Rubys Fontana Records

Discussion about Ruby Murray.
Bernie Burgess
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Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2005 12:45 am
Location: Sutton Coldfield

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by Bernie Burgess »

I very frequently go back to listen again and again to Ruby singing 'Ballyshannon'. I really enjoy the overall rendition, including the arrangement and the instrumentation.

Gerald Lawrence
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Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 2:48 am
Location: Kenilworth, UK

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by Gerald Lawrence »

Hello Bernie, you have just posted your message while I was in the process of uploading my own personal favourite from the Fontana records - "Rathfriland on the Hill". This completes the set of four songs that were missed from the Philips CD issued as "Reflections: When Irish Eyes Are Smiling". The copy I have uploaded comes from the LP "This is Ireland" which I bought a few years ago on Ebay. Fortunately this particular song is in perfect condition and I had to do very little work on it before uploading it.

How this song never made it to the CD is beyond me. The song itself is beautiful but more important for me is that the arrangement is sensational. The opening use of a cello solo and later a muted trumpet are not common in popular songs but on this occasion it really works. It goes without saying that Ruby makes a wonderful job of the vocal line and cannot be faulted in her rendition. Once again she shows how she could carry the tune while not a single member of the orchestra is actually playing it, they are providing the accompaniment. Many of today's "shouters" simply sing the same as the melody being played by the backing group.

Rathfriland is also a place which a few years back I managed to visit. We were having a holiday in Rostrevor with a hired car, so a trip around the southern parts of County Down was made. We went to places such as Newcastle and the Silent Valley and then to Rathfriland. My only knowledge of it when we arrived was from the song, and it was exactly as described. OK maybe a bit more modern than when the song was written, but nevertheless a "little town" and it does sit on a hill with lovely views across to the Mourne Mountains and Slieve Donard.

My only disappointment was that I searched everywhere to find Stephen Tomans to have a celebratory drink but was unable to find it. Sadly, not one member of the public whom I asked even knew of its existence but from the words of the song it was clearly a well-known hostelry at the time. We did however have a very nice lunch in the hotel in the centre of town, which if I remember correctly is called The George.
Gerald

will
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Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:08 pm

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by will »

Its a lovely song and beautifully sung by Ruby. The song was written around 1900 and Stephan Toman is in the 1901 and 1911 census he was a Publican and Draper on Downpatrick St and then on Caddell Lane,he was 60 in 1911 and he and his wife Margaret had no children,so they were probably gone by the late 1930s if not sooner.
Thanks
Will

Bernie Burgess
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Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2005 12:45 am
Location: Sutton Coldfield

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by Bernie Burgess »

Gerald

Re 'Rathfriland On the Hill' - Yes a beautiful track with very effective combination of instruments. I can't remember - Who was the M.D. arranger on this track - I like it a lot, - however, Ballyshannon can reduce me to tears quite easily. I'm a sentimental old fool. I took Ruby to every recording session she did (after we were married of course). Quite truthfully I felt her fear whilst in the recording studios. Fontana, at that time, were the only recording company that I knew of that tried to create an atmosphere in the studio with subdued lighting and other gentle effects. My memories of other studios were straight to the point - business like - no frills. That is what made Fontana Studios different and I'm sure Ruby appreciated it.

will
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Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:08 pm

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by will »

hi Gerald
Looking forward to the two Fontana singles coming to the library ,any sign of them coming soon.
Will

Gerald Lawrence
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Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 2:48 am
Location: Kenilworth, UK

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by Gerald Lawrence »

The remaining four songs that were only released as singles are now in the library.

"I Can't Get You Out of My Heart" coupled with "Paper Mansions" was released in May 1967, and both of these songs are really lovely and sung beautifully by Ruby. I have always thought that if the first one had been released a few years earlier with full publicity and all that goes with that, it would have made the Top Ten. The arrangement is also a very nice one and although I don't have any details, it sounds to me a bit like the arrangements used on the LP "The Spinning Wheel" which was released in the same year. The second song "Paper Mansions" is one of her pseudo rock songs, a nod to the very popular records of the day. Ruby handles it quite well, although I get the impression she would rather sing it as a ballad!

"Sooner or Later" and "Going Home to My Love" were on the last Fontana release in March 1968, after which Ruby sang for the President label. I am afraid to say that these two are not among my favourite songs which she recorded. Although Ruby does her best, I think the melody of the first one is a bit basic, and the accompaniment is very poor and too loud.

The song on the other side is a treatment of the slow movement theme from the New World Symphony by Dvořák. Let me say from the outset that I have never liked adaptations from classical music and this one is no exception. If you know this theme well, you can appreciate that the arrangement given to Ruby to sing departs in many places from that which the composer wrote, in melody, harmonies and rhythms. Enough said!

Anyway, I hope you like them Will, and I hope you find the quality of each mp3 file is good for listening to.
Gerald

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Jk
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Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 2:22 am
Location: Wigan

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by Jk »

Hello Gerald, well done with the uploads they are perfect. I think she was thinking about me when she was sing Can't get You Out Of My Heart I wish lol. Going Home to My Love was definitely about me. On a more serious note I had not heard either of them before.
Regards
John.

will
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Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:08 pm

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by will »

Hi Gerald
Great to get the four tracks from the singles. The sound is excellent as is the singing.Short of getting the master tapes I don't think they could sound any better. I'm not sure if I ever heard any of them before sung by Ruby.I cant get you out of my heart is a great song recorded by many singers and Ruby's recording is up there with the best of them.Going Home I first heard sung by the great american baritone John Charles Thomas, using different lyrics than the present one. The other two tracks I'm not familiar with.
Anyway many Thanks for putting the missing tracks in the library.
Will

hba
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon May 11, 2015 7:26 am

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by hba »

Hello again Gerald,
Thanks for the extra tracks, that's four more Ruby songs I hadn't heard before! Much appreciated.
Henry

martin73
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Joined: Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:43 am

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by martin73 »

Yes Ballyshannon is a lovely song. Also Boys from the County Mayo is a favourite of mine. The only criticism I have of the album "This is Ireland" is that the accompaniment is a bit bassy, in that the base seems too prominent. Maybe it is just me. Bridie Gallagher, "The girl from Donegal" did an album at the same time,(1967) and although it was not the same orchestra, it has that same sound, the very prominent base. Maybe it was a trend at the time but has anybody else noticed this? This is just my humble opinion and remember I'm no expert on music lol.

Bernie, can you give us some more information on the Fontana recording studios, what they were like, where they were etc. My friend, the late Eileen Donaghy from County Tyrone was on the Fontana label from 1958 to about 1970 I think.

Thanks.

Bernie Burgess
Posts: 1051
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2005 12:45 am
Location: Sutton Coldfield

Re: Rubys Fontana Records

Post by Bernie Burgess »

Hello Martin,

The recording studios were -Philips/Fontana studios. They were in the Bayswater area. Interestingly they went to the trouble to create a mood with decor and lighting, the only studios I ever came across that did this. Their equipment was first class.

For anyone interested, I have established for a fact that Ruby's Fontana Master Tapes are held by Universal. It was extremely difficult to trace the Master Tapes, Along with Gerald, we searched for more than two years.

Adios Amigos. Bernie.

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