Introducing you to Crimson Cats Audio Books
If you have dug through this site before, you will know I like audio recordings and have recorded a few of my own, for instance the odd poem and my reading of Chapter 1 of The Stink. When I was young there was much more spoken word kicking around. Stupid thing to say really since generally we talk at each other constantly anyway, but I mean that when it came to entertainment, the joy of "listening" rather than reading or watching was much more appreciated.
Radio stations frequently pumped out radio plays, read stories, performed monologues and even television would sacrifice a little of the picture to have some actor bring life to a reading.
If we go further back in time, before the days of electronics, and perhaps even before the days of the printing press, the presentation of a story through just the spoken word, was a moment of fun, excitement, even titillation at the local tavern or improvised theatre on a wagon. Even when we add picture, live action, the most early of plays focussed far more attention on the words than the visual impression.
I personally would love to see, and hear, more bards and storytellers roaming our cafés and bars - I think we have lost something with their rarity.
Someone once pointed out that you can shut your eyes at a blink, but shutting your ears is harder. Those big, flappy things on the side of your head are more than just decoration, they are an accurate, clever, analytical sense, ripe for teasing and caressing.
The right caresses
With the internet and, especially, the vast growth of movable media, the audiobook has seen a bit of a resurgence. Many authors, even independent authors, now employ voice overs to record their books (or even read them themselves) and release them through services like Audible and iTunes, ready for people to download to their device, shove a bit of plastic in their lugholes and fall into a world brought forth with the power of the voice.
Production values can be a little variable, admittedly, but where an actor with a beautiful voice is directed by a someone who really understands voice production, then the result is a rounded pleasure. Tones of actors such as Joss Ackland, Tim Pigott Smith, Jenny Agutter, Dame Judi Dench and the rest are a rarity, but oh, what caresses.
Michael Bartlett has spent his life pushing and prodding the spoken word into life. He was a BBC producer many years ago, directing readings and drama, and let us face it, the BBC of old was one of the best production houses for such presentation. Later he went on to produce independent drama, business programmes and other shows and eventually created Crimson Cats.
This small production house specialises in bringing to audio works that would probably be ignored by other companies. Words from the likes of Jerome K, Jerome, Kipling, Gerald Durrell, Katherine Mansfield and even sports personalities of yesteryear. But these are not their more obvious works, but from their own stories, their biographies, their letters, essays, short stories or just their life and times.
To each of these works, Michael and his former BBC partner Dee Palmer have brought decades of production experience and chosen readers who they know of old can talk-the-talk and, in some cases, bring an additional authority to the subject.
These are not just another story read by just another voice, but are properly directed, edited and produced productions that are high quality and are backed with the experience of true experts.
The webiste Crimsoncats.co.uk is full of excerpts and the titles are available to purchase as downloads or CD (in most cases).
Titles you may want to read include:
- Stories from a Corfu Childhood - Gerald Durrell
- Picture Postcards from Kipling
- Private Rawson's War - a selection of war letters
- The Beautiful Cassandra from Jane Austen
- Finding Katherine Mansfield
- Sporting Legends, including Tom Finney, Stirling Moss, Mary Peters and more
- Everyman's England, from the thriller writer Victor Canning
There are even some stories about cats!
So, here's to the wonderful audio book in all its guises, but a special mention for the crafted offerings from companies such as Crimson Cats.