Aug 4 2011: Both Sides Of The Bridge: Humber Bridge Suite and Humber Bridge Variations for Group (Writers Reign Productions, 1980)

Like Peter Hall’s The Estates and New Town Suite, as posted here on the 19 July, Both Sides of the Bridge is a privately pressed recording of music made to commemorate the grand opening of a large scale public infrastructure project. Where Peter Hall composed his music to celebrate Bracknell New Town in Berkshire, the various people involved in this recording are anticipating the completion of work on the Humber Bridge, begun in 1971, and – according to the record’s sleevenotes – “scheduled for completion in late 1980/early 1981”.

The record divides into two parts: on the North Side (there is no side one or two but instead a ‘north’ and a ‘south’ side) there is Suite: The Humber Bridge, an orchestral work by DJ Newstone and SL Burnby, arranged in five parts, to “celebrate the building of the Humber Bridge, painting a series of pictures of its development and creation”. Performed by the Arthur Burgan Humberside Concert Orchestra under conductor D. Scotney at the Humberside Theatre, it’s highly accomplished (in a mainly light orchestral manner) but probably not, in the end, essential listening.

The South Side is, to my ears anyway, somewhat more interesting: a rock-based set of Humber Bridge Variations For Group performed by Stoneferry. The Variations consist of the six-piece taking cues from the orchestral suite and interpreting these in new ways, most successfully, to my ears, on a track called Spinning that sounds like exactly the sort of intriguing but unclassifiable thing – all synthesisers, drums and otherworldly atmospherics – I find myself listening out for when checking the contents of dubious looking 1970s library LPs.

Click here to hear Stoneferry: Spinning (1980)

6 Responses to “Aug 4 2011: Both Sides Of The Bridge: Humber Bridge Suite and Humber Bridge Variations for Group (Writers Reign Productions, 1980)”
  1. Les Naylor says:

    Hi Wayne, it’s good to see someone recognising our efforts on this album after such a long time. Steve (Burnby) and Dave (Newstone) worked hard composing, planning, and designing all for these recordings (with help from the rest of the band and orchestra) which was self-financed and self-promoted resulting in quite low sales. The orchestral (North) side was recorded in one afternoon by Keith Herd for which I took a few photos that are hidden in my deepest archives and the rock (South) side at Keith’s Fairview Studios, Willerby in one day too. The complete work was performed live once only, as I recall, at The Locarno Ballroom in 1980 without a hitch and here we are with a once only entry on the www! Thanks for your kind comments on what was a really enjoyable project for all involved.

    • wayneburrows says:

      Great to hear some detail about the project: so many of these one-off projects were composed and released and it’s always fascinating to find out more about the people and circumstances behind them. I hope if you find the photos one day you’ll post them up somewhere – would be interested in seeing what Stoneferry looked like!

  2. Steve Burnby says:

    Hi Wayne, I am one of the two culprits responsible for creating and circulating the ‘Both Sides of the Bridge’ album which you featured here. My co-conspirator Dave (Newstone) sadly passed away earlier this year, leaving me to be the one to add to my old bandmate Les’s earlier recollections. Dave was the instigator of the concept, and I was persuaded to help him flesh out his original ideas, using my orchestral and rock band backgrounds to help him with the compositions and arrangements. The Musicians Union was a most influential backer of the project, giving us a grant which went a significant way towards financing the cost of engaging the orchestra and the recording studio costs. My earlier contacts with the Hull Junior Philharmonic Orchestra and their then conductor David Scotney meant we were able to give at least a couple of public performances of the orchestral suite, to supplement the one performance by Stoneferry which Les referred to in his post. A few years after this album, I moved to West Yorkshire, and I became increasingly drawn to performance rather than composition: nowadays I enjoy playing in a 1940’s-style swing band (Sundown Swing), a wind band and an orchestra.
    Steve (Burnby)

    • wayneburrows says:

      Thanks for the additional info on this fascinating LP – which has also brought my attention to the broken link at the end of this entry, so will have to see if I can repair it somehow…

  3. wayneburrows says:

    I’m not sure – either as a link in a comment, or if that’s not possible you could forward it to me at robertdennisholcombe AT gmail DOT com and I can add it to the post, with any appropriate credits as a caption?

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