Since the original Broadway cast (1946) and original soundtrack (1950) albums for Annie Get Your Gun went out of copyright in Europe 50 years after their recording dates, several reissue labels have taken advantage by pressing up their own unlicensed versions of discs initially issued by Decca and MGM Records, respectively (and still claimed for copyright in the U.S., where the knockoffs are technically unavailable). Naxos Musicals' CD is yet another of them, but it is a notch above the rest. For one thing, it includes both the stage and screen versions on a single disc, and for another it is well annotated. Also tossed in for good measure are an overture-like medley by Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops and a duet between Ethel Merman (the first Broadway Annie Oakley) and Mary Martin (who played the role on the road tour). But the album is dominated by the contrasting performances of Merman and Hollywood's Annie, Betty Hutton. The show was written for Merman, of course, which would give her an insurmountable advantage, even if she weren't superlative anyway. Hutton, who replaced an ailing Judy Garland on short notice, invests the part with her usual manic energy, but can't really compete. Putting the two LPs on one disc also provides a comparison of the elegant orchestrations of Broadway and the overdone ones of Hollywood, as well as demonstrating how much more prim Tinsel Town is, with "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" undergoing bowdlerization to remove the mildly racy lines heard on-stage. Of course, the legitimate American versions of these albums are preferred, but this is a less expensive way to have them together.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann