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Len Mullenger:

A SOCIETY CLOWN The Songs of GEORGE GROSSMITH Leon Berger (baritone); Selwyn Tillett (piano) The Divine Art in association with the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society.Divine Art CD2-4105


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In the course of his work, this reviewer is sent a few divine recordings many good ones, too many so-so's and occasionally a bizarre one such as this album, fondly described by its makers as - 'Over 75 minutes of Victorian fun.'

Grossmith seems to have been a jack-of-all-trades (and I will refrain from the smart comment): law-court reporter; author; composer of songs - comic and sentimental, and of operettas - and actor and entertainer etc. But his main claim to fame was that he created most of the chief comedy parts in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas - parts like the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe and Ko-Ko in The Mikado

He was also joint author with his brother Weedon, of the classic comic novel, The Diary of a Nobody.

He was also famous for his Humorous and Musical Recitals. It is 24 of these that comprises this programme sung with contortionist-like relish by Leon Berger assuming so many roles and so many styles that it is a wonder he survives without a desiccated, never mind split personality.

The programme opens with perhaps the best known song 'See Me Dance the Polka.' In 'His Nose Was on the Mantlepiece', Mr Berger assumes a thick Irish accent and describes a typical belligerent affray in which we learn that Pat Doolin's '…nose was on the mantlepiece, his mouth was on the floor, his teeth were hanging on a peg behind the kitchen door…' In 'The French Verbs Song', he assumes a thick Gallic accent with many ahahahs and eehaw laughs and proceeds to murder the French language.

'The Lost Key' mercilessly lampoons Sullivan's Lost Chord. The key is the key to a lady's wardrobe and she discovers it is missing when she is out in her carriage and starts to worry about the trinkets that might be lost and the clothes that the maids maids could 'borrow', then worse - about somebody reading her love letters!

The songs all have a quaint period charm and are mildly amusing. Enjoyable according to your taste.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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