Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
A lost gem
Jamie Marie Desrocher | Chicago, IL United States | 12/22/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Finding the original cast album for "Minnie's Boys" is nearly-impossible. Through a ton of research and looking and hunting, I found one (At an absurdly high price) and snatched it up immediately, and I haven't regretted it since. This score is very catchy and has some songs that every bit as good a some of the smash hit musicals around today. My initial complaint about the album was Shelley Winters performance as Minnie. Now, I realize that Ms. Winters probably suffers from the same fate as Bernadette Peters, Hairspray star Marissa Jaret Winkour, and other Broadway superstars in that what is compelling and endearing onstage doesn't always translate well on a CD. Shelley Winters really can't sing, I don't think. She tends to speak most of her songs, which actually (in my mind) works, but I can see how it would annoy some people. The CD does not contain any cast information, so I don't know who the actors playing the FIVE Marx Brothers are (Yes, Gummo is included here) but they deliver solid performances. I believe Lewis J. Stadlen is playing Groucho, and he brings those legendary Groucho-isms to life. Whoever the actor is playing Harpo delivers a gorgeous "Mama, a rainbow" and when the Four Marx Brothers we've grown to love (NOT including Gummo) join together for the fantastic "Where was I when they passed out the luck?" it all works. Since Amazon doesn't have a lot of information on this record, I'll fill in the blanks. TRACKS:
1) OVERTURE: Bouncy and fun, reminds me a little of the "Mack and Mabel" overture if that means anything to you.2) FIVE GROWING BOYS: We meet Minnie and several of her friends as they gather and complain about Minnie's five "lazy...happy...crazy...helpless, etc" boys. A nice fun uptempo opener.3) RICH IS: The Marxes dream of wealth. Very funny moments, uptempo, and fun.4) EMPTY: A slow ballad, lovely.5) VAUDEVILLE ACT: Funny, as the boys break into showbiz and suffer from stage fright at the same time. 6) MAMA, A RAINBOW: Harpo sings this haunting ballad to Minnie when her birthday has been forgotten. Gorgeous song, the sheet music can be found in one of the Tenor editions of the Singers Musical Theatre Anthology. 7) YOU DONT HAVE TO DO IT FOR ME: Probably my least favorite song on the CD. Shelley Winters speak-sings this song, which I just don't think is catchy.8) WHERE WAS I (WHEN THEY PASSED OUT LUCK): A true highlight of this CD, as Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo - or Julius, Leonard, Adolph, and Herbert - lament their troubles. Funny song, VERY catchy.9) YOU REMIND ME OF YOU: Julius as Groucho performs this very VERY Groucho-appropriate song with a woman who I belive is supposed to be a lot like Margaret Dumont. It's very much like something from a Marx film. The writers of this song were obviously big Marx fans. 10) THEY GIVE ME LOVE: Shelley Winters sings more on this track than any other, and she's very effective as she talks about how despite everything her boys do to drive her crazy, she's lucky. 11) MINNIE'S BOYS: The BIG ensemble number, as the boys make it big and play the Palace. Very catchy song, very fun to sing. 12) BE HAPPY: A quiet highlight of the album. Minnie and the boys sing together about taking risks and being happy. It's a gorgeous song.13) FINALE: Funny, and very cool, as the Marxes act is reconstructed and built into what we, as a modern audience, know today as their trademarks. Harpo's horn and wig, Groucho's mustache and walk, Zeppo as the straight man, Chico at the keys with his hat. Finally, the classic 'Marx Brothers' are born. I love this CD, I'm so happy I found it, and I urge people who love Musicals or the Marx Brothers (or both, like me!) to try and locate a copy."
Better than its rep
Gene DeSantis | Philadelphia, PA United States | 11/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The show's history is fairly well known but bears repeating. Groucho Marx' son Arthur, the gag writer and playwright and proprietor of a one-man Groucho cottage industry -- he wrote the bestseller "Life With Groucho", somewhat without his father's permission -- decided to improve the family-mining business by doing a musical Marx Brothers early history, enduring several false starts before enlisting himself and Robert Fisher for the book, Larry Grossman and Hal Hackady for the score, and Groucho as a "consultant", his tasks regaling the cast with vaudeville stories and being preoccupied with the producer's secretary. Arthur wanted Totie Fields as Minnie Marx until Groucho complained, "Too Jewish" (!) -- so he settled on Shelley Winters, who was too everything else. As the script changed daily and Winters had trouble remembering her lines off the onion-skin paper she trundled onstage Groucho's mentor/nemesis S. J. Perelman made a visit and pronounced the show a turkey and a few other things. Though "Minnie's Boys" finally coalesced by the premiere The New York Times gave it a thumbs-down, and it closed after 80 performances, including 64 previews.
While Grossman and Hackady are obscure tunesmiths for a reason their score though no "Show Boat" is quite agreeable. It's best with the character and uptempo numbers where they're not tempted to be profound, things like "Rich Is", an effective tale of the advantages of wealth, and the lively title tune, which seems to have sent the whole cast to dancing. "You Remind Me of You" would have fit perfectly into "Animal Crackers" had somebody not written "Animal Crackers." Ralph Burns's arrangements are TV-variety-like and have a bass guitar for a string bass, but will do.
The CD is, to understate it, slapdash. There's only a fragment of the LP liner notes (mercifully so; Mort "Badde" Goode wrote them) and no photos or credits; the sound is trebly and slightly compressed. That it's such a collectors' item demonstrates the record collector's lack of total sense. A reissue, however, is as likely as a revival of "Minnie's Boys".