Lionel Bart's stage musical Oliver! opened in London on June 30, 1960, and ran for 2,618 performances. The vanguard of those many wonderful British musicals that dominated the American stage during the 1960s and beyond, Oliver! opened on Broadway on January 6, 1963, and ran for 774 shows. Based on Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, the famous story about the dregs of London society, Bart's musical version is a softer, gentler version of Dickens' stark and often brutal story. Nonetheless, even this muted version has its cruel moments, such as during Oliver's escape from the work house and the clutches of Fagin. Released by Decca in 1960, this new release of the original London cast recording has been remastered with more effervescent sound. Leading the cast were Ron Moody as the demanding Fagin, the leader of gang of young thieves, Georgia Brown as Nancy, another gang member, Paul Whitsun-Jones as Mr. Bumble, whose job as beadle was to keep order, and, of course, young Keith Hamshere as Oliver Twist. Some of the more enduring songs from this musical include the opening number, "Food Glorious Food," the rousing "Consider Yourself," "I'd Do Anything," and the play's big hit, the touching, devotional "As Long as He Needs Me," sung by Brown's Nancy. Kudos to Decca Broadway, which continues its program of reissuing vehicles from the grand days of the London and Broadway musical stages.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan