Conductor John McGlinn did a service to Broadway musical theater in the '80s and '90s by organizing a series of studio recordings that in some cases marked the first full-length treatments of shows dating from before the LP era, and in other cases restored music that hadn't fit on original cast LPs. The downside was that, by employing classical musicians and opera singers, McGlinn often turned out stuffy recordings that lacked fun and liveliness. A typical example was his treatment of Annie Get Your Gun, a show that actually was not much in need of restoration. After all, the original Broadway cast album featuring Ethel Merman had been a big seller, and there had been numerous recordings since. But faced with the time limitations of LPs, those albums had focused on the most popular songs, none featuring dialogue, underscoring, dance music, reprises, or the minor song "I'll Share It All with You" -- all of which are here. Thus, the McGlinn version could boast that it was the most complete recording of Annie Get Your Gun ever done. However, none of the missing elements turned out to be that crucial or effective on record. As his leads, McGlinn reunited Kim Criswell and Thomas Hampson, with whom he had made a version of Kiss Me Kate the year before. Criswell was suitably feisty, if no match for Merman. But Hampson played the operatic baritone to the hilt, bellowing humorlessly and self-importantly. Hampson was the most extreme example of the album's main weakness, which it shared with many McGlinn productions. There seemed to be no sense that this was a work of musical comedy, and as a result, much of the wit in Berlin's lyrics was lost, along with much of the fun of the show. This Annie Get Your Gun is the most complete version, but if you want a more enjoyable recording, the original cast album is still the one to listen to, and any of the other major recordings would also be more to your liking.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Annie Get Your Gun, musical|