Songs of Cricket
Cricket Theme medley (arr. Alexander L’Estrange) [5:24]
The Cricketers of Hambleton (Bruce Blunt/Peter Warlock) [2:42]
Medley of Five School Songs [5:48]
The Summer Game (from Cricket (Hearts and Wickets)) (Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber) [3:39]
Lillian Thomson (Richard Stilgoe) [2:04]
Radnage Cricket Song (Trad. collected by Horace Harman) [2:00]
Four Jolly Bowlers (The Yetties) [2:24]
The Rules of Cricket – a Psalm Chant (The London Quartet/W H Havergal) [2:34]
You’ve got to be a cricket hero (Alf Sherman/Buddy Fields/Al Lewis and Fred Tupper/Cliff Nichols) [2:39]
Jiggery Pokery (Neil Hannon/Thomas Walsh) [3:13]
Village Rondo (Matthew Holst arr. Chris Hatt) [3:41]
Eton and Winchester (R T Warner/F S Kelly) [4:10]
I made a hundred in the backyard at Mum’s (Greg Champion) [2:29]
Australian Cricket Medley (various) [5:42]
The Barmy Army (Richard Stilgoe) [3:21]
That’s not cricket (from At Home Abroard) (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz) [2:26]
Cricket Tea Towel: The Ins and Outs of Cricket (Anon/The London Quartet) [2:19]
Andy Flower Duet (Richard Stilgoe/Léo Delibes) [2:04]
Jerusalem (Richard Stilgoe/Charles Hubert Parry) [1:18]
When an old cricketer leaves the crease (Roy Harper) [7:00]
“Stop it, Aggers!” (Rory Bremner) [2:02]
The London Quartet (Richard Bryan (counter-tenor); Steven Brooks, Mark Fleming (tenors); Michael Steffan (baritone)); Chris Hatt (piano); Alexander L’Estrange (piano); Gary Lovenest (cowbell); Richard Stilgoe, Eliza Lumley, Tim Rice (vocal); Rory Bremner (comedian)
rec. Air Studios, London, 24, 25, 28 February, 1 March 2011
texts included
SIGNUM SIGCD217 [69:00]

I do not recall an earlier disc devoted solely to songs about England’s great national game. Even the delightful anthology of Victorian and Edwardian sporting songs with Ian Partridge and Peter Savidge (Play the Game – Just Records JUSCD001) had only a single song related to it. The market is therefore wide open for a disc celebrating its various musical facets, although this one was produced too early to take account of the current success of the England team. It casts its net wide and in doing so certainly reveals many aspects of the game. Unfortunately there is a general lack of musical quality or wit in the songs chosen to represent it, and I found listening to it a somewhat dispiriting experience for much of the time.

There are nonetheless some gems here. Warlock’s well-known setting of The Cricketers of Hambleton is a good example of the composer in his hearty vein, while the Village Rondo by Matthew Holst, great-grandfather of Gustav Holst, boasted a front cover making the first link between cricket and music. It has considerable charm. The school songs from Uppingham, Harrow, Eton and so on, and the song about an Eton and Winchester match are entertaining reminders of a time when a link could be and was made between the behaviour expected in cricket and in life in general. The various songs deriving from the Australian cricket scene are amusing and open-hearted. The problems arise with the items intended to be more obviously comic. Sense of humour is a personal thing, and I suspect that I would have enjoyed them much more in the context of an after-dinner entertainment. Heard “cold”, however, they lack any real impact. Singing the rules of cricket as an Anglican chant or the words of a tea towel about cricket as a parody of the style of Arvo Pärt will only be funny if the words can be heard clearly thus pointing the mismatch between them and the music. Following them in the booklet is not sufficient – they must be clearly audible. For the most part they are not. Richard Stilgoe’s diction in his songs is much better but these are not amongst his most successful efforts. The final track, some unfunny impressions of various cricketing voices by Rory Bremner, has little to do with the remainder of the disc and does not seem to belong here.

The London Quartet, once known as Cantabile, do their best with the material they have, although it is hard to see how anyone could make much of the interminable When an old cricketer leaves the crease. Overall, though, I found this disc a disappointment. The field remains wide open for a disc which will properly celebrate the link between cricket and music.

John Sheppard

Overall I found this disc a disappointment.