There’s a great craftsman at work here. It looks effortless, but as Irving Berlin used to say, “the simplest things are the hardest to write”. DON BLACK
• In the late 1950s and early ’60s, Lionel Bart dominated both the UK pop charts and the West End stage. He wrote ‘Living Doll’ for Cliff Richard, ‘Little White Bull’ for Tommy Steele, ‘From Russia with Love’ for the James Bond film, and he created Oliver!, the most successful British musical of the twentieth century; it’s eternal songs; ‘Food Glorious Food’, ‘Consider Yourself’, ‘Who Will Buy?’ ‘As Long As He Needs Me’, now burned deep in the collective unconscious.
• This five cd set showcases all of Lionel’s early triumphs including music from the historic productions of Oliver! which featured the young Steve Marriott – an outstanding Artful Dodger soon to be fronting Small Faces – Stanley Holloway, the English actor renowned for his comic monologues and songs, and from the original 1960 hit show Ron Moody’s immortal Fagin, Georgia Brown’s Nancy and a certain Barry Humphries as Mr Sowerberry, the undertaker.
• Lionel embodied the Sixties, a decade in which his genius was reputed to have earned him £9 a minute. He determined to enjoy every moment of his success and needed every penny to support a famously extravagant lifestyle.
• There are recordings of songs from Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be involving Barbara Windsor, Sid James, Adam Faith and Max Bygraves; music from Blitz; the complete original score plus popular recordings of such masterpieces as ‘Far Away’, performed by Shirley Bassey.
• The set also includes the songs Lionel wrote to put his friend Tommy Steele on the map, including the compositions from The Duke Wore Jeans and Tommy the Toreador, and a panorama of his writing for the popular artists of the day; where the Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele hits are complimented by Marty Wilde, Anthony Newley, Alma Cogan, Mark Wynter, Frankie Vaughan, Shane Fenton and Joe Brown, his famous theme for the second Bond movie, From Russia With Love arranged by John Barry, and to round the extravaganza off, Lionel’s own wonderfully eccentric recordings; the For Bart’s Sake 10” solo album and his 1961 Christmas single.