on 6 January 2013
I've lost count of the number of people I've been in conversation with who, it turns out, share my love of this TV series. Of those, a very high number are amazed (even disbelieving) that the theme tune and associated music weren't original pieces from the 1920s/1930s period but written for the series by the fabulously talented Anne Dudley.
The tracks here are studio recordings made for the series, so are exactly as you hear on the original programmes. A 19-piece orchestra takes care of the notes, with a barbershop-style trio on backing vocals and Hugh Laurie himself doing the lead vocals. The tracks fall into three categories:
1) The 'soundtrack' tracks: the theme tune (which is actually the version used for the end credits rather than the shorter and possibly sweeter opening credits version) and five variations Anne Dudley wrote as background music for scenes like, for example, when Bertie is driving in his car down country lanes, plus The Amateur Dictator march written for the fabulously preposterous Spode and his Oswald Mosley-esque followers. The 'Weekend in the Country' variation on the main theme is especially delightful, being an affectionate pastiche of the English pastoral style (like Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia, for example).
2) Six popular songs from the period, and arranged specially with Hugh Laurie on vocal duties. Some of the arrangements are quite unusual, but all sound convincingly 'of the period'.
3) Four spoken tracks with Fry and Laurie doing their Jeeves and Wooster schtick to perfection. Two of these are standalone tracks, written as if Jeeves and Wooster have turned up at the studios as the disc is being recorded. The other two are introductions to two of the songs (Nagasaki and Minnie the Moocher) - these are variations on scenes in the TV series. All the scripting is by Clive Exton who scripted the TV series, so there's nothing which falls flat.
If you've read this far, I'll assume you've watched the TV series at least a couple of times, so you know exactly what you'll be getting musically. The only tragedy about this CD is that it seems to have been deleted as soon as it was released. I saw it in 1992 in Our Price (remember them?) in Manchester and bought it without any inkling that I was going to end up owning one of the few copies around. It's worth shelling out more than you normallly would for a CD - whether it's worth the prices you're seeing on this screen is, of course, your call. I've never regretted buying mine, but then I only paid £13 for it!
If you've seen the series, you know what to expect. Laurie at the piano, with support from an orchestra lurking (unaccountably) in Bertie Wooster's flat, linked by some discussions with his man Jeeves (Stephen Fry). Laurie's musical ability is well known, but he does a good job of persuading you that this is his sort of music. Chirpy band tunes, a version of "Minnie The Moocher" delivered after a discussion with Fry about the meaning of the lyrics and the apparent generosity of the King of Sweden to the young lady in question, and some soundtrack offerings from the television series. Altogether tophole!
I have to confess that I still have this on cassette tape - although I understand its quite rare nowadays. The music, some in the style of the period but actually written for the series by the peerless Anne Dudley, and some original songs from the era, is played with aplomb - and no small amount of panache - by Hugh Laurie accompanied by some excellent musicians of the time: some of whom may be still around and some who are now sadly lost to us, like the scintillating trumpet of Kenny Baker.
Interesting, well written, and sometimes quirky, arrangements; good ensemble playing and actually, very professionally recorded and mixed. I like the series anyway, but I also think the music stands up in its own right. I like music from the 20's, there were some great musicians and some great tunes that were, for my money, the precursor to the great Big Bands of the 30's and 40's. I thoroughly enjoy listening to this - many of the tracks swing along brightly and in fact we're thinking of using the theme music as the accompaniment to our upcoming dance exam (its got a really catchy riff)
on 12 August 2013
I did, many years ago, have a CD with music from Jeeves and Wooster from the library, which I copied onto cassette. However it had an unfortunate accident. This music, although authentic Jeeves and Wooster is not exactly what was on the original CD, so I am a little disappointed. Having said that its still a splendid play if that is what you like.