Original London Cast

Annie Get Your Gun [Original London Cast] [Bonus Tracks]

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Unlike Americans, the British did not come out of World War II with lots of disposable income to spend on records. So, even though the original London production of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, which opened June 7, 1947, was a big hit, no British record company was likely to follow U.S. Decca's lead and release a six-record 78 rpm original cast album. Instead, EMI's Columbia label (not to be confused with the American Columbia) put the cast in the studio to record medleys of songs from the show that were released on two 78s. The singers managed only a minute or so of each song (11 numbers running less than 15 minutes in total), but that didn't keep Dolores Gray from making an impression as Annie Oakley. The transplanted American actress/singer was no match for Broadway's Ethel Merman, but she had a good, unadorned voice and clear diction, appropriate for the songs' broadly expressed jokes and emotions. Bill Johnson was another in a long line of big-voiced Frank Butlers, and Irving Davies and Wendy Toye made the most of their one song, "Who Do You Love, I Hope?"

The brevity of the recording limited its exposure after the rise of the LP era, but it was reissued in the U.K. in 1950 by World Records (SH-393) on a disc that also contained similar medleys of songs from the original London productions of Oklahoma! and Carousel. In 1972, Rod McKuen's Stanyan Records put out an LP (SR-10069) containing the London Annie Get Your Gun on one side and the London Oklahoma! on the other. McKuen's licensing deal with the budget label LaserLight resulted in the CD/cassette release of Annie Get Your Gun in 1995. Clearly mastered from vinyl, the recording is in only fair fidelity. The reissue has been expanded by the inclusion of five songs also written by Irving Berlin. They are an odd collection. Dinah Shore's "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" and Les Brown's "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" sound like the original 1940s recordings, which begs the question how Stanyan/LaserLight can reissue tracks presumably still owned by Sony without acknowledgment. Alice Faye's "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and Rosemary Clooney's "All Alone" are stereo recordings that sound like they are of at least 1960s vintage. Even with the additions, the disc runs only a little over 28 minutes, but it is very cheap and will interest theater aficionados, as long as the track listing on the back cover doesn't fool them into thinking there's more music here than there is.

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