on December 1, 1998
This fabulous stereo sound spectacular recreates the 1944 show (a first for Bernstein, Robbins, Comden and Green) in all of its glory. The orchestra is extraordinary and the performers are exceptional, both vocally and dramatically. The cuts I UNDERSTAND and DO RE DO originally did not fit on the LP release. The latter was "squeezed" onto the LP re-issue when the show was revived with Bernadette Peters. Finally the CD gives us all the music. This is one of the all time great cast album recreations. The movie is a Gene Kelly film and only contains three songs from the show (the score was scrapped to make way for Kelly dances and new songs - all mediocre). Only a few years ago Michael Tilson Thomas did a studio cast recreation with Frederica Von Stade, Tyne Daly, Thomas Hampson and Samuel Ramey that was almost as good as this one. Did it go out of CD print in just a few years? It shouldn't have. Keep an eye out for the cast album of the new Broadway revival - comparisons are sure to be made. Don't miss adding the 1960 recording to your collection.
on June 6, 2001
Actually, this is not an "original cast recording." True, it features four of the people who were in the original 1944 production of the show (Nancy Walker, Cris Alexander, and Betty Comden and Adoplh Green, who were also making their Broadway debuts as lyricists/librettists with this show), but this recording was done in a studio in 1960, with John Reardon substituting for John Battles, the original Gabey, and other studio substitutes in the supporting roles. (The show never had an official original cast recording, although Walker, Comden and Greend did singles of their numbers in the 40s)...THe orchestrations are great; the orchestra is conducted by Bernstein himself, and Bernstein even appears on the recording as the carnival barker Rajah Bibbe in the final dance sequence. Unfortunately, though this show had a respectable run originally, several revivals (Including one with Bernadette Peters as Hildy) have failed, and it's cheifly known today through the 1949 MGM film with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, which is highly entertaining in its own right but cut all but three of the songs from the original score. SOngs such as "Lonely Town," "Do DO Re Do," "Lucky TO be Me," the dazzling "I Can Cook, Too," "Ya Got Me," and the suprisingly sentimental and haunting "Some OTher TIme" did not deserve this fate. The score may be dated, but it is still Broadway at its brassiest and most exciting, and you need look no further than this recording to see why.
The original Broadway production of ON THE TOWN, when it premiered, curiously went unrecorded. This recording, done about 10 years later, reunites the original cast of Adolph Green, Betty Comden, Nancy Walker and Cris Alexander, with John Reardon standing in for John Battles.
Saul Chaplin, the arranger for the film version, said he preferred the Broadway score to the film score, and most people agree with him, myself included.
Arthur Freed, who produced the movie, said the Broadway songs were "too sophisticated" for movie audiences, and that a new score had to be written, really only retaining "Let's Go To My Place" and the Pas de Deux.
Among the gems you will find here are "Carried Away", "Lucky To Be Me", "Ya Got Me" and the wistful "Some Other Time" which candidly speaks of the fact that the three sailors might not return from the warfront.
The Overture has been added, along with some of the dance numbers.
This is a great version to have for purists of the score.
on January 19, 2002
An expansion of Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins' early 1944 ballet hit "Fancy Free," "On the Town" launched careers of Bernstein, Robbins and writers Adolphe Comden and Betty Green (who also starred in it) on the Great White Way in December 1944. Truncated versions of some Broadway shows had started appearing (notably "Oklahoma!") then, but owing to various problems, possibly contractual, a major recording of the "On the Town" score wasn't attempted then. And it's just as well. There's SO much music - in addition to the songs, Bernstein's extended jazz and bluesy ballet numbers simply couldn't have been set down on short 78s. Luckily, most of the original principal reassembled for this belated cast recording, in fine stereo, in 1960. Even then, some material had to be shortened and one number ("I Understand"), though recorded, was dropped completely. The first CD version reinstated that cut (mournfully sung by the late George Gaynes of "Police Academy" films). The remastered CD now includes the overture (in a performance conducted by Lehman Engel) and the short suite of three dance numbers Bernstein recorded in 1963 with his New York Philharmonic (which are fine but a bit stodgy, as was Bernstein's recording of "Fancy Free" done about the same time.) What's thrilling about THIS recording is the energy of it all. The high spirits are contagious and the rollicking fun of it fairly spills out of your speakers. Although nearly 20 years older than when they first appeared in the roles, the cast members have a joyful reunion that celebrates not only the show and the start of their fabulous careers but a shining moment in both American history and American musical theater.
on June 9, 2001
...Walker, Comden and Green did singles of their numbers in the 40s) Leonard Bernstein also makes his Broadway debut as a composer with this show (Jerome Robbins also did his first Broadway choreography in the original production), and while he includes his trademark classical and symphonic elements in the ballet and dance music, his music for the songs (And even some of the ballets) is "Broadway" all the way: energetic, brassy, tuneful, and always lectrifying. Yes, the man must've been a genius, because these two very different types of music coexist incredibly well together in this score. Likewise, Comden and Green's lyrics are just as brilliantly hilarious (if somewhat dated) as their later works are. The story of the show is rather simple - three sailors get one day's shore leave in New York, New York (as in a helluva town) for just one day and find fun, adventure, and romance. The cast is great. Walker easily steals the recording (and undoubtedly stole the original show) as Hildy, the amorous taxi driver who lands one of the sailors. Cris Alexander, as the sailor she lands, even though he'd rather be a tourist than a lover, is appealing. Green, as another of the sailors, and Comden, as a sex-starved anthropologist he meets up with, are delightful. Reardon sings beautifully as Gabey, the third sailor, who spends most of the day looking for a girl on a subway poster that he's fallen in love with. The orchestrations are great...
