Some notes on the recordings by Martin White
Track 1. Dudley & His Magic Pants
Words, music and arrangement by Martin White. Mixed by Rhodri Marsden. Recorded by Jon Clayton at OneCat Studio
Piccolo: Vikki Stone // Oboe: Jenni Britton // Alto Saxophone: Arec Koundarjian // French horn: Nathan Thomas // Trumpet: Martin Whaley // Trombone: Nathan Hamer // Harp: Kat Arney // Piano: Arec Koundarjian // Bass guitar: Rhodri Marsden // Drums: Ben Handysides // Violins: Sophie Dolman, Robert Chatley, Louisa Wood, Siobhan Gee, Dan Mayfield, Lucy Jackson, Alex Pudney, Romany Kebar, Amy Butterworth // Violas: Tom Handysides, Alex Pudney // Cellos: Hannah Donovan, Romany Kebar, Jon Clayton
I used to co-present the Dave Gorman Show on Absolute Radio on Sunday mornings. Every week we invited listeners to send us their anecdotes on a given topic, and at the end of each show I improvised a song based on some or all of these stories. One week the topic was lucky clothing and a listener declared that he was going to try to cheat in a black-pudding-throwing contest by wearing magic underpants. So that became that week’s song. The bus conductor’s hat, blood-stained kilt etc were other submissions from that week’s show. Tip of the hat to the listeners whose anecdotes have now been cast in song. The arrangement and production (and mixing by regular MFMO bassist Rhodri Marsden) are intended to evoke the heyday of ELO, like it or not.
Track 2. Gooseberry Rag
Composed and arranged by Martin White
Recorded and mixed by Jon Clayton at OneCat studio
Flute/piccolo: Ruth Stockdale // Oboe: Jenni Britton // Clarinet: Richard Russell // Trumpet: Steve Pretty // Tuba: Kate Dornan // Piano: Jeremy Limb // Drums: David Reed // Violins: Louisa Wood, William Banyard // Viola: Jeremy Limb // Cello: Kate Dornan
Years ago I was in a now-defunct psychedelic prog-folk band called Scarlet’s Well, the brainchild of mischievous cigarette-wielding Monochrome Set frontman Bid. I wrote a lot of songs during this period, some adopted as Scarlet’s Well songs, others rejected. One night I dreamt I wrote a ragtime instrumental for the band called Blueberry Rag. It turned out there was already at least one other ragtime tune called Blueberry Rag, and so Bid suggested the title Gooseberry Rag instead, which conjures up appropriately melancholy sentiments. I set about trying to compose a piece of music that felt the way the dream had felt, and this is pretty much as close as I could get it. It never ended up on a Scarlet’s Well record so it became a MFMO tune. It’s a fairly straight homage to Scott Joplin, and the orchestration is my nod to Marvin Hamlisch’s Joplin arrangements from the film The Sting, in keeping with the 70s flavour of a lot of what I seem to end up writing with MFMO.
Track 3. The History Of Europe
Words, music and arrangement by Martin White
Recorded and mixed by Jon Clayton at OneCat Studio
Flute/piccolo: Ruth Stockdale // Oboe: Jenni Britton // Clarinet: Richard Russell // Accordion: Martin White // Drums: David Reed // Trumpet: Steve Pretty // Tuba: Kate Dornan // Violins: Louisa Wood, William Banyard // Viola: Jeremy Limb // Cello: Kate Dornan
The comedian Robin Ince, with whom I have worked for many years, used to co-present a comedy music show on BBC Radio 2 called ‘The Day The Music Died’ along with Andrew Collins and people like that. They had a regular feature called A Song For Europe in which comedians paid tribute to the band Europe in one way or another, and Robin invited me to submit a song. This was the song I wrote, a prosaic account of the band’s history full of dull detail but with a rousing waltz accompaniment. For whatever reason the producer of the show didn’t like it and so it was never broadcast.
Track 4. Bad Joke
Words by Reggie Chamberlain-King
Music composed and arranged by Martin White
Recorded and mixed by Jon Clayton at OneCat Studio
Flute: Ruth Stockdale // Oboe: Helen Arney // Clarinet: Sarah Scutt // French horn: Nathan Thomas, Jim Bush // Trumpet: Steve Pretty // Trombone: Nathan Hamer // Piano: Martin White // Bass guitar: Rhodri Marsden // Drums: Ben Handysides // Violins: Sophie Dolman, Robert Chatley, Louisa Wood, Siobhan Gee, Dan Mayfield, Lucy Jackson, Alex Pudney, Romany Kebar, Amy Butterworth // Violas: Tom Handysides, Alex Pudney // Cellos: Hannah Donovan, Romany Kebar, Jon Clayton
Another unused commission! Some comedians made a feature film on a shoestring budget and asked me to compose the score. I was halfway through writing and recording the music when they released the film on DVD without telling me, and without any of the songs or music I had composed. Charming! Bad Joke is one of the songs from this lost soundtrack (there are a few others which I dare say will see the light of day in due course). I enlisted the assistance of regular MFMO lyricist Reggie Chamberlain-King, giving him a song title and a vague brief and as usual he rose to the challenge admirably. It’s a structurally unusual song because it had to match what was happening on screen, and the film’s producers had requested something with a Hey Jude-like sing-a-long at the end (the temp track they had used was the Bee-Gees’ “I Started A Joke”), hence the Beatles-flavoured laugh-a-long outro.
Martin White, October 2011