European law allows copyrights on recordings to lapse after 50 years, and British budget reissue label Prism Leisure has taken advantage of this by launching a Broadway Musicals Series, borrowing Broadway cast recordings for reissue, even when those recordings are still in print in the U.S. and still claimed for copyright by American companies. Thus, for example, we have this version of the Columbia Records album of the 1946 Broadway revival cast of Show Boat, made, no doubt, simply by copying an American LP. Theoretically, such a disc shouldn't be on sale in the U.S., but it was easily obtainable from American mail-order firms upon release, selling for only about $8. It is noticeably inferior to the U.S. version, in both sound and annotation. (Tony Watts' skimpy liner notes summarize the plot inaccurately, suggesting he's never actually seen the show, and even Oscar Hammerstein II's name is misspelled.) Ordinarily, that might be enough to dismiss it out of hand, but musical theater buffs might want to seek it out for the bonus tracks, which include ten recordings made by the original London cast in 1928 (among them Paul Robeson singing "Ol' Man River") and a version of the late interpolation "I Still Suits Me" sung by Robeson and Elisabeth Welch. These recordings, including such little-heard tunes as "Queenie's Ballyhoo" and "In Dahomey," would make a welcome addition to the collection of any Show Boat fan, especially at the low price.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann