Twenty years ago "Journal Into Melody" celebrated
its 100th issue increased in size to 56
pages for the special occasion! The September 1990 issue
was actually number 100, and in his editorial the Editor
(guess who it was) wondered if we might reach issue 200
in 2015. It could actually happen in June 2014, but we wont
cross our bridges just yet.
Among the special features back in 1990
was a detailed report on the Robert Farnon sessions at CTS,
Wembley, when Bob accompanied Eileen Farrell in the first
of three CDs they made together. The album was called "This
Time Its Love" and it was released on Reference
Recordings RR-42CD in 1991. The orchestral recordings took
place at CTS on 30 April and 1 & 2 May 1990. Eileen
sang with the orchestra on four of the tracks, but for the
remainder her vocals were dubbed later back in the USA.
Twenty years on we are pleased to let
you see many photos from the sessions, never previously
included in JIM, together with the reports that appeared
in our magazine:
EILEEN FARRELL & ROBERT FARNON
SPRING 1990 SESSIONS AT CTS WEMBLEY
The omens were good. Monday 30 April, according
to the weather forecasters, was likely to be one of the
warmest April days on record in England. It was. It also
proved to be a day on which some of the finest Robert Farnon
sounds ever were to he heard at the CTS Studios in Wembley.
After originally being scheduled for San
Francisco, then switched to New York - the eagerly awaited
Farnon sessions with Eileen Farrell finally transferred
to Londons CTS Studios on 30 April and 1 & 2 May
1990. The results delighted every one concerned - performers,
producers and privileged onlookers, including those members
of the Robert Farnon Society who were able to get along
to the Studios.
To kick-off our reports on the Wembley
sessions, well hear from our first man on the pitch
... VERNON ANDERSON:
On a beautiful late Spring morning I made
my way to the CTS Studios, for what was to be my second
visit there both to see and hear Robert Farnon in action
before a large orchestra. Today he would be recording with
Miss Eileen Farrell, well-known in the United States of
America for her operatic singing, but more recently venturing
into the realms of popular music with some fine recordings
of a selection of favourite "standards" in the
The days session was not due to begin
until 1 pm, but I arrived early so that I could experience
all the work that precedes an occasion such as this. This
decision proved well worth the effort. I made myself known
to the Receptionist, who just happened to be talking to
Miss Farrells Production Manager for the sessions.
I was greeted warmly and made to feel very much at home.
Studio No. I was the venue for today, so I made my way downstairs
to see how the preparations were going, drawn by the sound
of some not unfamiliar phrases being worked out on a piano.
On reaching the doorway I had quite a surprise. I recalled
that on the occasion of my last visit in May 1986 the studio
had been partitioned off into small compartments, each containing
different sections of the orchestra. Now, all this had gone,
so as to provide one large space. The orchestras chairs
were set out in a large semi-circle facing towards the right-hand
wall and centred on the conductors rostrum, which
was a raised platform ensuring that all would see him and
he could see everyone else. Suspended above were the microphones
and lights, with some floor standing microphones suitably
placed around, The rostrum also housed a control panel with
an audio link to the main control room upstairs, whose large
soundproofed tinted glass window overlooked the studio.
The recording engineers were busying themselves,
monitoring the piano to get the right sound balance in audio
link from the control room to the pianist, with various
instructions and comments passing between them and these
beautiful musical phrases rippling around the studio. I
just stood and listened, trying to take it all in.
I made my way up to the control room and
there was introduced to other members of the production
team and the recording engineers. Lastly to Miss Farrell,
who proved to be a delightfully down to earth lady, who
proceeded to tell me about her journey over from the States
the previous day, her hotel etc., but most of all how much
she was looking forward to meeting and making this recording
with Robert Farnon, a man whose music she much admired.
I asked her what her favourite piece of Farnon music was
and immediately she recalled the "On Target" album
which Bob recorded with jazz pianist George Shearing. In
particular she loved his rendition of "Song Bird",
a piece composed by her accompanist Loonis McGlohon, the
gentleman I had seen in the studio. He joined us in the
control room and I was delighted to be introduced to him.
A very modest man, quietly spoken, who was also much looking
forward to working with Robert Farnon. He, too, was delighted
with Bobs arrangement of "Song Bird".
