VARIOS INTERPRETES REPRISE-MUSICAL REPERTORY THEATRE(4CD)
By the time he'd turned his own Reprise Records label into a going concern in 1963, Frank Sinatra
could happily stub out his cigarette on Tradition, then douse the ashes with the slurry of his double bourbon on the rocks. It's not that Sinatra didn't respect the Broadway musical; indeed, he'd done quite well by its ballads over the course of his storied career. But that haughty Tradition--well, she was just another dame who had to go. So Sinatra swiftly showed her the door. Teaming up with musical director Morris Stoloff, a Murderer's Row of the top arrangers in the business (Riddle, May, Martin, Paich, Fielding, Van Cleave, et al.), and a motley assortment of his Rat Pack buddies and label mates, Frank and company turned the core of post-war Broadway (Finian's Rainbow
, Kiss Me, Kate
, South Pacific
, and Guys and Dolls
) into the recorded equivalent of Culture Night at the Sands. And if the lively, swingin' results had contemporary Broadway critics spitting their hot toddies through their proper, powdered noses, so much the better.
There are moments here--Sinatra, Dean Martin, and honorary Rat Bing Crosby tearing up Guys and Dolls' "Fugue for Tinhorns"; Frank, Dino, and Sammy Davis Jr. turning "We Open in Venice" from Kiss Me, Kate into a virtual Vegas free-for-all--where you can almost hear the ice tinkling in their tumblers. And yet it works, even in its weirdest, most perverse moments. What kind of demented genius teams Debbie Reynolds with Allan Sherman (on Kate's "Sue Me") or has the foursquare McGuire Sisters harmonize the naughty "The Begat" from Finian's Rainbow? Happily, the same one who turned Dinah Shore and Rosemary Clooney loose on sublime versions of, respectively, South Pacific's "I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair" and "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" This is Frank Sinatra's take on Broadway--alive, kicking, and in your face, Jack; be advised not to wait for an apology. --Jerry McCulley