Various Artists

The Golden Age of Light Music: Highdays and Holidays

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The cover of this extremely offbeat disc doesn't really communicate what it's all about. The 27 short selections, each originally contained on a 78 rpm record, were not commercial releases but were part of a library of recorded mood music (or "production music," as it is now sometimes known) compiled beginning in the 1930s by the British music publisher Bosworth; these pieces date from between 1937 and 1953. They are little self-contained generic pieces (Highdays and Holidays is the title of one, and Busy Business and Sketch of a Dandy are others) suitable for illustrating common types of scenes in films or newsreels (if you've ever wondered how something as time-sensitive as a newsreel came complete with background music, this disc will answer your questions). Producers in search of ready-made background music could simply license it as needed. With the exception of Albert Ketèlbey, the composers are almost unknown today; they were journeymen active in the fields of British popular and light classical music. Brief biographical sketches are provided for most of them.

CDs of television soundtracks like that for Xena: The Warrior Princess are issued today, and the music here is of comparable interest; it has plenty of charm even if no special distinction. It's possible to imagine lots of uses for this disc (accompanying old British comic plays comes to mind), and libraries strong in the history of popular music should have it. The near-absence of jazz in the musical language of these pieces is noteworthy; one of the few traces appears in track 7, Sparrow's Concert, which was composed by a German, Erich Börschel. The chief market for this disc and the others in Guild's Golden Age of Light Music series will be those nostalgic for the era it represents.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:54
2 3:11
3 3:02
4 2:43
5 3:10
6 3:01
Sparrow's Concert, for orchestra
7 3:21
8 2:47
9 2:51
10 3:15
Tequila, for orchestra
11 1:32
12 3:14
13 3:03
14 2:21
15 2:57
16 3:03
Jack and Jill, for orchestra
17 3:02
18
2:41
19 2:56
20 2:54
21
2:37
22 3:00
23 2:55
24 2:47
25 2:56
26 2:49
27 2:59
blue highlight denotes track pick