1951 Soundtrack

Show Boat [1951 Soundtrack]

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The 1951 version of Show Boat wasn't treated too seriously by most purists until the 1990s, when it emerged as a minor classic in its own right. In contrast to the 1936 film, which was produced in the composer's lifetime and done with members of the original cast from the Broadway and London productions, this one was prettied up considerably and reshaped almost beyond recognition. On the other hand, Howard Keel's baritone is one of the most pleasing voices in movies of that era, and teamed with Kathryn Grayson's fluttering alto, the results are beguiling on songs like "Only Make Believe." The orchestrations may not be authentic either, but they do have a certain radiance and richness. Interestingly, although the original "Overture" is missing, much of it turns up in a musical interlude covering the montage depicting Gaylord's and Magnolia's respective fates after splitting up, where it works almost as well as it did on the front end of the score. The 1990 Sony/Columbia version of this soundtrack was the first attempt to expand the release from the 1951 LP, adding songs such as Ava Gardner's version of "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man." This edition has been supplanted by a version from Rhino Records released in 1995, which has somewhat better sound and more tracks, but is otherwise similar in content. The original recordings were done in surprisingly good fidelity for the era, and are reproduced with great vividness on both. [At the time of this writing, this album is out of print.]