It has been observed that good Broadway scores can go to waste for no better reason than that they were written for shows that failed on other grounds, and one may say that of Jule Styne's music to Subways Are for Sleeping. The show had a book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who had worked with Styne previously on Two on the Aisle, Peter Pan, Bells Are Ringing, Say, Darling, and Do Re Mi, all of which, as it turned out, were more successful than Subways Are for Sleeping. Columbia Records, contracted to record the original cast album, had a lot riding on the show, which was why Percy Faith and Dave Grusin (on the Epic subsidiary) were deputized to record ancillary albums of its music. Faith couldn't have known, of course, when he spent three days in the recording studio in October 1961 cutting his instrumental versions of a set of typically sprightly Styne tunes, that disaster was ahead. But when the musical, which concerned a bunch of urban oddballs, opened on December 27, it was savaged by the critics. It ended up being most memorable for a publicity stunt in which producer David Merrick rounded up a group of people with the same names as the critics, got them to say positive things about it, and then took out an ad featuring their quotes. The ensuing uproar may have kept it running a few months, but it was still a flop. Yet Styne's melodies are as good as ever, particularly "When You Help a Friend Out" and "Getting Married," while "Be a Santa" should have gone on to be a seasonal perennial. It's harder to appreciate an album like this when the music is not familiar, but there are touches of characteristic Styne all over, making this a distinct, if minor, pleasure.
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