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Music Review

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Lost West End Vintage
(2 CD Set)


Music: Various
Lyrics: Various
Performed by: Various
Label: Stage Door Records
RRP: £9.99
STAGE 9051
Release Date: 28 July 2017

As I’ve said countless times before, I’m very much a fan of the rare and intriguing. I’ve always liked forgotten musicals, flop musicals and songs that have been re-discovered. So, following their excellent Lost West End, and Lost West End 2, I was excited to see that Stage Door’s next release was to be Lost West End Vintage - a sort of old folks home of forgotten gems. And there was so much to choose from, Stage Door have made this a 2 CD set.

Ranging from 1948 to 1962, the selections featured include a broad range of musical styles and genres from prolific musical theatre composers including Ivor Novello, Noel Coward, Julian Slade, Sandy Wilson, Lionel Bart, Leslie Bricusse, David Heneker, Monty Norman, Vivian Ellis and more. Presented as a Deluxe Edition 2 CD set; Lost West End Vintage features over 50 tracks (including over 20 tracks appearing on CD for the first time) from London cast recordings to pop covers, live recordings and other musical rarities. The album includes a glittering ensemble of star performers including; Pat Kirkwood, George Formby, Anna Neagle, Sally Ann Howes, Frankie Howerd, Bertice Reading, Hy Hazell, Elisabeth Welch, Jeremy Brett, Edmund Hockridge, Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Beatrice Lillie and Petula Clark.

When listening to this compilation, it’s hard to believe that some of these songs are ‘lost’. The performers alone should have made some of these a lot more well known than they are. In reality, I probably knew a handful of the songs, which as I pride myself on having a wide knowledge of cast recordings, probably means the whole album is totally new to a lot of people. The album is split into 27 London Cast Recording tracks on the first CD, and 25 cover and pop renditions on the second - a massive 52 tracks to get through.

I think it’s fair to say that it’s the performers who make some of these songs work. I loved Millicent Martin’s performance of ‘I Am’ from Express Bongo - a long discarded musical, with a pretty good score by David Heneker (who went onto write a little-know show called Half A Sixpence) and Monty Norman. The show gets a second number, ‘Shrine On The Second Floor’ performed by Cliff Richard on the second CD, which despite the pop arrangement, still works well. Another catchy number that I can’t believe didn’t make it is 'Live A Little, Love A Little' from a musical I hadn’t even heard of Romance In Candlelight. It’s a tuneful, memorable number performed by Sally Ann Howes (who of course gave a Truly Scrumptious performance in the movie of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and Jacques Pils.

Comedy numbers are numerous, and I particularly enjoyed the unsurpassable Frankie Howard performing ‘Song And Dance Man’ from Mister Venus, another long forgotten musical. The second CD has some interesting pop records, although it’s perhaps my least favourite of the 2 CDs, although there are still some gems. Lionel Bart putting over a good rendition of his ‘Lock Up Your Daughters’ is one, and I also enjoyed the couple of ’selections’ from Aladdin and Scapa.

This is an album that should be treasured, and I can only imagine the amount of work that went into putting this collection together, and making it sound so good. Sure, some of these tracks you will probably not listen to on a regular basis, but much is very listenable, and it’s vital that recordings like this are made to keep treasures like this for generations to come.

In the words of a not-so-forgotten musical, more!


Ian Gude

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