Various Artists

Vernon Duke Revisited, Vol. 1

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Since Ben Bagley considers Vernon Duke "the greatest composer of theater music," it's no surprise that the first Duke number in his series of albums devoted to the unknown songs of great theater songwriters is particularly well done. Bagley assembled an unusual cast including Rex Reed and Joan Rivers, as well as some of his usual Revisited singers, such as Blossom Dearie and Gloria DeHaven. Duke seems to have an unusually large number of flop musicals, so there were a lot of lost songs to choose from, and there are some excellent ones here, among them "Life's a Funny Present," a sardonic song with lyrics by Howard Dietz from Sadie Thompson, and "Just Like a Man," from Two's Company, both "sung" effectively by Rivers. (The album was originally released on LP circa 1970 as Crewe Records CR 1342.)

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