HYMNS A' SWINGING
This is the first ever release of this heavenly baby on CD. Since it’s initial low-profile birth in the late 1960s, Hymns A’ Swinging has become something of an underground classic. And that’s because nothing sounds quite like this album at all – where else could you hear “All Things Bright And Beautiful” as a heavy latin workout? When else would you encounter a psyched-out sitar interpretation of a Franz Haydn classic? With a surprise waiting for you in just about every track, Hymns A’ Swinging will raise a smile, confuse and possible even startle you with its brilliance and occasional madness. Everything is played and performed with consummate enthusiasm and extremely skill, not surprising really as the line up includes London sax hero Tubby Hayes jamming along with the vocal talents of the Mike Sammes Singers – the whole sound then glued together thanks to the musical talents of the Ted Taylor Organsound, whoever they are. From the sublime to the ridiculous, Hymns A’ Swinging is unlike anything else ever musically created. Here is the tracklisting. And below I have placed both the original and new sleevenotes for you to have a gorp at. Aren’t you lucky. Yes.
1) HARVEST HOME
2) HILLS OF THE NORTH
3) 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS
4) FOR ALL THE SAINTS
5) ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL
6) BRIGHT THE VISION THAT DELIGHTED
7) GLORIOUS THINGS OF THEE ARE SPOKEN
8) HE WHO WOULD VALIENT BE
9) IMMORTAL INVISIBLE GOD ONLY WISE
10) O JESUS I HAVE PROMISED
11) O WORSHIP THE KING
12) PRAISE TO THE LORD
Performing on this album…
THE TED TAYLOR ORGANSOUND
Ted Taylor (organ), Tubby Hayes (Flute and Tenor Sax), Ike Isaacs, Cedric West, Clive Hicks (Alternating guitars), Mike Nottingham (Bass), Len Clarke (Drums).
THE MIKE SAMMES SINGERS
Pat Whitney (Soprano), June Jay (Alto), Freddie Williams (Tenor), Alan Grant (Bass).
Over the last 20 years Hymns A’ Swinging has become something of a classic. Obviously it’s a classic religious album, it’s also a classic car boot album, a classic novelty album, even some would say it’s a classic London jazz album. And it’s a classic easy listening album too. I first came across it many years ago around the Reverend Martin Green’s home. We treated the album like a game, a kind of “name that tune” game, simply because you have no idea what hymn is about to be sung from it’s introduction. A great example of this is “All Things Bright And Beautiful”, and I defy anyone to know what song is about to start, even after the first 40 seconds of it. Try the game yourself at home. And with friends. Or anyone you can coax into listening.
By the mid 1990s Hymns A’ Swinging was big news in amongst the UKs record nutters, it was funky, fashionably easy, had some killer, loopable intros (just listen to “He Who Would Valiant Be”), and with it’s intriguing line up of musicians which included Tubby Hayes, prices for rough old discarded copies were reaching the heavens – by this I mean about £100, which is quite a lot when you could possibly find one in Croydon on a Sunday morning while everyone else was at church for about 10p. Or maybe 50p. Or like a quid or something.
If only finding an original pressing was that simple. Copies have always remained illusive. Davjon Records who originally produced and arranged the album were small, had little distribution and by the early 1970s had disappeared just as fast and as unnoticed as they’d appeared. I managed to licence two tracks from it for a compilation of religious oddities back in the late 1990s, and by the early naughties a bootleg of the whole album on vinyl had mysteriously surfaced. Any idea I had for issuing the album properly had disappeared by then, but over subsequent years the thought has remained niggling away in the back of my head. Then, at the end of 2008 I issued the whole album as a download. Not very exciting or rewarding, and I received a small flood of nearly biblical scale, requesting I make a proper, tangible product. So here it is, on CD. I know it’s not that exiting as a format, but I see no point in issuing a proper vinyl copy hundreds of illegal vinyl copies have already done the rounds. Anyway, it’s here now and Mrs Taylor has bought a new frock thanks to the advance I paid her.
Thanks for listening as always.
Jonny Trunk 2009
There now follows the original album notes. Which are quite well written. They were uncredited at the time but I reckon they were penned by the perfectly named album producer, Mr David Moses.
In these day when pop composers are raiding the classics for themes and arrangers have been known to study Holst or Stravinsky before scoring their latest shot at the Top Twenty, it is rather surprising that the wealth of melodic material in the Church Of England hymn-book has been left comparatively untouched. Now, here is a record which takes twelve of the best-known hymns and gives them a completely different aspect.
To most people, hymns mean Friday afternoon at the School Hall or those embarrassingly infrequent visits to Church for weddings or religious festivals. But in fact there is a wealth of musical pleasure to be derived from the singing and playing of hymns, and the only people who seem to have realised this so far are the Salvation Army, who really “sell” hymns as part of their Christian appeal.
The hymns we have chosen are well-known, but however many times you may have heard or sung them before you will find their new guise has extended their vitality and melodic appeal.
In no way have these lovely hymns been spoiled – this record is a genuine and serious attempt to build modern musical forms on to traditional songs of praise.
Original album produced by John Britten. Arrangements and musical direction by David Moses.