The Living Strings Collection
This release brings together two albums from the RCA Living Strings Series, recorded in the 1960's featuring Johnny Douglas and his Orchestra.
Original RCA Camden albums:-
"In the Still of the Night" no. CAS 795 (1964) An album of ageless melodies that has been given the easy listening treatment in the modern style of the sixties.
"Where did the Night Go" no. CAS 738 (1963) An album of ten melodies composed by Harold Rome that has been given a lush string and mellow brass treatment for easy listening.
The Living Strings Series was created by RCA Producer Ethel Gabriel. She worked on the Melachrino Strings' "Moods in Music" series and in the late 1950s developed the Living Strings as a package for RCA's budget label, Camden, using various orchestras, mainly from Europe. The albums were all centred on a theme; the sea; Broadway; night music.
Johnny Douglas was one of England's masters of string arranging and a primary arranger and conductor of the series recorded in England.
He brought great songs to a new life with his arrangements of a mass of pure velvety strings, mellow brass and superb solos played by the cream of the British musicians of that era.
The recordings made by The Living Strings became a mainstay of easy-listening radio and commercial venues.
At Last... Johnny Douglas & The Living Strings on CD!..............
In the late '60's and throughout most of the '70's, one of the most successful U.S. radio formats was Beautiful Music (i.e. Light Music.) The Living Strings series, from RCA Camden, was featured prominently. Although there were at least a half dozen conductor/arrangers involved with these wonderful instrumental releases, there has never been a doubt in my mind that Johnny Douglas was responsible for bringing The Living Strings "to life!" "Where Did The Night Go" features twenty Johnny Douglas Living Strings arrangements. From Harold Rome showtunes like "Fanny" and "Wish You Were Here", to lush string versions of pop hits like "Unchained Melody", "Wonderland By Night" and "Blue Velvet", the Douglas touch is unmistakable. The tempos are varied, as befits each song, but nevertheless seamless, romantic and relaxing. That Johnny Douglas' contributions to the Living String series made it the success it was, is undeniable. Listening again to this inspired music, one is prompted to say... "Please Dulcima Records, may we have some more?"
By Phil Stout, USA
I just received the new Johnny Douglas CD--"Where Did the Night Go". I am listening to it again as I type this note to you. I can already tell it will be one of my favorites. It is outstanding: soothing, shimmering beauty so characteristic of Johnny's string writing, conducting, and arranging!
The quality of the CD is superb--crystal clear, rich, robust reproduction that sounds as if the listener is seated in the orchestra hall front and center as Johnny's guest. I absolutely love this CD and recommend it with the utmost enthusiasm. I only hope and pray that Dulcima will continue to reissue more Johnny Douglas-conducted Living Strings CDs. The world today needs his genius more than ever. I wish and pray the sales of this CD will lead to more reissues.
Michael Pennock - USA
The release of this elegant music on CD as arranged and performed by the late Johnny Douglas affords me enormous pleasure for I have been hoping to see the recordings in the Living Strings series become available again. Johnny's daughter Norma has now secured the right to release material from the RCA project that produced a host of albums so I look forward to more of this lovely music in the future.
Johnny Douglas was a master craftsman when it came to writing for strings and he was certainly one of Britain's finest talents in this field. He was the primary arranger - conductor for the Living Strings programme recorded in England and the superb orchestra he directed featured the top UK orchestral musicians in the 1960's and 1970's.
The teaming of two RCA Camden long playing albums for this super CD is just right. "IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT'' and "WHERE DID THE NIGHT GO" provide 20 tracks featuring well known and not so well known melodies impeccably arranged and played in the great tradition of light orchestral mood music.
The sound of the large concert orchestra is rich and full and in addition to the marvellous string section a further delight is the superbly toned trombone section. A typical example of the Douglas string writing is heard on that sublime melody. "DEEP PURPLE''. RCA Victor's vivid , Living Stereo sound brings out the best in this collection which is a pure listening delight. I hope that the next CD is not far away.
Brain Belton - IN TUNE - July 2008
I've been producing and presenting a programme of easy-listening music on BBC Radio Devon every Sunday afternoon for twenty years. In that time I have played some 20,000 tracks including many from hundreds of new CD's.
I love music as long as it is musical and easy on the mind. So much of today's so-called popular music I find neither musical, easy nor coherently sung.
It is rare these days to discover a new album which one can put into the player and just enjoy it all the way through. Such an album is the latest issue on the DULCIMA Label of "WHERE DID THE NIGHT GO" played by Johnny Douglas and his Orchestra. The 20 tracks last for nearly 70 minutes and come from two RCA Camden albums called "IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT" and "WHERE DID THE NIGHT GO".
Although my review copy arrived after I had pre-planned a programme, I decided the album was so good that I just had to slip a track into the running order, with a promise to listeners to play more the following week. I told them it was 'our kind of music'. Such albums are rare and inevitably come from the glorious past of the musical 50s and 60s. Who else produces - or even plays - such music these days? Perhaps the nearest we get to it is keyboard music which is often played for dancing rather than for listening. The difference is subtle but can create irritation of the ears!
This album is a collector's piece; there will be fewer and fewer available in the years to come. If you like it, you'll love Johnny's other albums, especially my favourite - 'IT'S MAGIC'.
Shakespeare wrote, in The Merchant of Venice, 'The man who has no music in his heart? Let no such man be trusted!' So all you trustworthy music lovers, welcome to the art of Johnny Douglas.
Graham Danton - Producer / Presenter 'GRAHAM DANTON ON SUNDAY' - BBC Radio Devon
I enjoy this album more on every listening. Everybody talks of John's writing for strings, but that's only part of the picture. His command of the whole orchestral palette of tone colours is really quite beautiful. Truly a master craftsman at work.
You won't be disappointed with this album - believe me!
Bill Geldard - Trombonist