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Lost West End Revues album review

From Bernard Cribbins to Sheila Hancock, a collection of great musical British talent.

Lost West End Revues
Lost West End Revues

Credit: Stage Door Records

Lost West End Revues is the follow-up title to Stage Door Record’s two volumes of Lost West End Vintage. Across two discs, it celebrates and preserves for posterity London’s largely forgotten revue shows from the 1930s-60s, encompassing fifty tracks and thirty-five West End productions, whilst featuring some of the biggest names of British showbiz from the era, from performers to writers. From 1935’s Streamline to 1962’s Not To Worry, Lost West End Revues celebrates the bygone era when music, dance and satirical comedy sketches formed part of the same evening’s entertainment.

Although there is a mixture of genres on these recordings, most of the songs are cheery, catchy numbers that owe something to the music hall tradition. Theatrical productions like these simply aren’t written or even revived any longer. This is a collection for those who can’t get enough of the good old days, whether they’re old souls who are too young to remember them but love them, or nostalgia buffs aching for the return of the good old days.

Doubtlessly, the appeal of this release will be for the breadth of top talent involved in the recordings. We’ve selected a few performance highlights that fans of these artists will want to know about, but among the composers you’ll find Noel Coward, Vivian Ellis, Sandy Wilson, Lionel Bart, Leslie Bricusse, Charles Zwar and Alan Melville.

  • Kenneth Williams – the Carry On star opens the show Share My Lettuce with a direct address to the audience that follows a swing piece called Colours.
  • Maggie Smith – from the same production, the Harry Potter star sings One Train He’ll Come, although the comedic northern tone of her voice renders it virtually unrecognisable.
  • Noel Coward – the master of the witty ditty sings sensational rhyming couplets in a recording of an easy swing number from a show he had originally written. He returns on side two with a song from the appropriately-chosen The Lyric Revue.
  • Joyce Grenfell – the performer who taught a generation of grandmothers what singing sounds like gives her all to I Like Life, from 1960’s Tuppence Coloured. She returns on disc two with numbers from Penny Plain (1951).
  • Anthony Newley – the multi-talented actor, composer and singer stamps his personality on the New York-style number Cold Comfort from Cranks. He duets with Annie Ross on Would You Let Me Know, the slower romantic number that immediately follows.
  • Fenella Fielding – the recently-deceased star gives a cutsie performance singing Outdoor Girl from Pieces of Eight.
  • Sheila Hancock – a perky performance of pure music hall from the youthful-sounding national treasure. She sings I’m Beautiful from One Over the Eight, which had also starred Kenneth Williams.
  • Millicent Martin – the That Was The Week That Was star sings Samba number Where The Heart Is from ‘The Lord Chamberlain Regrets…!”
  • Bud Flanagan – one of his final acts was to grant to us the magnificent Dad’s Army theme song. Strollin’ from Clown Jewels (1959) is undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser. The production ran for 803 performances and co-starred Peter Glaze.
  • Bernard Cribbins – the living legend uses his native Lancastrian accent in two charming songs from ‘…And Another Thing’ from 1960.
  • Arthur Haynes – the much-loved comedian who used to give Nicholas Parsons a hard time sings the foot-tapping title song from Not To Worry (1962).
  • Matt Monro – the smooth singer of Born Free, The Impossible Dream and From Russia With Love sings Is There Anything I Can Do? From the same show.
  • Petula Clark – the star records St. Tropez (On the Beach) from the 1955 revue show La Plume De Ma Tante.

Amongst all the household names on these discs (and that’s an achievement, half a century later) there are bound to be a few we’ve missed from our highlights – so apologies to their fans!

The CDs are packaged with an in-depth booklet giving a main cast listing and performance dates and venue for the shows. Despite the archive nature of the material, they were clearly recorded in studio to preserve the songs for posterity, and the sound quality is consistently good. There’s a wealth of bright theatrical offerings on these discs, and they offer the perfect way to wind back the clock and indulge in some feel-good tunes.

