Original Soundtrack

42nd Street [Original Soundtrack]

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This CD is a product of the variable copyright laws around the world that make American movie and musical material fair game in some countries. It may not be legal in the U.S., but no one has seen fit to prevent its importation so far, and it is handy. The three major musical numbers from the movie 42nd Street -- "Young and Healthy," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," and "42nd Street" -- are here, lifted right off of what sounds like a pretty high-quality audio track of the film. The first two numbers work well as audio pieces, but "42nd Street" is such a thoroughly visual number in its center section that the sound effects divorced from their on-screen cues are a major distraction. The bulk of the disc is filled out by eight numbers of varying lengths from the musicals that followed in the wake of 42nd Street -- Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade, and Wonder Bar -- of which the most familiar is "We're in the Money," as sung by Ginger Rogers; "I've Got to Sing a Torch Song," also from Gold Diggers of 1933 and also sung by Rogers, is the better song, however. The score has a more diverse body of music, including "The Shadow Waltz," an elegant screen production number whose arrangement and orchestration is very much a match for its visual splendor on screen; it loses astonishingly little as an audio piece. Joan Blondell talks her way extraordinarily well through "Remember My Forgotten Man," in a performance so effective that one scarcely notices that she isn't singing until Etta Moten comes in with the bluesy-sung portion of the number. Footlight Parade's most famous number is "By a Waterfall," which is a beautifully sung piece but too laden with special effects to really work as music. The producers have done their best assembling a coherent body of material, and about 70 percent of it is eminently listenable as a fine reminder of the kind of popular entertainment that held the public mercifully spellbound for much of the Great Depression.