Artist: Ian and Jennifer Partridge
Song: Cycling Song
Album: Play The Game: Victorian and Edwardian Sporting Songs (2001)
Ian and Jennifer Partridge extra retro, “Cycling Song”, from Play the Game: Victorian and Edwardian Sporting Songs, Just Accord Music, 2001.
The serious approach in these performances of utter trivia--titles such as "I won her heart at billiards" and "Won't you come over and play croquet"--lend them an absurdity that their creators wouldn't have envisaged. When Sir Spencer Ponsonby-Fane penned his carol to "the joys of the gay cricket ground, with some jolly good fellows to share it," he presumably had no sense of how changing times would amplify his meaning. Likewise with the composer of the "Eton Boating Song", who wrote "Swing, swing together with your backs between your knees". All of which makes this disc a complete joy, done as it is with po-faced eloquence, restraint and delicacy. Tenor Ian Partridge and his various collaborators (The Song and Supper Club turns out to be a bunch of former choral scholars who do after-dinner entertainments) know that for the formula to work it needs a certain sympathy and earnestness, but they're not blind to the high-camp that gives the songs a life--and an appeal--beyond their period inconsequentiality. It's an hour of good, clean (OK, clean-ish) fun. --Michael White
A fun CD which will appeal to the sports lover, music lover and history lover in equal measure. The idea is simple. "Play The Game" contains 17 British and American songs,
each one about a different sport. The songs were written between 1862 and 1913.
Listeners are likely to be drawn to the songs which illustrate their favourite sports. Many golfers will recognise the plight of the player in "Caddie", written in 1900, who pleads with his caddie, ever more desperately, to 'get me right out of this mess'. Enthusiasts of British heritage will enjoy "The Eton Boating Song", the song of Eton College, where Princes William and Harry were educated. The CD contains a real historical curiosity: "A Hunting Morning" is a setting of a rare poem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.
The liner notes contain an article on the history of sport, a background note on each song plus short biographies of the composers and lyricists. The CD would make an unusual Christmas or birthday gift for a sports loving friend.