Although a pop cover of a song from a Broadway musical could bring in considerable revenue and even keep a show running, Broadway songwriters often disparage such interpretations of their work. Rodgers & Hart even wrote a song, "I Like to Recognize the Tune," objecting to what pop stars sometimes did to their compositions. They might have been expected, therefore, not to think too much of British archival label ASV/Living Era's compilation of pop versions of songs from their shows. This collection looks for covers contemporary to the shows themselves, starting, for example, with bandleader Ben Selvin's 1925 recording of "Manhattan" from the 1925 revue Garrick Gaieties, an instrumental dance version that is taken at foxtrot tempo. More than half the tracks are hit recordings of the songs, while others, such as Jessie Matthews' "My Heart Stood Still" and Jeanette MacDonald's "Isn't It Romantic?," are performed by singers who introduced them onstage or in films. Since original Broadway cast recordings were virtually unknown during the period when Rodgers & Hart's shows were produced, these recordings are often invaluable representations of their work, whatever they themselves may have thought. The album is incomplete, missing such big hits as "Soon" and "Sentimental Me," and occasionally a revival from the 1940s has been substituted for a contemporary recording. Whether the song has been rendered as an instrumental or, as in the case of Doris Day's 1949 revival of the 1940 song "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" from Pal Joey, the lyrics have been censored, you can see why Rodgers & Hart sometimes objected to these pop interpretations. But this is a songwriting team that is better remembered for its individual songs than its shows, and these are the songs that have built their lasting reputations in some of their earliest and most popular versions.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann