Guys and Dolls, based on the stories of Damon Runyon about New York gamblers, became a stunning success upon its Broadway opening in 1950. While Abe Burrows' libretto was much praised, the show's main asset is Frank Loesser's songs, which are unfailingly tuneful and which accurately represent the vernacular of Runyon's characters, from "Fugue for Tinhorns," a trio song full of horse racing slang, to "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat," a revival meeting pastiche in which a gambler claims to have found salvation. "Luck Be a Lady," a gambler's ode to good fortune, became a standard. Winning as these are, love songs such as "I'll Know" and "I've Never Been in Love Before" are equally affecting. And that isn't even to mention the songs that became contemporary hits, "If I Were a Bell" and "A Bushel and a Peck." The original cast was headed by Vivian Blaine, a comic singer effective at putting across the humorous material, and Robert Alda, who proved to be a smooth-voiced, commanding lead. The original Broadway cast album was recorded December 3, 1950, and hit #1 in March 1951. It remains the definitive version of a score that has not been recorded as often as one might expect, given the show's perennial appeal. After a 1991 upgrade for the CD era, it was reissued in 2000 to mark the show's 50th anniversary. In addition to 24-bit remastering and a redesigned CD booklet with lots of photographs, this version contained as bonus tracks the four recordings released in 1955 from the movie soundtrack. This material makes an interesting gloss on the original recordings and is a welcome addition.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Guys and Dolls, musical|