Mary Martin

Anything Goes/The Bandwagon

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

After Broadway cast albums became big sellers in the 1940s, Columbia Records producer Goddard Lieberson was inspired to record albums of music from shows that predated this boom. In 1949, Columbia had a massive success with its original Broadway cast recording of South Pacific, and the label signed the show's star, Mary Martin, to a recording contract. Lieberson took her into the studio with an orchestra and chorus in 1950 and recorded them performing songs from two shows of the early 1930s -- 1931's The Band Wagon, its music written by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, and 1934's Anything Goes, by Cole Porter. The recordings were released originally on separate 10" discs, but in 1953, Columbia combined them into a single LP package. In Anything Goes, Martin gets the chance to reinterpret songs originally introduced by her chief rival, Ethel Merman. Characteristically, she takes a warmer, more ingenuous approach, but it isn't enough to make anyone forget the brassy Merman. Martin is at her best, however, on the romantic ballad "All Through the Night." The Band Wagon, a revue with a variety of types of songs, allows her to show off a greater range, from the broadly comic "Hoops" to the slyly sexual "Confession" (which recalls her career-making performance of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy") and the romantic "Dancing in the Dark." Ted Royal's orchestrations update the music for the 1950s, but it stands up very well. No wonder movie adaptations of both shows were done in the '50s.