Mary Martin

The Band Wagon

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With the rise in popularity of the Broadway cast album in the 1940s, Columbia Records producer Goddard Lieberson decided to record albums of the music from earlier shows that had not been collected on LPs previously. In the wake of the massive success of South Pacific in 1949, Columbia signed Mary Martin, the show's star, to a recording contract, and in 1950 Lieberson took her into a studio with an orchestra and chorus and recorded this album of songs from 1931's The Band Wagon and another from 1934's Anything Goes. It wasn't quite a studio cast album, since it had only one featured singer, but it wasn't quite a regular solo album, either. The Band Wagon was a revue, not a book musical, so it was a collection of unrelated skits and songs, and that worked well for an album, since the music was a mixture of romantic ballads like "Dancing in the Dark" and novelty tunes. Martin interacted with the chorus on most songs, and the chorus even got two numbers on its own, "It Better Be Good" and "I Love Louisa." But Martin was able to show off her coy sexuality (first heard in her Broadway debut performance of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy") on the sly "Confession" and to be broadly comic on "Hoops" and romantic on "High and Low" and "Where Can He Be." Indeed, Lieberson's point was proved, since the score held up very well two decades on in Ted Royal's updated orchestrations. In 1953, MGM was even persuaded to mount a movie adaptation of The Band Wagon.