Gilbert and Sullivan: Best Loved Favourites

The Knightsbridge Light Opera Orchestra

Soloists and Chorus of the
Knightsbridge Light Opera Company
Conductor: Lionel Peterson
Presto PRE 679
Presto PRE 679

The contents of this recording are as follows (all the titles, groupings and use of capitals are exactly as printed on the sleeve):

Side 1Side 2
H.M.S. Pinafore
"We are sober men and true"
"Dear Little Buttercup"
"A Maiden Fair To See"
"I am Captain of the Pinafore"
The Mikado
"If you want to know who we are"
"A Wandering Minstrel I"
"Our Great Mikado"
The Pirates of Penzance
"Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry"
"Climbing over rocky mountains"
"Here's a first rate opportunity"
Iolanthe, Part I
"Tripping hither, tripping thither"
"None shall part us from each other"
"Loudly let the trumpet bray!"
Iolanthe, Part II
"The Sentry's Song"
"Strephon's a Member of Parliament"
"When Britain really ruled the waves"
The Gondoliers, Part I
"The merriest fellows are we, tra la"
"From the sunny Spanish shore"
"In enterprise of martial kind"
The Gondoliers, Part II
"With ducal pomp and ducal pride"
"Now let the loyal lieges gather round"
"Hail the King, and Finale"

Chris Webster reported:

Let me start by saying that, apart from the title, label and track listing, all of the above information is absolutely ficticious. You may remember that Presto is one of the labels that cropped up a while ago when we were discussing the numerous Allegro-Royale issues. One of the other labels this company used was Society. I think Presto was only used when they issued Pinafore highlights by the Knightsbridge group, which was really another appearance of the Allegro-Royale recording.

These people seem to have just pinched numerous recordings and put them out under false names on their various labels. It is a while since I looked at these records, but I remember they were very good at crediting Martyn Green in recordings that had nothing to do with him. I seem to remember that they only 'borrowed' the 50's Green Mikado and the Allegro-Royale recordings for their labels, and so I was interested to hear what they had used for this issue, and I have to say in all honesty, that I don't know, but this album is not connected with either of their normal sources.

Putting aside the fact that this record is a sham as far as it's given identity goes, I will now talk about the recording/s. They date, I would guess, dates from the late 40s / early fifties. A quick look into the discography for clues of a possible original album that has been directly copied does not reveal anything, although the Savoy Players recordings (which I do not know) are a possible source. It is clearly not a British recording; it is either American or Canadian (sorry I can't really tell the difference).

I am fairly sure that this may be looked at in two parts: Pinafore and Mikado, and Pirates, Iolanthe, and Gondoliers. From the second section, the grouping of songs seems to hint that they may be transfers of sides from 78s or EPs, but at no time is any song directly linked to another. There is always a break, although within each track the break is very short as though it is all done in one go, but it might be from another record and edited together. It is difficult to tell, as there is a small amount of surface noise from my LP which just hides any give-away edit sounds. The band tend to have a muted brass sound and there is an early electronic organ or harmonium in there somewhere. The singers are competent, but I wouldn't go much further than that.

For the first two bands it is quite a different matter: the orchestra is a 'proper' orchestra. The stands tenor out above the other singers, although the others are good trained voices. He is a little like McCormack on his top notes, and he sounds a bit like a tenor matinee idol might have sounded. Again, it is difficult to tell whether these songs have been done in one go or edited together. The gap between each song seems to be longer than in the second batch, and I would think that this first lot is edited together whereas the second lot are transfers of medley records without musical links. The chorus as well as the orchestra is much better on the first batch.

It might help to identify the origins of these recordings by stating two of the changes in the lyrics. There are one or two minor changes throughout the record which for now may be overlooked, but the two most obvious rewrites are in: a) 'A maiden fair to see,' which has '...and poor beyond concealing /... of wealth is kneeling'; and b) 'Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry' is sung 'Pour, oh King ...' throughout. One thing that I have noticed is the selection of songs in each medley. They are all fairly close to their actual positioning in each opera, I wonder if this points to these originally being from abridged sets?

Issue History
1965 Presto Mono LP PRE 679