The musical Strike Up the Band had two different versions. With songs by George and Ira Gershwin and a book by George S. Kaufman, it had an unsuccessful tryout in Philadelphia in 1927 and closed without moving to Broadway. Then, it was heavily revised, both in terms of the Gershwins' music and with Morrie Ryskind brought in to refashion the script as a vehicle for the comedians Bobby Clark and Paul McCullough, and finally opened on Broadway on January 14, 1930, for a successful run of 191 performances. Theater historians, however, have tended to agree with some of the Philadelphia critics that the 1927 version was preferable, if ahead of its time, as a satiric examination of government corruption and capitalism. (In its initial plot, an American cheese company gets the U.S. government to declare war on Switzerland in a bid to increase sales.) Neither version was recorded for an original cast album, since that practice was uncommon at the time. Here, Tommy Krasker, working with the Gershwin estate, has assembled a restored version of the 1927 production for a 1990 studio cast recording, adding excerpts from the 1930 version as an appendix (the last seven tracks on disc two). The result is an appealing work that combines some well-known Gershwin songs ("The Man I Love," "Strike Up the Band," "I've Got a Crush on You") with some effective lesser-known pieces and some of Kaufman's funny dialogue, all performed by a talented cast led by Brent Barrett and Rebecca Luker. Along with the 1987 concert cast recording of the Gershwin shows Let ‘Em Eat Cake and Of Thee I Sing, later political satires in the same vein, this album brings one of the songwriters' best stage works into the recorded medium after decades of neglect.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2