Various Artists

Put on a Happy Face: Broadway, 1955-1967

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Put on a Happy Face: Broadway 1959-1967 is the third of six budget-priced compilations of cast recordings issued by Universal Music's Decca Broadway imprint, covering the six decades since the founding of the American Decca Records label. By the late '50s, many record labels had gotten in on the lucrative market for original Broadway cast albums, and Decca had relatively few such recordings. But Universal, as one of the four major labels of the early 21st century, is the repository of several record company catalogs, and it is able to draw upon that archive. Thus, this collection includes tracks originally issued on Kapp, MGM, Mercury, London, and ABC Records, in addition to the U.S. and U.K. branches of Decca. Even so, it must be considered no more than a sampler of the theater music of the era, omitting material from such major shows as Gypsy, The Sound of Music, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Funny Girl, Hello, Dolly!, Fiddler on the Roof, and Cabaret, simply because their cast albums went to other labels. Actually, there would be even more omissions if producers Brian Drutman and Joseph S. Szurly hadn't bent the rules a bit. Lacking rights to the Broadway cast albums for Bye Bye Birdie and Oliver!, they have substituted recordings from the original London cast albums, and they have used songs from The Fantasticks and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which were off-Broadway shows, running for years in tiny theaters in Greenwich Village, not up in Times Square. In so doing, however, they have created a pleasant, if brief, overview of '60s show music that includes such well-known songs as "The Impossible Dream," "Try to Remember," "Put on a Happy Face," and "What Kind of Fool Am I," performed by a collection of artists many of whom went on to careers beyond Broadway, including Jerry Orbach, Anthony Newley, and Carol Burnett.

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