The Savoy Connection

Reported by Chris Webster

Circa ATM 101
Circa ATM 101

Many of the people who have bought my CDs will recognise the name Jim Craig, as he is listed as 'Consultant' on a number of my issues, and I'm really delighted to tell you about a CD that he has just produced which will undoubtedly be of interest. Jim is a longstanding friend of mine who saw the original D'Oyly Carte many times from the 1960s onwards, and he has been the producer of one of England's oldest G&S Societies, the Bentley Operatic Society in Liverpool, for many (many, many) years. Jim is also certainly no stranger to 78s and their expert transferring — for a long time he provided 'made to order' transfers for a several nostalgia radio shows for Merseyside and Lancashire radio stations.

The CD is called "The Savoy Connection." It contains many rare recordings by original Savoyards and is an absolute gem. It is largely built around the original cast recordings of The Chocolate Soldier (by Oscar Straus), which starred Savoyards C. H. Workman and Amy Augarde, and Chu Chin Chow (by Oscar Asche), which starred tenor Savoyard Courtice Pounds. There are also other interesting filler items by original Savoyards Ruth Vincent, Isabel Jay and Blanche Gaston-Murray. Also heard (in Chu Chin Chow) is Violet Essex, who, although not a Savoyard, recorded many of the principal G&S soprano roles in the HMV acoustic series.

If you think, as I did, that your interest in light musical theatre starts and stops with G&S, then you're in for a very pleasant surprise indeed. I first heard a demo of this CD some months ago, and have listened to it many times since and have gained great pleasure from it on each listening. Although there is the inevitable surface noise (greatly reduced of course) for recordings of this period (1905-1916), once your ears are accustomed to this you will forget it is there and will realise that Jim has restored the actual recorded sound to a beautiful audio standard with a wonderful clarity and these are amazingly sharp and bright transfers.

For the eight page booklet Jim has written an introduction to the CD and the performers as well as information about several of the shows from which the musical items are taken, and some detailed artist biographies have been included courtesy of Michael Walters.

Here is a complete run down of the CD tracks:

Chocolate Soldier 1910 (recorded 1911)

  1. Selection — Band of H.M. Grenadier Guards (Odeon 0706)
  2. My Hero — Evelyn D'Alroy (Odeon 0706)
  3. Sympaphy — Evelyn D'Alroy and C. H. Workman (Odeon 0703)
  4. Seek the Spy — Lempriere Pringle and Chorus (Odeon 0705)
  5. The Tale of a Coat — Evelyn D'Alroy, Amy Augarde, Lempriere Pringle, Tom A. Shale, C. H. Workman (Odeon 0705)
  6. That would be lovely — Evelyn D'Alroy and C. H. Workman (Odeon 0704)
  7. Finale Act 2 — Evelyn D'Alroy, Amy Augarde, Lempriere Pringle, Tom A. Shale, C. H. Workman (Odeon 0703)
  8. Letter Song — Evelyn D'Alroy and C. H. Workman (Odeon 0704)

Amasis 1906 (recorded 1907)

  1. Little Princess, Look Up — Ruth Vincent (Columbia-Rena 132)

Tom Jones 1907

  1. Which Is My Own True Self — Ruth Vincent (Columbia-Rena 132)

Chu Chin Chow 1916

  1. Vocal Gems — Columbia Vocal Gem Company (Not O.C.) (Columbia 659)
  2. Cobbler's Song — Jamieson Dodds (Not O.C.) (Columbia 659)
  3. Cleopatra’s Nile — Violet Essex (E 172)
  4. When a Pullet is Plump — Courtice Pounds (E 172)
  5. I Love You So — Violet Essex (D 417)
  6. Any Time's Kissing Time — Violet Essex and Courtice Pounds (D417)
  7. Cobbler's Song — Frank Cochrane (Columbia D 1379)
  8. Any Time's Kissing Time — Aileen D’Orme (O.C. artiste, but did not sing this song) (Columbia L 1114)
  1. Coming Thro' the Rye — Ruth Vincent (Columbia 129)
  2. Home Sweet Home — Ruth Vincent (Columbia 129)
  3. You and I "Cingalee" — Isabel Jay and Louis Bradfield (G.C. 4373)
  4. Swing Song "Veronique" — Miss Gaston-Murray and Mr. Arthur Grover (G.C. 4371)
  5. Kiss, Kiss, Kiss — Sybil Gray & Herbert Payne (G.C. 4468)

Stephen Turnbull added:

I just want to endorse Chris's endorsement of this CD. Although none of the music featured is by Sullivan, it is a very interesting document, particularly for the C.H. Workman Chocolate Soldier sides which, perhaps even more than his Sullivan discs, show what a very good high baritone voice he had. These discs are considerable rarities, incidentally. The two Courtice Pounds numbers from Chu Chin Chow, both of which I had heard many times before, are a revelation here. I had always thought Pounds's singing dreary and his speech mannered and pompous, but the quality of the transfers is such that it is now clear that they are nothing of the sort. Amy Augarde (Savoy 1887) features in a couple of numbers, as does Violet Essex (soprano soloist in the early HMV G&S complete sets).

This is well worth having if you are interested in musical comedy, D'Oyly Carte singers or early recordings.

The CD is no longer available, but MP3 files are available from Jim Craig (circarec at

Issue History
2000 Circa CD ATM 101