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Archive for the ‘Lionel Bart’ Category

Croydon Municipal, Saint Etienne Enter Christmas Land With “Songs For a London Winter”

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Songs for a London WinterAs Bob Stanley writes in his liner notes to the new collection Songs for a London Winter, “Christmas has always been a special time in Saint Etienne’s world. We’ve release singles, EPs, covered Cliff Richard songs, played at the Palladium, thrown a few parties and sunk a few whisky macs. We love it. But this is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to put together a Christmas compilation of other people’s songs.” Songs for a London Winter, on Stanley’s Croydon Municipal imprint of Cherry Red, features 24 recordings drawn from the 1950s and early 1960s. Every track is of British origin. “An American Christmas feels warm, with a golden brandy glow,” Stanley explains. “What do we have? Scrooge. Well, that’s a little harsh, but there’s certainly something more make-do-and-mend about a London Christmas.” On Songs for a London Winter, you’ll find jazz, rock and roll, instrumental pop, and novelty songs, and most excitingly, very few of these songs constitute typical fare for holiday compilations.

There are plenty of mood-setting instrumentals here, particularly from pianists. The “singalong piano” of Zack Laurence propels a jaunty (and punningly-titled) “Snowman’s Land,” while Joe “Mr. Piano” Henderson offers his own “Swingin’ Sleigh Ride.” Not to be outdone, Tony Osborne, His Piano and Orchestra bask in some “Winter Starlight” and Russ Conway drives a shimmering “Snow Coach.”

The “Heavenly Trumpet” of Kenny Baker conjures up “Winter Ice.” Bandleader Johnny Keating’s “We Three Kings” is a raucously uptempo instrumental take on the traditional song. Saxophonist Johnny Dankworth is heard on the smoky yet seasonal “Winter Wail,” while his wife Cleo Laine is also represented with her jazz-flavored vocal on the Shakespeare adaptation, “Blow Blou Thou Winter Wind.” The familiar lead guitar of Vic Flick enlivens “Get Lost Jack Frost,” a “When the Saints Go Marching In”-inspired melody from soon-to-be-film legend John Barry and his Seven.  The Ted Heath orchestra’s “Swinging Shepherd Blues” – first recorded in the U.S. by its composer Moe Koffman on flute – recasts the tune for soprano sax and clarinet to fine effect.

The vocal tracks, encompassing both straightforward pop tunes and novelty records, are equally enjoyable. Brother and sister duo Derek and Elaine (Thompson)’s sweet “It’s Christmas” and Lyn Cornell’s “Xmas Stocking” both bask in the nostalgic glow of a simpler time; The Beverley Sisters attain an ethereal sound on “Little Donkey.” Rock-and-rollers got into the holiday spirit, too. Adam Faith has the novelty-esque “Lonely Pup” (complete with children’s choir) while Billy Fury channels Elvis crossed with Gene Pitney on the melodramatic “My Christmas Prayer.” Composer-lyricist and Rolling Stones pal Lionel Bart went from rock and roll to Broadway with musicals including the international smash hit Oliver!; Songs from a London Winter features his charming and bouncy “Give Us a Kiss for Christmas.” Broadcaster, songwriter and musician Wally Whyton’s “Christmas Land” is another slice of low-key, enjoyable period pop.

There’s more after the jump, including the complete track listing with discography, and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 22, 2014 at 11:20

The Year in Reissues: The 2012 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Gold CDWow!  Was it just over a year ago when a rather dubious report began circulating (that, shockingly, was picked up by many otherwise-reputable publications) that proclaimed the death of the CD was secretly scheduled by the major labels for 2012?  Well, 2012 has come and (almost) gone, and it might have been the most super-sized year in recent memory for reissues, deluxe and otherwise, from labels new and old.  Here at the Second Disc, we consider our annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards a companion piece to Mike’s own round-up over at Popdose, and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible – over 80 worthy, unique titles.  We also hope to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2012. As we’re literally deluged with news around these parts, these ladies and gentlemen prove, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to them, and to you, the readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past alive and well.

With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2012? Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2012′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be: Archival Releases Set from Judy Garland, Anthony Newley, Lionel Bart

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Now that’s entertainment.  Thanks to the efforts of some dedicated reissue specialists in the U.K., some legendary artists – one performer (the performer?), one performing songwriter, and one songwriter – are soon receiving deluxe sets truly capturing an era gone by.  On October 9, Sepia Records will release The Genius of Lionel Bart, a 3-CD set authorized by the Lionel Bart Foundation consisting of hits, misses and everything in between from the Oliver! creator (including unreleased material intended for the James Bond film Thunderball and much, much more!).  On November 5, Stage Door Records will issue the final studio album of Anthony Newley as The Last Song, and finally, on November 12, First Hand Records will unveil Judy Garland’s The Amsterdam Concert – December 1960.

First Hand’s The Amsterdam Concert – December 1960 follows the label’s comprehensive The London Studio Recordings 1957-1964, released to acclaim just last year.  Garland’s concert at Amsterdam’s Tuschinski Theatre, at midnight on the evening of December 10, 1960, was broadcast live by Dutch radio network AVRO and has made numerous appearances on vinyl and CD in collectors’ circles, earning praise from many fans as one of the best representations of the live Judy Garland at her most electrifying, perhaps second only to Judy at Carnegie Hall.  For this “first authorized complete release,” AVRO’s original tapes have been licensed to First Hand, and the result is a lavish, 2-CD set.  Garland was accompanied that evening by David Lee on piano and Jos. Cleber’s Cosmopolitan Orchestra under the direction of Norrie Paramor.

The Amsterdam Concert is particularly illuminating, as it was recorded just four months prior to the historic Carnegie Hall evening of April 23, 1961, and features a nearly-identical set list.  First Hand’s release of the full broadcast includes all 30 songs as performed by Garland in Amsterdam, plus a bonus section of interviews with Garland, Sid Luft and conductor Paramor, an orchestral introduction and radio dialogue.  Garland’s rapport with the audience is evident on her spoken tracks, which have been indexed separately from the musical performances.  The discs will be housed in a jewel case, also containing a booklet with photographs of Garland onstage at the Tuschinski Theatre.

Judy Garland’s Amsterdam Concert arrives on November 12 in the U.K.  After the jump, we have the full track listing and a pre-order link, plus the scoop on Messrs. Bart and Newley! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 2, 2012 at 10:07