Although only 12 episodes were made between 1975 and 1979, Fawlty Towers remains one of television’s most beloved comedies. As recently as 2019, it was named the greatest ever British sitcom by Radio Times, and its magic has never been successfully duplicated. Three American remakes – starring Harvey Korman and Betty White (the pilot-only Chateau Snavely, 1978), Bea Arthur (Amanda’s, 1983), and John Larroquette and JoBeth Williams (Payne, 1999) – all failed to recapture the spirit of the original in which co-creator/writer John Cleese starred as the misanthropic Basil Fawlty, owner of a seaside hotel, alongside Prunella Scales as his overbearing wife Sybil; co-creator/writer Connie Booth as the hotel’s peacemaker and chambermaid, Polly; and Andrew Sachs as luckless waiter Manuel. Aspects of the show went on to inspire such successful and diverse comedies as Cheers, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Father Ted.
On May 28, Demon Music Group will celebrate the show’s legacy with Fawlty Towers: For The Record. This limited edition box set features six 140-gram white LPs containing the original TV soundtracks of all 12 episodes as narrated by Andrew Sachs. The first four LPs are replicas of those originally issued by the BBC – Fawlty Towers, Second Sitting, At Your Service, and A La Carte – while the newly-created Plat du Jour and Enjoy Your Stay complete the set. In addition to Cleese, Scales, Booth, and Sachs, the episodes feature Bernard Cribbins, Joan Sanderson, Geoffrey Palmer, Ballard Berkeley, Nicky Henson, Ken Campbell, and Una Stubbs.
Each LP is presented in a new jacket; inside the jacket is a replica of the original BBC Records LP cover, plus a faux period cover for the two new LPs. A four-page booklet recounts the history of Fawlty Towers as well as a history of the albums by Tim Worthington, author of the BBC Records chronicle Top of the Box. A 12-inch portrait of Basil Fawlty has been signed by John Cleese and is included in the rigid box with lift-off lid.
The first four LPs are presented in their original vinyl edits. Demon notes that Fawlty Towers “reflects the broadcast standards, attitudes, and language of its time,” and that “some listeners may find this content offensive.”
And now for something completely different…
The past few months have seen an acceleration of the trend in which musicians are selling all or some of the rights to their catalogues to various firms in exchange for large sums. Following in the footsteps of Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, David Crosby, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Mick Fleetwood, among others, Judas Priest’s Glenn Tipton has sold a portion of his song catalogue (50%) to Reach Music. What makes this announcement notable is that with it came news of a massive box set which is planned to hit stores this summer. Tipton, author or co-author of band staples including “Heading Out to the Highway,” “Hell Bent for Leather” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” will be involved with the release of a 42-CD, career-spanning box containing bonus tracks as well as a 132-page book. The release may coincide with the return of Judas Priest to the road, COVID-permitting, for its 50th anniversary tour. Watch this space for further news of this Judas Priest mega-collection.