On her fifth album, recorded live at the Grandel Theatre in St. Louis, K.T. Sullivan salutes female movie stars of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s by performing the songs they sang or, as she is at pains to point out, were heard to sing even if the voices were dubbed in by others. Such information is typical of her humorous, informed, and personal commentary, which is half the show and a good bit of the album. (Since the introductions are given their own tracks on the CD, it is technically possible to program them out, but does anyone actually ever do that?) The annotations are useful to the listener, who may not have spent quite as many hours in front of a late-night television screen as the singer or befriending movie historians like Roy Hemming (cited in the acknowledgments), and thus not know the background of the songs, not to mention Sullivan's own background as a young girl in Oklahoma. She takes a lightly comic but always affectionate approach to the material, usually singing the songs straight, although she does manage convincing impersonations of Bette Davis and Jeanette MacDonald. The songs, of course, hold up very well, whether they are long-lived standards like "All of Me" or "Over the Rainbow," or novelty tunes very much of their time, such as the World War II-era "They're Either Too Young or Too Old" or Carmen Miranda's "Tico-Tico." Pianist/arranger James Followell gamely joins in on the female duet "Sisters" and, more appropriately, the Bob Hope part on "Thanks for the Memory." But Sullivan's frothy personality and powerful soprano are the drawing cards, along with the songs and the entertaining trivia. It's enough to drive you to the musicals section of your local video store to see some of the original performances for yourself.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: James Followell