Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Wally Stott - London Pride (Philips, 1958)

Growing up in a Goon-fearing household, I've been a fan of Wally Stott/Angela Morley from childhood. However, those early stings and punctuations barely prepared me for the depth and breadth of Stott's work. Writing for Bluebottle and Scott Walker with equal conviction takes serious talent. I don't think Stott's talent was ever better displayed than on the 1958 album London Pride, later reissued as London Souvenir. It had been commissioned by Stott's US label Columbia, flushed with the success of Michel Legrand's microgroove tribute to Paris. Columbia's UK affiliate, Philips, for whom Stott had been a musical director since the company's inception in 1952, wanted to record it in mono at their own studios, but the Americans (and Wally/Angela) wanted stereo. So, with hired equipment, the production decamped to Walthamstow Town Hall, with the results you'll hear below.

Back in the days before I knew what I was really doing, I let a 1958 first pressing Philips stereo copy slip through my hands. Not literally. I just didn't buy it, and when I realised my mistake (about 10 minutes later), it had gone. I made do with a terrible-sounding Columbia mono, but things like the version of 'British Grenadiers' (with anonymous piano soloist), the Bobby Pratt trumpet feature 'Chelsea' and Lad Busby's sublime close-miked trombone on 'A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square' shone through the grotty pressing. Some years later, after regular abortive searches, I found a stereo copy on eBay, and, best of all, it was a Buy It Now. I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice, so I leaped on it. When it arrived, it looked pristine, but the aural experience was underwhelming. The EQ didn't bring out the best in the music. So, I transferred it to CD, addressing the EQ as I went, with results that I hope you'll like.

The rule of this blog is that the recordings offered for your delectation must be out of catalogue. Something called London Pride by Wally Stott is available for sale in MP3 download format. Listening to the sample files, it appears to be a ham-fisted vinyl dub of a mono copy using a stereo cartridge (when remastering from a mono LP, summing the channels gives an instant reduction in surface noise). Very poor. This is proper 1958 Walthamstow Town Hall stereo. Is it jazz? It's a tricky one. Elements of it are, but equally a lot of it could be classified as light music. Either way, it's a stunning album.

Links to multi-part RAR - total size 220MB:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

6 comments:

  1. Hi from New Zealand.
    Like you, I LOVE this. I had a stereo copy pressed in the UK, but the sound wasn't at all great.
    Then I came upon a local New Zealand pressing. Beautiful crisp sound. I too transferred to CD & love it even more now. Am downloading yours to have a listen.
    Cheers

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  2. @Seasy I wonder if you feel like contributing your copy, can never have too many copies of such delights, I'm sure the original poster would not object to any chance improvement. I always use multiple sources for my restorations when such are available, scratches and pops (if any) usually appear in different places or each copy, so you stand a good chance of making one perfect one.

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  3. Hi,

    Thank you very much for charing, but I think I'm late :(

    Could you please re-up.

    Thank you very much!

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  4. I too would love a link, if you've still got one. Much appreciated!

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  5. Hello from Australia. Please, oh pleas, can you supply a copy of your CD of London Pride/London Souvenir. All I have is a well overworn copy of a reissue.

    ReplyDelete