After the original Broadway cast album became a viable commercial entity in the 1940s, Columbia Records executive Goddard Lieberson decided to assemble studio casts to record albums of songs from musicals that pre-dated the trend. Broadway star Mary Martin had been contracted to Columbia in the wake of the massive success of her show South Pacific (and its chart-topping Columbia cast album), and after she cut the solo album Mary Martin Sings for You (1949), Lieberson had her head up studio-cast albums for George and Ira Gershwin's Girl Crazy from 1930, Dietz & Schwartz's The Band Wagon from 1931, Cole Porter's Anything Goes from 1934, and Rodgers & Hart's Babes in Arms from 1937. Lieberson was more concerned with getting good versions of a show's songs on disc than he was with respecting the characterizations on-stage. For Babes in Arms, he added two obscure but talented Broadway singers to join Martin: Jack Cassidy, who would go on to Broadway stardom, and Mardi Bayne, whose credits included a minor role in South Pacific and who remained obscure (indeed, this was her only recording). But he paid no attention to the characters who had sung the songs on-stage. Martin handled several numbers sung by the lead female character Billie Smith ("Where or When," "My Funny Valentine," "The Lady Is a Tramp"), but she also sang "Johnny One Note," which the character Baby Rose sang on-stage. Baby Rose's other numbers, "Way Out West" and "Imagine," were done by Bayne, while Cassidy sang as solos and in duets with Bayne some songs sung by the major male character Val LaMar, and also ones done by various minor characters, such as "Babes in Arms," "I Wish I Were in Love Again," "You Are So Fair," and "All at Once." But with a show like Babes in Arms, in which the songs had only a tangential relationship to plot and characters to begin with, this switching around didn't matter much. What did matter was that Martin got to sing some prime Rodgers & Hart material and gave wonderful performances, while Cassidy and Bayne held their own.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann