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 (1949), Lieberson had her head up studio-cast albums for George & 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 Girl Crazy, he added two obscure but talented Broadway singers to join Martin: Eddie Chappell and Louise Carlyle. But he paid no attention to which characters had sung the songs originally. Martin handled two numbers sung by the lead female character Molly Gray ("Embraceable You," "But Not for Me,"), but she also sang "I Got Rhythm" and "Boy! What Love Has Done to Me," which the character Kate Fothergill sang on-stage. Carlyle and Chappell sang a duet on "Could You Use Me," performed by Molly Gray and lead male character Danny Churchill in the show; Carlyle also did "Sam and Delilah," one of Kate Fothergill's numbers, and "Cactus Time in Arizona," another of Molly Gray's, while Chappell got his only solo on "Treat Me Rough," sung in the show by the secondary character Slick Fothergill. A vocal chorus handled other material. But with a show like Girl Crazy, 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 Gershwin material and gave wonderful performances, while Carlyle and Chappell were fine.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann