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Merrily We Roll Along (1981 Original Broadway Cast) [Original recording remastered, Cast Recording]

Stephen Sondheim, Jason Alexander, Tonya Pinkins, David Shine, Jim Walton, Ann Morrison, Liz Callaway, Merrily We Roll Along (Related Recordings)Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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MP3 Music, 16 Songs, 1 Digital Booklet, 2006 $9.99  
Audio CD, Cast Recording, 2011 $11.30  
Audio CD, Original recording remastered, Cast Recording, 2007 --  
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 20, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered, Cast Recording
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B0009A40L6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,297 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Overture
2. The Hills of Tomorrow / Merrily We Roll Along (1980) / Rich And Happy
3. Merrily We Roll Along (1979-1975) / Old Friends / Like It Was
4. Merrily We Roll Along (1974-1973) / Franklin Shepard, Inc.
5. Old Friends
6. Not A Day Goes By
7. Now You Know
8. It's A Hit!
9. Merrily We Roll Along (1964-1962) / Good Thing Going
10. Merrily We Roll Along (1961-1960) / Bobby And Jackie And Jack
11. Not A Day Goes By
12. Opening Doors
13. Our Time
14. The Hills Of Tomorrow
15. It's A Hit (Bonus track) [*]
16. Not A Day Goes By (Bonus track) [*]

Editorial Reviews

A confusing plot that moves backwards in time and sub-par sets and costumes doomed this 1981 show on Broadway, but listen to the cast album and you'll find overlooked Sondheim gems like the title song; Old Friends , and Our Time . You'll encounter a pre- Seinfeld Jason Alexander, too, and two bonus tracks!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Apologies Needed October 16, 2000
Format:Audio CD
I remember sitting in the Alvin theatre (now the Neil Simon) one Saturday night on October of 1981 watching a preview of the "new Sondheim-Prince musical" with very mixed emotions. Mixed because even though the show as a whole wasn't working, I thought then (and still think) that this was one terrific score! But others in the audience were clearly less impressed... they kept walking out all through the show. A few years later I interviewed Hal Prince and he kept apologizing for the show, sayiing it was his fault that it failed, that he was never able to get a good idea as to what the show shoudl look like, and that he felt he let Sondheim and Furth down.

Mr Prince can stop apologizing. True, the show as a whole did not work on stage. The sets were ugly, the costumes were tacky, and the cast was more "raw" than Broadway audiences are accustomed to paying top dollar for. (The cast, by the way, includede Jason Alexander, Jim Walton and Lonny Price - all of whom have gone on to bigger and better shows!) But many scenes were very touching and effective, and the score was an enjoyable change from the more operatic Sondheim shows that both preceeded and followed MERRILY. The backwards moving story was hard to follow at times, but the score.. those wonderful songs all cleverly interconnected... ranks among the best Broadway had to offer in the 1980s.

This original cast album was taped by RCA the day AFTER the show's 16th and final Broadway performance. Many RCA execs were "deeply troubled" that so much money was being wasted on a flop show. Today it is still amongst RCA's best-selling cast albums. So There!

