The lag of 26 years between this performance by lyricist Dorothy Fields at the Lyrics & Lyricists series at the 92 Street YMHA in New York and its release on record is practically criminal. Fields had a remarkable career, from her early hits like "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" in the late 1920s to the Broadway musical Seesaw in 1973 (a year after this performance was given), and she was a little less than two years from her death when she took the stage at the YMHA, accompanied by pianist Richard Leonard, and augmented by singers Bobbi Baird, Adrienne Angel, John Peck, and Bob Gorman. Though far from a professional singer herself, she held her own on songs for which her range was suited. As she warned early on, the 79-minute set was long on songs (35 of them, some treated only briefly) and short on analysis. She told the story of her career in affectionate anecdotes, favorably mentioning all 12 of her composer-collaborators without, for example, ever explaining why she switched from Jimmy McHugh to Jerome Kern in the '30s. The Broadway and Hollywood lore was punctuated with her remarkable body of work -- "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "(This Is) A Fine Romance," and "The Way You Look Tonight," among many others. Her final collaborator, Cy Coleman, came up for a series of songs from Sweet Charity, including "(Hey) Big Spender" and "If They Could See Me Now," as well as what would turn out to be a cut song from Seesaw, "If There Were More People Like You." Fields' catalog is so rich that she was forced to shoehorn favorites like "I Won't Dance" and "I'm in the Mood for Love" into a set-closing medley; too bad the performance wasn't twice as long.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann