Great British Songbook
Pure Imagination - Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley [3.46]
Keep the Home Fires Burning - Ivor Novello [3.26]
Smile - Charlie Chaplin [3.03]
Piano for Sale - Ian Brown [2.55]
Thinking Out Loud Ed Sheeran/Amy Wadge [3.51]
Ross Leadbeater (vocal and piano)
Laura Stanford (cello) (Novello)
Laura Stanford String Quartet (Bricusse, Chaplin)
rec. Miloco Studios, London March 2016
ROSS LEADBEATER RECORDS ROSS2016 [17.24]
Two years or so ago I attended Ross Leadbeater’s memorable Great British Songbook concert in London. It featured a young talented team singing well-loved songs ranging from the era of Ivor Novello, Noel Coward, Vivian Ellis, and Sandy Wilson to the times of Lionel Bart, Leslie Bricusse and Andrew Lloyd Webber etc. Subsequently I interviewed Ross for this site. I knew that one day he would release a recording celebrating the Great British Songbook. When this CD arrived I was somewhat surprised because of its brevity and that it only featured Ross himself singing and playing piano (with string accompaniments as per heading) rather than the singers heard at the concert.
Ross Leadbeater sings and plays these five songs in a cosy, sentimental style suited to the songs that are a mix of the familiar and the non-too-well-known. Bricusse’s Pure Imagination conjures a utopian dream, “…want to change the world…there’s nothing to it…” in your imagination. Ivor Novello’s patriotic Keep the Home Fires Burning was a huge hit in the time of World War I and there is no doubt of the sincerity in Leadbeater’s voice as he entreats the women back home to “…Keep the home fires burning while your hearts are yearning, though your lads are far away they dream of home…”
I have to confess that I disliked Charlie Chaplin and I find Smile mawkish to a degree but that’s just me. Ian Brown’s Piano For Sale is sugary sentimental too and is something of a biographical ride in that the pianist selling the instrument remembers all the music he played on it from chopsticks, through Mozart to tin pan alley tunes of the day. Finally bringing the songbook up to date there is Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud – a hope of everlasting love “…People love in mysterious ways…Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars…”
There is no doubt about Ross Leadbeater’s sincerity in wanting to keep the traditions of the Great British Song Book alive but I cannot say that this particular selection will help too much.