Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's 1961 musical Stop the World I Want to Get Off was a personal triumph, particularly for Newley, who in addition to co-writing the book and songs with Bricusse also directed and starred in the show in London and on Broadway. Naturally, he also dominated the original London and Broadway cast albums, singing such standards as "Gonna Build a Mountain," "Once in a Lifetime," and "What Kind of Fool Am I?" While those songs have been recorded by many singers since, there haven't been any subsequent cast albums until this one, a studio effort not related to a stage production that is part of Jay Records' series of re-recordings of the scores of classic musicals, using the original orchestrations and including more music from the shows than the earlier cast albums could fit on LP. Annotator Rexton S. Bunnett makes a point of mentioning actors other than Newley who have played the lead role of British Everyman Littlechap: Tony Tanner, Newley's London replacement, who also appeared in a little-seen 1966 movie version; Joel Grey in the American national tour; and Sammy Davis, Jr., on tour, in a Broadway revival, and in a second film (Sammy Stops the World) that was never released. This prepares the listener to have an open mind when it comes to Mike Holloway, who is necessarily as ever-present on this recording as Newley was on the earlier ones. He is certainly a frisky and engaging performer, and given the material he certainly has to be. When it opened, Stop the World was a refreshingly candid look at a then-contemporary typical life: a man who starts out in the British working class, rises by marrying the boss' daughter, and ends as a member of Parliament, but who is also an unabashed womanizer and sexist, which he belatedly recognizes after the death of his long-suffering wife by singing, "What Kind of Fool Am I?" Littlechap may have seemed more roguish and appealing in 1961 than he could 35 years later, and it's worth keeping in mind that, while Stop the World was set in the present day of the early '60s, it has long since become a period piece (which is a polite way of saying it hasn't dated very well). Happily, its songs remain as catchy and clever (if occasionally politically incorrect) as ever, and Holloway is joined by the excellent Louise Gold, whose roles as both the wife and a series of international mistresses are nearly as demanding as his. The musical additions are minor, and the album cannot be recommended over either of the Newley versions. But musical theater fans will find this strong alternate reading pleasurable.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Stop the World - I Want to Get Off, musical|
feat: NSO Ensemble
feat: Louise Gold
feat: NSO Ensemble