So with a sense of anticipation, we made
our way down to the studio, Miss Farrell wanting to get
the feel of the place and see where she was to be positioned,
etc... The recording booth was immediately to the left as
one entered the studio, with glass fronted partition, but
open each side, complete with chair, music stand, headphones
|Eileen Farrell & RFS Secretary David Ades
While all this was going on, I heard a
familiar voice followed by first the feet and then the familiar
figure of the man himself, as he came down the stairs to
the studio. Robert Farnon greeted me warmly and asked whether
David Ades had arrived. I assured him that David was on
his way and I hoped he would be joining us for lunch. Bob
asked if I would be writing an article on the sessions for
the magazine, and I said I would. He was then introduced
to Miss Farrell, who was immediately at ease with him, and
they talked about the days programme. Then Bob met
Mr. McGlohon. They discussed the schedule, which was to
include another piece composed by him called "Everything
I Love". Bob also met the recording engineers who discussed
the layout and sound balance with him. Anyone who has had
the pleasure of meeting Robert Farnon will know that he
has this marvellous reassuring nature, is very unassuming
and has a great sense of humour. These qualities revealed
themselves as the days programme progressed. But it
was now time for lunch, so I made my way upstairs to the
restaurant on the second floor. This has a bar, and a long
balcony with views west to the Conference Centre and beyond.
The weather was fine, sunny and unusually hot for the time
of year. I met Derek Boulton, Bobs agent and manager,
who generously treated me to a lunch. He asked me to join
him at a table with Miss Farrell and Mr. McGiohon but I
declined, saying that I thought Bob would want to discuss
arrangements with them, so I sat at a table adjacent to
them and started my meal. Bob Farnon came over with his
lunch and said "I dont like to see you eating
by yourself, mind if I join you?" That is typical of
the man, and that gesture made my day. We were joined by
Bobs son David, who would be assisting in the production
and also playing with the orchestra in several pieces. Altogether
a very enjoyable meal.
The lunch over, we made our way first to
the control room, where we were joined by David Ades and
then to the studio where the musicians were assembling ready
for the afternoon session.
In true Farnon fashion, the rehearsal began
at 1 pm sharp, the first piece on the stands "My Romance"
with Eileen Farrell singing in with the music.
A lovely arrangement by Bob, and what a joy to hear the
full orchestra playing it live. David Ades and I were standing
just inside the doorway adjacent to Eileens booth,
catching every note and colour. The stuff that dreams are
The second piece - "Alone Together
by Arthur Schwartz opened with a trombone solo from top
session musician (and bandleader in his own right) Don Lusher,
with a reference at beginning and ending to Bobs orchestral
score on the "Something To Remember You By" album
of the 1950s.
No. 3 - "More Than You Know"
by Vincent Youmans. This time a vocal intro, with the verse
played by orchestra and solo from Don Lusher. The closing
bars made reference to Bobs "Prairie Sunset"
(also known as "Almost A Lullaby").
No. 4 - "Everything I Love" by
Loonis McGlohon: a new piece, with an intro, by Bob reflecting
"Something to remember ..." and closing with a
reference to Pictures In The Fire". A beautiful
At 2:45 No. 5 - "My Foolish Heart"
was on the stands, with the intro, reflecting Bobs
earlier orchestral arrangement and closing passage from
"Lake Of The Woods" with flute solo, followed
No. 6 - "The Nearness Of You"
by Ray Noble. Bob made an orchestral recording of this one
back in the 1950s and later with vocalists Ray Ellington
and Sheila Southern. Today we were treated to a new arrangement
of this standard which was very beautiful.No.
7 - "Easy To Love" with a hint of Bobs Hits
Of Sinatra albums "Second
Time Around". An up-tempo number with
the great Lenny Bush on rhythm bass and Martin Taylor on
The time 3:40 and No. 8 "The
More I See You" was on the music stands. A marvellous
up-tempo arrangement by Bob which had Eileen Farrell swinging
along, showing how well she can sing in the jazz idiom.
I particularly enjoyed her phrasing on this one.
3:49 - and it was time to start recording.
So with take 1 Bob swung the orchestra and Eileen into "The
More I See You" again. I noted a particularly fine
tenor solo from Tommy Whittle. By the time everyone was
satisfied, it was time for tea in the restaurant, where
David Ades and I were joined by Bob and son David. Bob seemed
quite pleased with the way the sessions were going. There
was even time to enjoy the afternoon sun on the balcony.