Tracklisting: Disc One: 1. Let’s Talk About Me (from ‘Look Who’s Here!’) – Company 2. Colours (from ‘Share My Lettuce’) – Kenneth Williams, Company 3. One Train He’ll Come (from ‘Share My Lettuce’) – Maggie Smith 4. The Borgias Are Having an Orgy (from ‘Sweet And Low’) – Hermione Gingold 5. Thanks Yanks (from ‘Sweeter And Lower’) – Hermione Gingold 6. Noel, Noel (from ‘Sweetest and Lowest’) – Alan Melville 7. Wait a Bit Joe (from ‘Sigh No More’) – Noel Coward 8. The Yodelling Goldfish (from ‘Big Top’) – Beatrice Lillie 9. I Like Life (from ‘Tuppence Coloured’) – Joyce Grenfell 10. Other People’s Babies (from ‘Streamline’) – Vivian Ellis 11. Cold Comfort (from ‘Cranks’) – Anthony Newley 12. Would You Let Me Know (from ‘Cranks’) – Anthony Newley, Annie Ross 13. Shadow Girl (from ‘New Cranks’) – Johnny Wade 14. Psychological Approach (from ‘New Cranks’) – Gillian Lynne 15. We’re Going to the Moon (from ‘Pieces of Eight’) – Myra De Groot 16. Out Door Girl (from ‘Pieces of Eight’) – Fenella Fielding 17. I’m Beautiful (from ‘One Over the Eight’) – Sheila Hancock 18. Send Me (from ‘One Over the Eight’) – Toni Eden 19. Late Last Evening (from ‘On the Brighter Side’) – David Kernan, Judy Carne 20. Little Nell (from ‘On the Brighter Side’) – Pip Hinton, Company 21. Great Little World (from ‘The Lord Chamberlain Regrets…!) – Company 22. Where the Heart is (from ‘The Lord Chamberlain Regrets…!) – Millicent Martin 23. Strollin’ (from ‘Clown Jewels’) – Bud Flanagan 24. Just For Laughts (from ‘Young in Heart’) – Bud Flanagan 25. Uproarious Devon (from ‘Four to the Bar’) – Ian Wallace Disc Two 1. Living for Pleasure (from ‘Living for Pleasure’) – Company 2. No Better Than I Should Be (from ‘Living for Pleasure’) – Dora Bryan 3. Which Witch? (from ‘Sky High’) – Hermione Gingold 4. Old Girls (from ‘A La Carte’) – Alan Melville 5. Keepsake (from ‘Penny Plain’) – Joyce Grenfell 6. Maud (from ‘Penny Plain’) – Joyce Grenfell 7. Only a Glass of Champagne (from ‘Lights Up’) – Evelyn Laye 8. I Didn’t Really Never Oughter ‘Ave Went (from ‘Lights Up’) – Doris Hare 9. I’m One of the Whitehall Warriors (from ‘Up and Doing’) – Cyril Ritchard 10. The Oldest Chorus Boy in London (from ‘Up and Doing’) – Cyril Ritchard 11. Mademoiselle L’Amour (from ‘Apple Sauce’) – Florence Desmond 12. How’s About (from ‘Rise Above It’) – Patricia Burke 13. This Heart of Mine (from ‘Rise Above It’) – Patricia Burke 14. Moon Over London (from ‘The Night and The Laughter’) – Rita Williams 15. It All Comes Back to Me Now (from ‘The Shephard Show’) – Anne Shelton 16. The Seine (from ‘Sauce Tartare’) – Jean Cavall 17. Don’t Make Fun of the Fair (from ‘The Lyric Revue’) – Noel Coward 18. Out of the Blue (from ‘Out of the Blue’) – Company 19. You’ll Be Lucky (from ‘You’ll Be Lucky’) – Sally Barnes 20. Folk Song (from ‘…And Another Thing’) – Bernard Cribbins 21. My Kind of Someone (from ‘…And Another Thing’) – Bernard Cribbins, Joyce Blair 22. Not to Worry (from ‘Not to Worry’) – Arthur Haynes 23. Is There Anything I Can Do? (from ‘Not to Worry’) – Matt Monro 24. St. Tropez – On The Beach (from ‘La Plume De Ma Tante’) – Petula Clark 25. The Gnu Song (from ‘At the Drop of a Hat’) – Flanders and Swann 26. The Hippopotamus (from ‘At the Drop of a Hat’) – Flanders and Swann Released by: Stage Door Records Release date: 30th November 2018

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