The Night Of The Proms: Middlebrow Eurokitsch?…Or The Final Frontier Of Your Obsessive Collection?

Bryan Ferry tears into “Let’s Stick Together” with full orcherstra

It was during the medium-high internet record collecting years around the turn of the century, that I became aware of a European phenomenon called “The Night Of The Proms.” This was begun in 1985 in Belgium by two students and was based on the BBC tradition of The Proms; a series of up to 70 classical concerts held yearly. The difference was the at the European counterpart we’re looking at, mixed Clasical and Pop performances.

Once I could research broad discographies on the internet, I began to see that some of the bands that I collected would appear at these concerts to have an orchestra back a brief set of 2-3 of their biggest hits given the 80 piece treatment. And more to the point, there would be issues of compilation CDs with some of these unique and slightly dubious linkups between Pop and Classical.

Which, as we’re painfully aware, had their origins in unintentional kitsch like the Moody Blues “Days Of Future Passed” and led to the early career of The Alan Parson’s Project. And you couldn’t beat Alan Parsons off with a stick from these events! He’s in for a Pound with five years of making the Benelux circuit with these touring shows. And I swear that John Miles was on 70% of these!

Here’s a short list of a dozen performers, of interest to us at PPM, that have joined the many dozens of MOR acts [Cyndi Lauper, Christopher Cross, Chris DeBurgh] as well as dozens more parochial performers we have never heard of [Gers Pardoel, Purple Schultz, et. al]. The names and years in red are currently in my Record Cell

  • Alphaville (2002)
  • Bryan Ferry (1995)
  • Deborah Harry (1997)
  • Grace Jones (2010)
  • Heaven 17 (2009)
  • Joe Jackson (2015)
  • Kid Creole & the Coconuts (2007 & 2010)
  • Martin Fry (2001)
  • Midge Ure (2005, 2008 & 2009)
  • OMD (2006, 2008, 2009, 2014 + 2015)
  • Simple Minds (1997, 2002, 2008, 2011 + 2016)
  • Tears for Fears (2006, 2007 & 2008)

It was in 2003 when I was getting serious about compiling every Simple Minds rarity into what became a 10-disc BSOG [which went up to 1997] that I bought my first of these Euro CDs. I saw that the “Night Of The Proms 1997” has Simple Minds playing two tracks with an orchestra: “Belfast Child,” and “Don’t You Forget About Me.”

“Two of my favorites,” he exclaimed; gritting his teeth.

Since at the time I had finally bought many of the singles from the band’s “stadium years” which were ghastly beyond belief for the sake of curating an accurate and complete collection of non-LP material, I didn’t let my antipathy for the actual music dim my resolve. In 2002 buying this was actually challenging, and involved international eBay purchasing. Soon afterward, I owned the CD below. It had the following tracks of interest.

night of the proms 1997 cover art
EVA | NL | CD | 1997 | 8233602

Various: Night of The Proms 1997 – NL – CD [1997]

  • Deborah Harry: Call Me
  • Simple Minds: Belfast Child
  • Simple Minds: Don’t You Forget About Me

As an aside, this disc is the sole one in my collection that features the rapper Coolio. At the time, I would venture to guess that I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $10-12 [with postage] to get this disc. I think of this topic today because I finally bought my 2nd disc of Proms highlights this week on Discogs.

night of the proms 2001 cover art
BMG Classics | NL | CD | 2001 | 74321 89761 2,

Various: Night Of The Proms 2001 – NL – CD [2001]

  • Martin Fry: The Look Of Love
  • Martin Fry: When Smokey Sings

I had begun an ABC BSOG many years before that I eventually abandoned [due to the wrong record being sent in an online purchase] but when I saw this in my Discogs feed I snapped it up without any resistance. Was I that big of an ABC fan? Well, yes…but this knee-jerk purchase was down to the cost of the item. The CD was selling for €0.50 [!] with postage from Belgium [sans jewel box] for only €3.00. At that price we hit that button. Which are other volumes we might want to also pick up?

night of the proms 1995 cover art
EVA | NL | CD | 1995 | 8365142

Various: Night Of The Proms 1995 – NL – CD [1995]

  • Bryan Ferry: Slave To Love
  • Bryan Ferry: Jealous Guy
night of the proms 2002 cover art
BMG Classics | BEL | CD | 2002 | 74321 97581 2

