Dearest Enemy, a musical comedy set during the American Revolution, was, as annotator Lyle Andrews puts it, Rodgers & Hart's "first solo flight in the big time," the first book musical they originated and wrote the songs for, following quickly on the heels of their breakthrough with The Garrick Gaieties revue in 1925. This recording is taken from a kinescope of a television revival of the show broadcast live on NBC 30 years later, on November 26, 1955, starring Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling (both TV stars at the time in the series Topper) along with stage veterans Cyril Ritchard and Cornelia Otis Skinner. Typical of the 1950s, the show has been tamed from its more risqué 1920s version. In the original, in the song "War Is War," the American girls had proclaimed, "Hooray, we're gonna be compromised!" when the British landed; here, they sing, "Hooray, we're gonna be fraternized!," which is not quite the same thing. But the production is a lively one, and the score, much of which is not well remembered, proves to be effective, while the hit songs, "Here in My Arms" and "Bye and Bye," justify their status as standards. (The TV production vastly revised the libretto, shifting the order of the songs and who sang them. The CD restores the original song order from 1925.) The sound quality is good but not great, reflecting the source, but show music fans will be happy just to have an album of the score of this early Rodgers & Hart show, especially because the bonus tracks include original cast member Helen Ford singing "Here in My Arms" and "Bye and Bye" on a 1934 radio show and the 1925 medley of the show's songs done by the Victor Light Opera Company (which Rodgers called the next best thing to a cast recording for the time), plus a curiosity: Alec Templeton's comic commingling of the music of Richard Rodgers and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann