While many British record labels create confusion in the marketplace by taking advantage of the 50-year copyright limit on recordings in Europe to issue their own unlicensed versions of familiar, still-in-print albums, Sepia Records here shows how valuable the public domain rules can be by coming up with an album the original copyright holder would never bother with, a compilation of Lisa Kirk's long-out-of-print RCA Victor recordings of the late 1940s and early ‘50s. Kirk established herself by co-starring in Broadway shows, notably Kiss Me, Kate, and leveraged that into a long career as a nightclub entertainer. While she was still in Kiss Me, Kate, RCA signed her to a recording contract, and the series of singles that followed over the next few years saw the label trying to sell her in the popular styles of the day. That is to say that she recorded light pop in the novelty and Tin Pan Alley revival manner of people like Doris Day and Teresa Brewer. Often, as was the custom of the time, she was expected to cover songs also being done by other performers on other labels, a good example being the comic number "Dearie" from The Copacabana Show of 1950, a duet with Fran Warren. Bandleader Guy Lombardo (with vocals by Kenny Gardner and the Lombardo Trio) had the Top Five hit with the song for Decca, and it was a lesser hit for Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae on Capitol, and for Ray Bolger and Ethel Merman on Decca, but the Kirk/Warren version also made the charts. When she wasn't given covers or remakes of old songs to do, Kirk usually received second-rate material similar to current hits. Listening to this album, it's easy to expect that the next tune will be "The Doggie in the Window" or "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," since that's the kind of light novelty fare the songwriters clearly were aiming for. "Sweet Promises and Good Intentions," for example, sounds like it was written as a deliberate follow-up to "Dear Hearts and Gentle People." Kirk didn't get to do any of those standards, but she does her best with what she has here, bringing her acting skills to bear along with a strong alto voice. This album does not contain "the best-of" Lisa Kirk; none of her signature songs from Broadway, such as "The Gentleman Is a Dope" or "Always True to You in My Fashion," is found here. But a previously forgotten aspect of the career of a sturdy second-echelon Broadway and nightclub talent of the ‘40s and ‘50s is brought back to attention.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann