The second of British archival label Pearl's two anthologies of the work of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II takes a different approach from its companion. Whereas the title devoted to operettas took most of its tracks from studio recordings by stage and film performers associated with the shows and films from which the songs came, this volume leans heavily on recordings made by pop stars. Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Perry Como, Guy Lombardo, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, and Vic Damone are not known for their association with Hammerstein productions, but some of them scored hits with his songs: Sinatra charting with "People Will Say We're in Love" from Oklahoma! and "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific, Como with "If I Loved You" from Carousel, and Damone with "Why Was I Born?" from Sweet Adeline. And there are some recordings made by people from the Hammerstein works: Dick Haymes doing "It's a Grand Night for Singing" and "It Might as Well Be Spring" from the film State Fair, in which he starred, and three songs from the original Broadway cast recording of South Pacific featuring Mary Martin and Juanita Hall. But the album is marred by questionable inclusions. Though Hammerstein contributed to an early version of "I Won't Dance," Dorothy Fields rewrote the lyric for the Roberta film version heard here, leaving practically nothing of the original, and "Bill" from Show Boat had lyrics by P.G. Wodehouse, not Hammerstein. And the set cuts off arbitrarily in 1949, not because there were no more Hammerstein musicals after that, but because European copyright law extends 50 years and Pearl couldn't use recordings from shows like The King and I (1951) and The Sound of Music (1959). As such, the label's second volume of Hammerstein material is less impressive than its first.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann