The Sounds of “All Our Yesterdays”
Presented by Brian Inglis
I’d like to give a brief welcome to this disc. It’s not a music recording, though there is music in it, as it’s an evocation in sound of the War period, with linking narrative. The idea stemmed from a regular quarter-hour feature on Britain’s Granada TV, beginning in 1960, which drew on documentary sources such as newsreels, photographs and cartoons. Due to its popularity it was extended to a 30-minute feature. The original writer and presenter was James Cameron but after a year Brian Inglis took over and present it for well over a decade. The period 1964-70 covered the War years as the brief was to depict the events of 25 years earlier. The programme ran until 1973 after which a book, All Our Yesterdays, was produced. From the book came the idea of a documentary compilation LP of some of the sounds heard on the programme. And that, in a nutshell, is the story of this disc – the booklet notes have served as my Bible for the genesis of the series and subsequent disc. Its producer was Peter Wheeler, researcher Bill Grundy, presenter – obviously – Brian Inglis, and the mixing engineer was David Kent-Watson.
There are many memorable sounds here and it would be invidious to select highlights – you’d expect Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Montgomery and the rest. I was interested to hear Quentin Reynolds nicely sneering in his ‘Letter to Schickelbruber’, the young Princess Elizabeth in a broadcast message (an amazingly upper crust, piping voice), the Pathé News Gazette report on invasion preparations, and their later report on the Japanese surrender with its withering lines dripping with contempt: ‘stony-faced and silent, the Japs look on’. This is the longest news extract at five minutes. And then the aftermath of war, with some pre-election speeches from Beveridge and Archibald Sinclair.
There are numerous music extracts; Myra Hess, Flotsam and Jetsam (sounding quite Billy Bennett-like), Robert Ashley singing ‘The Londoner I Love’ (he didn’t survive the war), Formby’s inevitable phallic rock, Vera Lynn signing us off with ‘We’ll Meet Again’.
There are a few LP ticks and pops along the way but I assume the master tape is not available for transfer. One thing I must note, and I assume it’s a rectifiable problem, is that whilst there are 37 tracking points in the booklet (which has some nice pictures) – each with attached timing – my review copy only has one track! You’re not going to be able to fast forward easily without them.
Jonathan Woolf

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