One slight caution: RCA issued this originally as an audiophile Lp using 1/2 speed mastering.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Sondheim's most brilliant scores. May 4, 2002
Format:Audio CD
Merrily We Roll Along is kind of an enigma. It opened in 1981 to mostly bad reviews, and closed only a few weeks later, despite the fact that the majority of audience members that actually SAW it really enjoyed it. Everyone blamed something -- the backwards plot was too confusing for the general public, the strange costumes didn't make any sense, or the book was weak. Nobody, however, blamed Stephen Sondheim's music. The score is passionate, melodic, jazzy at times, and very accessible. The show has gone through some major revisions, which can be heard on the other two recordings (1993 Leicester and 1994 Off-Broadway), but it is my opinion that the Original Broadway Cast is by far the best. The passion and exuberance of the youthful performers (and a stellar orchestra) gives this show the energy and LIFE it needs (something that is sorely lacking in the 94 recording), especially in songs like "Opening Doors". Also the song "Hills of Tomorrow", which was cut in the revisions, provides a brilliant framing device, one that makes the show complete, and makes this recording the best, narrowly beating out the Leicester.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neglected and misunderstood November 28, 1999
Format:Audio CD
I adored this recording when I first heard it on vinyl. OK, I admit, I'm a big Sondheim fan, but even so, I don't understand the criticism this show has received over the years. It's fresh, tuneful, and the story is audicious and, in the end, heartbreaking. I love the fact that the story is told backwards. The show works on CD (and thank goodness It's a Hit is finally included), but it wasn't until I saw a production of the show that I really fell in love with it. On stage, this show REALLY works. The cast in this recording is so good, especially Ann Morrison. Why isn't she a huge Broadway star?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem July 26, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This soundtrack is simply phenomenal. The tunes are wonderful and the lyrics are clever as well as moving. "Our Time" brings tears to my eyes no matter how many times I listen to it. "Good Thing Going" and "Not a Day Goes By" are beautifully haunting melodies. And "Old Friends" which is repeated throughout the recording is an exuberant and witty anthem to friendship. I never saw the play but after listening to this CD over and over I cannot understand why it flopped. The soundtrack is extraordinary.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is there a stronger score? January 3, 2003
Format:Audio CD
Maybe. I could think of a couple of contenders - "Cabaret," "My Fair Lady." But not many. There are fourteen tracks on this recording; it lasts close to an hour, and as its story unfolds in reverse order, the listener is transported into a world that gradually sheds the cynicism of its opening. Every number is more hopeful than the last; it's downright painful when you get to "Our Time" and you want all that youthful optimism to be true next time...
The cast is youthful and energetic, bursting at the seams; the chorus is thrilling, and the leads - Jim Walton, Ann Morrison, and Lonny Price - seem very much to inhabit the spaces of their characters. Price stands out in "Franklin Shepard, Inc," and the leads all have repeated chances to shine. Be on the lookout for a VERY fun early turn by Seinfeld's Jason Alexander as producer Joe Josephson - hey, he can sing! The ensemble is dead on to a one.
Personal favorite tracks from the album include "Old Friends" (both the pre-prise and the full trio song), "Franklin Shepard, Inc," "Not a Day Goes By," "It's a Hit!," "Good Thing Going," "Opening Doors," and "Our Time." Really, I can't get enough of the album. It takes some getting used to the story, but you'll eventually be glad you bothered.
One note: even though this was produced by the masterful Thomas Z. Shepard, protege of Goddard Lieberson (the greatest cast album producer of all time), the CD's dynamics are terrible. It's worth listening to anyway, but the buyer should beware that this is an entry in the Red Seal line and not one of RCA Victor's usual quality cast recordings. Still...the other choices just aren't a replacement for this cast.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The best recording of the original score
Love this original score -- and the youthful voices (who sadly recorded the show the day after they closed on Broadway). Read more
Published 8 months ago by RonAnnArbor
5.0 out of 5 stars Just dandy music
I will be honest, this was a gift for WhatsHisName A.K.A. my husband who loves Stephen Sondheim. I should clarify he loves his music, I don't know what his personal feelings are... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Blanch
3.0 out of 5 stars A failed show just now getting its due
Now that Sondheim's career has reached its end, it's clear that he was a major artist, and all his shows are so valuable that they need the best possible productions. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Santa Fe Listener
4.0 out of 5 stars merrily we roll along
an interesting musical. can understand why it was not a smash hit as there are very few memorable songs. nothing that you would leave the theatre singing. Read more
Published 13 months ago by bryson camage
5.0 out of 5 stars Merrily We Roll Along CD
All of Stephen Sondheim's music is wonderful so all the tracks on this particular CD are no exception to that rule. Merrily We Roll Along was a great show.
Published 16 months ago by Stephen M. Feldman
3.0 out of 5 stars Big Sondheim fan, but not a fan of this CD
I love Sondheim. I have most of his recordings. This one just doesn't grab me. The songs are beautiful but repetitive.
Published 18 months ago by Shawn Holman
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Sondheim's Best
I've been a big fan of Sondheim's work for more than 45 years and somehow I missed this OC album until now. Read more
Published on June 23, 2011 by Ralph
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Sondheim's greatest achievements
"Merrily We Roll Along" is one of Sondheim's very best scores and its failure in 1981 is a little hard to understand. Read more
Published on February 10, 2010 by Peter Hoogenboom
3.0 out of 5 stars A STUNNING SCORE, POORLY PRESENTED - so what else is new?
Sondheim's much misunderstood and maligned score is gorgeous, stunning, and timeless. It includes songs recorded by artists ranging from Sinatra (Good Thing Going) to Carly Simon... Read more
Published on August 20, 2009 by Gengler
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but better versions exist.
Probably no flop has generated as much talk over the years as Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along." Opening in 1981 after an astonishing eight weeks of previews(! Read more
Published on May 12, 2009 by Russell T. Warne
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