Original Broadway Cast Recording

The Roar of the Greasepaint -- The Smell of the Crowd [Bonus Track]

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Songwriter/librettists Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley followed their triumph with Stop the World -- I Want to Get Off, a musical that played successfully in the West End and on Broadway, with The Roar of the Greasepaint -- The Smell of the Crowd, which opened a pre-London British tour in Nottingham on August 3, 1964. Unlike its predecessor, the new show did not feature Newley as its star, although he did direct the production. That casting error and the somewhat forbidding plot (it was, as Bill Rosenfield, in his liner notes to the 1990 reissue of the original Broadway cast album, calls "a comic allegory about the class system in contemporary Britain") doomed the musical, which closed without reaching the West End. Meanwhile, however, two good things happened: American producer David Merrick, who had seen the show in Liverpool, agreed to put it on Broadway if Newley stepped into the starring role of Cocky, and Tony Bennett recorded one of the songs, "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)," which went on to peak in the Top 40. A cast for the U.S. led by Newley and Cyril Ritchard (as the upper-class character Sir) was quickly assembled, and The Roar of the Greasepaint -- The Smell of the Crowd embarked on a lengthy tour of America. To take advantage of the hit song, the cast album was recorded well in advance of the Broadway opening on February 28, 1965, and released 11 days later, breaking into the charts on April 10 on its way to a peak in the Top 100; the show finally premiered in New York on May 16, by which time the score was familiar to everyone in the theater. (This is the exact opposite of typical practice. Usually, cast albums are recorded a week or so after the Broadway opening, when a show's popular reception has been confirmed.) This circuitous route to success depended heavily on that score, and it does not disappoint. The story line, in which the "have-not" Cocky continually confronts the "have," Sir, may be simple on-stage, but it makes for excellent musical possibilities that Bricusse and Newley exploit. Their gift for catchy tunes has not deserted them, and their lyrics are by turns witty and moving, with Ritchard and Newley inhabiting their parts masterfully and such minor performers as Gilbert Price (the soulful "Feeling Good") and Sally J. Smith (the humorous "Look at That Face") also making strong impressions. Of course, "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" is the best-remembered song, but a raft of others were taken up by pop singers like Sammy Davis, Jr., Johnny Mathis, and Nina Simone, leading to covers of "The Beautiful Land," "A Wonderful Day Like Today," "This Dream," "Look at That Face," "The Joker" (which has a touch of Bricusse and Newley's other big hit of the period, "Goldfinger"), and "Feeling Good." [As a bonus track, the 1990 reissue adds a short reprise of "Who Can I Turn To" sung by Ritchard.]

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:23
2 1:43
3 2:12
4 2:24
5 2:58
6 1:33
7 2:05
8 2:35
9 2:49
10 3:16
11 2:20
12 2:32
13 3:51
14 1:08
15 1:49
16 2:40
17 2:56
18 1:58
19 1:47
20 1:12
21 3:12
blue highlight denotes track pick