This was my second Kander & Ebb cast recording! The first one was CHICAGO and I’m not counting the movie soundtracks of CABARET, FUNNY LADY and NEW YORK, NEW YORK.
I saw it in the window of a vinyl shop and the names of Lauren Bacall (at the time I didn’t knew she had done another musical, APPLAUSE) and Kander & Ebb instantly attracted me. I went inside and asked if I could listen to the album, because I didn’t knew if I would like it. The shop employer wasn’t very nice, but I managed to convince him to let me listen to the album. As soon as I heard the first notes of the opening, I told him I didn’t need to listen to the rest, because I would take it. Once I arrived home, I had a great time playing it for the first time and since that day I have listened to it thousands of times and it’s always a pleasure.
I know this isn’t Kander & Ebb best score (which, for me, is CHICAGO), but it’s a highly pleasurable score, with terrific orchestrations by Michael Gibson. Like I said before, the “Overture” conquered me in an instant and what followed, the title song, is a great theatre song. The score have more than a couple of songs that I simply love: the big number “One of the Boys”, the delicious “I Wrote the Book”, the beautiful but sad ballad “Sometimes a Day Goes By” and the hilarious “The Grass is Always Greener”. This last song is probably Kander & Ebb’s best comic song and one of the best of its kind in the story of Broadway.
It’s true, Lauren Bacall doesn’t have a great singing voice and I hope one day someone with a strong voice will sing this score, but she sounds like she has a lot of personality and that made me believe in her character. As her leading man, Harry Guardiano doesn’t sing very well, but the songs are so good that I forgive him. The big jewel in the cast is Marilyn Cooper; she only sings a duet with Bacall, the previous mentioned “The Grass is Always Greener”, but she easily stoles it and she sounds absolutely fabulous.
There are other enjoyable songs in the score like “Happy in the Morning” and “See You in the Funny Papers”, among others, plus a few I don’t like that much (“The Poker Game” or “When You're Right; You're Right”) but in the whole this is a great piece of musical comedy. It has everything I love: wonderful melodies, terrific lyrics, great musical numbers, delicious comic songs and a cast who bring them to life with talent and enthusiasm. This is a must in every showtune lover’s library and one of the best scores written by Kander & Ebb.
Rate: 9 (from 1 to 10) / Photos by Martha Swope