Sir Malcolm Sargent and the Pro Arte Orchestra- Gilbert & Sullivan- The Mikado, HMS Pinafore, and Patter Songs

This fine old collection was $5.  I bought it way, way right before I started writing this blog.  Yet, I still remember the cashier remarking how it reminded him of Raiders of The Lost Ark and the Indiana Jones franchise, as the minor character of Sallah, played by John Rhys- Davies, is fond of singing Gilbert & Sullivan numbers.  I found it a bit odd not only that the young tattooed clerk could connect this but could connect lines to HMS Pinafore.

On that note, a month back (or longer depending on when you read this), I attended The Houston Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production of The Gondoliers.  I felt the production was quite good and very entertaining but as I went to the Sunday matinee, I was quite concerned that the audience was mostly over 85 and thought that perhaps appreciation for G&S was dying.  A friend of mine pointed out that Sunday matinees are mostly older crowds and the G&S are not going anywhere.

So then there is this record conducted by esteemed British conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent (1895-1967) who participated in his first G&S production at age 10.  He conducts the Pro Arte Orchestra with assorted soloists and the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus.  I am not sure when this came out other than after Sargent’s passing but it seems to be a collection earlier recorded works, most notably two of G&S’s most famous works, The Mikado and HMS Pinafore.

So to start off with samples, from the Mikado, I went with my favorite song from this piece (which is never on any of the albums I buy), “The Sun Whose Rays…”.  It is sung my Elise Morrison.  From the HMS Pinafore, I went with “I Am The Monarch Of The Sea…. When I Was A Lad”, sung by George Baker.

In terms of the patter songs, I wanted to use a number from “The Gondoliers” to tie it in to  the story above but I felt the album should have put different numbers.  There are a couple good patter songs that involve the Gondoliers and their wives which I felt could have been used on this.  Oh well, In their place, here is “In Enterprise Of Martial Kind”, sung by Geraint Evans with the chorus.

I really wanted to post “My Eyes Are Fully Open” from Ruddigore, but I felt this version was to tepid and slow.  And for the most part, that is my criticism of this collection.  The patter songs as well as G&S’s catalog really works when done in rapid fire.  All the songs really could have used a but more speed.  So meh.  Sorry.

Marianne Faithfull-ST

DSCN2387This was $1.  The album cover is in terrible shape and I would argue that it barely constitutes for a cover.  The album itself is in better shape.Marianne-Faithfull-with-h-001

Marianne Faithfull has had a storied career filled with highs and lows.  Born in Hampstead, London in 1946 with links to nobility, Faithfull started singing folk songs in coffee houses when she was discovered by the manager of the Rolling Stones.  After a few albums and some successful albums, she left her husband to become the girlfriend of Mick Jagger, and becoming a drug addict in the process.  In 1970, she would end with Mick but not the drugs which would wreck her voice.  After a recovery in the mid-seventies, Faithfull returned with new albums that showcased her new raw, cracked voice.  In a sense, she was able to re-invent herself.  Through the years, she would push her limits further going into country, punk, jazz, blues, and even Weimar-era German music hall.  She is still alive at the time of this post.

 

Faithfull’s Webpage Biography

This was her second album but weirdly enough, it was released the same day as her first, which was a collection of folk songs.  This record was more pop oriented.  “Come Stay With Me”, written by Del Shannon, was the big hit single.  Other highlights include the Stones’ “As Tears Go By”, the Beatles’ “I’m A Loser”, and Del Shannon’s “In My Time of Sorrow”.  The album would go to # 15 in the UK and # 12 in the US.DSCN2388

For a sample, I went with “Time Takes Time” which I felt was the best song on the album and The Beatles’ “I’m A Loser”, just to get Beatles content up thereSMH METROPOLITAN FAITHFUL PIC SHOWS MARIANNE FAITHFULL PIC SUPPLIED.

Satisfactory record.  I do not think I would care for later work but would be interested in getting my hands on the fore-mentioned folk album.

 

Merv Griffin & Arthur Treacher- ‘Alf & ‘Alf- Songs of the British Music Hall

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This was $2.40.  It was something different from other things I posted and  figured I could get a good story out of it at the least.  Victorian music hall

British Music Hall music, the UK equivalent of American vaudeville, was born the 1830’s.  It rose to popularity in the 1850’s and unofficially died in 1963 with the death of Max Miller. Although it would assume no fixed form, its popularity spawned some of the best songwriters and songs of the 19th and early 20th century.  It would spawn a major labor unrest in 1907 when the artists went on strike against the theater managers.  This resulted in copyright law being applied to music.  In WWI, at the height of its popularity, it was used as a recruiting tool.  After the war, its popularity waned with the rise of swing, jazz, trad, and eventually rock and roll.  However, perhaps the most enduring tribute to the Music Hall tradition was the first series of The Muppet Show.

Link to Music Hall Recordings

Arthur Treacher was a British actor (1894-1975) who made numerous movie, stage, and television appearances.  Merv Griffin (1925-2007) was a media mogul, working on stage and television, hosting his own show, and creating some of the most enduring game shows including Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.  What I did not know is that Treacher, who was Griffin’s mentor served as Griffin’s announcer and sidekick on the Merv Griffin Show from 1965 to 1970.  When network brass wanted to dump Treacher due to age, Griffin successfully protested.merv and artThis album is from what I can tell, a decent collection of British Music Hall tunes.  It includes songs originally sung by Billy Williams, Jack Worworth, Basil Hallam, Jack Pleasants, and Harry Champion.  The music is bouncy  with snappy back and forth dialogue.   Songs such as “I’ve Got a Loverly Bunch of Cocoanuts” highlight that British double entre style which suggests something is dirty when it really isn’t.  That is really prevalent on several of the tracks.  Overall, after a few songs, the gag wears thin.  The songs all sound similar after a while and the visual aspect of what Music Hall was trying to accomplish is completely lost with this.

DSCN2303For a sample, I submit “Whose Got the Suitcase”  which is the most upbeat number on the album.  It  showcases the fast paced back and worth between the two entertainers that really defined Music Hall.  Also included in “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am”, a tune performed by Harry Champion and remade in a rock and roll style by Herman’s Hermits in the 1960’s.  This version seems to pay tribute to both styles.

Meh.  After a while, this album wears thin.  If all the songs were like the samples, I would bump this up a rating, but alas this is not the case.