If any instrument deserves more respect than it gets, it’s the ukulele… Routinely dismissed as a mere comical prop for cabaret/vaudeville acts like Tiny Tim and George Formby, the humble uke actually holds a much-vaunted place in Portuguese (and Hawaiian) folk music and, thanks to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great of Britain, its starting to be treated as an instrument that can grace concert halls.
Formed in 1985, the 6-person Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain are – as the name suggests – an ensemble of virtuosos who produce glorious renditions of popular tunes on ukuleles (with a little help from a bass guitar). On their most recent release, The Secret of Life, they tackle tracks like "Je T’aime… Non Plus", "MacArthur Park", "Le Freak", and even do a call-and-response number inspired by Montiverdi.The highlight though would have to be
Wonderful Land, an instrumental evergreen by The Shadows. The album can be purchased from Longman Records, who are also planning to reissue select releases from their back catalogue in the near future. (I look forward, in particular, to “Anarchy in the Ukulele” which contains their version of Anarchy in the UK...)
(For more information on the wonderful world of ukulele music, check out the Boing Boing sponsored ukulele web log, Ukulelia, or this past discussion thread on Metafilter... Especially worth reading on that thread is the "very sappy story" of ukulele-enabled love from bradth27.)