In effect, this compilation is "The Best of Julie Andrews on Columbia Records, 1957-1962." It is drawn from five albums released during that period: the television soundtrack to Cinderella (1957); the original London (not Broadway, as the liner notes mistakenly say) cast album for My Fair Lady (1959); the original Broadway cast album for Camelot (1960); and two Julie Andrews solo albums, Broadway's Fair Julie (1962) and Don't Go in the Lion's Cage Tonight (1962). (There is also a previously unreleased recording of Noël Coward's "I'll Follow My Secret Heart" made during the sessions for Broadway's Fair Julie.) The conceit here is that this is all material from Broadway musicals, but that isn't actually true, since the solo recordings include revivals of such independent songs as "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," "Alexander's Ragtime Band," and "Burlington Bertie From Bow" (the last later performed by Andrews in the 1968 film Star!). Never mind that, though. Andrews's stage appearances ended for decades after Camelot, and this set affords the listener a chance to hear what she might have been like in, for example, Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story ("I Feel Pretty") and Wonderful Town ("A Little Bit in Love"), even if it's hard to imagine her ever being cast in such shows. Naturally, she brings her precise phrasing and clear voice to every performance, enthusiastically trying on such diverse material as Lane and Harburg's "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" (from Finian's Rainbow) and Rodgers and Hart's "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" (from Too Many Girls). Of course, her familiar performances from the shows with which she is associated remain stellar, though listeners would have preferred the Broadway cast versions of the songs from My Fair Lady (even if they are in mono).
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann