The Michael Sammes Pinafore (1966)

Madge Stephens, soprano
Enid Heard, mezzo-soprano
Helen Landis, contralto
Andrew Downie, tenor
Michael Sammes, baritone
John Camburn, baritone
Eric Wilson-Hyde, bass-baritone

The Michael Sammes Singers
Orchestra conducted by John Gregory

Fontana SFL 13030
Fontana SFL 13030

Michael Sammes made numberous recordings in the 1960s of highlights from musicals and operettas. His G&S output includes several discs dedicated to individual operas, plus a "Best of Gilbert and Sullivan" disc consisting, presumably of highlights from all the others. The singers are not credited with specific roles, but presumably Sammes sang either the Captain or Sir Joseph. Eric Wilson-Hyde was never a member of D'Oyly Carte, but he made a guest appearance as Bob Becket, the Carpenter's Mate on the 1960 Pinafore, so presumably he sang Dick Deadeye here. Helen Landis was the contralto on all the Gilbert and Sullivan For All recordings, so she certainly sang Buttercup here.

The selections are as follows:

Act 1Act 2
  • "We sail the ocean blue"
  • (includes overture)
  • "I'm called Little Buttercup"
  • "A maiden fair to see"
  • "I am the captain of the Pinafore"
  • "Sorry her lot who loves too well"
  • "When I was a lad"
  • "Refrain audacious tar"
  • "Fair Moon"
  • "Things are seldom what they seem"
  • "A simple sailor"
  • "Never mind the why and wherefore"
  • "Carefully on tiptoe stealing,"
  • leading into...
  • "He is an Englishman"
  • "A many years ago"
  • Finale

The recording is not in my personal collection, but Andrew Tappin provided the following observations:

Although "Carefully on tiptoe stealing" and "He is an Englishman" appear on a single track, the confrontation between the Captain & Ralph is omitted and the musical patch feels clumsy. In "A simple sailor," 'everything that isn't old' comes from 'Waring & Gillows' rather than 'Gillows' — a totally unnecessary piece of updating that cuts right across the metre.

As other correspondents have noted for other recordings in the series, the orchestration is somewhat idiosyncratic with a very prominent harp. The stereo sound felt over wide or unstable (I'm not quite sure which, but it induced the same kind of queasiness that I get from using headphones).

I'm not sure about the conjecture that Sammes sung the comedian roles for two reasons:

  1. Somewhere or other I have a non-G&S recording in which he appears and in which the singers of each song are credited ("Songs from Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang!") and I recall his having a rather heavier voice than the Sir Joseph of this recording — this is, however, a recollection over many (>20) years.
  2. Only one of Sir Joseph's songs is recorded while most of the Captain's music is present.
Issue History
1966 WING (Philips) Stereo LP WL-1110  
1967-8? Fontana Stereo LP SFL-13030
197-? Philips International Stereo LP 6625 007 [U.K.]
6641 243 [Australia]
Two-record set, "G&S Extravaganza, Vol. 3," including the Michael Sammes Pirates and Pinafore. The Australian issue is not verified.