Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Grapevine's first album

Thornill, Thwaites and Coe Ride! Ride! 1976. Producer: John Pac. GRV101
Grapevine's first album was a popular Methodist musical that in 1976 made its London West End debut at the Westminster Theatre - and seems to have quite a story behind it. The musical, based on a story about John Wesley in London was written by Alan Thornhill, a Methodist minister who was also an established playwright. The music was provided by a young Australian musician Penelope Thwaites.

When it gained a place at a prestigious London theatre, the musical was placed in the hands of a notable director Peter Coe, who had been responsible for the first staging of Oliver! Cast members included Caroline Villiers, Gordon Gostelow, Brendan Barry, Richard Warner, Jeremy Anthony, Kim Goody, Raymond Skipp, Abby Hadfield and Jane Martin.

The recording must have been a coup for the new label. Sales were guaranteed and the aim was to reproduce the atmosphere of a West End musical.

And that was when the trouble began. There appears to have been some dispute between Alan Thornhill and Peter Coe over the staging of the show. The album reflects Peter Coe's direction and this seems to have included adding songs to the score. Thornhill's papers have been collected by Wheaton University, USA, and the catalogue gives a flavour of the correspondence that ensued.
More recently a new version of the musical was published and a CD released. The publishers of the new version Bardic Music state: "Recordings and publications connected with the 1976 London production are no longer sanctioned for use and are therefore in breach of current copyright." The copyright issue is being pursued with some seriousness as the Ancient Star Song blog discovered when it tried to post the Grapevine album. Penelope Thwaites posted on the Star Song setting out some of the background. None of this prevents interested listeners from buying second hand copies of the Grapevine album and they are still in circulation.

I'm no great fan of musicals but I quite enjoyed the vinyl version. And was that a mandolin I hear on some of the tracks?

1 comment:

pf said...

And the Wheaton University catalogue has also disappeared. I'm afraid I didn't get a screengrab of it.