The World At War

I used to watch this Thames Television series every week with my dad, during those war-obsessed years of the 1970s. This was serious television, and I still watch the repeats occasionally.

This vinyl spin-off features Carl Davis’ powerful theme, along with several of his incidental scores, plus a selection of contemporaneous songs from the era by the likes of Vera Lynn, although as the sleeve notes admit, most of the songs actually sung by the troops were simply “too obscene, too irreverent, too vulgar. These songs live on only in old soldiers’ memories”.

Great stuff, but I’m feeling the absence of Sir Laurence Olivier – his arresting, portentous narrative delivery was a big part of the series and it would’ve been nice to hear a few excerpts on the record.

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 8:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Al Bowlly/Ray Noble

A couple of fine collections from the 1930s, featuring the honeyed tones of the great Al Bowlly, both in exquisite condition, to the extent that I suspect the previous owner barely played them. My grandmother is a big Bowlly fan (he was the ‘pop star’ of her childhood) so maybe I should pass these on to her. Or maybe not.

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 7:59 am  Comments (1)  

The Singing Detective OST


Among the highlights of this selection of pre-war recordings, perhaps the most arresting is also the most familiar – Vera Lynn‘s “We’ll Meet Again”. But this isn’t the usual standard orchestrated version. Instead Vera is accompanied by Arthur Young on the Novachord, an early electronic keyboard, who’s haunting, unearthly tones transport me to some deserted, rain-washed sea-side pier of the mind’s eye. ┬áBut I’ll leave this post in the capable hands of the series’ writer, Dennis Potter, in this extract from the sleeve notes:

“Half-remembered songs from long ago can sometimes tinkle and tingle at the edge of our senses like a dimly nagging tangle of nerves. The faint ache which results is usually dismissed as one of the more cheap and useless forms of ‘nostalgia’ – a sort of ghost-pain left over from an amputated (and younger) limb. But the singing detective knows that they can do more than this…”

Published in: on October 14, 2009 at 10:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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