1 Pops Polka (Jack Mason)
BOSTON ‘POPS’ ORCHESTRA Conducted by ARTHUR FIEDLER
RCA LM 1985 1956
2 Ring Ding (Steve Race)
THE KNIGHTSBRIDGE STRINGS
Top Rank 45-JAR 272 1959
3 Highly Strung (George French)
GROUP-FORTY ORCHESTRA Conducted by ERIC COOK
KPM 008 1959
4 Song Of Lisbon (Sempre Que Lisboa Canta) (Carlos Rocha)
ERIC JUPP AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Columbia DB 3926 1957
5 Paris Pullman (Roger Roger)
THE PARIS STUDIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by PHILIPPE PARES
Synchro FM 237 1959
6 Sapphire (theme from the film) (Philip Green)
PINEWOOD STUDIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by PHILIP GREEN featuring JOHNNY DANKWORTH, saxophone
Top Rank 45-JAR 112 1959
7 Le Soir (I’d Love To Fall Asleep) (Louis Felix Marie Gasté)
BORIS SARBEK AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Epic LN 3317 1956
8 Afraid To Dream (Mack Gordon; Harry Revel, arr. Ronald Binge)
RONALD BINGE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
RCA LPM 1458 1957
9 Jack In The Box (Fred Hartley)
FRED HARTLEY AND HIS MUSIC
Chappell C 659B 1959
10 Gay Spirits (David Rose)
DAVID ROSE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
M-G-M MGM-C 788 1959
11 Sheerline (Kurt Schick)
THE SYMPHONIA ORCHESTRA Conducted by CURT ANDERSEN
Harmonic/Charles Brull CBL 437 1959
12 Little Miss Molly (Robert Farnon)
TELECAST ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
Chappell C 660B 1959
13 Stumbling (Zes Confrey)
MORTON GOULD AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Columbia ML 4796 1957
14 Cry Of The Wild Goose (Terry Gilkyson, arr. Philip Green)
PHILIP GREEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Top Rank RX 3013 1959
15 Whirlwind (Otto Cesana)
OTTO CESANA AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Columbia CL 631 1955
16 Life In New York (Bernie Wayne, real name Bernard Weitzner)
MONTY KELLY AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Essex ESLP 208 1955
17 Sunshine Beguine (Frank Chacksfield)
THE SYMPHONIA ORCHESTRA Conducted by CURT ANDERSEN
Harmonic/Charles Brull CBL 437 1959
18 Gigue Ecossaise (Scottish Jig) (Gérard Calvi, real name Grégoire Elie Krettly)
GÉRARD CALVI AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Pye NPL 28003 1958
19 Sentimental Magic (Paul Dubois, real name Clive Richardson)
TELECAST ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES WILLIAMS
Chappell C 671B 1959
20 All Strung Up (Ron Goodwin)
RON GOODWIN AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA
Parlophone 45-R 4608 1959
21 The Honeymoon Song (from the film "Honeymoon") (Mikis Michel Theodorakis)
MANUEL AND THE MUSIC OF THE MOUNTAINS (‘Manuel’ is actually GEOFF LOVE)
Columbia 45-DB 4323 1959
22 Limelight Waltz (Albert Marland)
GROUP-FORTY ORCHESTRA Conducted by ERIC COOK
KPM Music KP 006B 1959
23 Ma Belle (from "The Three Musketeers") (Rudolf Friml)
GEOFF LOVE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Columbia SX 1060 1957
24 The Wonderful Country (theme from the film) (Alex North)
HOLLYWOOD STUDIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Conducted by MITCHELL POWELL
London HA-T 2222 1959
25 Toy Violin (Charles Williams)
QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA Conducted By CHARLES WILLIAMS
Chappell C 265 1946
26 A Blues Serenade (Mitchell Parish; Frank Signorelli)
AXEL STORDAHL AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Capitol LC 6631 1954
27 Perpetual Notion (Percy Faith)
PERCY FAITH AND HIS ORCHESTRA
RCA Victor 20-4001 1949
28 A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody (Irving Berlin, arr. Peter Yorke)
PETER YORKE AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA
Decca DL 8240 1954
29 Park Avenue Fantasy (underscore from film soundtrack "Some Like It Hot") (Adolph Deutsch)
STUDIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ADOLPH DEUTSCH
London HA-T 2176 1959
All tracks are in mono
Our opening number is a feisty piece by the world-famous Boston ‘Pops’, who were once known more sedately outside the USA as the Boston Promenade Orchestra. It is appropriate that Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979), the man most associated with the orchestra, should actually have been born in Boston. His Austrian-born father played violin in the Boston Symphony Orchestra (from which the Boston ‘Pops’ is created for its lighter moments). Arthur became the eighteenth conductor of the ‘Pops’ in 1930, and remained at the helm until a heart attack following a performance on 5 May 1979 hastened his death two months later at the age of 84. Pops Polka by Jack Mason (1906-1965, also a prolific arranger) is typical of the kind of bright piece often promoted by Fiedler to attract audiences who would otherwise shun concerts by symphony orchestras.
