The enduring success of The Fantasticks in America -- it is both the longest-running and most produced musical in history -- is not surprising in light of its charming music, hilarious comedy and innovative minimalist staging techniques. But even its authors, Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, were taken off guard by its phenomenal popularity in Japan, where a translated Tokyo production has been running ever since the early '70s. In 1992, Jones and Schmidt assembled a new cast and took the show on an ambitious tour across Japan. This album is the official cast recording of that tour. It is billed as "the definitive new American cast album," and it is indeed definitive in the sense that it is the most complete recording of the The Fantasticks yet released. The CD runs 78 minutes and includes lengthy excerpts of dialogue and "spoken lyrics," the open verse recited to music by the narrator. This is particularly welcome since it allows us to hear Jones himself in the non-singing role of the Old Actor. The album also features Schmidt on piano and singing "A Perfect Time to Be in Love," a never-before-recorded song written for Robert Goulet's 1990 performance as El Gallo in the 30th Anniversary National Tour production. But if this is the most complete recording of The Fantasticks, it is unfortunately not the best performed. Alfred Lakeman's El Gallo lacks the vocal power that Jerry Orbach gave the role in the original cast recording, and Sam Samuelson as The Boy adopts an irritating nasal tone that does a disservice to many of Schmidt's finest songs. The album also features several re-writes that take care to clarify that the word "rape," used often in the original script, is not meant in the contemporary sense, but as a synonym for "abduction." The concern is understandable, but some of the changes seem excessive. Nevertheless, this Fantasticks does capture the enchanting spirit of the show, and offers much that previous soundtrack recordings lacked.