DRG Records, the label known for its new cast albums, cabaret discs and Broadway cast recording reissues, celebrates its 25th anniversary Oct. 23 with the release of two compilation discs, "Great Cabaret Performances" and "Show Stopping Performances."
"Show Stopping Performances" is a two-CD set featuring 40 performances from DRG's many Broadway, Off-Broadway and studio cast albums, including such rarities as Phyllis Newman singing Ed Kleban's "Better" from The Madwoman of Central Park West and Loretta Swit singing "I Can't Remember," a previously unreleased track from Song of Singapore.
For show tune fans, there's a treasure trove of varied work here: Patti LuPone singing "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" from Encores' Pal Joey, Marin Mazzie and Gregg Edelman embracing "From This Moment On" from Encores' Out of This World, and William Finn's "The Baseball Game" from Falsettoland and "I Never Wanted to Love You" from March of the Falsettos, Liza Minnelli singing "Walking Papers" from The Act, Joanna Gleason singing the country-fried "Someone Wonderful I Missed" from I Love My Wife, Michele Lee lamenting "Nobody Does It Like Me," from Seesaw, plus more. (Some of DRG's catalog includes the licensing rights to Broadway cast albums first heard on other labels — Seesaw and Greenwillow, for example.)
The single-disc "Great Cabaret Performances" has 20 classic performances from DRG's live and studio cabaret recordings, including Faith Prince's "The Boy From...," Eartha Kitt's "Let's Misbehave," Portia Nelson's "Let Me Love You," Barbara Cook's "I Got Lost in His Arms"/"Time Heals Everything," Dorothy Loudon's "Pack Up You Sins and Go to the Devil," Elaine Stritch's "If," Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway's "Our Time," and more.
In 1976, DRG (Digital Recording Group) "began as an opportunity to release an anthology of legendary recordings from the vaults of MGM Records," according to the company's history statement. "Eclectic music fans responded greatly to these never-before-released recordings and soon the focus of the young independent label was expanded to include new film soundtracks, cast albums, jazz and cabaret performers. What began as a personal passion quickly found an ever-expanding audience looking for quality music off the beaten path. The business quickly grew on the licensing of several key soundtrack recordings. Among the high-sellers were 'Diva' — a quirky cult film released in 1981, the Merchant Ivory hit 'A Room with a View' in 1986 and, most notably, 'Cinema Paradiso' — the 1989 Oscar-winning foreign film. To this day 'Cinema Paradiso' continues to be an outstanding seller for the label and by far the top seller of our current extensive catalog. More recently we have released film soundtracks for Franco Zeffirelli's 'Tea with Mussolini,' David Mamet's 'The Winslow Boy' and the current art house favorite Francis Veber's 'The Closet' (in theaters now). Special Editions of both 'Diva' and 'Cinema Paradiso' were re-released in 2001 that include extensive photos, notes and bonus tracks." Among cabaret performers on DRG, Barbara Cook has proved a smash. Her recent two-CD live set from Carnegie Hall sold over 17,000 units in less than six weeks, and her total album sales for the label exceed 200,000 units.
The first cast recording on DRG was the 1977 A Party With Betty Comden and Adolph Green, followed by Liza Minnelli in The Act and then the 1980 Tony Award winning A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine. Since then, DRG — still shepherded by president and founder Hugh Fordin, the respected record producer — has recorded nearly 30 Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring shows, including the 1999 Tony Award-winning revival of Kiss Me, Kate, Rodgers and Hammerstein's State Fair, the Forbidden Broadway and Nunsense anthologies and seven recordings from City Center's Encores! series.
For more information, visit DRG Records online at www.drgrecords.com.
On Nov. 6, DRG releases the new touring cast album of Guys and Dolls starring Maurice Hines, Diane Sutherland and Brian Sutherland. It will include seven Frank Loesser songs from Guys and Dolls (including the cut "Traveling Light"), sung by the composer-lyricist himself.
— By Kenneth Jones