Various Artists

Irving Berlin Revisited

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The intention of Ben Bagley's series of "revisited" albums of the music of great songwriters is to uncover little-known compositions and have them sung by the cream of Broadway and New York nightclub performers. For his Irving Berlin volume, Bagley assembles a cast including Bobby Short, Dorothy Loudon, and Blossom Dearie, and sets them loose on obscure Berlin songs dating back to 1909 ("Sadie Salome Go Home") and up to 1947 ("Mr. Monotony"). He delves particularly into Berlin's never-recorded 1940 Broadway musical Louisiana Purchase ("It'll Come to You," "Fools Fall in Love," "Wild About You," and the title song), which justifies his praise of it. (They didn't make Original Broadway Cast albums in those days.) In addition to the accomplished saloon singers who effectively put across this worthy (if not stellar) material, Bagley also adds one worthy ringer, TV's Dr. Kildare, Richard Chamberlain, who also had a brief career as a pop singer. He applies his smooth voice to a series of ballads ("Lonely Heart" and "How's Chances?" from As Thousands Cheer, "Fools Fall in Love," and "I'm Getting Tired So I Can Sleep" from This Is the Army), which allows the other performers to whoop it up all the more in the rhythm numbers.

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