Welcome to today’s Short Takes focusing on recent releases from the worlds of stage and screen!
First up, the Kritzerland label has announced another three additions to its reissue library of Ben Bagley’s Revisited series. Bagley’s original Revisited releases brought together all-star casts to explore the lesser-known side of famous songwriters’ catalogues, and these three titles are no exception. Frank Loesser Revisited shines a spotlight on a composer-lyricist who has been in the news quite a bit lately thanks to his winter classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Frank Loesser Revisited enlisted Margaret Whiting, Johnny Desmond, Madeline Kahn, Blossom Dearie, Bibi Osterwald, Rhonda Fleming, and Gloria Swanson on an array of tunes arranged by Dick Hyman from the Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying tunesmith. Bonus songs added by Bagley for the first CD reissue feature Loesser’s wife Jo Sullivan, daughter Emily Loesser, and Colin Romoff.
Kritzerland then has the first two volumes of Rodgers and Hart Revisited, both of whim brim with the kind of urbane sophistication for which the duo was known. Volume One featured Dorothy Loudon, Danny Meehan, Charlotte Rae, and Cy Young under the baton of Loudon’s husband, musical director Norman Paris. Bonus tracks are performed by Ann Hampton Callaway, Sandy Stewart, and Arthur Siegel. The second volume, also expanded, stars cabaret legend Bobby Short, Bibi Osterwald, Blossom Dearie, Charles Rydell, and Gloria DeHaven alongside the returning Loudon and Paris. Callaway, Stewart, Siegel, and Dennis Deal handle the bonus material. All titles include the original, distinctive Harvey Schmidt cover artwork and are limited to 500 units. They’re expected to ship by the second week of January, but the label will aim to get them out before year’s end.
Kritzerland also has two Golden Age film scores. 1955’s A Man Called Peter, about the life of pastor Peter Marshall (not the Hollywood Squares host!), boasted a stirring and beautiful score by Alfred Newman. Whereas the previous Film Score Monthly CD presentation included the source music within the score, Kritzerland’s edition helmed by Mike Matessino places the source cues after the Newman score in classic Fox stereo. Sound, too, has been considerably spruced up. The second release celebrates Albert Glasser’s scores for The Cisco Kid films starring Duncan Renaldo. The bulk of the CD, derived from a tape in Glasser’s own archive, is dedicated to 1949’s The Gay Amigo, but also includes music from the films The Buckskin Lady and Top of the World and the TV series Big Town. Chris Malone has restored the audio. A Man Called Peter is limited to 1,000 units while The Cisco Kid is limited to 500.
Last but not least, the busy U.K. label Stage Door Records has another pair of indispensable titles for show music fans made possible through current U.K. public domain laws. Jan Clayton Sings Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel has been paired with another star-centric studio cast recording, Ella Logan Sings Favorites from Finian’s Rainbow. Clayton, the original Julie Jordan in the musical’s 1945 premiere, reprised her role in a 1958 staging at the Brussels World’s Fair. Disneyland Records then took Clayton into the studio with its musical director Tutti Camarata to record an unusual quasi-cast album in stereo with The Gloria Wood Singers on which Clayton sang all of the key roles herself in new arrangements (naturally). Ella Logan, the original Sharon in 1947’s Finian’s Rainbow, performed similar duty on a 1955 Capitol platter accompanied by the orchestra of George Greeley. These discs make unique complements to the shows’ respective original cast recordings. Stage Door’s two-fer, part of the label’s Collector’s Series, is limited to 500 units and is packaged in a paper sleeve with insert. It’s available here: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada.
Stage Door has added another volume to its acclaimed Lost West End series with Lost West End: Revues. Over two CDs and 51 tracks, this eclectic compendium features both original cast and pop recordings from various British revues. A number of boldfaced names are featured on this set, including Dame Maggie Smith (Share My Lettuce), Hermione Gingold (Sweet and Low, Sweeter and Lower, Sky High), Noel Coward (Sigh No More, The Lyric Revue), Beatrice Lillie (Big Top), Anthony Newley (Cranks), future Cats and Phantom of the Opera choreographer Gillian Lynne (New Cranks), Millicent Martin (The Lord Chamberlain Regrets…!), Matt Monro (a cover from Not to Worry) and Petula Clark (a cover from La Plume de Ma Tante). A 16-page booklet has credits for each show and recording plus copious artwork but no liner notes. You can find Lost West End: Revues at Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada.