It says something about the state of musical business in the United States when New York-based songstress Marlene Ver Planck has to travel to Paris and London to do an album honoring the writer of a musical about a New York baseball team. Richard Adler, with Jerry Ross, wrote Damn Yankees, which opened in 1954 and ran for more than a thousand performances. Three songs from that long running musical are included on this tribute album, the seductive "Whatever Lola Wants," the hopeful "You Gotta Have Heart," and "Near to You." The latter features an excellent solo by an unidentified tenor sax player. Adler's other hit musical Pajama Game, with Ross again collaborating, is represented by the romantic "Hey There" and the doleful "A New Town Is a Blue Town." "Hey There" reached No. 1 on the pop charts for Rosemary Clooney. Adler was never able to produce another Broadway musical winner but did come up with "Everybody Loves a Lover," a hit for Doris Day.
The remaining tunes on the album are pretty, but not memorable. The quizzical "Whoever Invented Love?" and a vampish "I Ask Myself" are the best of the rest. What Adler's less familiar material lacks in substance, Ver Planck makes up for with her impeccable phrasing and delivery. She elevates Adler's lesser known songs to a level they likely have never seen. Like Jeri Southern, Ver Planck has the ability to breathe some life into unfamiliar, marginal material. The CD is also enhanced by lush arrangements by husband J. (Billy) Ver Planck and London's Radio Big Band, and the Paris based Saxomania, the latter group augmented with strings. Regrettably, the liner notes fail to identify which group is backing Ver Planck on each track. You Gotta Have Heart is a mixed bag, some good songs, some marginal, but all nicely performed by a talented singer.