Various: Night Of The Proms 2002 – BEL – CD [2002]

  • Simple Minds: Alive + Kicking
  • Simple Minds: Don’t You Forget About Me
Sony BMG | GER | CD | 2005 | 82876 75351 2

Various: Night Of The Proms 2005 – GER – CD [2005]

  • Midge Ure: Breathe
  • Midge Ure: Vienna
night of the proms 2006 cover art
Sony BMG | BEL | CD | 2006 | 82876 88924 2

Various: Night Of The Proms 2006 – BEL – CD [2006]

  • OMD: Maid of Orleans
  • OMD: Sailing On The Seven Seas

night of the proms 2007 cover art
PSE Begium | BEL | CD | 2007 | 5425020320061

Various: Night Of The Proms 2007 – BEL – CD [2007]

  • Kid Creole + The Coconuts: Stool Pigeon
  • Kid Creole + The Coconuts: Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy
night of the proms 2008 cover art
PSE Germany | GER | CD | 2008 | PromsCD2008G

Various: Night Of The Proms 2008 – GER – CD [2008]

  • Tears For Fears: Mad World
  • Tears For Fears: Sowing The Seeds Of Love
night of the proms 2009 cover art
PSE Germany | GER | CD | 2009 | PromsCD2009G

Various: Night Of The Proms 2009 – GER – CD [2009]

  • Heaven 17: Let Me Go
  • Heaven 17: Temptation
the best of the night of the p5roms
PSE Belgium | BEL | CD | 2009 | 5425020320122

Various: Best of Night Of The Proms 2009 – GER – 2xCD [2009]

  • Simple Minds: Sanctify Yourself
  • Tears For Fears: Sowing The Seeds Of Love
  • Bryan Ferry: Avalon
  • Kid Creole + The Coconuts: Stool Pigeon
  • OMD: Enola Gay

As we can see, about a CD’s worth of tracks among those last seven. Interestingly enough, the Best Of collection has a few tracks that were not included previously. Ferry only did the circuit once in 1995 and “Avalon” was not on the 1995 disc. So I’m guessing that if we buy 1995 and the Best Of, we’ll have his full Proms set.

I lucked out on the Martin Fry CD, as the dealer I bought it from shipped from Europe without jewel boxes. All of these other CDs would be $12 minimum for shipping. Precluding me ever pulling the trigger to buy them. More than anything, this would be a case for the superiority of DLs to CDs in this case, but the iTunes store had exactly zero of these recordings. Sigh. It remains to be seen if any other stores online have this material for individual purchase.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that PPM faves OMD and Simple Minds were deeply into the concept, with five tours with the Proms each! Hell, you could probably make a full CD each of their entire Proms performances over the years! So they tied with Alan Parsons…but not Proms champ John Miles who has played every Proms tour since 1985, and would undoubtedly continue to do so were it not for the inconvenient fact of his demise late last year.

-30-

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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7 Responses to The Night Of The Proms: Middlebrow Eurokitsch?…Or The Final Frontier Of Your Obsessive Collection?

  1. Some bands really benefit from rethinking/rearranging their material for an orchestra, and some … just make their crap louder. So what we wanna know is … do any of these performances, in your esteemed estimation, fulfill their …

    (wait for it)

    PROMS-ise?

    (I’ll see meself out)

    Like

  2. Tim says:

    I’d have to dig around in the hard drive with the YT rips but I am pretty sure I have a prom that is a tribute to David Bowie that features Neil Hannon and Marc Almond (among many others) and it is a delight.

    Like

  3. Mel Creighton says:

    Kid Creole? Stool Pigeon? Now I am intrigued. That has to sound really odd.

    Like

  4. JT says:

    >unintentional kitsch like the Moody Blues “Days Of Future Passed”

    Ha, I don’t know if you’ve continued to follow a particular mostly-anonymous blog, but this very topic was well-addressed in March… https://ifhtb.com/?p=459

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – Wow, you read X-Men until 1997??! I also started in 1979, but stopped in 1983. Alternative comics were crushing superhero stuff. Thanks for the reminder abiut IHTFB! I saw the R+D phase but my limited attention gets easily crowded out by life itself. Will rectify that!

      I love the conflict between the “anonymous writer’s” aesthetic versus technical lenses. Radical suggestion: maybe try some Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey albums?

      Like

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