The Golden Age of Light Music – A Second A-Z of Light Music
At the Theatre (Stuart) [2:15]
Regent Classic Orchestra
Bristol Cream (Leutwiller) [2:42]
The Symphonia Orchestra/Curt Andersen
Curtain Time (Johnson) [4:57]
New World Theatre Orchestra
Downland (Milner) [2:56]
L’Orchestre de Concert/Paul O’Henry
Edelma (Tucci) [2:40]
Percy Faith and his orchestra
Fairy Tiptoe (Fredericks) [2:45]
Harry Davidson and his orchestra
Gazelle (Ewing) [2:20]
New Century Orchestra/Sidney Torch
Huckle Buckle (Farnon) [2:59]
Leslie Jones and his orchestra
In A Monastery Garden (Ketèlbey) [4:54]
New Symphony Orchestra/Stanford Robinson
Jack O’Lantern (Feux Follets) (Roger) [1:57]
Roger Roger and his orchestra
Kings of Sport (Beaver) [2:48]
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra/Robert Farnon
Let Us Live For Tonight (Bernard) [4:04]
New Concert Orchestra/Reg Leopold
Miss Melanie (Binge) [2:23]
Stuttgart Radio Orchestra/Kurt Rehfeld
No Orchids for My Lady (Stranks) [2:34]
Ernest Maxin and his orchestra
On A Little Street In Singapore (DeRose) [3:18]
Monty Kelly and his orchestra
Prairie Schooner (Goodwin) [2:37]
Cyril Stapleton and his orchestra
A Quiet Stroll (Williams) [2:52]
Charles Williams and his orchestra
Romantic Illusion (Spoliansky) [2:56]
The Harmonic Orchestra/I Karr
Stereophonic March (Rose) [2:56]
David Rose and his orchestra
Taxi (Campbell) [2:35]
Danish State Radio Orchestra/Robert Farnon
The Unstoppable Man (McGuffie) [2:04]
Bill McGuffie (piano) and The Cine-Musica of London
Vienna City Of My Dreams (Sieczynski) [3:14]
Jack Hylton and his orchestra
A Waltz for Terry (Duncan) [3:18]
New Concert Orchestra/Dolf van der Linden
Exotica (Green) [3:14]
Philip Green and his orchestra
Young Man’s Fancy (Barrington) [2:29]
New Concert Orchestra/Cedric Dumont
Zip Along (White) [2:41]
The Grosvenor Studio Orchestra
rec. 1936-60

Guild’s inventive programming embraces a wide range of options, from Transcription series, to multi-volume discs on diverse themes. This is the second in its catch-all A-Z series in which titles are presented alphabetically. In this volume we start with At the Theatre and end with Zip Along. The only cheat comes via the tricky to place ‘X’ – so we get Exotica instead, with an emphasis on the second letter.

As usual there’s a cavalcade of bands and composers, and conductors. The Regent Classic Orchestra, conductorless, gets things off to a fine, confident Eric Coates-like start. It’s soon followed by the snappy Curtain Time played, with no conductor credit once again, by the New World Theatre Orchestra in 1957. By this time arrangements could sprawl just a bit more then in the days of 2:35 or whatever – this one almost touches five minutes in length and is the longest cut in the programme. Naturally the genre is susceptible to modish batteries of percussion and rhythms, and this is fate not wholly escaped by Percy Faith on Edelma with the near-ubiquitous Mitch Miller doing his thing on oboe.

There’s a refugee from Guild’s Music While You Work series in the shape of the tune Fairy Tiptoe played by Harry Davidson and his orchestra in 1946. The war being over, productivity wasn’t quite so dependent on strict up-tempo Fairies – though the ubiquitous Fairy in the Light Music genre might make an interesting trope for the inquisitive and musical post-graduate.

Gazelle, a lovely tune by Montague Ewing, is charmingly light on its feet courtesy of the New Century Orchestra under its exacting maestro Sidney Torch(insky). This ingenious opus courts the Graingeresque. Unlike, however, the gargantuan arrangement of Ketèlbey’s In A Monastery Garden from the New Century Orchestra under the symphonically-inclined Stanford Robinson, who manages to make the thing sound positively Tchaikovskian. There’s another trope; the influence of Russian orchestral music on British Light Music composers.

If you want newsreel zip turn to Jack Beaver’s Kings of Sport in Robert Farnon’s top-notch recording for Chappell of 1947. And if you want a confluence of elite talents try the next track, Let Us Live For Tonight, wherein Adrian Bernard’s tune is arranged by Sidney Torch and the band is conducted by Reg Leopold, erstwhile maestro fiddler. One conductor of whom the notes are silent is Ernest Maxin who directs his own orchestra in No Orchids for My Lady for Top Rank LP in 1960. Surely this is the Ernest Maxin associated with Kathy Kirby, and who directed and choreographed Morecambe and Wise in some of their greatest TV shows?

There’s a mild dash of exotica courtesy of a Singapore jaunt from Monty Kelly, and a well characterised piece from Charles Williams, as ever on top form for Columbia in 1952. Charles Brull directs The Harmonic Orchestra in a Spoliansky tune. Listen out for Bill McGuffie’s memorable The Unstoppable Man, his film theme of 1960. Then we go right back to Jack Hylton’s somewhat creaky performance of Vienna City of My Dreams in 1936.

So, from A-Z there’s much fun to be had from this latest compilation.

Jonathan Woolf

From A-Z there’s much fun to be had from this latest compilation.