I was privileged enough to have met Ron Goodwin twice, and also attended a few of his concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra. He always came across as a friendly and kind person who loved to entertain as well as compose music. His scores for numerous movies made up a good part of the popular music that was played on the radio during the 1950,s through the 1960,s and into the 1970,s and even today we occasionally hear his more famous compositions for the big screen on stations such as CLASSIC FM and BBC Radio 3. His death was sad indeed it felt like many of us collectors had lost a friend rather than a composer who’s music we adored. Of course I like many were introduced to Goodwin’s music via movies such as 633 SQUADRON,THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES,THE TRAP and OPERATION CROSSBOW. Goodwin was closely associated with war movies and his stirring and highly dramatic themes and scores thrilled cinema audiences world wide, but Goodwin’s music was not just background score for a movie it also contained memorable thematic material that easily crossed over into the popular music category and I think this is why the composer was so successful, because he appealed to one and all. Shortly after his death, EMI decided to issue a double compact disc as a tribute to his musical prowess and diversity. RON GOODWIN THE MAGNIFICENT MAN AND HIS MUSIC MACHINE contained 53 tracks of Goodwin’s compositions, 24 of which were taken from his film scores and also compositions written for his long playing record releases the remainder being made up of his early single releases.
It is a highly absorbing and entertaining collection of music that evokes memories of this wonderfully talented British composer. My main encounter with Ron Goodwin’s music came via the excellent EMI STUDIO TWO releases, the most popular being the LP,s of LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN, ADVENTURE and EXCITEMENT, all of which have been re-issued onto compact disc. Let us start now though with disc number one of this compilation, THE EARLY YEARS-POPULAR SINGLES, It opens with JET JOURNEY which is a somewhat typical British sounding travelogue piece, strings sweeping the proceedings along at a fairly brisk pace, in fact this was Goodwin’s first single to be released on a 78rpm disc in 1953.
This became popular very quickly and caused something of a stir when it was first available in Gt Britain. Goodwin composed many other pieces that were released as singles on the Parlophone label, the dramatic THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN, the jaunty and somewhat Hispanic sounding RED CLOAK, and the infectious SKIFFLING STRINGS among them, but Goodwin was also active in the area of recording cover versions or arrangements of other composers works, WHEN I FALL IN LOVE for example by Victor Young, a rousing version and tempestuous version of VICTORY AT SEA by Richard Rodgers and a particularly haunting arrangement of Ronald Binges ELIZABETHAN SERENADE (which was used for the dairylea cheese spread advert). I remember listening to most of his music in my room as a teenager on my trusty blue and cream coloured Dansette record player. It was a period in my life that I look back on with great fondness, it was a time when I was discovering film music and music in general thus Goodwin became a big part of that discovery process because via Goodwin I got to hear a lot of film music or at least the themes from soundtracks that were not available at that time. Which was also true of other artists/composers such as Stanley Black, Mantovani and to a degree Ronnie Aldrich, all of whom released some great compilations that either concentrated solely of film music or mixed film themes with easy listening standards. Goodwin’s releases however held a special place in my affections, both his albums and singles were things I looked forward too, and I remember being the proud owner of a white label 78rpm of the theme from SHANE which was a one sided disc, sadly it got broken a few years ago when moving house. I think everyday life was simpler then and also so was music and film, both seemed to be straightforward and uncomplicated. But I digress, back to this marvellous collection of music from Ron Goodwin. Disc one also includes BLUE STAR which was the theme from the television series MEDIC, which was written by Victor Young, Ron’s interpretation simply oozes charisma and purveys a luxurious atmosphere.
LINGERING LOVERS was the sequel to Goodwin’s popular SKIFFLING STRINGS or SWINGING SWEETHEARTS depending on what side of the Atlantic you heard it. Again the lush and luxurious strings employed by Goodwin set the mood for something that is easy going and uncomplicated but at the same time posses a haunting melody. Track number 5 on disc one is Goodwin’s version of the ever popular COLONEL BOGEY MARCH, which made an appearance in the now classic war movie BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, this arrangement also includes THE RIVER KWAI MARCH which weaves in and out of the piece. Other delights on disc number one are THE MELBA WALTZ, UNDER THE LINDEN TREE, THE LAUGHING SAILOR, MOULIN ROUGE and the alluring and haunting THE GIRL FROM CORSICA which was penned by Trevor Duncan. Disc two is entitled RON GOODWIN’S ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS FROM FILM AND LP’S. It opens most stupendously with the composers familiar and rousing theme from 633 SQUADRON and also includes the love theme from his score in track number two.
THE TRAP is up next the movie which starred Oliver reed and Rita Tushingham I have to say is almost forgotten but the music that was written by Goodwin lives on and is also used as the theme for THE LONDON MARATHON. THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES is next in the running order, Goodwin’s music is still to this day instantly recognisable to all ages. For this compilation the principal themes from the score have been woven into a suite of music a suite which has been on many of Goodwin’s compilations. LANCELOT AND GUINEVERE is a lesser known score by Goodwin, here we are treated to a 4 minute piece from the soundtrack which is romantic and regal. As well as movie themes or suites of music from his scoring assignments such as WHERE EAGLES DARE, BATTLE OF BRITAIN, OPERATION CROSSBOW, THE MISS MARPLE’S MOVIES, MONTE CARLO OR BUST, DECLINE AND FALL and FRENZY this second disc also includes original compositions by the composer that were released on compilation albums such as the busy and almost frantic sounding LONDON SERENADE depicting the hustle and bustle of a busy Metropolis. Plus lively compositions such as JUMPING JUPITER and the laid back and uncomplicated THE GIRL WITH MISTY EYES. All in all this a wonderful 2 disc set that covers some of the composers musical triumphs, I say some because there is so much more to Ron Goodwin that I think it would take up a 50 disc encyclopedia type recording. Please don’t miss out this one it is still available…