Percy Faith

The Most Happy Fella

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Frank Loesser's third musical, The Most Happy Fella, opened on Broadway on May 3, 1956, and proved to be another success for the composer of Where's Charley? and Guys and Dolls. Loesser wrote a lot of music for the show, which was more of an operetta than a standard musical. Columbia Records, which had rights to the original cast album, issued it as a triple-LP box set, but that was only part of the label's support for the show. Prior to the opening, the Four Lads, Columbia artists, were in the charts with "Standing on the Corner," a song from the score, which eventually reached the Top Five. And Percy Faith, another Columbia artist, soon recorded his own orchestral and big-band version of the score on an album issued after the initial hoopla had died down. The large amount of music gave him plenty to work with, and he made the most of it. There were big, splashy numbers like the title tune and "Sposalizio," which he turned into virtual marching band anthems. "Standing on the Corner" and "Big D" got the big-band treatment, with lots of massed horn parts, while "Abbondanza" and "Fresno Beauties" had a lively Spanish flavor. And then there were the ballads like "Joey, Joey, Joey" and "How Beautiful the Days," which got muted horns and haunting string parts. Faith was in his element adapting a score as rich as the one for The Most Happy Fella, and the result was one of his more satisfying recordings, an excellent gloss on a memorable musical. The only possible complaint was that, as the liner notes acknowledged, an entire second disc could have been recorded from the music Faith left out.