Your One and Only Mrs. Mills - I Was Queen Victoria's Chambermaid And Other Piano Favourites

Label / Cat. No: Music For Pleasure MFP1406
First Released: 1968

What The Album Blurb Says...

Gladys Mills - one time superintendent of the typing department at the Paymaster General's Office in London - turned professional pianist in 1962 at the age of forty, and has since become a household favourite. Mrs. Mills has been playing the piano for most of her life. She began at the age of three but lessons ended for her when she was twelve years old. 

She was fourteen when she entered her first talent contest, and needless to say she won it. As a member of an amateur concert party Mrs. Mills travelled many hundreds of miles during the last war entertaining the troops, visiting camps, gun-sites and military hospitals throughout England.

It was at a golf club social evening that club member Paul Cave heard band pianist Mrs. Mills and gave her a phone number to ring. This she did and found herself booked to appear on Billy Cotton's television show and to maker her first record.

Since that time Mrs. Mills has made countless records and her popularity has risen over the years. Hear her now on this record as she plays twelve bright and breezy tunes including Second-hand Rose, I'm Nobody's Baby, Candy Floss and Oh Johnny! Oh Johnny! Oh!, together with many more, a tremendous selection of popular melodies with that extra touch that only Mrs. Mills can add, so why not sit back and listen to the cheerful sound of Your One and Only Mrs. Mills.

What I Say

OK, so I have a confession. This was the very first album I bought from a charity shop, all those years ago now, and purely because of my grim fascination with the cover. A middle aged woman in a maid's outfit holding a feather duster and proffering a cup of tea? Why, that'll sell millions!

The very first thing you need to remember about this classic album is that it was released in 1968. That's one whole year after Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, and I can't think of two more different albums. While the Beatles broke down barrier after barrier and innovated in ways almost unimaginable, Mrs. Mills is squarely in the easy listening genre, and this album could have been made at any point in the twenty years up to 1968.

I do have a slight complaint, that although it promises on the front that the album is full of 'piano favourites', I have to say that they're not my favourites, and nor are a majority played on a piano. This is Bontempi music for the masses, with subdued swing guitars, over enthusiastic closed hi-hat playing drummers and bored double bassists a-plenty. The arrangements do have one redeeming factor though - Mrs. Mills 'piano' is often so low in the arrangement and the mix that you'd be hard pressed to tell it was her album.

The overall effect though is that the faster numbers all sound like theme-tunes for seventies sit-coms, and the slow ones sound like the generic tunes played at a pensioner's tea-dance in Morecambe on a wet-November. Actually that's not quite fair. The faster numbers sound like the score to the film versions of seventies sit-coms. See, never say I'm not prepared to be fair about these matters.

The only exception is the final track, 'Thank You Everybody' which has an uncharacteristic edginess to it - a more 60's production all round - shrill horns, fast paced, choppy time signatures. I'm not saying it's an excellent example of contemporary music, but after the predictable twaddle that comprised the previous 11 tracks, this is a refreshing change. For that reason alone, I'll stick up the whole song for you to "enjoy".

I'm still baffled as to why this album was made - Mrs. Mills is far from being a concert pianist, and her contributions to this album seem to be less than technically demanding. As a crap pianist myself, I feel that I'm able to make these kind of ill-informed judgements with impunity! But she doesn't stand out as a lead instrumentalist, and I can't help get the feeling that someone's just using her 'fame' to promote an album of bog standard, bland easy-listening. I fear poor Mrs. Mills has been sore abused, and I just hope that she didn't become too disillusioned with the music industry after making this album.


Side 1

Second-hand Rose
I Was Queen Victoria's Chambermaid
Indian Summer
There's A Blue Ridge Round My Heart Virginia
Alice Blue Gown

Side 2

Oh Johnny! Oh Johnny! Oh!
Someone Like you
Where The Black Eyed Susans Grow
Candy Floss
I'm Nobody's Baby
Thank You Everybody

Final Score

7.5 out of 10

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