Retrospective -The Label for Nostalgia & Vintage Jazz
Launched in October 2008, the RETROSPECTIVE label is a
partnership between Nimbus Records and veteran nostalgia
specialist Ray Crick, who has the job of selecting the
repertoire, compiling the programmes, sourcing the highest
quality transfers, and supplying biographies and informative
notes for the booklets.
“I am delighted to be involved
with RETROSPECTIVE because it enables me to create CD
programmes that bring alive the finest recordings by those
wonderful vintage entertainers of yesteryear, both popular
and jazz, for people to enjoy today.”
Digger talks to Ray Crick about the background to the
Retrospective label and about what's on offer.
What is your background, Ray?
I’m, dare I say it, an Essex man who has spent even more than
his whole working life in the record business. Even at school
I ran a local record shop in South Woodford. At 20 I was taken
on by the Classical Promotion Department of Decca, where I
stayed for 14 years, working with such as Pavarotti, Solti and
Benjamin Britten. From there I was headhunted by RCA to be
Classical Marketing Manager, nicely coinciding with James
Galway’s rise to superstardom. A six-year spell as Classical
Manager of PolyGram’s Britannia Music ended in 1986 when I was
invited to be Marketing Manager of ASV – and this is where
nostalgia raised its enticing head. During my 20 years with
them, I began to take a controlling interest in ASV’s
nostalgia label, Living Era. Sales increased as the catalogue
grew, until they were more than all the rest of the company’s
products put together. Eventually it became necessary to
relinquish other marketing responsibilities and concentrated
solely on a label which had become acknowledged as the finest
and most comprehensive in the country for nostalgia and
Can you tell us about your passion for this music and how
Retrospective Records started?
was a fresh teenager when Rock ’n’ Roll exploded so a love of
popular music was always going to complement my passion for
classical music. And the Trad boom of Acker Bilk and co.
ensured that jazz also became an essential part of my
listening. But it was taking over and building up Living Era
that focused my attention on the huge variety of both light
music and jazz from the decades before Rock Around The Clock:
the 40s, the 30s, the 20s and even earlier. There is so much
life and exuberance that I found it irresistible. I was lucky
in being able to translate my enthusiasm into a huge catalogue
that had grown to 665 titles by the time of the disastrous
takeover of Sanctuary (the company that had bought out ASV) by
Universal in 2007. In an act of monumental musical vandalism
the entire catalogue was deleted.
immediately began a quest for a company that would allow me to
start all over again from scratch and, a whole frustrating
year later, thanks to Jeremy Elliott I was introduced to
Adrian Farmer and Ant Smith of Nimbus. Despite the general
decline of the CD market they took the courageous decision to
launch a brand new nostalgia and vintage jazz label with me
supplying the product. Since it ideally described the contents
of each release, the name of Jeremy’s company – Retrospective
– was chosen for the series.
Please tell us more about the rarities and nuggets you have on
When we launched with 25 Retrospective albums in October 2008,
my aim was to set out our stall to show the full range and
scope of the many different types of entertainment going under
the heading of “nostalgia”. Thus, alongside such big names as
Fred Astaire and Nat King Cole we had The Golden Age Of The
Music Hall, with its oldest track, Florrie Ford singing Down
At Old Bull And Bush, dating from 16th February 1905 – 107
years ago! On Jug band Specials we had 25 compelling examples
of that idiosyncratic genre made by such as the Memphis Jug
Band or Cannon’s Jug Stompers between 1926 and 1935. Then
there was that wonderful group of nine French singers, Les
Compagnons de la Chanson, with Neuf garçons . . . Trois
cloches. Plus 20 other issues also covering Country music,
Latin, traditional, mainstream and modern jazz. In fact the
only common denominator, and indeed basic requirement, was
that each chosen example was excellent of its kind.
How do you go about sourcing so many interesting items, genres
and artists for your catalogue?
the years contacts have been built up with many belonging to
that invaluable, but dying, breed, the record collector.
Posterity should be eternally grateful that precious hoards of
78s have been lovingly maintained in places as far afield as
Toronto or Birmingham, and Retrospective has been fortunate in
having access to these often rare originals. As to choosing
the repertoire, while I have many special enthusiasms of my
own, there is no shortage of suggestions I get from other
experts in the various genres. My job is to make the
selections in order to achieve a good balance for the label
and to steer its course.
This vintage and classic music from the past is so enduring.
Why is that?
That’s not a difficult question. Put on any classic record
from the past, say a Duke Ellington from the late 20s, and
listen with an unbiased ear. There is such musicianship,
sophistication and sheer joie de vivre. These qualities don’t
fade. While every era produced it fair share of ephemeral
rubbish, the best will still delight. Musical history is not a
steady development; later music isn’t “better” than what went
before, simply different. Each age has its own distinctive
styles which, when you immerse yourself in them, can provide
immense enjoyment – from the 1900s though to today (except for
Rap, which I don’t count as music!).
Why do you think generally retro, vintage and nostalgia is so
popular with so many people these days?
Possibly as an antidote to Rap and the
more-difficult-to-assimilate aspects of contemporary music,
the sounds of yesteryear have an engaging directness, and
often romance, that is in tune with people’s idea of melody. I
won’t say “They don’t write songs like that anymore”, because
there are brilliant songwriters today, but there is no doubt
that the golden age of Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, Kern, Rodgers
and co. produced an unsurpassable legacy. And Retrospective is
doing its best to let everyone enjoy it still.
Who are your ‘typical’ customers, where are your customers
coming from and what customer feedback/comments do you get?