At 5:00 pm the sessions resumed with "My
Romance. The fourth take commencing at 5:30 was fine
and, as the expression goes, in the bag. At
this point Ill hand over to David Ades to tell you
about the remaining magical moments of the evening session.
Vernons report above graphically
conveys the atmosphere at the studios, and the business-like
way in which the sessions proceeded. My overwhelming impression
of that first afternoon was the sheer joy of hearing that
magnificent orchestra (all hand-picked session musicians)
glide almost effortlessly through no less than eight stunning
new Farnon arrangements within three short hours. There
is very little I can add to Vernons comments, except
to tell you that I detected Bobs First Symphony briefly
appearing in "The Nearness Of You"; he also used
the same theme in his "New Horizons".
Although there were a few changes on the
final day, on most numbers the orchestra comprised: 10 first
violins (leader, Raymond Cohen); 8 second violins; 6 violas;
3 bass; 3 french horns; 2 trombones; 4 woodwind; harp; piano;
bass and guitar.
Now to return to the evening session on
the Monday. Following "My Romance", at 5:32 the
orchestra played "Alone Together". Certain instrumentalists
need their own headphones so that they can hear the singer,
and ensure that their own solos or accompaniments fit in
neatly with the rest of the orchestra. During this number
certain problems arose in this respect for the harp, and
Martin Taylors guitar passage at the end. But in typical
Farnon fashion all such matters were quietly resolved with
good humour, and by 6:00 the orchestra were ready for the
By 6:35 the orchestra were gently swinging
"Easy To Love", much to everyones enjoyment.
Bob suggested that they should up the tempo a little, which
made the arrangement really sparkle. But while the increased
tempo sounded fine from the orchestra, it didnt really
suit the singer; it was decided that this number should
proceed at a more leisurely pace, and the final result was
much to every ones satisfaction.
|Loonis McGlohon & Robert Farnon
Soon after 7:00 they went back to "Alone
Together" because it was felt that they could still
improve on earlier efforts. Not infrequently the crew think
that a number sounds fine - until Bob declares that this
and that were not quite right, and invariably he is proved
correct. By 7:22 they were happier with the results, and
Bob then turned his attention to the new Loonis McGlohon
number "Everything I Love". Given the necessary
exposure, this lovely melody could well become a modern
standard. This performance was given added poignancy by
the composers participation at the piano. By 8 pm
everyone agreed that the long day had been a great success;
in particular Eileen Farrell and her American companions
seemed knocked out by Bobs arrangements.
May Day dawned, with more temperature records
being broken. Fortunately minor problems with the air conditioning
were quickly corrected! And some new faces appeared at the
studios. On the Monday, Frances Carder had looked in during
the afternoon, and Tuesday saw the arrival of Beryl Antony,
Don Furnell and Cab Smith joining the RFS ranks. Cab has
reported on the remaining sessions for us (below) so Ill
close my own remarks with just a few observations. We were
a little surprised at first on finding that the orchestra
did not include any trumpets or percussion. Bob decided
that they were not essential, and "Easy To Love"
in particular illustrates that an orchestra can swing without
them - at least, in Bobs hands. On the technical side,
the sound engineers used only a small part of the elaborate
facilities available to them in the CTS Studios. Remember,
these are the same studios where John Williams and many
other leading film composers have recorded their soundtrack
scores, needing state-of-the-art technology. But the experts
at Reference Recordings like to use their own equipment,
which even extends to employing different circuitry for
CDs and vinyl, to match the differing requirements of digital
and analogue sound. The intention was that Eileen Farrell
would sing each number in the studio with the orchestra,
rather than weeks or months later in a remote studio elsewhere.
Unfortunately her booth caused relationship problems between
herself and the orchestra which her headphones could not
adequately remedy. It is likely that she will dub in a few
of her vocals which did not satisfy her high standards.
"My Foolish Heart" was one number where Eileen
was particularly unhappy with the results being achieved.
Now lets read CAB SMITHs
impressions on his two days at Wembley:
Once again I had the great pleasure of
attending another of Bobs recording sessions, which
took place at C.T.S. Wembley over three days from Monday
30 April - although we rounded off at 12:30 on the Wednesday.
The event was a series of popular songs
from the past, sung by a charming lady from the States who
sang with a most pleasing voice which came over most clearly
on all of her songs. If I recall correctly, she sang in
a similar style to Kate Smith, who I used to hear on some
of her radio shows aired on A.F.N. in Germany back in the
late l940s. Eileen did admit that she had been around singing
after the war, so you can gather from that she has covered
a great number of songs in her time.
