After she broke through to stardom with her appearance in the Broadway musical My Fair Lady in 1956, Julie Andrews, while still appearing in the show, had several opportunities to make records during the rest of the ‘50s. European copyright law places a half-century limit on ownership claims for recordings, so those tracks are now available to be reproduced on disc without permission by any company that wants to re-press them. Thus, the British Avid Entertainment company has assembled this two-CD set of four albums featuring Andrews from the late ‘50s. They have been sequenced in reverse chronological order and also in order from the most to the least popular and expected. First up is the 1959 original London cast album of My Fair Lady, a stereo re-recording of the score with much the same performers -- Andrews, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, and Robert Coote -- who made the original Broadway cast album in monophonic sound three years earlier. With hundreds of performances under their belts, they are anything but stale in their parts, and Harrison in particular improves on his 1956 recording, displaying more of a singing voice than he did then. Tracks 16-24 of the first CD and the first through third tracks of the second CD present Andrews' second solo LP of 1958, Julie Andrews Sings, originally released by RCA Victor Records. On this album, Andrews does what would be expected of a Broadway star, singing, over arrangements by conductor Irwin Kostal, show tunes from other musicals (stage and film) including those by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Rodgers & Hart, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter, plus songs by her countrymen Ivor Novello and Noël Coward and a song from another musical by the songwriters of My Fair Lady, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Tracks four through 15 of the second disc present Andrews' debut solo album, The Lass with the Delicate Air. On this LP, she sings a selection of British material, most of it traditional. Both this album and Julie Andrews Sings have been reissued in unlicensed form by other labels, and the London My Fair Lady remains perennially in print. But the fourth LP reproduced here is quite rare. It is a children's duo album she made with British singer/actor Martyn Green, Tell It Again: Songs of Sense and Nonsense. Not only is it unusual to hear her trading nursery rhymes with Green and the two pretending to be brother and sister, but the musical accompaniment is surprising; it is played by New York street musician Moondog on percussion and Julius Baker on flute. Andrews fans may want to seek out this reissue for this curious inclusion alone.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2