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Music Review

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Lost West End Revues
(London's Forgotten Revues 1940-1962)


Music: Various
Lyrics: Various
Performed by: Various
Label: Stage Door Records
RRP: £9.99
STAGE 9058
Release Date: 30 November 2018

In what seems to be almost a monthly release cycle now, Stage Door Records have added a CD to the favourite part of my growing collection - releases charting the history of the West End Musical.

Lost West End Revues celebrates London's forgotten revue shows of the 1940s, '50s and '60s, compiling songs from 35 West End productions and showcasing these unique musical works from the golden age of British theatrical entertainment.

Ranging from 1940 to 1962, the recordings featured include a broad range of musical styles and genres, from witty songs satirising topical issues of the era to dramatic ballads and entertaining comedy numbers. Musical theatre composers featured on the album include Noel Coward, Vivian Ellis, Sandy Wilson, Lionel Bart, Leslie Bricusse, Charles Zwar, Alan Melville and more.

Presented as a Deluxe 2CD Set; Lost West End Revues features 50 tracks (including over 20 tracks appearing on CD for the first time) from London cast recordings to pop covers and live performances. The album includes recordings by a glittering ensemble of star performers including Maggie Smith, Kenneth Williams, Hermione Gingold, Noel Coward, Beatrice Lillie, Joyce Grenfell, Anthony Newley, Gillian Lynne, Fenella Fielding, Sheila Hancock, Millicent Martin, Bud Flanagan, Dora Bryan, Cyril Ritchard, Bernard Cribbins and more.

The 'Lost West End Revues' included are: C.B. Cochran's Streamline (1935), Lights Up (1940), Up And Doing (1940), Apple Sauce (1940), Rise Above It (1941), Sky High (1942), Big Top (1942), Sweet And Low (1943), Sigh No More (1945), Sweeter And Lower (1945), Sweetest And Lowest (1946), The Night And The Laughter (1946), The Shephard Show (1946), Tuppence Coloured (1947), A La Carte (1948), Sauce Tartare (1949), Penny Plain (1951), The Lyric Revue (1951), Out Of The Blue (1954), You'll Be Lucky (1954), Cranks (1956), At The Drop Of A Hat (1957), Share My Lettuce (1957), Living For Pleasure (1958), Pieces Of Eight (1959), Clown Jewels (1959), Look Who's Here! (1960), New Cranks (1960), Young In Heart (1960), Four To The Bar (1960), ...And Another Thing (1960), The Lord Chamberlain Regrets...! (1961), On The Brighter Side (1961), One Over The Eight (1961), Not To Worry (1962).

Although the revue show is no longer a staple fixture in the West End, this album celebrates the forgotten art and affirms the 'lost' revues featured are well worth rediscovering. It’s clear that most of these are ‘of a time’, certainly the more narrative songs, and give a good picture of times in the period. There’s tracks on here you will have heard before, such as the great 'Gnu Song' and 'The Hippopotamus', both from the wonderful Flanders & Swan. But there are lots of gems that you won’t have heard, and lots to enjoy. I loved ‘Which Witch’ by the unique Hermione Gingold, and also 'The Borgias Are Having An Orgy', again by the celebrated Gingold. I was also surprised to hear the wonderful Joyce Grenfell, not in monologue, but in song.

For those who prefer more musical numbers, there’s again much to please, with some good company numbers from Look Who’s Here & The Lord Chamberain Regrets amongst others, as well as some lovely solo numbers by Matt Monro, Anthony Newley and the much missed Finella Fielding.

I found this the most enjoyable of the Stage Door releases of late, and one that provides an important historical reference for years to come.


Ian Gude

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