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Lionel Bart's Blitz! Soundtrack
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Set in the East End of London during the aerial bombings of the Second World War, Blitz was based on Lionel Bart's own childhood memories of growing up in war torn London. According to the author, the musical was 'three human stories inside an epic canvas; the major human conflict - the major plot - personifies the spirit of London and how that spirit developed during the period of the piece.' Expectation for Blitz was high, especially as Oliver! was still running in the West End, and the musical went some considerable way of matching expectations, running for 568 performances, whilst the cast recording would peak at #7 on the chart during the course of some five months on the listings.
1. Our Hotel
2. Tell Him - Tell Her!
3. I Want To Whsiper Something
4. The Day After Tomorrow
5. We're Going To The Country
6. Another Morning
7. Who's This Geezer Hitler?
8. Be What You Wanna Be
10. Reprise: The Day After Tomorrow
12. Far Away
13. Petticoat Lane (On A Saturday Ain't So Nice)
14. Down The Lane
15. So Tell Me
16. Mums And Dads
17. Who Wants To Settle Down?
18. Is This Gonna Be A Wedding?
19. Duty Calls!
20. Reprise: Who's This Geezer Hitler
Top customer reviews
This 60+ min CD stereo recording vividly conjures up the mood, right from its spine-tingling start as sirens blare and residents race for the underground.
Impressively heading the cast is Amelia Bayntun as widowed battleaxe Mrs. Blitztein - she the equivalent of "Coronation Street"'s Ena Sharples. She holds everything together, at once raising spirits with "Our Hotel" as trains rattle past.
Highlights? There are many. "The Day After Tomorrow" - Vera Lynn's voice over the wireless as all gather round and gradually join in. Fully to appreciate "Another Morning" you have to imagine what has just preceded on stage as the audience gaped. Sirens. A night raid. Bombers. Searchlights. Explosions. Fires. Buildings collapsing. At last the All Clear - surrounded by smoke, St. Paul's still intact. Those who slaved through that horror now appear, tired but defiant - time to clear up and start over, business as usual. Very moving.
"Who's This Geezer Hitler?" ridicules the tyrant's attempts to crush them. Their way of life is praised (and gently mocked) in "Petticoat Lane" and "Down the Street". The children make the most of "We're Going to the Country" and the hilarious "Mums and Dads" (parents' rows faithfully recreated). Wistful and appealing, "Far Away" is sung by Mrs. Blitztein's daughter Carol, now blinded. For a real tour de force how about Mrs. B's "So Tell Me" - she at her wit's end, begging her husband for guidance from above. "Is This Gonna Be a Wedding" depicts a typical East End knees-up. (Too boisterous as it happens, for the vibrations set off an unexploded bomb - a major shock for the theatre audience.)
The CD has three numbers not on the original LP, best of them "As Long as This is England" - residents of all races and religions united against the common enemy.
This recording revived memories of a stirring evening at the Adelphi - and of a most unexpected comment overheard at its end. As all rose to leave, a voice lamented, "I'd never have come if I'd known it was about the war."
Be advised, about the war "Blitz!" most assuredly is.
Blitz! was Lionel Bart's follow-up to Oliver! It ran in London for 568 performances and has since largely been forgotten except for occasional amateur productions. This is a shame because it is a tuneful musical and very evocative of the blitz era and the people living through it.
This re-master brings out the clarity of the 1962 recording which is lost in my scratchy vinyl and background noise is very slight. The stereo imaging and reverberation are very typical of the 1960's but the score is excellent. Performances are uniformly good too, especially from Amelia Bayntun as the central character, Mrs Blitztein. Best known songs include the children's play song 'Mums and Dads', and 'Far Away', which was later recorded by Shirley Bassey. I really enjoy 'The Day After Tomorrow', which recorded especially for the show by Vera Lynn. The words and music for this song give it such an authentic, wartime sing-along feel.
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