NOEL COWARD A TALENT TO AMUSE
Record Company: Parlophone PMC 7158
Notes
Sir Noel Coward is indeed missed, and a great deal more than a bit by millions of people. People who met him and found him to be kind, polite and gracious. People to whom he brought a song, a laugh and a touch of England, the England he loved so much, all over the world during the loneliness and suffering of World War II. In fact somehow this incredible man who managed with his peculiar genius, his "talent to amuse", to communicate with every strata of society, is probably more missed than any other person who has died in this century.
This record tries to collect everybody's happiest memories of "The Master". We meet him first at the height of his fame and accomplishment in an excerpt from his famous Cabaret act at the Café de Paris, singing six of his greatest successes, including two of those wonderful waltzes - "Someday I'll Find You" from Private Lives and "I'll Follow My Secret Heart- from Conversation Piece, both marvels of tunes that one feels were always waiting around to be composed, so easily recognizable and memorable, but somehow it took Coward to find them.

Next comes his first smash hit "Poor Little Rich Girl" from 'On With The Dance' wherein he firmly established his Twenties style, a condemnation of the debutante scene, bitter but edged with pathos. Hermione Baddeley was the original Poor Little Rich Girl sung to by Alice Delysia. Perhaps his biggest Revue success was C. B. Cochran's 1928 This Year Of Grace. Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale canoodled as they sang "A Room With A View", but it was Noel Coward's record of the song which eclipsed all others; in fact more often than not, as in this case, nobody bothered to record the original artists once he had recorded a number.

"Mad Dogs And Englishmen", his most famous comedy song, came from another Revue, the 1932 Words AndMusic. It was sung on stage by Romney Brent, but everywhere else, all the rest of his life by Mr Coward. It is a supreme example of his way with a rhyme.

Back to This Year Of Grace and "Dance Little Lady", a number then considered fantastically modern in its rhythms, and causing great difficulty to Sonnic Hale who sang it. At this point Coward was much influenced by Gershwin, as is more than apparent in the piano and orchestral coda.
"Dearest Love- was the big waltz from Operette which proved a disappointment to its author in 1938. The public responded less enthusiastically to Viennese Fritzi Massary than they had to French Yvonne Printemps in Conversation Piece; nevertheless the score contained at least three wonderful numbers and Peggy Wood created this one. As usual the Coward recording far outsold the original.

Of all songs 1 suppose "Mrs Worthington-, which appeared in no show until the recent Coward anthology Cowardy Custard, is the number the public associates most with him. Sadly an unpermissive society never allowed him to record the final Chorus with the unsurpassable "That sufficed, Mrs Worthington - Christ! Mrs Worthington - Don't Put Your Daughter On The Stage".

However, thank heavens, Coward didn't retire, and hereme have another of the great Operette songs, "The Stately Homes of England", perfectly delivered and, frankly, better timed than by the original stage quartet.

Coward is often under-rated as a composer. One feels that it was his very lack of musical education that, like the Beatles, caused him to break the rules and therefore invent greater and more original tunes than those with more musical knowledge. "Matelot" from the 1945 Revue Sigh No More is a supreme example of this, a beautiful melody for a song worthy to be included in any ~election of the world's great Lieder. Graharn Payn sang it originally, and, as usual, Coward made the famous record.

If 1 might make a personal choice it would be---TimeAnd Again", a song which first appeared in the 1951 cabaret act. If "I Travel Alone" reflected Coward's Thirties philosophy, this was the more mature reconsideration. It contains some of Sir NoUs most brilliant rhyming and construction allied with a splendid tune.
What can one say about "London Pride"? At the height of the Blitz this love-song to his city made an unforgettable impact. Sentiment but never sentimentality. Patriotism but with such dignity that it was never embarrassing. Suddenly we were all no longer just making the best of life, we were proud to be alive at that moment.

"Sail Away" was written for the post-war Ace Of Clubs, and sung in it with great charm by G raham Payn. The show, in spite of some marvellous songs, was not a great success, but not only was this song an immediate hit but it generated another entire show of the same title, in which it again appeared.
"There Are Bad times Just Around The Corner" was written for a quartet - Dora Bryan, Joan Heal, lan Carmichael and Graham Payn - in the Globe Revue (1952). It was extremely topical, reflecting accurately the mood of the moment, and has remained enduringly funny.

And so to the perfect finale: "The Party's Over Now", the haunting song with which Words And Music ended. Has any Revue ever had a better finish, as one by one the cast left the moonlit stage?

And so the party's over, but we shall always remember Noel Coward, the most kind, charming and talented of hosts. In another poem, Do ]Believe, he wrote: Do1 believe in God? I can't say No and 1 can't say Yes, To me it's anybody's guess. But if all's true that we once were told Before we grew wise and sad and old, When finally death rolls up our eyes We'll find we're in for a big surprise." May we hope that for Sir No~l Coward the surprise was a truly lovely one.
PETER MYERS

Due to the rarity of the original records from which this album has been taken, certain tracks have of necessity been transferred from less than perfect copies. Some surface noise is therefore inevitable but every efrort has been made to minimise this without interfering with the original sound of the 78s.
This mono record has been produced by the most modern techniques of processing and manufacture and conforms to the highest possible standards. It will sound even better when reproduced on stereo equipment.
Tracks
Side 1:
1. CABARET MEDLEY: Introduction; Any Little Fish;
You Were There; Someday I'll Find You; Let's Say Goodbye;
I'll Follow My Secret Heart; If Love Were All; Play Orchestra Play with the Café de Paris Orchestra directed by Sidney Simone with Norman Hackforth at the piano
2. POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL with piano accompaniment
3. A ROOM WITH A VIEW with orchestra
4. MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN with orchestra
5. DANCE LITTLE LADY with orchestra
6. DEAREST LOVE with piano accompaniment
7. MRS WORTHINGTON with orchestra
8. I TRAVEL ALONE with piano accompaniment


Side 2:
1 . I'LL SEE YOU AGAIN with piano accompaniment
2. THE STATELY HOMES OF ENGLAND with His Majesty's Theatre Orchestra conducted by F. M. Collinson
3. MATELOT with the Piccadilly Theatre Orchestra
4. TIME AND AGAIN with the Café de Paris Orchestra directed by Sidney Simone with Norman Hackforth at the piano
5. LONDON PRIDE with orchestra
6. SAIL AWAY with orchestra conducted by Frank Cordell
7. THERE ARE BAD TIMES JUST AROUND THE CORNER with the Café de Paris Orchestra directed by Sidney Simone with Norman Hackforth at the piano
8. THE PARTY'S OVER NOW with orchestra
All compositions by Noel Coward
Compiled from EMI Archives by Chris Ell is Transferred and re-mastered by John Wadley

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Copyright - The Noel Coward Society - May 2001