In Europe, the copyright on recordings runs out after 50 years, and anyone who wants to can press up versions of vintage recordings and sell them. One label that takes advantage of this situation is Prism Leisure, which has launched The Broadway Musicals Series of Broadway cast albums. Of course, U.S. copyright law differs, and these same recordings are still claimed, and usually still in print, by such major labels as Universal, which, for example, maintains a version of the original Broadway cast recording of The King and I in its catalog. The legalities ought to mean that Prism's version of the same material would not be on sale in the U.S., but it was easily obtainable from American mail-order firms upon release for about $8, far less than what the American album cost. For that discount, buyers got a slightly inferior audio experience and skimpy, inaccurate annotations in which even lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II's name was misspelled. The cast recordings were augmented by three pop versions of songs from the show by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, also culled from period recordings still claimed by American labels in America. It would be hard to recommend the result for any but the most casual fans who may be impressed by the big difference in price.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann