Various Artists

Essential Hollywood and Broadway Musicals

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AllMusic Review by

Any assessment of this collection must be conditioned upon its price. The three-CD set was selling for about 18 dollars upon release, or about six dollars per disc. For that extremely cheap price, one is generally thankful for what one gets. In this case, one gets 60 tracks from the 1930s to the early '50s, borrowed from studio recordings soundtracks, and Broadway cast albums. The primary sources for the tracks, taking advantage of the 50-year copyright limit on recordings in Europe, are cast and soundtrack recordings of the late '40s, such as, from Broadway, Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma!, and Brigadoon; and, from Hollywood, MGM bio-pics like Words and Music (about Rodgers & Hart) and Till the Clouds Roll By (about Jerome Kern), anthologies like Easter Parade (with songs by Irving Berlin), or stage adaptations like Good News. There are also lots of studio recordings of songs from shows and movies, many of them performed by the stars who appeared on stage and film. Occasionally, there are also recordings by performers who are strictly singing stars, such as Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan, Art Lund, and Buddy Clark. But most of the names are ones associated with the Broadway stage -- Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Alfred Drake -- or, more often, the silver screen: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Peter Lawford, Ginger Rogers, Kathryn Grayson, Deanna Durbin, Jane Powell, Jimmy Durante, Gene Kelly, June Allyson, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rooney, Celeste Holm. Many standards are included, but there are also quite a few obscure numbers from long-forgotten films by long-forgotten performers. Sound quality is iffy, as if a bunch of 78 rpm records had been transferred and then subjected to sound processing that eliminated the upper frequencies along with the clicks. But for 18 dollars, the collection isn't bad.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:11
2 3:11
3 3:11
4 3:31
5 2:59
6 2:44
7 2:44
8 3:33
9 2:39
10
2:22
11 3:18
12 2:55
13 2:29
14 3:19
15
2:54
16 2:22
17 2:59
18 2:48
19 2:46
20 2:28

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:44
2 3:25
3 3:27
4 3:28
5 2:58
6 3:01
7 3:16
8 2:39
9 3:41
10 3:09
11 2:24
12 3:23
13 2:41
14
3:06
15 3:08
16 3:18
17 3:05
18 3:01
19 2:56
20 3:17

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:00
2 3:14
3 3:06
4 3:04
5 3:13
6 2:32
7 2:59
8 3:01
9 2:41
10 2:40
11 2:47
12 2:01
13 2:40
14 3:17
15 2:41
16 3:15
17 2:33
18 2:45
19 2:43
20 3:37
blue highlight denotes track pick