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Music Review

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Lost West End Vintage 2


Music: Various
Lyrics: Various
Performed by: Various
Label: Stage Door Records
RRP: £9.99
STAGE 9056
Release Date: 27 July 2018

I’ve made it no secret in the past that I love this sort of release - cut tracks, and tracks having their first release on CD. And in this series by Stage Door Records, the pleasure is doubled, as Lost West End Vintage 2 is a 2cd set of treasures you didn’t know you needed to hear !

Lost West End Vintage 2 celebrates London's forgotten musicals of the 1940s, '50s and '60s compiling songs from 37 West End productions and showcasing these unique theatrical works from the golden age of the British musical.

Ranging from 1943 to 1962, the selections featured include a broad range of musical styles and genres from prolific musical theatre composers including Ivor Novello, Noel Coward, Vivian Ellis, Julian Slade, Sandy Wilson, Lionel Bart, Leslie Bricusse and more. Presented as a deluxe edition 2CD set; Lost West End Vintage features 50 tracks (including over 20 tracks appearing on CD for the first time) from London cast recordings to pop covers, demos and other musical rarities. The album includes recordings by a glittering ensemble of star performers including; Mary Martin, Jeremy Brett, Sally Ann Howes, Dora Bryan, Julie Wilson, Evelyn Laye, Barbara Windsor, Elizabeth Seal, Cleo Laine, Frank Sinatra, Julie Andrews, Anna Neagle, Spike Milligan, Joan Sims, Millicent Martin, Denis Quilley and more.

The 'Lost West End Vintage' musicals included are: The Lisbon Story (1943), Sweet Yesterday (1945), Under The Counter (1945), Pacific 1860 (1946), Cage Me A Peacock (1948), The Kid From Stratford (1948), Tough At The Top (1949), King's Rhapsody (1949), Ace Of Clubs (1950), Golden City (1950), Dear Miss Phoebe (1950), Gay's The Word (1951), Rainbow Square (1951), And So To Bed (1951), Bet Your Life (1952), Wedding In Paris (1954), After The Ball (1954), The Water Gipsies (1955), A Girl Called Jo (1956), Summer Song (1956), 'The Buccaneer' (1956), The Comedy Of Errors (1956), Wild Grows The Heather (1956), Free As Air (1957), Lady At The Wheel (1958), Irma La Douce (1958), Mister Venus (1958), Chrysanthemum (1958), Lock Up Your Daughters (1959), Marigold (1959), The Love Doctor (1959), Kookaburra (1959), Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1960), Follow That Girl (1960), King Kong (1961), Blitz! (1962), Cindy Ella (1962).

I really enjoyed the first volume of this (also a Double CD), as did the rest of the reviewers that I saw, so I was looking forward to listening to this. The tracks are split into songs from London cast recordings on the first CD, and covers and rarities on the the second. The first CD, was interesting, as it was strange that many of the musicals featured are not well, if at all, known today. The period covered was really the Golden Age of musicals, certainly on Broadway with the likes of Oklahoma and most other classics emerging in the years covered by this compilation (1943-1962), whilst only a small selection of the West End ones remain in production today. Indeed, there were some that were completely new to me.

The first CD has some real gems of performances, if not perhaps overwhelming in terms of blockbuster numbers. Anne Ziegler singing 'Sweet Yesterday' was great, as was Webster Booth singing another song from the same show. Graham Payne with the excellent Mary Martin give a great rendition of 'Bright Was The Day' from Pacific 1860 - one of the few shows I had heard before. I had a few favourites from this CD. I loved the medleys (the first time I had heard the Rainbow Square orchestral selections) and very much enjoyed hearing the lovely Dora Bryan and Roy Godfrey on 'It Would Cramp My Style' - this track perfectly reflected everything good about this release - great performers singing songs that should never have been ‘Lost’.

With the second CD you get some more great orchestral selections, including the opening from Bet Your Life. These are more ‘polished’ performances in a lot of ways, and feature such gems as Cyril Shane with 'Time Alone Will Tell', and no other than Frank Sinatra with 'If She’d Only Looked My Way', which is just delightful. I also really enjoyed Spike Milligan singing (yes….) 'Wish I Knew' from Lady At The Wheel. To be honest, I could pick any track off of the second CD - they are all winners, and a lovely listen.

Although the shows didn't last, their music lives on and this collection affirms that the 'lost' musicals featured are well worth rediscovering. A true treasure trove of listening pleasure!


Ian Gude

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