief from the war in Britain and only ended with
the untimely death of its star. This is quite an arrangement
of a not very distinguished tune, which lifts it from a brief
signature tune almost into the realms of symphonic light music!
Another fine Ronald Hanmer arrangement follows of Jimmy Kennedy’s
The Spice of Life which is given a jaunty performance
conducted by Charles Shadwell, who conducted the BBC Variety
Orchestra in the radio broadcasts of ITMA!
is a fine, full bloodied, miniature by one of the great figures
in British light music – Sidney Torch.
Fenoulhet might be best remembered as leading the Hornblowers
in the first six programmes of the first series of the BBC
radio comedy series Round the Horne, starring Kenneth
Horne. His South Bank sounds as if it has nothing to
do with the place of the same name in London, surely this
is all about summer holidays. Trevor Duncan’s Première
has a very American sound to it, which I would never have
expected from this very British composer. It’s yet another
back stage rush to be ready for opening night.
Peter Yorke was
a talented composer and arranger – before the war Louis Levy
hired him as chief arranger – and his programmes with his
own concert orchestra were a mainstay of British radio right
up to his death. Melody of the Stars is almost Elgarian
in its sweep and long melodic line.
is the sixth CD in this series which I have had the pleasure to
review, and enjoy! And I would say that it’s the most enjoyable
so far for it has such a wide variety of music and could almost
be a sampler for the series. And what a sampler! There’s a theatrical
expression “break a leg” meaning good luck in your performance.
What you mustn’t do is break a leg as you rush to add this exciting
disk to your collection.