on February 13, 2001
I own both the film soundtrack and this Original Cast recording and this one trumps the film soundtrack on all counts. The sound is better, the singing is at least the equal of the film and in most places better, and the orchestral music is heard to better effect. Also, the young man playing Oliver in this version is easier to hear and understand in my opinion. All the key musical numbers are included here, and I just think the recording has stood the test of time. Don't get me wrong, I love the movie and I'm sure I will return to it often. But from a purely sonic enjoyment viewpoint, I recommend this Broadway version without reservation.
The cast album to the 1963 Broadway premiere production of OLIVER! was actually recorded during the show's pre-Broadway run in Los Angeles. OLIVER! played to subsequent audiences in San Francisco, Detroit and Toronto before opening at the Imperial Theatre in New York on January 6, 1963. The show played 774 performances before prematurely ending the season to play a 9-month national tour, later returning to New York for a `farewell' run of 64 performances.
As she had done to rapturous acclaim in London three years previously, Georgia Brown played the role of Nancy, and earned similar praise for her performance in New York. Her rich, velvet-tinged voice is especially haunting with the chill inducing ballad "As Long As He Needs Me". Composer Lionel Bart wrote "It's a Fine Life" especially for Brown after learning she had been cast in the role in the London production.
Ron Moody had also scored heavily in London with his tour-de-force turn as Fagin, but with producers fearing his portrayal `too ethnic', the role was taken by Clive Revill for the Broadway premiere. Revill had just come from his celebrated role in IRMA LA DOUCE, and his interpretation of Fagin is every bit as valid as Ron Moody's. Bruce Prochnik is a winsome and wistful Oliver, and Michael Goodman is a delight as the Artful Dodger. Wisely-retained from the original London company were a handful of the first-rate supporting players: Hope Jackman's shrill Mrs Corney; and the up-and-coming Barry Humphries as Mr Sowerberry (Humphries would later graduate to playing Fagin before his beloved alter-ego Dame Edna unleashed herself on the world). The promising young belter Alice Playten was smartly-showcased as Nancy's offsider Bet.
But, the sound mix on the Broadway album has always been rather flat and dull, despite being recorded in the stereo format of the day. Voices and orchestra have no vibrancy or depth, and this was due to the studio in which they recorded it, where the ceiling was very low and the sound did not have the necessary acoustic projection. Nevertheless, the recording has a charm and energy which overrides the technical shortcomings.
This new CD reissue from RCA offers some interesting bonus materials including musical director Don Pippin sharing his memories of the show; Barry Humphries performing "That's Your Funeral" (from the London cast album but left off the Broadway album); and a live recording of Patti LuPone singing "As Long As He Needs Me" (LuPone played Nancy in a short-lived Broadway revival in 1986).
on July 9, 2000
This recording is truly one of my favorites. The songs are lively and fun, and bring this Broadway classic to life. Many memorable and well known songs are in this show, including "Where is Love?", "I'd Do Anything" and "Consider Yourself" as well as many others. The voices of the principals-especially Georgia Brown (Nancy), Michael Goodman (The Artful Dodger) and Clive Revill (Fagin) fit their parts perfectly. The belt quality of Georgia Brown in "As Long As He Needs Me" is beautiful as well as enchanting. Michael Goodman and Clive Revill bring excitement and fun to every song they perform. Overall, this recording is excellent, and one that every Broadway fan should own.
on August 6, 1998
This original Broadway cast recording of the popular show - complete with its London cast - is a triumph of the recording art. Sound is not only extremely bright, clear and present, but the intimacy achieved was for its day a sound breakthrough. The cast performs admirably - Georgia Brown's AS LONG AS HE NEEDS ME is still a stand out. This is the version to buy.
on August 17, 2004
Lionel Bart's score for this musical version of OLIVER TWIST captures both the rollicking good humor and the dark seriousness of the Charles Dickens classic. The opening prelude transports us to gloomy London, as does the minor-key "Boy for Sale," in which poor Oliver is offered to the public for a price of "only seven guineas." At the same time, such songs as "Consider Yourself," "It's a Fine Life," "I'd Do Anything," and "Oom-Pah-Pah" convey the carefree, if close and unsavory, atmosphere of the thieves' world into which Oliver falls; the haunting "Who Will Buy?" expresses his barely contained joy at being (temporarily) rescued from that world.
The recording boasts a superb, mostly British cast. As Fagin, the master thief, Clive Revill is marvelous, whether hypnotizing his "boys" in "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two," fussing over them in "Be Back Soon," or trying hilariously to "think it out again" in the eleventh-hour "Reviewing the Situation." This last song has one of Bart's wittiest lyrics, for example:
I will own a suite at Claridge's
And run a fleet of carriages
And wave at all the Duchesses
With friendliness as much as is
Befitting of my new estate -
Good morning to you, magistrate...
I think I'd better think it out again!
Danny Sewell as Bill Sikes is the epitome of evil in "My Name" ("It's much blacker than they smear it"), while the broad performances of Willoughby Goddard and Hope Jackman as Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney ("I Shall Scream") make those characters as odious as they are in the novel. As Oliver, Bruce Prochnik sings angelically, especially in the beautiful solo "Where Is Love?" But Georgia Brown as Nancy, the prostitute with the heart of gold, is the outstanding vocalist in the cast, and never more so than when her big, dark voice sobs and socks out "As Long As He Needs Me" with heart and conviction. Having owned the original Broadway cast recording since I was thirteen years old, and seen the show twice, I can say that OLIVER! fully deserves the popularity it has enjoyed here and (even more so) in Britain since the early 1960's.
on July 9, 2000
Lionel Bart's "Oliver!" has been recorded almost as many times as "My Fair Lady," and with just as uneven results. This is another example of the original Broadway recording being the best. Granted, the vocal renditions are far from perfect. But, alas that's part of the charm of a Broadway performance. After all, this is supposed to be a souvenier of a live performance --- human beings singing and dancing right before our eyes. Too much tinkering, and the album loses its spontanaety. Most of the RCA cast recordings ("Fiddler On the Roof" is another notable example) were made in one session, complete with off-key clinkers, flubbed lines and botched cues. Though they lacked the polish of the Columbia Broadway albums of the same era, they more than made up for it in realism, more closely capturing the excitement of a live performance.
The original Broadway cast of "Oliver!" was released in 1962, while the show was still playing in pre-Broadway tours (a deviation from custom -- most Broadway shows don't make it to the recording studio until after the New York opening.) Interestingly, Michael Goodman, the album's Artful Dodger, had already left the show by the time it opened on Broadway, having been replaced by (future Monkee) Davy Jones. As the original American recording of this fine score, it's still the best.
The reason is the talented cast, led by Clive Revill and the phenomenal Georgia Brown. A seasoned music hall star from London, Miss Brown had the perfect stage voice, and this recording captures her performance admirably. Lusty and bold, her voice vacilates between as forceful as a foghorn, and as thick and sweet as caramel.
The sound quality on the CD is excellent. The songs have been re-arranged from the vinyl incarnation, to more closely reflect the running order in the play. The second act opener, "Oom-pah-pah," turns out to be an alternate -- and more complete -- recording from the one that originally appeared on the album. One can only wonder when and how it surfaced, but it's a joy to behold.
This score was subsequently recorded for the movie (the album of which featured only snippets of each song) and most notably for a 1994 remake at the London Palladium. This last version is horrendous, with over-produced orchestrations competing with shrill, unmodulated voices, in an album one can only label as "slick." Nothing can substitue for the freshness of a new Broadway show, when its future status -- hit or flop -- is still unknown. In retrospect, we know "Oliver!" to be a classic. The original Broadway cast is why.
on August 27, 2001
Oliver! is often rough and is defintely not a children's show, but the freely adapted version of the songs give The story of Oliver Twist punch and more feelings of how lonely the characters in the story. Nancy yearns for Bill Sikes, Oliver wants to find love, but he doesn't know where to look, and even Fagin soaks up the devotion of "his boys". Many of the songs on this album are wonderful especially the difficult harmonies in the beginning and the end of "Who Will Buy", and Georgia Brown's delightful renditions of "It's a Fine Life", and "As Long as He Needs Me". Michael Goodman is the perfect street-urchin gentleman, almost reminding one of Gavroche in Les Miserable. Lional Bart has done a phenomenal job using descriptive words in the fast parts of the score; such as in, "Be Back Soon" and "Reviewing the Situation" -The song where the evil Fagin is comtemplating a life without crime. "You've Got to pick a pocket or Two" is also great while being kind of sad because all these boys are being tutored in the arts of light-handed thievery. The only songs and voices I don't enjoy, are: "Oliver!"- The man who plays Mr. Bumble sounds as though he just swallowed a bee! And Bill Sikes with His "My Name" solo. But I musn't forget the haunting beauty of "Boy For Sale" which is very moving. I definetly recommen this album, not for the singing per se, but for the character that practically seeps from in between the two sides of the case. Definetly buy this wonderful example of old-fashioned musical theatre!
on August 31, 1998
This is a fantastic CD and musical! I love it, in fact, I'm listening to it right now in my computer CD player. *g* The whole cast is great, as specially Michael Goodman. I love him! Dodger's my favorite character, but isn't he most people's favorite? It's playing in Toronto in November, I can't wait to see it! I agree, this is the cd to buy. One of Broadway's better recordings.
on August 31, 2010
I bought this version only because I wanted to hear Barry Humphries sing the undertaker's song 'That's Your Funeral'. It was recorded for both the original London cast recording as well as the obc - but was never released for some reason. no-one seems to know why.
I had listened to the rest of this cast recording many times in the past - but had never owned it - and it is well revamped here - there has since been better versions of the score represented and fleshed out than this - but it is always good to hear the original. Some of the other additional tracks here include some of Ron Moody's versions of Fagin's songs - from the original London cast recording... apparently when he created the role on the London stage he made the character much more 'Jewish' - but had to tone it down for the film, as it was felt it might offend - being too 'ethnic'! Things have certainly changed since the 60's!!
There are interviews as well on other tracks here - including the show's Broadway musical director - Donald Pippin - who tells of the many interesting stories of how the show came to be under his baton, and about the creation of the Broadway cast album.
on January 27, 2013
some like the film soundtrack, some like the London original cast best. A few say they like this version better than the other two. I say, I like the price, the recording is done by competent pros, and this is good enough for me. I did see the film 30 years ago, and liked it. I saw this done on stage at the University of Hawaii-Hilo in 1980, and loved it. I owned the cassette version of the movie soundtrack, but disposed of it in a garage sale during one of my many moves. Now I have this one, on CD, and it represents well in my opinion the musical play itself. There are a lot of dark moods and moments in the saga of orphan Oliver Twist, but the lyricist/composer Lionel Bart managed to get enough joy and love and celebration and humor onto the stage and the recordings. Buy whatever version you can afford or become convinced is the best. It is one of the more important shows of the 20th century, and ought to be in every musical lover's collection.