Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: LOST WEST END VINTAGE, Stage Door Records

Review: LOST WEST END VINTAGE, Stage Door Records Review: LOST WEST END VINTAGE, Stage Door Records There's such a rich history of musical theatre in London. World renowned, the West End has become a place of pilgrimage for the stagey community. But if you would like to understand better the heritage of the theatrical community and find out the origins of some of the biggest and most famous shows in the world, the new Lost West End Vintage album is a good starting point.

Following on from the success of the Lost West End and Lost West End 2 albums, Stage Door Records has released an eclectic mix of tracks long forgotten from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties - a golden age of musical theatre.

The double album features a whopping 35 tracks, with the first CD packed with original London cast recordings and the second giving you a chance to feast your ears on covers and other rarities.

And they are quite different. The first CD is fairly hard to listen to until you become attuned to the very old-fashioned sound. The singing is shrill, with very clipped English accents for the most part, minimal orchestrations and a tendency for the lyrics to be overcomplicated. That said if you give it a few more tries, you are able to pick out some truly fantastic songs, performed by legends of the British theatre scene.

Tony Award-nominated Millicent Martin gives a fantastic rendition of "I Am" from the 1958 musical Express Bongo, and you can listen to the great Frankie Howerd's trademark wit in "Song and Dance Man" from Mister Venus.

Sally Ann Howes­ - of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame - teams up with Jacques Pils for a lovely duet called "Live a Little, Love a Little" and Gordon Boyd adds some class with "Someone to Believe In" from Robin Miller and Alan Pryce-Jones' classic musical Vanity Fair.

The second CD is far more palatable for modern musical theatre fans, with the overly high vibratos swapped for the more familiar belts and many of the tracks given a more modern accompaniment.

There are a few songs from the legendary Tommy Steele - who at the ripe old age of 80 is still performing in theatres around the UK - with "My Big Best Shoes" from Sandy Wilson's Valmouth, the title song from the musical Kookaburra and "The Dit-Dit Song" from the traditional music hall show Belle, Or The Ballad Of Dr Crippen.

Lionel Bart - best known for writing the smash hit musical Oliver! - performs the title track to Lock Up Your Daughters, which he wrote alongside Laurie Johnson, and there is a fabulous rendition of "Siesta" from Lady At The Wheel by British female close-harmony trio The Beverley Sisters.

And although I'm ordinarily not a fan of George Formby (I'll never forgive him for murdering the glorious "Leaning on a Lamp Post" from Me and My Girl), when coupled with Petula Clark for the bonus track "Ordinary People" from Zip Goes a Million, performed live, his whiny vocals don't seem quite so bad.

Disc 2 is definitely better than Disc 1, but both give a real insight into the origins of the musical theatre we all now know and love, making the album a really good listen for stagey aficionados.

Lost West End Vintage is available from Stage Door Records

Related Articles View More UK / West End Stories

From This Author - Nicky Sweetland