Original London Casts

Wish You Were Here / Paint Your Wagon [Original London Casts]

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Wasting no time after the 50-year copyright expiration on these 51-year-old recordings, originally released by such British labels as Philips, Columbia, and HMV, Sepia Records has compiled this CD containing unlicensed tracks based on three early-'50s American musicals that opened in London in 1953: Wish You Were Here (songs by Harold Rome); Paint Your Wagon (songs by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe); and Guys and Dolls (songs by Frank Loesser). (There is also one song from the 1952 British musical Bet Your Life sung by cast member Sally Ann Howes, who went on to appear in Paint Your Wagon.) They are presented in what might be termed descending order of significance, at least in the sense of the extent to which they represent original cast recordings. First up is perhaps the slightest of the three in purely artistic terms, Wish You Were Here, the show based on the 1937 play Having Wonderful Time about an adult summer camp in the Catskills. It played nearly 600 performances on Broadway and close to 300 in London, largely on the strength of the hit title song and the novelty of having a swimming pool on-stage. Rome's score is occasionally amusing, but not nearly as effective as that for his earlier Pins and Needles, and the British cast, affecting American accents, isn't nearly as effective as the native one heard on the original Broadway cast recording. But, unusual for Britain at this time, this is a full-length cast album of 16 tracks (originally released in a seven-disc set of 78s), and one of them is "Nicer Than People," a song added to the show after the Broadway opening and not heard on the American album. More typical of British record marketing at the time was the abridgement of Paint Your Wagon into four medleys for a two-disc EP running only 12 minutes. The show was actually more successful in the West End (477 performances) than on Broadway (289) and boasted a cast led by real-life father-and-daughter team Bobby and Sally Ann Howes. They sound good on the choruses and bits of dialogue heard here, but there really isn't enough of the music. Finally, the 1953 British production of Guys and Dolls, which featured most of the original American cast, didn't really have a cast album, but the two British performers with featured roles, Lizbeth Webb and Jerry Wayne, did make some pop recordings of their songs from the show, and they are included as bonus material here. Altogether, that makes for 72 and a half minutes of British show music circa 1953, and if the performers rarely outshine their American models, the disc nevertheless should be of interest to show music fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Wish You Were Here, musical
1 1:35
feat: Shani Wallis
3 2:53
feat: Shani Wallis
feat: Bruce Trent
6 2:34
7 1:36
8 2:36
feat: Shani Wallis
feat: Bruce Trent
11 2:51
12 2:21
13 1:23
14 2:57
15 2:06
16 3:09
Paint Your Wagon, musical
17 2:31
18 3:30
19 3:21
20 2:50
Bet Your Life, musical play
21 4:21
Guys and Dolls, musical
feat: Wally Stott
feat: Wally Stott
feat: Lizbeth Webb
feat: Lizbeth Webb
feat: Wally Stott
feat: Wally Stott
blue highlight denotes track pick