Unfortunately I could not attend the Day
1 sessions, but I could not wait for Day 2 (Tuesday 1 May)
to arrive. So after travelling for an hour and three-quarters,
on a journey that usually takes about forty minutes, I finally
made it - NOT the fault of my Lada, as some people may have
|David Farnon and Robert Farnon checking the scores
I arrived at 10:15 am and made my may to
the control room, where I was greeted by David and Don Furnell
and, of course, the Guvnor himself looking very well.
It was also good to meet David Farnon again, who had his
hands full keeping tabs on the cue sheets, etc... I just
arrived as they were listening to the playback of a song
from the 1930s "More Than You Know". It was originally
featured in the film "Hit The Deck" with Jack
Oakie, with a remake in 1955 by MGM. After three takes everyone
seemed happy with the result, Then on to the next number
"The Nearness Of You" by Ned Washington and Hoagy
Carmichael, from the 1938 picture Romance In The Dark".
Again, this was very nicely sung.
The following piece was entirely new to
me , "What Is There To Say" ... once more, a beautiful
performance by Miss Farrell after three takes.
Song No. 4 "Love Panic", I must
admit, was completely new to me as well. But again it was
nicely put over by Eileen. Throughout the session, at times
Don, David and myself would go down on the studio floor
and sit at the rear of the orchestra. What a treat, being
among the cream of the orchestral world Raymond Cohen, first
violin; Don Lusher, trombone; Lennie Bush, bass; Roy Willox,
Tommy Whittle, reeds; Martin Taylor, guitar; along with
around 50 session personnel. This is where the real atmosphere
of the orchestra was! And I mustnt forget Bob, out
in front conducting his wonderful arrangements which clearly
appealed to the musicians on that enjoyable session.
Then the lunch break arrived, so most of
us trooped off to the studio restaurant, to enjoy a first
class meal, at their price!
Two oclock arrived, and we returned
to the control room to await the next ballad to be rehearsed.
It was a number that became a big hit way back in 1949 "My
Foolish Heart", composed bv Victor Young with words
by Ned Washington. This took a little longer to rehearse,
as by now Eileen Farrells voice was starting to get
tired, so she decided to sing it again the following day.
She tried out the next number on the schedule, which she
seemed to handle better - "His Is The Music That Makes
Me Dance". Eileen performed this with great feeling
and after four takes this led us up to 4:55pm. Everyone
seemed to be happy with what had taken place, so after our
farewells to all concerned my next move was to head the
Lada for home.
Wednesday 2 May: Day 3. I arrived a little
late for the final session, and greeting me as I entered
the control room was Bobs arrangement of "The
More I See You" with Eileen handling the lyric with
ease. This number was written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren
for the Billy Rose film "Diamond Horseshoe" starring
Dick Haymes and Betty Grable in 1945. By 10:30 the song
was in the can, as you might say, and then came a lovely
ballad which Frank Sinatra used to sign off his radio show
back in the 1940s. "Put Your Dreams Away", again
very nicely put over, and after a few takes everyone was
Break time came for twenty minutes, giving
us a chance to check the weather outside which was still
outstanding for the time of the year. Then back to the control
room to hear another run-through of "My Foolish Heart",
postponed from the previous day. After another take it was
decided to record an orchestral track only, so that Eileen
could add her voice later if she wished.
About 12:15 the session came to an end,
For me it was a most enjoyable two days listening to a great
lady of song, whose diction is so clear that every words
of the lyrics comes through. As for todays vocalists
... you often wonder just what they are singing! My thanks
to Bob and David Farnon for letting us sit in at the sessions,
and lets not forget Bobs manager Derek Boulton
for helping to make it all possible.
An afterthought: looking through my Hollywood
Musicals book I see that, in 1955 MGM produced a film
called "Interrupted Melody". It was the biography
of Marjorie Lawrence, a well-known opera singer played on
screen by Eleanor Parker co-starring Glen Ford. The entry
states that Eileen Farrell dubbed the songs for Eleanor
Parker, and from reports she was rated very highly for her
valuable contribution towards the films success.
The photographs in this feature were
taken on 1 May 1990.