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My Fair Lady (1959 Original London Cast)
Alan Jay Lerner
My Fair Lady (1959 Original London Cast)
Genres: Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1

My Fair Lady is without question one of the greatest shows ever created for the musical theater. It's a charming, hilarious, and touching adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, pitting flower girl Eliza Doolittle a...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Alan Jay Lerner
Title: My Fair Lady (1959 Original London Cast)
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 1/1/1958
Re-Release Date: 6/2/1998
Album Type: Cast Recording
Genres: Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Musicals, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 074646053928, 5099706053927, 074646053928

My Fair Lady is without question one of the greatest shows ever created for the musical theater. It's a charming, hilarious, and touching adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, pitting flower girl Eliza Doolittle against Prof. Henry Higgins, the self-absorbed and ill-tempered linguist who bets that he can turn her into a lady by improving her diction. Lerner and Loewe's score includes some of the best-loved songs in the canon: "Why Can't the English," "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," "The Rain in Spain," "I Could Have Danced All Night," "On the Street Where You Live," "Get Me to the Church on Time," and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," among others. The 1959 London-cast stereo recording is generally held in lower regard than its Broadway counterpart, recorded three years earlier in mono. But why quibble? The principals are all the same--Rex Harrison as Higgins, Julie Andrews as Eliza, Stanley Holloway as her dad, and Robert Coote as Col. Pickering (Leonard Weir replaced Michael King as Freddy Einsford-Hill)--and it's still a classic recording in its own right that you'll treasure for years. --David Horiuchi

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CD Reviews

The "Fair Lady" in London...
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 09/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In 1956, Lerner and Loewe's MY FAIR LADY swept into Broadway and quickly captured the hearts of critics and audiences alike, the perfect transformation of George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion" into the world of the musical theatre. Both Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews played the show for two years on Broadway before yielding to replacements (Edward Mulhare and Sally Ann Howes), and in 1959 traveled across the pond to headline the London company. The show opened at the Drury Lane Theatre in April 1959, and ran for 2,281 performances.

While both Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison had laid down their definitive performances as Eliza Doolittle and Prof. Henry Higgins for the 1956 original Broadway cast album of MY FAIR LADY, the subsequent 1959 London production allowed them to record another album, in the brand-new stereophonic format.

Despite this 1959 recording having a sweeter sound than the earlier 1956 mono album, this sadly remains the lesser of the two, because a lot of the energy and flash had disappeared from Julie Andrews' voice in the years she had performed the role. On the Broadway album, Andrews gives a rich performance that runs the gamut from cockney guttersnipe to regal high society, but comparing the two albums directly, she does not sound at her optimal best on the London set. Andrews has acknowledged that she found the role of Eliza both physically and vocally exhausting, even more so because of the lack of body-mikes, and the projection must have been gruelling at times. No wonder that so much of the bloom in Andrews' voice had vanished by the time she reprised her role in London. Despite Andrews, the album does have a few merits including breezy orchestrations under the direction of Cyril Ornadel (the Overture is given a much faster tempo than is heard on the Broadway set).

The supporting cast includes Stanley Holloway (also reprising his Broadway role) as Eliza's dustman father Alfie. The role of Freddy is played by Leonard Weir (his "On the Street Where You Live" is very charming), and Robert Coote also repeats his Broadway role as Colonel Pickering.

The 1959 London cast of MY FAIR LADY, just like the 1956 Broadway album, has never been out of the catalogue, though the confusion between the two albums still exists, despite the fact that the London album sports a gold-brown cover and the Broadway album is white. Sony Broadway Masterworks' edition features a bonus track of the "Embassy Waltz", a mono recording from 1956."
Precise, pointed and peerless !!!
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 01/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"One listen to the London original cast recording of My Fair Lady and you know why this CD still sells. Despite the decades, the recording sounds fresh, clear and crisp. There is no background noise on this CD! Moreover, the songs by Lerner and Loewe are brilliantly composed and the lyrics are clever, witty and poignant. This CD proves it.

The CD opens with the overture to the musical stage play and then goes right into the first song entitled "Why Can't The English?" More spoken than sung by Rex Harrison, "Why Can't The English" fleshes out his character's lament that too many British people don't speak English well. The melody is catchy and the lyrics are funny at times even if some of the humor is dated.

The lesser educated British have their say in the next number, "Wouldn't It Be Loverly." In this song, sung by Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle with male backup singers and a chorus of whistlers, demonstrates how these persons really do want to lead a much more sophisticated life with more luxuries.

Other great songs on this CD include the rousing "Get Me To The Church On Time" sung by the memorable Stanley Holloway; the beautiful love ballad "On The Street Where You Live" performed by Leonard Weir; "I Could Have Danced All Night" which is performed flawlessly by Julie Andrews who belts out those incredibly high notes; and "The Rain In Spain" delivered by Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison and Robert Coote. Excellent!

One especially amusing song is entitled "A Hymn To Him" performed mostly by Rex Harrison with some assistance from Robert Coote. The violins at the beginning of this number are beautiful in the musical arrangement.

The CD concludes with a extra bonus monophonic track of the waltz music for the scene in which Henry Higgins takes Eliza Doolittle to the Embassy ball. "The Embassy Waltz," conducted by Percy Faith, offers a beautiful musical arrangement that leaves you wanting more--so don't be surprised if you get the urge to play the CD all over again from the very beginning and enjoy it once more.

The musical arrangements are carefully planned and executed throughout; only Lerner and Loewe were capable of producing such a fine score to go with this stage play. The tempo of the score is faster overall than it was for the original Broadway production; this is especially evident in the opening notes of the overture. Nevertheless, it all works brilliantly.

The liner notes boast terrific black and white photos of the actors in the stage play along with a special color photo of Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. Didier C. Deutsch contributes a lengthy essay about the history and production of My Fair Lady as well.

The music and lyrics to the original London cast recording of My Fair Lady are timeless. Even today, more than four decades later, the soundtrack still sells well. The musical is one with which many people can identify as it illustrates through words and music the blossoming love affair between Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle. Indeed, the story and the music add to the enchantment as we realize that even Higgins and Doolittle themselves are unaware of the full power of their mutual attraction until the very end of the stage play. My Fair Lady will remain a classic musical; and the score to the stage play on this album is priceless. May you enjoy this soundtrack as much as I did!
My stereo lady.
Joseph M. Perorazio | Columbus, OH USA | 11/10/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Sony's SBM remastering still does not solve the overly-high recording level distortions of the 1959 London cast recording, especially in Julie Andrews' songs.

Despite the lavish packaging and "bonus track", the original 1956 Broadway cast album is still the preferred recording of this classic show. There you will find Julie in much better voice, and the spontaneity of the original cast, fresh from their Broadway debut."