While his name may not be instantly recognizable today, many of the songs penned by Frank Loesser most certainly are: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Heart and Soul,” “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?,” “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” The man himself passed away in 1969, but his catalog lives on. June 29 would have marked Loesser's 100th birthday, and Sony’s Masterworks Broadway division marks the centennial with this week’s release of the 19-track compilation Heart and Soul: Celebrating the Unforgettable Songs of Frank Loesser.
Academy Award- and Tony Award-winner Loesser’s contributions to American popular song still stand tall today. His songs have been covered by Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett, not to mention Don Henley, Jimmy Buffett and Willie Nelson. His 1950 musical Guys and Dolls is a frequent staple not only in theatres throughout the world but on Broadway, and his 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying will return to the Great White Way in 2011 starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. Sony’s collection doesn’t draw, however, on its library of original cast recordings, nor on modern-day rock or pop interpretations of Loesser classics. Instead, it is primarily drawn from the recordings of big bands, jazz singers and popular vocalists on the Columbia and RCA Victor labels. Performers represented include Johnny Mathis, Pearl Bailey, Vic Damone, Dinah Shore and Helen Forrest. Barry Manilow contributes the most recent selection, the album track “Luck Be a Lady” from 1991’s Showstoppers, although his 1980 charting single of Loesser’s “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You,” co-written with Jule Styne, might have been a better choice.
It would be impossible for any single CD to cover all of the hit songs written by Loesser, both solo and with collaborators. I found myself looking in vain for “A Slow Boat to China” and the aforementioned “Sit Down…” But the collection appears to offer a fine cross-section of his work over the years, giving a look at both his comedic songs and heartfelt ballads. Similarly, both his early tenure in Hollywood and his later years on Broadway are given roughly equal attention.
Unfortunately, Sony has opted not to grant this Loesser primer a physical CD release, almost causing the set to slip under the reissue radar. Heart and Soul is available through digital providers such as iTunes and Amazon MP3, and for those (like yours truly) interested in a physical disc, a CD-R with full artwork and booklet is available exclusively through Arkivmusic.com. Arkiv specializes in classical recordings but has recently entered into an agreement with Sony that has seen many of its classic cast albums restored to the catalog (some in remastered and/or expanded form) as CD-Rs available only through the Arkiv website.
The track listing for Heart and Soul follows after the jump!
- “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You” from Sweater Girl - Helen Forrest with Harry James and His Orchestra (rec. 12/11/41)
- “Heart and Soul” from A Song is Born - Bea Wain with Larry Clinton and His Orchestra (rec. 9/1/38)
- “Two Sleepy People” from Thanks for the Memory - Della Reese (rec. 11/23/59)
- “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!” - Kay Kyser and His Orchestra (rec. 7/31/1942)
- “Can’t Get Out of This Mood” from Seven Days Leave - Sarah Vaughan (rec. 5/18/1950)
- “Let’s Get Lost” from Happy-Go-Lucky - Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra (rec. 7/8/1942)
- “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” - Johnny Mathis (rec. 9/23/1969)
- “Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year” from Christmas Holiday - Sarah Vaughan (rec. 1/5/1953)
- “I Wish I Didn’t Love You So” from The Perils of Pauline - Dinah Shore (rec. 1947)
- “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from Neptune's Daughter - Pearl Bailey and Hot Lips Page (rec. 6/23/1949)
- Medley from Where’s Charley? (“Where’s Charley?”/“Once in Love with Amy”/“Pernambuco”/“My Darling, My Darling”/“The New Ashmolean Marching Society and Students Conservatory Band”) - The Four Lads with Ray Ellis and His Orchestra (rec. 6/5/1957)
- “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” from Guys and Dolls - Doris Day with David Rose and His Orchestra (rec. 9/13/1950)
- “Luck Be a Lady” from Guys and Dolls - Barry Manilow (rec. 1991)
- “Standing on the Corner” from The Most Happy Fella - The Four Lads with Ray Ellis and His Orchestra (rec. 3/1/1956)
- “Somebody, Somewhere” from the musical The Most Happy Fella - Doris Day (rec. 2/24/1956)
- “Joey, Joey, Joey” from the musical The Most Happy Fella - Johnny Mathis (rec. 1/1/1963)
- “Never Will I Marry” from Greenwillow - Vic Damone (rec. 1/15/1960)
- “I Believe in You” from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying - Michele Lee (rec. 4/21/1967)
- Medley from the film Hans Christian Andersen (“I’m Hans Christian Andersen”/“Thumbelina”/“Inch Worm”/“Anywhere I Wander”/“Wonderful Copenhagen”) - Boston Pops Orchestra, Arthur Fiedler, conductor (rec. 6/27/1960)
Roger Wink says
It's an interesting release, but I would have far preferred to see them do it with the original cast recordings. I'm guessing even the Michelle Lee "I Believe In You" is from the soundtrack album to the film and not the original cast recording (which she was also on).
Loesser was one of the greats and I am still amazed that The Most Happy Fella has not seen more in the way of recognition and revivals. It's a great, great show and the Original Cast Album is fantastic (the first ever to record the entire show instead of musical highlights).
Joe Marchese says
Thanks so much for chiming in, Roger!
My guess would be that this release includes Michele Lee's single recording of the song from Columbia single 44165, arranged & conducted by Bob Freedman. (Bonnie Scott actually played Rosemary in the original Broadway cast as recorded by RCA Victor, and Michele replaced her in October 1962, prior to immortalizing the role in the later film version.) I'll report back when the CD arrives.
I too am curious why Sony opted not to include any of the key tracks from his cast recordings, many of which are controlled by Sony. And Roger, I couldn't agree more about The Most Happy Fella. It's a beautiful show and that lavish cast album is among the finest.