Don Raleigh

Pal Joey

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

This sort of collection is sometimes referred to as a "studio track" album, that is, a re-creation of soundtrack of a movie musical, just as a "studio cast" album re-creates the music from a stage musical using a group of performers who have not actually performed it on-stage. In this case, Don Raleigh and His Orchestra, with singers Sandra Lee and Les Young, present "vocal highlights" of the music performed in the 1957 film Pal Joey. As the unnamed annotator acknowledges, "The screen interpretation [of the 1940 Broadway musical with songs by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart] is a slightly watered down version....A few of its ribald songs are missing, the lyrics of the other songs have been cleansed and the story has a happy ending. In order to fill the gaps left by these deletions the screen version drew rather freely...from other Rodgers & Hart scores...." That may help explain the bowdlerized words to "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," sung here by Young, and the inclusion of such interpolated numbers as "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "The Lady Is a Tramp," "My Funny Valentine," and "There's a Small Hotel," Rodgers & Hart standards all, none of which was in the Pal Joey stage score in 1940. As such, the album really should be thought of as a collection of Rodgers & Hart favorites rather than a score. And for that, it's fine. Young is no Frank Sinatra, of course, but he has a good, clear voice, and he sings with assurance. Lee doesn't have such big shoes to fill, since the female vocals in the movie were dubbed by Jo Ann Greer and Trudy Erwin, replacing Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak, respectively. Lee is good enough to be a dubber herself. Raleigh backs them with conventional post-swing big-band arrangements, and there are several outright instrumentals. Of course, moviegoers are much more likely to want to buy the actual soundtrack album, but this knock-off is cheaper.

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