Various Artists

On the Right Track

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This is an entertaining collection of railway oriented recordings dating from the teens through the late 1940s. But it isn't all music. Interspersed between the 14 music tracks here (which range from Sidney Torch solo organ pieces to big-band pop numbers) are recordings of actual trains in action, which accounts for the remainder of the 27 total tracks of the CD. The CD opens with the light classical "Coronation Scot" by the Sidney Torch Orchestra, a piece that bears a peculiar (and totally coincidental) resemblance to Max Steiner's main title theme (which is not the hit "young love" theme) from A Summer Place. After a train whistle-and-engine interlude, we move on to Jack Beaver's light-hearted "Golden Arrow," presented by the New Century Orchestra. Charles Williams and the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra give us the jaunty, exuberant "Rhythm on the Rails," followed by the New Century Orchestra's rendition of "Running Off the Rails," which sounds like it's ready to do precisely that as it speeds up from a brisk opening. There is one unabashed jazz number, "Choo Choo," performed by Pat O'Malley and Leslie Sarony with Jack Hylton and his orchestra -- a bouncy piece of big-band jazz with solos interspersed amid the ensemble playing and voice effects, it gives this collection a credibility in classic jazz that is lacking elsewhere on the CD. And the most delightful cut here is also, sadly, the most anonymous, the lush and exuberant "Riviera Express," credited to a generic studio orchestra -- the Anthony Mawer-composed instrumental is all rich brass and strings with lush harp glissandi flowing forth at choice moments throughout. Only the closer, a spoken word recording by actor Reginald Gardiner, is something of a disappointment -- coming after all of the beautiful and surprising musical sounds we've heard up to now, it's a letdown, as it drags where everything else flows.

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