Various Artists

George Gershwin Revisited

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Ben Bagley attracted possibly his most star-filled group of singers for his George Gershwin Revisited album, the foursome of film star Anthony Perkins, Broadway stars Elaine Stritch and Barbara Cook, and nightclub star Bobby Short. As it happens, all four are well suited to the material, which they dig into enthusiastically. "The songs on this album have one great thing in common," writes Bagley in his typically entertaining and partially fictional liner notes, "they're sassy." They're also, as usual for a Revisited project, obscure. Being given their first-ever recordings here are "There's More to the Kiss Than the X-X-X" (from La La Lucille, 1919), "Under a One Man Top" (from Sweet Little Devil, 1924), "Rose of Madrid" (from George White's Scandals of 1924), and "Feeling Sentimental" (cut from Show Girl, 1929), and three others -- "Nashville Nightingale" (from Niceties of 1923), "Virginia" (from Sweet Little Devil), and "Scandal Walk" (from George White's Scandals of 1920) -- have not been recorded since the 1920s. In typical Bagley fashion, there are two balladeers to handle the romance, Cook and Perkins, and two comedians to handle the novelty and rhythm material, Short and Stritch. On several numbers, however, the quartet gets together ("There's More to the Kiss Than the X-X-X," "Back Bay Polka," "Scandal Walk"), and these are the most enjoyable performances, as they suggest a lost musical revue of the type that Bagley has been known to stage on occasion.

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