Having celebrated the life of Alfred Drake in a 2-CD collection last year, Stage Door Records has turned its attention to another of Broadway's greatest leading men: the late John Raitt (1917-2005). John Raitt: Original Album Series brings together four full-length LPs from the legendary performer originally issued between 1955 and 1960, plus a host of bonus tracks. It's due at general retail on May 1 and is currently shipping directly from the label.
A California native, Raitt made his Broadway debut in 1945 with one of the most challenging roles in the musical theatre repertoire - that of Billy Bigelow in Rodgers and Hammerstein's groundbreaking musical Carousel. Raitt's dynamic, thrillingly-sung performance launched an extraordinary career that also saw him originate the role of Sid Sorokin in The Pajama Game and star in other Broadway shows such as Three Wishes for Jamie, Carnival in Flanders, and A Joyful Noise. A recipient of the Theatre World Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Raitt recorded for labels including Decca, RCA Victor, Capitol, and Warner Bros., the latter of which would sign his daughter Bonnie in 1971 and launch her own vibrant career.
Stage Door's new collection kicks off with Highlights of Broadway, Raitt's 1955 Capitol LP which found him revisiting Carousel (the powerful "Soliloquy") and surveying other musical classics from Kismet ("Stranger in Paradise"), South Pacific ("Younger Than Springtime"), Kiss Me, Kate ("So in Love"), and more. George Bassman conducted the orchestra. It continues with his next Capitol release, 1956's Mediterranean Magic. On the romantic set, Raitt tackled such memorable melodies as "O Sole Mio," "Granada," "Lady of Spain," and "Malaguena."
The second disc picks up with 1958's Under Open Skies, a loosely Americana-themed collection with songs from both the folk (Ireland's "Loch Lomond") and spiritual traditions ("Sweet Little Jesus Boy," "I Wonder as I Wander") as well as the Broadway stage ("Blow High, Blow Low" from Carousel, "They Call the Wind Maria" from Paint Your Wagon). Pete King conducted. Raitt's next long-player was his sole album for the Warner Bros. label. 1960's Songs the Kids Brought Home from Camp was in the then-popular sing-along tradition immortalized by Mitch Miller and emulated by countless others. It featured Raitt leading spirited campfire-style renditions of classic songs, mainly in medley form.
Five bonus tracks have been appended to the four albums, including both sides of a 1962 single recorded with jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton for his own Glad-Hamp label of the standards "Ebb Tide" and "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" plus three tracks from Raitt's 1969 album Today! ("Dock of the Bay/Ol' Man River," "The Gal That Got Away," and "My Way").
Bonnie Raitt has penned a new foreword to the collection. The superstar artist writes, in part, "Dad lived one of the most fulfilled lives on and off stage that I've ever known. His gift to us, that spectacular, glorious voice and talent, is matched only by the expansiveness of his huge, radiant, joyful, and loving spirit. Our family is thrilled to share that spirit with you once again."
This release marks the CD debuts of Mediterranean Magic and Songs the Kids Brought Home from Camp; Highlights of Broadway and Under Open Skies were previously reissued on CD by Capitol in 1992. One hopes that this collection will generate sufficient interest for a full release of Today! alongside other Raitt odds and ends such as his 1947 Decca album Songs of the Open Road and 1953 RCA ten-inch LP of songs from Oklahoma! and Carousel.
Look for John Raitt: Original Album Series on May 1 from Stage Door Records at the links below. Remember, Amazon U.K. is not currently shipping any items to the U.S., but this release can be ordered through Amazon U.S. or directly from Stage Door.
Highlights of Broadway (Capitol T-583, 1955)
- SOLILOQUY (from 'Carousel')
- SO IN LOVE (from 'Kiss Me, Kate')
- YOUNGER THAN SPRINGTIME (from 'South Pacific')
- HELLO, YOUNG LOVERS (from 'The King And I')
- I GOT THE SUN IN THE MORNING (from 'Annie Get Your Gun')
- STRANGER IN PARADISE (from 'Kismet')
- I LOVE YOU (from 'Mexican Hayride')
- STRANGE MUSIC (from 'Song Of Norway')
- ALMOST LIKE BEING IN LOVE (from 'Brigadoon')
- HOW ARE THINGS IN GLOCCA MORRA? (from 'Finian's Rainbow')
- OLD DEVIL MOON (from 'Finian's Rainbow')
Mediterranean Magic (Capitol T-714, 1956)
- O SOLE MIO (THERE'S NO TOMORROW)
- SERENADE IN THE NIGHT
- TORNA A SURRIENTO (HOLD ME IN YOUR HEART)
- LADY OF SPAIN
- NIGHTS OF SPLENDOR (NEAPOLITAN NIGHTS)
- LAMENTO GITANO (GYPSY LAMENT)
- TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME
- TANGO IN D (MOONLIGHT MASQUERADE)
- MATTINATA (YOU'RE BREAKING MY HEART)
Bonus Tracks from the album Today! (DCR Records DCR-1002, 1969)
- DOCK OF THE BAY / OL' MAN RIVER
- THE GAL THAT GOT AWAY
- MY WAY
Under Open Skies (Capitol (S)T-1058, 1958)
- SAIL HO!
- I WONDER AS I WANDER
- SOURWOOD MOUNTAIN
- THEY CALL THE WIND MARIA (from 'Paint Your Wagon')
- LOCH LOMOND
- VIVE L'AMOUR
- BLOW HIGH, BLOW LOW (from 'Carousel')
- EL BANDIDO
- SWEET LITTLE JESUS BOY
- TWO SHILLELAGH O'SULLIVAN
- I'M GOIN' AWAY
Songs the Kids Brought Home from Camp (Warner Bros. W(S)-1392, 1960)
- THE MENU SONG
- BURGLAR'S SONG
- OLD MACDONALD HAD A CAR / THOUSAND LEGGED WORM / WHEN FATHER PUT THE PAPER / DEAR OLD FATHER [LISTEN]
- THE BILLBOARD / O, HOW LOVELY IS THE EVENING / A CAPITAL SHIP
- MY NEIGHBOR'S GOAT / JOHNNY SCHMOKER / DAMPER SONG
- ABDUL A BULBUL AMIR / WEGGIS SONG
- JOHN JACOB JINGLEHEIMER SCHMIDT / MICHAEL FINNIGIN / WHO DID? / DUNDERBECK'S MACHINE
- JOHN BROWN'S BABY / HEY, HO, NOBODY HOME / DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE
- THE BULLDOG ON THE BANK / A FRONG WENT-A-COURTING
- MY GRANDFATHER'S CLOCK / NICKERNACKS
- THE TREE IN THE WOOD / HOME ON THE RANGE / GOOD NIGHT, LADIES
Bonus Tracks (Glad-Hamp single GH 2010, 1962)
- EBB TIDE
- LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING