David Merrick's star-studded presentation of Hello, Dolly! (1964) -- based on Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker -- was known as much for Gower Champion's brilliant direction and choreography as it was for Jerry Herman's equally effective lyrics and music. The cast includes the irrepressible Carol Channing as Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, Charles Nelson Reilly as Cornelius Hackl, and a young Eileen Brennan in the role of Irene Molloy. The show originally opened on January 16th, 1964, and became the longest running Broadway musical of its' time. The Original Cast Recording also scored big, selling an unprecedented 80,000 copies the first week it was released. In 2003 terms, that would have given the record a Top Ten debut, which remains an unmatched feat for a Broadway soundtrack. The show earned an astonishing ten Tony Awards, and Herman also garnered a Grammy for Song Of The Year in 1964 -- beating out the Beatles' ("A Hard Day's Night") and Barbra Streisand's ("People"). The bonus tracks include "I Put My Hand In" and "So Long Dearie," by the Mary Martin-led London cast from 1965, as well as "Before the Parade Passes By" and the dynamic title track "Hello, Dolly!" featuring Pearl Bailey's 1967 Broadway reformation. An additional highlight is the rare pairing of "Love, Look In My Window" and "World, Take Me Back," from Ethel Merman's 1970 revival. Incidentally, the lead role was originally conceived for Merman, and these two songs were sold on a 45-RPM single that was available only at the performances. A 2003 conversation with Channing is excerpted in the ten-plus-minute "Interview With ..." segment concluding the disc, which also comes with a 15-page booklet replete with rare cast and recording session photos, as well as condensed plot summaries, and respectively historical essays.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer