Full performer name: The Beau Hunks/The Metropole Orchestra.
The music on OUR RELATIONS, composed by Leroy Shield, was originally scored for the Laurel & Hardy movie of the same name.
The Beau Hunks: Robert Veen, Ronald Jansen Heijtmajer, Frank Timpe, David Kweksiber, Leo Van Oostrom (saxophone, clarinet); Hanneke Metselaar (bassoon); Seya Teeuwen, Petra Griffoen (violin); Ton Van Bergeijk (guitar); Louis Debij (drums).
The Metropole Orchestra includes: Jan Stulen (conductor).
Recorded at Studio MCO3, Hilversum, The Netherlands on January 3-7, 27 & 28, 2000. Includes liner notes by Piet Schreuders and Richard W. Bann.
Personnel: Tom Van Bergeijk (guitar); Herman Van Haaren, Arlia de Ruiter, Marianne Van Den Heuvel, Erica Korthals Altes, Seya Teeuwen, Pauline Terlow, Daniëlle Van Den Akker, Simone Vierstra, Linda Dumessie, Wim Kok, Rami Koch, Marijn Rombout (violin); Mieke Honingh, Aimee Versloot, Norman Jansen, Michael Klier (viola); Hans Bonsel, Wim Grin, Olaf Groesz, Bastiaan Van Der Werf (cello); Friederike Darius, Janine Abbas (flute); Ronald Jansen Heijtmajer, David Kweksilber, Leo Van Oostrom, Frank Timpe, Robert Veen (clarinet, saxophone); Martin De Ruiter (oboe); Jan Hollander, Henk Heijink, Ruud Breuls (trumpet); Paul Woesthuis, Jan Oosting, Bart Van Lier (trombone); Hans Vroomans (piano); Louis Debij (drums); Herman Rieken, Eddy Koopman, Mike Schäperclaus (percussion).
Recording information: Studio MCO3, Hilversum, The Netherlands (01/03/2000-01/07/2000).
Editor: Guido Tichelman.
Arrangers: Menno Daams; Leroy Shield; Peter Stöve.
The music of Leroy Shield and the comedy of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy went together hand in glove throughout the 1930s (as did Shield's music and the comedy of the Little Rascals/Our Gang troupe across the same period -- Shield being the resident composer for producer Hal Roach, who had all of that talent under contract). But the movie Our Relations, directed by Harry Lachman, was something special, one of Roach's biggest budgeted productions, owing to its special effects (Laurel & Hardy play dual sets of twins) and complex plot. And one area where the studio spared no expense was in the score, getting Shield to write a full-length body of entirely new music. The irony of this fact, which made Our Relations unique in his output for Roach Studios, was that the score was then cut into pieces and ultimately compromised by the final editing of the movie. The Beau Hunks and the Metropole Orchestra, being the leading exponents of Shield's work for well over a decade, have taken it upon themselves, using newly discovered sheet music, to restore the composer's original conception of the score, recorded and presented here for the first time. And the results are mightily impressive, to say the least -- anyone who only associates Shield's work with the cute pop music passages heard in earlier Laurel & Hardy or Little Rascals movies will find a revelation of cohesiveness and coherency here, worthy of a good comedic operetta. The music -- including dance numbers such as "Let's Face It" -- not only fits together neatly, but displays a good deal of class in the composition and the playing. The latter can be attributed to the extra care that the Beau Hunks and the Metropoles take in presenting this material -- they treat this music as seriously in the playing as the New York Philharmonic treats, say, the work of Richard Strauss, but they never let go of the fun inherent in most of it, either. And when they're spot-on, as they are across the nearly one hour of this CD, there's no listening experience quite like it. Indeed, some of what's here gives them an excuse to improve upon earlier work -- the rendition of "On a Sunny Day," one of Shield's most familiar and beloved tunes, and one instantly recognizable to any fan of Laurel & Hardy or the Little Rascals, is played with such panache here that it eclipses the Beau Hunks' earlier recording of the same piece, and is almost worth the price of admission, especially juxtaposed with the comedic/action material that follows it. The sound is superb throughout, and there's an accompanying booklet that could keep the listener busy for days absorbing all of its information and observations. ~ Bruce Eder
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