Original Broadway Cast

Say, Darling [Original Cast Recording]

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They say, "Write what you know," and Richard Bissell obviously took that advice to heart. After working in his family's pajama factory, he wrote the novel 7 1/2 Cents, which was about a pajama factory. After it became a success, he co-wrote the libretto for The Pajama Game, a Broadway musical based on it. His next novel, Say, Darling, was about a novelist who helps adapt his book into a musical. He then co-wrote the script for a stage version of that, which was billed as "a play about a musical." It had songs composed by Jule Styne with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. It is perhaps not fair to say that half of those songs are not very good, since, in the context of the show, they're not supposed to be good; they are supposed to represent the comic auditions and failed numbers of the show within the show. For example, "Chief of Love," sung by Vivian Blaine, the female lead, as an audition piece, is a parody of a rock & roll song. On the cast album, the function of these songs is delineated in introductory dialogue that sets the context. There are several other songs in the score, however, notably "Try to Love Me," "It's the Second Time You Meet That Matters," and the title tune, that sound like material Styne might have submitted to Frank Sinatra for consideration. (If he did, Sinatra didn't bite.) They are capably handled as pop songs by pop singer Johnny Desmond. After it took a shellacking from the critics upon its opening on April 3, 1958, Say, Darling nevertheless settled in for a run, justifying the recording of this album. But on-stage the songs were performed with only two pianos for accompaniment, and for the recording Sid Ramin provided full-scale orchestral arrangements. So, this is not how Say, Darling sounded in live performance, but it's probably better for that. (Say, Darling was the first cast album released by RCA Victor Records in both stereo [LSO-1045] and mono [LOC-1045] LP formats. It was reissued on CD for the first time by DRG Records on March 4, 2008.)

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