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Memoir was conceived and launched in England in the mid-80's. The philosophy was to re-issue albums by quality artists, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, etc. which had long been unavailable.

Where possible, the LPs were released in the original packaging ie. 'Vaughan & Violins' (Sarah Vaughan with Quincy Jones), 'Ring Around Rosie' (Rosemary Clooney & the Hi-Los). Many gaps in the market were successfully filled that way, and Memoir's reputation began to grow.

That was fine in the Eighties, when contracts could be done on sensible terms. In the 1990's, things changed. We gradually phased out licensing, broadened the repertoire base to encompass classical as well as nostalgia and jazz, and turned our attention to recordings which were now in the public domain.

As CEDAR (Cambridge) noise reduction technology advanced, so it became possible to work from original 78s, providing they were in fine condition, and produce finished masters which faithfully reproduced the original sound, minus the distractions of snap, crackle and pop! The engineers we work with are the finest in England; Mike Dutton (of Dutton Labs.) and Ted Kendall (ex-BBC). We also worked on certain jazz items with the late, lamented John RT Davies (a legend in his time).

Our Distributor in the UK is Hot Records in Sussex, well known for their huge success with Eva Cassidy.

Media outlets and support for the non-classical part of Memoir are a bit limited in the UK. Our kind of repertoire is regarded as 'specialist'. But BBC radio presenters such as Desmond Carrington, Malcolm Laycock, and David Jacobs seem to have a high regard for our product, plus many of the local radio presenters like Frank Wappat, Gary Copley, Anne Hopper and Colin Bunyan up in the North of England; Dewi Griffiths (BBC Wales); Paul Barnes, Richard Spendlove and Keith Skues (BBC East Anglia and East Midlands); Trevor Fry, Graham Danton, David Lowe and Chris Robinson, (South West England); Clive Garner (North West England) Mike Carey (BBC Midlands) Tony Augarde and Grant James (South of England) and Peter Mallan, Robbie Shepherd and Syd Atkinson in Scotland. A glance through the Memoir catalogue will show a high proportion of vocal discs, of one sort or another. This is because the label reflects my personal 'likes' to a large extent, probably arising out of my background as a professional singer (George Mitchell Choir; session singer and so forth). Just to expand somewhat - much as I loved singing, I realised there were other, just as interesting, things in life, and I was fortunate enough to be offered a position with EMI Records in the 1960’s, where I learnt much from their galaxy of star talent (and that was just the staff!)

Yes, it included the (then) doyens of the record industry George Martin, Norman Newell, Wally Ridley (my boss) and Norrie Paramor. I won't bore you with the long, long list of artists which were produced under their aegis (you probably know already) but they certainly were great days. That period was followed by an even more exhilarating stint for a different record company. This time it was Polydor Records, with whom I stayed throughout the 1970s, and where my brief in the A & R/ Marketing division included talents and projects as diverse as Bert Kaempfert, James Last, David Rose, Marian Montgomery, the emerging days of Chandos Records (Brian Culverhouse and Brian Couzens), MGM re-issues (The Silver Screen Soundtrack Series; The Special Magic of... series etc.) I was also close to the film composers John Barry, Miklos Rozsa and John Scott, and very privileged to do several albums with each of them.

These days, due to an overcrowded market, we have reluctantly reduced our classical CD output. Our discerning customers still love the big vocal stars, not least their clarity of delivery, and the compilations are very popular. Hits of 1953 (a 2CD set) is to be followed in 2005 by Hits of 1954 (also a 2CD set!). Our latest releases include a Frankie Laine album which is bursting with hits and a Vera Lynn CD splotlighting some wonderful standard songs. We are also collating on to one disc some of the very best Dance Band singers.

Our fondness for choirs continues. Following the ever popular Glasgow Orpheus Choir (one of our biggest sellers) we are thrilled to present the Kirkintilloch Junior Choir. Hailing from Scotland, these young voices certainly have ‘tingle’ appeal. They include a very young Moira Anderson, who became of the the UKs best loved artists. And the album contains much spirit-enhancing music.

Finally some extra good news. We have reduced our prices, including postal charges. So Memoir is even better value than ever!

Gordon Gray
Memoir Records
November 2004

Memoir Records Ltd.