Fans of original cast albums will rejoice May 30 with the remastered and sweetened CD reissues of five recordings from the Columbia Broadway Masterworks series, the fourth edition to be released by Sony Legacy.
Special material such as interviews, archival recordings or cut or previously unreleased songs are included on all five releases: the original Broadway cast albums of Bye Bye Birdie, Finian's Rainbow, Kismet, The Pajama Game and a 1962 studio cast recording of Show Boat.
Songs have been put in the order they were presented in the shows. Previously, producers might have played fast and loose with the running order to provide contrast and variety for the listener.
These discs, which are digitally remastered and have new liner notes, are being called "restored" recordings by Sony Legacy. These releases make the previous CD releases of the shows obsolete, and some of those can be found for deep discounts.
The new releases include: • The Pajama Game (1954), the Richard Adler-Jerry Ross score that gave the world "Hey There" and "Steam Heat." The disc includes the previously unreleased pajama-factory anthem, "Sleep Tite." Audio from the Mike Wallace radio program, "Stage Struck," includes interviews with composer Ross, the Act 2 cut song, "The World Around Us" (with John Raitt), Raitt and Paige singing "There Once Was a Man" and Adler and Ross singing "Hernando's Hideaway."
• Kismet (1953), the so-called "musical Arabian night" by George Forrest and Robert Wright drawing themes from Borodin, starring Alfred Drake, Doretta Morrow and Joan Diener. The disc includes interviews with renowned Columbia producer Goddard Lieberson, Drake, Morrow and Forrest. (Also includes the theme music for "Stage Struck.")
• Finian's Rainbow (1947), the Burton Lane-Yip Harburg fantasy about a leprechaun, a mythical Southern state and racism, with David Wayne and Ella Logan. Includes the previously unreleased longer take of "That Great Come and Get It Day." Also includes Yip Harburg singing and discussing "How Are Things in Glocca Morra," "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love," and a tape of Harburg crooning the cut song, "Don't Pass Me By" (origin unknown). In addition, "The Begat" here is an alternate take (livelier than the one originally released) and "Look to the Rainbow" has additional dance music.
• Show Boat, the 1962 studio recording of the 1928 Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II landmark, with Barbara Cook as Magnolia and John Raitt and Gaylord. Includes archival mono recordings of original Show Boat cast members Tess Gardella (singing "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" in 1928), Helen Morgan (singing "Bill" in 1932) and Paul Robeson, star of the 1936 "Show Boat" film (singing a solo version of the film duet, "I Still Suits Me," in 1947) and Show Boat revival star Jan Clayton (singing a number written for the 1946 revival, "Nobody Else But Me"). Franz Allers conducts. The album introduced Show Boat to the stereo generation.
For more information, try the Sony Legacy web site Broadwaymasterworks.com.
-- By Kenneth Jones