London Cast Recording

Salad Days [1954 Oriole/Sony West End]

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Dorothy Reynolds' and Julian Slade's Salad Days was a nostalgia-laden work when premiered in 1954. Since then it's become a true period piece, but a charming one (revived 30 years later), as this cast recording, made by Oriole Records in 1954, well reveals. Eleanor Drew is achingly delectable in the ingénue role of Jane, and John Warner makes an earthily engaging hero, and the score is just one sprightly, bouncy, or memorably lyrical tune after another. The two pianists, Edward Rubach and Bob Docker, with their light touch on the accompaniment, are no less responsible for the charm of the recording -- their backing is solid and also just upfront enough to carry the score in tandem with the singers, yet also lighter than air, never letting the material slow or linger an instant longer than necessary. The piece is well worth hearing, and the mere CD reissue of this cast album is something of a miracle -- Oriole Records was bought out by America's Columbia Records in 1965, not because Columbia wanted anything in its catalog (least of all this recording) but simply to establish a foothold in England (as CBS Records); luckily, 40 years after its original release, Salad Days was swept up in successor company Sony Music's quest to exploit its back catalog of theater music and got a short-lived CD reissue on the equally short-lived Sony West End label. The compact disc remastering is clean and sharp, if otherwise unexceptional package with no historical notes of any kind, but a plot synopsis and re-creation of the original credits and artwork.

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