(PS- I should have also mentioned, in my list of songs that shouldn't have been cut from the film, the hilariously depressing "I'm Blue," sung by a somewhat overemotional singer in a nightclub before Hildy and company push her offstage to express their devotion to the depressed Gabey in the jazzy "Ya GOt Me." Every time I hear this singer's overwrought, nasally version of the song, I crack up)
on October 4, 1998
I'm a music reviewer and have CDs by the cubic yard. There's one album I always keep handy and that's this recording of Bernstein's Broadway musical, "On the Town," a musical mis-adventure of 3 sailors on leave in New York City during the war.
The show opened in 1944, but the passage of time has made the show even more endearing, with anachronisms piled on anacronisms. The innocent Chip sets about to see every site in New York City (the Hippodrome and others, most of which are already ancient history) and is oblivious to the armous attentions of Hildy the taxi driver, played by comedienne Nancy Walker. She brushes off his desires to see the Woolworth Tower with demands to "Come up to My Place."
The main plot revolves around the heartsick Gabey, who falls for Ivey Smith, "Miss Turnstiles--for June!" Three of the world's most overlooked lovesongs are hidden in this musical: Gabey's "Lonely Town" (sung by John Reardon), "Lucky to be Me" (Reardon), and "Some Other Time" (sung by the ensemble as their leave time runs out).
Lyricists/performers Betty Comden and Adolph Green Ozzie and Claire (an anthrolopogist), an unlikely match who both "get carried away." Those into self improvement and psychological blaming will chuckle at "I Understand," sung by George Gaynes. Another small comic bit is the nightclub singer's dreary "I'm Blue"; this song would drive anyone to suicide.
When you think that Bernstein's music, as original as "West Side Story," came out during World War II...well, being at the opening must have been an explosive experience.
The liner notes are extensive, with photos and stories about rehearsals and opening night. If you get this album, you'll find yourself singing along in no time. Has it ever been filmed? Yes...you can find a video starring Gene Kelly, but they sugar coated the musical. It deserves a new and gutsy filming.
ON THE TOWN the Broadway musical debuted in 1944, several years before the invention of the 33-1/3 r.p.m. long-playing record. As a result, no cast album was recorded until this one, in 1960, when most of the principals were reassembled, a happy reunion that took advantage of the postwar era's leap in audio technology. People used to the 1949 movie version may be surprised to learn that few of the original stage tunes made it onto the soundtrack. Complaining that the show's musical contents were "too sophisticated" (or perhaps too sexual), MGM producer Arthur Freed essentially gutted most its innards, retaining only opening and closing music, ballet themes, and "Come Up To My Place," in which female cabdriver Hildy Esterhazy (Nancy Walker here; Betty Garrett in the movie) commences her seduction of naive sailor Chip. That's a shame, because the studio passed by not only "Carried Away," a spoof of high culture, but the delightful "I Can Cook, Too," a hard-driving Boogie-Woogie where Hildy continues her seduction of Chip, using food metaphors that aren't really about food ("I'm cookin' with gas"). ON THE TOWN - THE FIRST FULL-LENGTH RECORDING is a witty, upbeat, classic cast album with great sound at a good price that belongs in any musical maven's collection.
on December 7, 1999
I've had this recording on vinyl, and played it so much I've worn it out. This is one of the most energetic, witty, and melodic group of songs ever assembled for a musical, and I doubt anyone with a heartbeat will be able to resist dancing to them, too. "I Can Cook Too" probably contains more double entendres per stanza than any song, "We'll Catch Up Some Other Time" is a wonderful ballad, "Do Do Re Do" is just hilarious, and there is more comedic genius in the lyrics of these songs than there is in a year's worth of TV sitcoms. It's one of the musicals I can listen to that doesn't sound like a movie parody (as in "The Producers" and "The Tall Guy"), which most from the last 20 years do. One of my all time favorites
on February 20, 2015
Leonard Bernstein, even in this early opus, had an ease and honesty in his writing that remains timeless. Many of the pieces in this musical were unknown to me. Of course, everyone is familiar with the Three Dance Episodes and Lonely Town, but there are other gems waiting in the wings to bring a smile to your face. The performances on this album by everyone, especially the orchestra, are all first rate. Truly a joy to the ears and to the heart!
on November 20, 2014
Since there is no actual 'original cast recording' this is the best way to listen to young Bernstein's music as he conducts it. The contribution of Comden and Green makes it my choice of the available recordings, but to get the full effect that originally featured Jerome Robbins' choreography, hurry to the current revival at the Lyric Theater - nothing matches a great live performance.