With the decline of record shops and growth of online sales,
customers are ever more spread out – they certainly crop up
from all over the globe. We get great feedback from such
wonderful programmes as for example that presented by Anne
Hopper for BBC Radio Cumbria, clearly demonstrating the area’s
enthusiasm for “our kind of music”. Everyone is of course
unique but it’s pretty obvious more Retrospective buyers are
closer to the finish line than the start of life’s race. But
whereas it used to be genuine nostalgia for the music of, say,
the 30s – listening to Fred Astaire could take you back to the
dancehalls you used to waltz around in your youth – the
passing of time means that real nostalgia (for the music you
actually enjoyed first time around) has for many now moved on
to the 50s and into the 60s.
Are younger generations getting interested in these vintage
performers and performances?
my daughters, nostalgia means the 80s, so interest in vintage
performances can’t be that it takes you back, because you
weren’t there in the first place! Where there is support it is
because of the essential quality of the music itself. For ever
and a day any jazz enthusiast is going to thrill to the
mastery of a Benny Goodman or a Lionel Hampton. What I do
notice is that there is a tremendous interest among young
people for the music of the Swing Era. I watch with awe and
admiration at the throngs of young couples Lindy-Hopping with
What would you say is special about the products and service
Retrospective Records provides?
Retrospective credo has been hammered out over the years of
masterminding Living Era, and in response to many, many
letters and comments. Our customers appreciate us taking their
choice in music seriously. I do a great deal of research into
each project to ensure I have included all an artist’s
essential and best recordings; indeed, to provide a true
retrospective. I always maximise the number of tracks that can
be included up to 80 minutes per disc. Having chosen the
running order that follows a logical sequence, the rough
master then goes to one of the very best audio restorers in
the business, Alan Bunting in Stirling, who always manages to
invest a special magic into polishing up those elderly
originals. As befits things of historical value, every track
is thoroughly documented with artists, composers, sources,
numbers, dates and locations. And a comprehensive booklet note
fills in the background story. All too often labels just stick
on 20 seemingly random tracks, barely giving you the titles,
and slap it out – not us! A distinctive montage-style series
design has been created so that Retrospective CDs are easily
spotted . . . and easily obtained too. Nimbus has the unique
ability to respond immediately to every single request, so
that no eagerly-awaited CD is ever “out of stock”.
What are the best and most enjoyable aspects of running
suppose I’ve always been a musical evangelist, and I get
tremendous pleasure out of persuading other people to share my
musical enthusiasms. Years ago at Decca I produced the Your
100 Best Tunes series that sold several million, and I can
recall my satisfaction in having spread the classical music
gospel so widely. Later I felt the same with Living Era, and
now I am very lucky that Retrospective gives a similar
frisson. The heart of Retrospective is “Respect”; we respect
the music we produce, and it is immensely pleasing if our
efforts gain respect. It’s so rewarding when a Gerry
Stonestreet In Tune International review praises, as it so
often does, our production values.
What are your plans for the Retrospective Records business in
Essentially to increase the comprehensiveness of our range.
We’re up to 70 albums now, which is considerable, but there’s
a long, long way to go and the queue of artists awaiting their
turn is endless. There are still plenty of big names (we
salute Perry Como’s centenary in May), but I welcome any
opportunity to extend the boundaries. For example we recently
put out the first CD devoted entirely to the great
clarinettist Frank Teschemacher, followed by one of otherwise
unavailable Marek Weber (the André Rieu of the 30s). Then in
June we have a terrific jazz programme full of rarities by
trumpet genius Billy Butterfield. Downloading will of course
represent a growing proportion of our sales over conventional
CDs. But, whatever the format, the music remains the same –
and it’s there to entertain us all. Enjoy it!
The Label for
Nostalgia & Vintage Jazz
New releases are added every month, delivering the
very best in musical nostalgia from music hall to
rock ’n’ roll – and everything in between! We hope
you will relish these classic recordings from the
past. Packaged with an iconic series design, and
with booklets containing all the detailed
information needed to enhance your pleasure,
RETROSPECTIVE is a highly collectable range.
In 1989 Nimbus turned the opera world upside down
when it launched the historic reissue series Prima
Voce. Taking mint condition 78s they presented
recordings made by the great singers between 1902
Adrian Farmer, Music Director for Nimbus, commented,
"We decided right at
the beginning to dedicate Prima Voce to Opera
singers, which meant that a great many of the more
popular performers were passed by. We now feel that
the time is right to revisit the period and showcase
some of the popular artists who made the 1920s, 30s,
40s and 50s the golden age of music."
Launched in October 2008, RETROSPECTIVE now has a
catalogue of some 70 titles, on both single CDs and
two-disc sets, featuring many of the greatest
artists in the worlds of both Nostalgia and Vintage
The label is managed by veteran nostalgia specialist
Ray Crick, who is tasked with repertoire selection,
sourcing the highest quality transfers, plus
providing detailed biographies and informative notes
for the booklets.
"I am delighted to be
involved with RETROSPECTIVE because it gives me the
chance to create CD programmes that will bring alive
the finest recordings by those wonderful vintage
entertainers of yesteryear, both popular and jazz,
for people to enjoy here and now. We anticipate that
the entire project will eventually total more than
400 releases, each with a smart series design,
making for an eminently desirable range."
RETROSPECTIVE is a joint venture between Wyastone
Estate Limited and Retrospective Recordings Limited.
All sets will be manufactured in the UK and the USA
using the Nimbus disc and print 'on demand'
production services and distributed world-wide by
Wyastone Estate Limited. The in-house production
facility ensures that titles are never overstocked
or out of stock and that we can respond immediately
to market demand.
RETROSPECTIVE is available from all good record
shops or can be purchased directly from the website.
A full printed catalogue is also available.