CD cover - A Century of MusicA Century of Music


Long Eaton Band
Conductor: Sharon Stansfield
Soloists: Lisa Balsom, Helen Grimoldby, James Denis, Emma Ramplin, Roy Varney, Carl Ramplin, Melissa Ramplin
Beechwood Recordings: LECD060205
Total Playing Time: Approx 65 minutes

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The very backbone of the brass band movement in this country is made up of bands such as the Long Eaton Silver Prize Band.

They are one of literally thousands of hard working, family orientated, community based organisations that provide so much not just to the fabric and prosperity of the movement as a whole, but to the communities in which they are based. Long Eaton has been going strong (and we are sure, at times, not so strong) for 100 years this year and we hope they will be here in another 100 years too, for the health of the British banding movement is captured in microcosm with bands such as this. 

This release is therefore both a celebration of their anniversary and something of a showcase for the current band that are enjoying a fine spell of success under the baton of Sharon Stansfield. They won the Midlands Regional Third Section title this year and will head to Harrogate with real confidence of doing well. On this evidence that confidence won't be misplaced either.

The CD is very much what may expect from a good quality Third Section band. Plenty of light pieces well rehearsed for the occasion, well chosen solos for the main corner players and a broad selection of repertoire to appeal to the CD buying audiences and supporters, which will bring in those much needed funds for those trips later in the year. There are intonation problems, a fair quota of blips and blobs and hints of tiredness in places, but what the heck. This is about enjoyment and support, so we can gloss over any little (and they are little) misdemeanors. 

After a bright and breezy start with Eric Ball's ‘Star Lake' the band delve deep into the recesses of the librarians cupboard to unearth William Rimmer's arrangement of Bouldier's ‘Caliph of Baghdad'. An interesting choice given what is currently happening out in the Middle East, it is in fact a deliberate choice to highlight the type of music the band has performed during its 100 years of existence.

Its well played too, with a sense of the old Calipher's turned up slippers, hokum pipe and bee hive hat to the fore throughout. This may be music that is yellower round the edges than Homer Simpson's fingers, but on this occasion it well worth the listen.

The soloists on show all do themselves proud too. The most impressive is Carl Ramplin on euphonium who produces a classy rendition of Peter Graham's rather meandering ‘The Holy Well'. Elsewhere Helen Grimoldby gives ‘The Acrobat' the full Johnny Briggs treatment without ever falling into the old trap of making it sound a comedy item and Lisa Balsom is a thoughtful horn voice on the New Zealand folk song ‘Pokareareana'. Melissa Ramplin is a tuneful presence on ‘Erin Shore' and Elma Ramplin and Roy Varney evoke memories of Frank and Nancy Sinatra (rather than Sven and Nancy Goran Erikson) in ‘Something Stupid.' Finally, James Dennis is an assured soloist in ‘You Raise Me Up'.    

The others pieces on display also have something of note about them as well. Goff Richard's ‘A Shepherd's Song' (which must have been staple fare for just about every band at some time or another for concerts) is nicely shaped, whilst ‘That's a Plenty' gives the band the chance to show that they can just about capture the flapper girl style of the 1920's.
Two more modern arrangements of ‘Rev. Archie Beaton' (which cleverly follows on from ‘Pokareareana') and ‘I'll Walk with God' (conducted by Walter Ritchie MBE) are played with a nice touch of confidence, whilst ‘Singing in the Rain' just about manages to be more Gene Kelly than Morcambe and Wise in its execution. Not so, ‘Miller Magic' though, which for some reason features what sounds like maracas throughout. Did old Glen settle in Brazil after he disappeared then?

Finally, the specially commissioned march entitled ‘The Long Eaton' (there must be a reason for it being called the definitive article) is a difficult old tub thumper which is well handled, whilst the Elvis inspired ‘American Trilogy' very nearly gets you searching for your 1970's rhinestone studded white jump suit and prancing in front of the bathroom mirror saying ‘Just one more time…'

All in all a very enjoyable release, although it would have been nice to have known more about the band, the MD and the pieces from the rather sparse sleeve notes. If you selling to the public, it is always a good idea to give them a bit more information than a potted history that in this case seemed to end around 1950!

Iwan Fox.

What's on this CD?

1. Star Lake, Eric Ball
2. Caliph of Baghdad, Bouldier arr. Rimmer
3. A Shepherd's Song, Trad. arr. Richards
4. That's a Plenty, Pollack arr. Richards
5. Pokareareana, Tomoana arr. Mauder
Soloist: Lisa Balsom
Rev. Archie Beaton, Mason arr. Rydland
6. The Acrobat, Greenwood
Soloist: Helen Grimoldby
7. You Raise Me Up, Rolf Lovland arr. Duncan
Soloist: James Dennis
8. Miller Magic, arr. Stephens
9. I'll Walk with God, Brodsky arr. Richards
10. The Long Eaton, Elsom
11. Something Stupid, Parks arr. Fernie
Soloists: Elma Ramplin and Roy Varney
12. Singin' in the Rain, Herb Brown arr. Fernie
13. The Holy Well, Graham
Soloist: Carl Ramplin
14. Erin Shore, trad. arr. Baker
Soloist: Melissa Ramplin
15. American Trilogy, arr. Richards

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