2007   JUNE 25   #176

The Lyons Maid Revue - With Lyons Maid You're Laughing

01. Overture (1:08)
02. Little Bit Of Eye Tie Ice Cream (2:06)
03. It's A Lovely (1:17)
04. Blaze A New Trail (2:00)
05. The Girl On The Lyons Maid Phone (3:01)
06. Intermission (1:05)
07. Get Behind It And Push (3:28)
08. Plain Or Fancy (3:23)
09. Tele-Op Blues (2:31)
10. With Lyons Maid You're Laughing (0:52)

Recorded Highlights of the 1973 Marketing Presentation At The Talk Of The Town

This is a rare beast, a genuine British industrial musical. It was made in 1973 to celebrate 50 years of ice cream manufacture by confectioners Lyons Maid Ltd. They held a special meeting at The Talk Of The Town in London's West End where the 550 sales executives were treated to this specially commissioned stage musical that boasts an impressive cast and writers.

The sleeve and label carry the Lyons Maid "Good Time" symbol of three children dancing. This symbol was introduced in January 1973 and so the album took on a combined job of promoting the company's new "fun food" image as well as a jubilee celebration.

The music was composed by Malcolm Mitchell. He was regularly heard on BBC radio as MD on several shows but had also written scores for musicals and films. The lyrics were by veteran comedy writer Denis Norden. Although he's best known to modern audiences as the presenter/writer of the long-running outtakes showcase It'll Be Alright On The Night and the comedy clips shows Denis Norden's Laughter Files, his writing career started some 60 years ago in partnership with Frank Muir. They created groundbreaking radio and television series such as Take It From Here, The Glums and Whack-O! and wrote scripts for Peter Ustinov, Marty Feldman, Peter Sellers, Bernard Braden, Jimmy Edwards and others They have been rightly championed as the Godfathers of British comedy inventing comedy radio as we know it and creating words and phrases still used in comedy today.

The cast boasted a top musical star in the shape of Julia Sutton who had previously appeared in Stop The World I Want to Get Off and Half A Sixpence. Her dexterous vocal abilities are put to good use on a series of songs tracing Lyons history through the ages requiring different singing styles and accents. She is still acting today in musicals such as Mary Poppins and The Witches Of Eastwick. Her co-star is comedian Joe Baker. Born in London to a vaudeville family, Baker starred in his own shows on television in the 1960s but went on to greater success when he moved to Los Angeles in 1975. Here he carved out a career as a character actor in movies and was also a respected voice artist impersonating such stars as Lou Costello, Peter Lorre, John Garfield, and James Cagney.

With the exception of narrators Malcolm Mitchell and John Witty the remaining cast members aren't listed and it's impossible to say how many performers were involved, as there are no photographs from the production included on the sleeve. But over all it's an impressive piece and all the more so when you consider that, unlike many industrial musicals, it had just the one performance.

Joe Baker takes on the role of the ice cream seller through the ages. Starting in Edwardian times in his guise as an Italian (Guiseppe Bacaroni) he sings It's A Lovely promoting the company's new soft ice cream range. Get Behind It And Push is the big motivational number and incorporates several in-house references to working practices and top sales personnel. But the real magic lies in the comedy numbers such as The Girl on the Lyons Maid 'Phone. Here Baker plays a love struck shopkeeper who "worships each choc-ice and cone, of the girl on the Lyons Maid "phone" and gets to rhyme "Cornish and vanilla" with "Lulu and Cilla". Meanwhile the girl in question (played by Julia Sutton) is equally on form on the up-beat Telly-Op Blues, where she bemoans her plight in keeping up with the never-ending orders for Lyons products.

So plenty of licks and sweet rhymes with humour that's anything but wafer-thin. Get laughing with Lyons Maid!

If some of the brand names mentioned confuse you, please see this site for more info on 1970s Lyons ice cream products: http://www.kzwp.com/lyons/group2.htm

- Contributed by: David Noades

Images: Cover, Label

Media: LP
Album: With Lyons Maid You're Laughing
Label: Lyons
Catalog: SLCW 1018
Credits: Writers Malcolm Mitchell and Denis Norden. Show produced and directed by Gillian Lynne. Additional material was supplied by Tom Goldsmith and Finlay McPherson.
Date: 1973