Lena Horne

At the Sands

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For her second live album, Lena Horne recorded in the familiar environs of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Her set paid tribute to some of musical theater's most prominent songwriters; there were medleys of the songs of Jule Styne, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and E.Y. Harburg, and the set list also included music by George & Ira Gershwin. Horne's song choices ranged from the very familiar to the very obscure. For example, Johnny Burke and James VanHeusen, primary songwriters for Bing Crosby for much of his later film career, had scored a hit with "You Don't Have to Know the Language" from the 1948 film Road to Rio, one of Crosby and Bob Hope's "road" pictures, but "Get Rid of Monday," which Horne also performed here, was virtually unknown, and you could say the same thing about Duke Ellington collaborator Billy Strayhorn's "Maybe" and Burt Bacharach's "Out of My Continental Mind," while songs like Styne's "A Ride on a Rainbow" (from the 1957 television musical Ruggles of Red Gap) and Harburg's "Thrill Me" (from the musical Ballyhoo of 1932) were not much better known. Horne sang everything like it was a classic, however, reveling in the torch standard "The Man I Love" as much as the witty closer "Don't Commit the Crime" (credited to Horne/Shaw). The Sands Hotel Orchestra were on hand, but many of the arrangements called for only a piano trio, placing more emphasis on the singer's precise phrasing and incisive lyrical interpretation. At 43, she remained at the top of her game with a repertoire well suited to her style of performance.