This 1956 musical made Julie Andrews a star and brought Rex Harrison's career back to life.
This recording was produced more than 40 years ago, only in mono, but from the day it was released it was a deserved phenomenon. It out-grossed the mega-hit show for months, and it still holds the record for the most weeks as a Billboard Top 40 album: 292. The reasons are many. Start with the 20-year-old Julie Andrews in peak voice, singing no fewer than eight sensational Lerner and Loewe songs, soaring most memorably to high C in "I Could Have Danced All Night." Rex Harrison perfected the art of talk-singing in a clutch of equally captivating numbers written especially for his voice, of which the most indelibly delivered is "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face." And Stanley Holloway brought the best English music-hall style to an eager American audience with "A Little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church on Time." There were no scene-changers in Frederick Loewe's best score, and Alan Jay Lerner managed to fashion his libretto and lyrics so close to the language of George Bernard Shaw (on whose play Pygmalion
the musical was based) that experts couldn't tell where Shaw left off and Lerner took over. Every song created character and advanced the plot. My Fair Lady
was a show you "got"--and still get--on first listening--without having seen it. The London cast album (with the same leads) can give you stereo; the movie version, a fuller orchestra, Harrison and Holloway in full sail, and Marni Nixon dubbing Audrey Hepburn. But the Broadway cast album is still the one to have, and the one absolute must in any musical collector's CD library. --Robert Windeler