Sonny Lester

How to Strip for Your Husband: Music to Make Marriage Merrier/More How to Strip for Your Husband, Vol. 2

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In the late 1950s, the emergence of Playboy Magazine and the appearance of "nudie cutie" movies like The Immoral Mr. Teas had made burlesque seem passé in the eyes of many, and by 1962, the art of the striptease was far enough out of fashion to become a nostalgia item. In 1959, Gypsy, the musical about the life of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee, was a hit on Broadway, and two years later, Ann Corio, who had been a well-known "peeler" in the '40s and '50s, launched her stage revue This Was Burlesque, which re-created the baggy-pants comedy and sexy dance numbers that were burlesque's bread and butter. The show jump-started Corio's career and was in production in New York or on the road until the early '90s; inspired by the success of the show, Roulette Records (who had released This Was Burlesque's original cast recording) teamed with Corio to produce the 1962 album How to Strip For Your Husband: Music to Make Marriage Merrier, an LP featuring a dozen sassy, rhythm-heavy numbers pattered after the musical accompaniment favored by vintage ecdysiasts, along with liner notes by Corio offering advice to women eager to put some spark in their relationships by learning to disrobe creatively. The album did well enough to prompt a sequel, and Collectors' Choice Music has reissued How to Strip for Your Husband and More How to Strip for Your Husband on a single CD. Sonny Lester arranged and conducted the orchestra for both albums, and had a hand in writing ten of the twelve selections on the first collection (the other two came from the Irving Berlin catalog). The first album has a broad, brassy feel, with the drums prominent in the arrangements and slide trombone and occasional whistles accentuating the bump and grind of the music (while the opening track comes as close to re-creating David Rose's "The Stripper" as possible without incurring a plagiarism suit). The second album is significantly more subdued and features a few more outside writers (including an arrangement of "Lullaby of Birdland"); it recalls a latter day big-band set, with noticeably more sophistication in its swing and a tight ensemble playing the charts with noticeable skill and enthusiasm. This disc makes for fun listening even though the same themes pop up over and over, and both then and now it provides effective accompaniment for aspiring amateur strip teasers; Corio's original liner notes are also included, which feature such words of wisdom as "Nothing looks better on a woman than anatomy!"

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