It’s always a pleasure to welcome new composers and orchestras to the Guild Music ‘Golden Age of Light Music’ series, and this time there are several to introduce.
When the J. Arthur Rank Organisation introduced its own Top Rank label in 1959, The Knightsbridge Strings caused quite a stir. Apart from making some very good recordings, there was speculation regarding the musicians actually creating the music – especially the arrangers and conductors. They followed in the footsteps of many similar outfits, of which 101 Strings was the most prolific, with Living Strings also gaining much praise.
There were two arranger/conductors credited with the success of The Knightsbridge Strings. Reg Owen (born George Owen Smith, 1921-1978) became arranger for the Ted Heath orchestra from 1945, before working for several other conductors including Cyril Stapleton. When he joined the Performing Rights Society in 1954 he decided to change his name legally to "Reginald Owen." Regarded as one of England's leading orchestrators, Reg published his book "The Reg Owen Arranging Method" in 1956. He is regarded as a ‘one hit wonder’ thanks to his best-selling recording of Manhattan Spiritual in 1958. This possibly encouraged Top Rank to engage him for The Knightsbridge Strings, because some of their output was aimed at the pop market. His own film scores date from 1957 and include "Murder Reported" (1958), "Very Important Person" (1961), "A Coming-Out Party" (1961) and "Payroll" (1962). He moved to Brussels in 1961, though he continued to arrange, compose and conduct albums all over Europe, including France, Germany and Italy before moving finally to Spain where he died in 1978 aged just 57.
Owen’s ‘Knightsbridge Strings’ colleague died even younger at 52. Although one might describe Malcolm NevilleLockyer (1923-1976) as a typical backroom boy in the music business, he became well-known to the British public largely due to the fact that he notched up almost 6,000 broadcasts during his prolific career. After war service in the Royal Air Force, in 1945 he began broadcasting on BBC radio in programmes such as ‘Piano Playtime’, and he was still contributing to shows like ‘Words and Music’ when throat cancer finally ended his life. Originally trained as an architect, he played piano as a hobby, and his contacts with jazz musicians during the war persuaded him that his future lay in the music business. For a while he was engaged as pianist and arranger with the famous Ambrose band, and he also worked with Cyril Stapleton and Robert Farnon before forming his own orchestra for broadcasting in 1951. He discovered a talent for composing: in the light music field he became noticed through his cameos such as "Pizzicato Rag" (on Guild GLCD 5118); "Fiddlers’ Boogie" (on GLCD 5130 - also recorded by Frank Chacksfield for Decca); and "The Big Guitar" (written under his pseudonym ‘Howard Shaw’ for the Chappell Recorded Music Library) which BBC TV used as the theme for a series called "Stranger Than Fiction", prompting a recording by Sidney Torch and guitarist Bert Weedon (on GLCD 5126). In total Malcolm Lockyer scored some thirty films and television series, and in 1960 he succeeded Harry Rabinowitz as the conductor of the BBC Revue Orchestra. When the BBC decided to amalgamate its Revue and Variety orchestras as the BBC Radio Orchestra in 1964, Malcolm Lockyer was the associate conductor with Paul Fenoulhet until 1972.
Steve Race, OBE (1921-2009) also makes his Guild debut with The Knightsbridge Strings as composer of Ring Ding. This catchy number certainly caught the public’s imagination back in 1959. In his later career he became better known as compere of a long-running radio (also TV) show "My Music", and during the 1980s he compered a series featuring the BBC Radio Orchestra. But he first made his mark as a pianist and arranger with many top British bands of the post-war years, and was a prolific contributor to publishers’ production music libraries.
George French was a British violinist who broadcast frequently on the BBC in the happy times of the last century when radio stations broadcast hours of live light music. He contributed to many popular series ("Music While You Work" being one prime example) and performed (often as leader) for most of the well-known conductors. He also had a gift for composing, and his Bobby Sox from the Francis, Day & Hunter mood music library has already been featured on Guild GLCD 5146. This time he has the honour of providing our title track: his Highly Strung was especially composed for the new KPM Music Library which was launched in 1959.
With so many fine composers, arrangers and conductors on parade this time, it is inevitable that choices have to be made for special mention. To be fair, newcomers ought not to be ignored, and another feature of the new Top Rank label was occasional releases of film music with the orchestra’s name firmly linked to the British film industry (Pinewood Studios still flourish today). "Sapphire", released in 1959, related the story of the murder of a black music student, with veteran composer Philip Green (1910-1982) on top form: the film deservedly won a BAFTA award. Green also arranges Cry Of The Wild Goose which he conducts with his orchestra on an early LP from the Top Rank stable.
Fred Hartley (1905-1980) was a familiar name in British broadcasting for many years, having made his first appearance on the BBC as a solo pianist as early as 1925. He was then employed as an accompanist, and founded his famous Novelty Quintet in 1931. In 1946 he was appointed the BBC’s Head of Light Music. Two of his own compositions have already been featured on Guild CDs: Alpine Festival was included on Guild GLCD5141, and the other side of the same Decca single Adios Mexico appeared on GLCD5151. Towards the end of the 1950s he contributed several of his own pieces to the Chappell Recorded Music Library, from which we have selected Jack In A Box. This number will probably ring a faint bell of recognition among people in Britain, because it is the kind of charming novelty which he featured so often in his radio programmes.
Geoff Love (1917-1991) hailed from Todmorden in Yorkshire, and began his professional musical career in 1935, playing in various dance bands until he was called up for war service in the King’s Royal Rifles. Back in civilian life he had several jobs as a trombone player before joining Harry Gold’s Pieces Of Eight for three years. Norrie Paramor (1914-1979) was the band’s pianist, and he and Geoff were to work together very successfully in later years when Norrie was an A&R man at EMI’s Columbia label. Geoff had already made some pleasing records in his own name, but in 1959 a new sound – and a new identity that would remain a secret for many years – catapulted him into international recognition. Geoff became ‘Manuel And The Music Of The Mountains’ and the public simply assumed that this fresh, new and appealing music had to be created in South America (people thought the same about Johnny Gregory, the real ‘Chaquito’). Alongside his alter-ego, Geoff was very busy in radio and television, and he made numerous recordings with singers as well as a varied selection of orchestral albums. He was simply very good at the three things essential in his chosen career – composing, arranging and conducting. The Honeymoon Song firmly launched Manuel upon the world, while melodic trifles such as Ma Belle were enjoyed by lovers of lush orchestral music, and they could be counted in their millions back in the 1950s. The original mono recording of The Honeymoon Song has been chosen as it is considered by many to be a better performance than the later stereo version.
Another of the 78s from the new KPM Music Library in 1959 featured Limelight Waltz by Albert Marland. His full name was James Albert Marland (1904-1976) and as Bert Marland he was a pianist in Percival Mackey’s Band in 1928. Later he played with Henry Hall’s BBC Dance Orchestra, where he also contributed some arrangements. During the Second World War, ‘Musician Albert Marland’ was a member of the Royal Marines Band, where it is reported that he sometimes provided some pianistic light relief in the Mess Room in contrast to the more formal, serious music that was usually expected. Post-war he worked in London’s West End and also fronted his own band. He composed the music for the film "Sunshine In Soho" (1956). During the 1990s Limelight Waltz was used several times in the "Ren and Stimpy Show" in the USA.
Alex North (1910-1991) made his name as a Hollywood composer, yet he disliked publicity and did not entirely approve of the Hollywood system. However he received 15 Oscar nominations, and in 1986 was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Oscar for his work in the film industry. Among his numerous film successes were "The Rainmaker" (1956), "Spartacus" (1960), "Cleopatra" (1963) and "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966). Stanley Kubrick commissioned him to compose the score for "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) but it was rejected, although it was subsequently recorded for CD release. His song "Unchained Melody" (from the 1955 film "Unchained") became a worldwide hit, attracting numerous recordings, and it is still being revived today by fresh performers rediscovering it. The film "The Wonderful Country",featured on this CD, was a run-of-the-mill western from 1959, starring Robert Mitchum.
The final track comes from the 1959 Billy Wilder comedy "Some Like It Hot", which regularly turns up on lists of peoples’ most favourite films of all time. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis reputedly had to contend with Marilyn Monroe’s occasional erratic acting, although it doesn’t show. Veteran Hollywood musical director Adolph Deutsch (1897-1980) created just the right 1920s atmosphere, and Park Avenue Fantasy (with an appropriate period sound) is used as the underscore to the zany antics on-screen. Deutsch (who was born in London, England) went on to work on another Billy Wilder comedy "The Apartment" in 1960, then retired a year later. He had previously been involved as arranger, composer and/or conductor on some of the best Hollywood films of the 1950s, winning Oscars for "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" (1954) and "Oklahoma!" (1955).