facebook twitter rss vimeo

*
banner

LP Review: Listen to the Band: No 3

GUS Footwear Band
Conductors: Harry Mortimer OBE & Stanley Boddington
Music for Pleasure: MFP1167

Music for Pleasure

This is the near perfect record of commercially inspired brass band duplicity. 

Ostensibly, it’s a 1967 recording of GUS Footwear Band playing easy listening music under iconic conductors; part of Music for Pleasure’s ‘Build Your Own Library’ collection that you could buy each week from Woolworth for just 12 shillings and sixpence a pop.  

Except that it wasn’t.

Careless Rapture

The mid-60’s were still a golden age for record collecting, with Music for Pleasure marketing itself as ‘Britain’s biggest-selling LP label’. 

As part of your ‘collection’ (think of the those modern day ‘Make your own Titanic ship' in 204 weekly issues magazines) you could build a library that contained everything from the Waikiki Beach Boys' ‘Breeze of Hawaii’ and Sir Laurence Olivier reading ‘Psalms from the Bible’ to Ivor Novello’s ‘Careless Rapture’ or even Michael Tippett’s ‘Concerto for Double Strings’

Eclectic doesn’t come close to adequately describing it: It was mind-bogglingly bizarre.

Duplicity

All this, and just a few months after they had won the 1966 National title on ‘Le Carnival Romain’, you could now drop your stylus on your record player to hear the GUS Footwear Band. 

Except, that’s where the duplicity came in.

It was in fact a re-issue of an old 1957 Munn & Felton 10” ‘Bandstand’ mono recording on the EMI label. A fine band without doubt (the name change came in 1962), but not the one that had just notched up its fifth win at the Albert Hall. 

Not that the LP told you as much: A certain F J Beckingham regaled the purchaser with the lines:  “The GUS (Footwear) Band has no superiors in its taste and presentation of brass-band music and its outstanding soloists add further prestige to its magnificent reputation.”  

There was no mention of when it was actually recorded either: Even Ronald Binge’s famous ‘Cornet Carillon’ was called ‘Christmas Lullaby’.

Only clue

The only clue for brass band aficionados came with the list of players. 

This was a band of men called Wilfred, Frederick, Cecil and Albert.  There was no John Berryman, David Read, John Cobley or Trevor Groom to be seen - or more accurately (with the exception of David Read who played on a couple of tracks as a guest when a raw recruit in the Welsh Guards), even heard. 

Some sort of deal had alledgedly been done, (by all accounts the band was not involved and didn’t even get a free copy for their troubles) and by a rather dubious sleight of commercial hand, a ten year old mono recording became a freshly minted (complete with new cover) release.

Elasticated rubato

It was a pity they weren’t more ‘up-front’ about it all, as the playing is an aspic-pickled delight; all light in high-pitched timbre (with the occasional hint of a crisp G trombone and sweet sop), shimmering vibrato, and in the case of the items conducted by Harry Mortimer, driven by a form of elasticated rubato.  

The pieces are gems - especially the novelty items, which are played with an effervescent virtuosity that 60 years after they were actually recorded, still bring a smile to the face.      

Curiously though, you are still left wondering just how many people bought it thinking they were getting the real thing. 

Then again, how many of them actually went on to complete their collection of the advertised 150 titles on the internal dust cover? 

At a one a week rate in early 1967 it would have taken them until after the first man stepped on the Moon.

Iwan Fox
With thanks to David Read and Tim Mutum

Track List:

Side 1: (Conducted by Harry Mortimer)
1. Royal Standard (Chesterton)
2. Napoleon Galop (Martyn) & Bees-A –Buzzin’ (Siebert)
3. Christmas Lullaby (Binge)
4. The Thunderer (Sousa arr. Mortimer)
5. Washington Post (Sousa)

Side 2: (Conducted by Stanley Boddington)
1. Liberty Bell (Sousa)
2. Early One Morning (arr. Seymout)
3. Brass Band Blues (Gould)
4. Leaps and Bounds (Spencer-Brianne)
5. Galopade (arr King Palmer-Ball)
6. Washington Greys (Grafulla)



Regent Hall Concerts - Eight Trombones

Friday 18 August • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. opp. BHS. London. W1C 2DJ W1C 2DJ


Regent Hall Concerts - GMT Brass Ensemble

Friday 18 August • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London. SE7 8RE SE7 8RE


Black Dyke Band - Scarborough Spa

Saturday 26 August • Scarborough Spa South Bay Scarborough Y011 2HD


Cory Band - Isle of Wight

Saturday 26 August • 159 Fairlee Rd, Newport P030 2EW


Concert - Grimethorpe Colliery: Snape Maltings

Saturday 26 August • Snape Maltings, Snape IP17 1SR


Stannington Brass Band

August 16 • Stannington Brass Band, Sheffield. 2nd Section National Champions, now 1st section. Ambitious and sociable band. MD Derek Renshaw. Due to our current player leaving for music college we now require a Solo EEb bass playe


Skelmanthorpe Prospect Brass

August 16 • *Front Row Cornet & 3rd Cornet* Under MD Phil Garlick we are looking for a front row Cornet & 3rd cornet to join the team as we prepare for the 1st section next year. We have a good concert/contest balance aswell as many social events throughout the year.


Dobcross Silver Band

August 15 • Dobcross Silver Band are looking for two cornet players. Seats dependent on ability/desire as current players happy to move around. We are a third section band with a great team spirit and high expectations. Come and see! Rehearsal Mon/Weds Dobx Band Club


Mark Wilkinson


Cornet Soloist, Teacher, Adjudicator, Conductor