October 19, 2009 – 4:08 am

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Proms 2009 [no label, 1CD]

Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, August 18, 2009. Very good BBC Radio 3 FM broadcast.

“Twenty-five years in the business of making people smile.”

With Gordon Brown and the Labour Party getting more and more unpopular by the day and now that they are sending even more troops to Afghanistan, here’s a little something from the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire to take your mind off…

Say ukulele and one thinks of Hawaiian music. Press further and one thinks of the Big Ben Hawaiian Band when it comes to popular music, whose selections tend to grace the many Tiffin Date programmes that litter the globe.

And now for something quite different… and not a a lei in sight… the Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain. From the bedroom comfort of Puffin’ Billy to the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy In The U.K. to Hawkwind’s Silver Machine; from David Bowie’s Life On Mars to Frank Sinatra’s My Way to John Barry’s Thunderball; from Wheatus/Girls Aloud’s Teenage Dirtbag to Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre to Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer, genre boundaries are but a phrase that do not constrain the Ukulele Orchestra.

They would already have scored valuable brownie points if the Orchestra had only played just the music but among its members are accomplished vocalists - check out the wonderful harmony on the medley comprising Life On Mars, My War, For Once In My Life, Born Free and Substitute; or the intricate layerings on the Melange medley. Or imagine The Manhattan Transfer doing a cover of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, with perhaps the Monty Python chipping in.

In the spirit of the orchestra, here’s the introductory paragraph of the BBC’s cheeky notes to the show: “Tonight’s programme should perhaps come with a health warning. These performances may be harmful to your musical prejudices. Those who would normally have to be dragged kicking and screaming to hear Wagner might warm to tonight’s rendition of The Ride Of The Valkyries; likewise, classical music fans may have had little contact with the oeuvres of The Who and the Sex Pistols.”

Or as Ivan Hewett wrote in the Telegraph: “Then comes (musical director) George Hinchliffe’s new arrangement of Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre, and suddenly it becomes clear there’s more to the Ukulele Orchestra than just laughs. There’s a kind of magic in hearing something recreated so ingeniously in a medium that seems so completely unsuitable. The photographer who’s here for the Telegraph is entranced. ‘It just makes you want to smile,’ she says.

“She isn’t the only one who thinks so. One of the orchestra’s fans is a senior medic who reckons it increases the levels of serotonin, the so-called ’happy chemical’ within the body. The rest of us would say simply - it makes us feel better.”

Thanks to mdshrk1 for recording and sharing these tracks on the internet.

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Track 01. Intro (1.6MB)
Track 02. Puffin’ Billy (2.6MB)
Track 03. Banter (1.5MB)
Track 04. Anarchy In The U.K. (4.6MB)
Track 05. Banter (1.6MB)
Track 06. Ride of the Valkyries/Silver Machine (7.2MB)
Track 07. Banter (1.0MB)
Track 08. Life On Mars/My Way/For Once In My Life/Born Free/Substitute (5.4MB)
Track 09. Banter (1.3MB)
Track 10. Thunderball (3.4MB)
Track 11. Banter (1.0MB)
Track 12. Teenage Dirtbag (5.4MB)
Track 13. Banter (1.8MB)
Track 14. Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre (9.8MB)
Track 15. Banter (1.3MB)
Track 16. Jerusalem (4.2MB)
Track 17. Psycho Killer (5.0MB)
Track 18. Intro banter to 1000 massed Ukuleles (3.2MB)
Track 19. Ode To Joy (5.4MB)
Track 20. Banter (1.9MB)
Track 21. Pinball Wizard (3.6MB)
Track 22. Banter (1.6MB)
Track 23. The Dambusters March (5.5MB)
Track 24. Radio Announcer (3.2MB)
Track 25. Banter (1.1MB)
Track 26. Melange: Sympathy For The Devil/If I Was A Carpenter/Brown Sugar/Save The Last Dance For Me/Hey Jude/Under The Boardwalk/You Sexy Thing/Waiting For The Man/Heroes/Angels (8.4MB)
Track 27. Banter (2.5MB)
Track 28. Wuthering Heights (5.1MB)

Click here to order albums by the all-singing, all-strumming Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain.

PS. And after watching this clip, you will most likely approach Neil Diamond’s You Don’t Bring Me Flowers in a quite completely new light.


  2. This is absolutely brilliant, highly recommended, thanks very much.

    By Paul Moller on Oct 19, 2009

  3. What a version of ‘Silver Machine’! Great stuff!

    By Jonathan on Oct 22, 2009

  4. THIS IS GREAT! Thank you for letting me hear this. A friend was over today and I started raving about this and he just tried putting it for for the fact that I do at times like really off the wall bands, but I made him sit down and listen to a few tracks and converted him. Amazing stuff. AND LIVE! I’d go see them.

    By datdemdar on Oct 23, 2009

  5. This was one of the most joyful evenings I’ve ever spent listening to music. A thousand of us turned up with ukeleleles having practised Ode To Joy for the previous three weeks. It was spectacular to hear that many people, and spectacular to see how different ukes can look… Teenage Dirtbag is really moving, Thunderball hysterical, and the English Folksong Pinball Wizard just unbelievable.

    By Martin Colyer on Oct 24, 2009

  6. Even better than listening to this is watching it!

    The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain had this unique event filmed and they are currently working on the DVD, which will be available before Christmas from their website:

    By A.P. on Nov 1, 2009

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