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Always good to kick off the new year with a great new release, and I was pleased to receive Stage Door Records’ latest re-issue of a first-time-on-digital cast recording. They really have this corner of the market sewn up, and it’s always fun to see what lost recording they have uncovered this time.
Drake's Dream is a musical biography of the 16th century Sea Captain and Navigator Sir Francis Drake, featuring music and lyrics by Lynne and Richard Riley and book by Simon Brett. The story encompasses Drake's historic circumnavigation of the world culminating in his return to England in 1580. The production premiered at Worthing's Connaught Theatre on October 26th 1977 directed by Nicolas Young, before transferring to London's Shaftesbury Theatre for a limited season opening on December 7th 1977 starring Paul Jones as Sir Francis Drake alongside David Burt as Thomas Doughty, Earl Jordan as The King Of Ternate, Caro Gurney as Queen Elizabeth I and Janet Shaw as Mary Drake.
Reviews were mixed with many critics questioning whether it was a rock musical or a pantomime. Noted playwright and director Ken Hill was recruited to revise the production for a subsequent transfer to the Westminster Theatre in February 1978. Prior to the show opening at the Shaftesbury Theatre, the Drake's Dream Original London Cast Album was recorded by President Records. The London Cast Recording now makes its debut on CD, digitally re-mastered from the master tapes.
First of all – this is a great sounding release, as we’ve come to expect from Stage Door. It could have been recorded yesterday, such is the clarity and the separation. However, the sound is so ‘of the time’ that there is no mistaking when it was actually recorded! It's full of great sounding guitars and other '70s throw backs, but mixed in with that are some tracks that sound pretty contemporary.
Paul Jones is in fine voice here, and he features on many tracks on the recording. My favourite of his, and also of the album is ‘Take A Little Time’ – great song, and a nice arrangement. I also enjoyed Earl Jordan’s ‘Spice Of Life’, and ‘Waiting Isn’t Easy’ by Janet Shaw. To be honest, I did find some of the tracks a little much of a muchness, and certain tracks, such as ‘She Plays A Dangerous Game’ a little dated.
However, it’s an enjoyable listen. I would have liked some story on the CD, so it could be followed easier, but Stage Door were of course limited to what they had to work with, and it’s accompanied with a good inlay booklet.