The movie musicals Higher and Higher (1943) and Step Lively (1944) represent the first two featured screen performances by Frank Sinatra after he burst on the music scene as a solo star. (He had appeared previously in films only as a band singer with Tommy Dorsey.) They came prior to the onset of the "original motion picture soundtrack" album, leaving it to the European label Great Movie Themes to issue this unlicensed version of the music, taken directly from the film. Higher & Higher was based, nominally speaking, on a Broadway musical by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. But in fact their song score had been replaced almost entirely by a new one written by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson. And Frank Sinatra had been written into the script in the character of...Frank Sinatra. That gave him the opportunity to sing songs like "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" and mingle with a strong supporting cast including Jack Haley and Mel Tormé. Step Lively, a remake of the Marx Brothers film Room Service minus the Marx Brothers, found Sinatra working with his personal songwriting team of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne while singing with George Murphy and Gloria DeHaven, to good effect. As a gray-market release, the album has its flaws, notably in the unexplained omission of "And Then You Kissed Me" from Step Lively and in bare annotations that deny Rodgers & Hart their one credit for "Disgustingly Rich," which is hidden here in the track called "Today I'm a Debutante."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann