Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Oscar Hammerstein II|
Show Boat: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1951 Film)
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
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THE MOST SYMPHONIC OF ALL "SHOW BOAT" RECORDINGS!
H. Campo | Burbank, Califirnia | 12/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This soundtrack of the 1951 MGM film version is my favorite recording of SHOW BOAT, even though, in typical Hollywood fashion, several songs from the stage version are truncated or completely missing. Kern's complex melodies cry for a symphonic sound far beyond the capabilities of a Broadway pit orchestra and Conrad Salinger's orchestrations played by the incomparable MGM Studio Orchestra with its superb string section are astonishingly beautiful, especially evident in the generous instrumental underscore cues included on this Rhino expanded CD. Howard Keel has the perfect voice for Ravenal and makes the best case for this role being sung by a baritone rather than a tenor. Although some may have issues with Kathryn's Grayson's excessive vibrato she is vocally at least as good as any previous Magnolia at the time, and better than most, surpassed perhaps only by Jan Clayton in the 1946 revival, but especially superior to Irene Dunne's boring renditions in the 1936 film version. Even more importantly, Grayson's voice blends nicely with Keel's and their vocals of "Make Believe" & "You are Love" are the finest performances ever of these songs. Especially moving is Salinger's treatment of "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" as a sultry torch song when initially sung by Julie, which makes for an interesting contrast when the song is later performed by Julie, Magnolia and ensemble in the syncopated style usually heard in the stage version. The first rendition is Julie's white persona and in the later one she can't help but celebrate, even for a few minutes, the mixture of black within her that she is usually careful to hide. This is conveyed visually in Ava Gardner's stunning and poignant portrayal of Julie on the screen. Sadly, MGM chose to use Annette Warren's vocals for Julie instead of Ava Gardner's in the finished film. Gardner's vocals, which have long been available on all versions of the soundtrack album, are clearly more appropriate to the character and are the best performances of Julie's songs ever, in my opinion. Gardner's vocal of "Bill", is especially heartbreaking. Both Gardner and Warren's vocals are included on this CD. No one has ever performed the two upbeat specialty numbers, "Life upon the Wicked Stage" and "I Might Fall Back on You" better than Marge & Gower Champion in this film. Lastly, William Warfield's definitive, magnificent performance of the classic "Ol' Man River", orchestrated to perfection by Salinger, set the standard for every subsequent singer in this role and although imitated, Warfield's vocal has never been surpassed.
If I want to hear SHOW BOAT in a more complete version, the 1971 London Cast recording Show Boat (1971 London Revival Cast) with Cleo Laine as Julie, which uses fuller orchestrations comparable but not as good as the MGM soundtrack, is wonderful. John McGlinn's authentic, but little else, 1988 studio recording, Kern & Hammerstein II: Show Boat - Frederica von Stade, Teresa Stratas, Jerry Hadley, Bruce Hubbard, John McGlinn, London Sinfonietta & Ambrosian Chorus which recreates the original 1927 stage version note for note and includes all of the songs originally composed for SHOW BOAT and some additional ones written for the 1936 film and 1946 stage revival, is fine to have as the ultimate documentation of SHOW BOAT from a historical perspective. But McGlinn's recording also exposes painfully the trite and inappropriate 1920's jazz age orchestrations, which undermine all of the songs, especially the love songs, and are so embarrassingly dated that Robert Russell Bennett redid them completely for the 1936 film version and 1946 revival of SHOW BOAT. Authenticity, in this instance, is not a good thing. Normally Frederica Von Stade, Jerry Hadley & Teresa Stratas are fine singers but in this recording their staid, operatic singing lacks the energy and panache that Kern & Hammerstein's score requires.
Although the sound quality is not equal to a modern recording, the 1951 MGM soundtrack, especially in this beautifully remastered Rhino expanded edition, serves Kern & Hammerstein's landmark score better than any other version of SHOW BOAT I have heard."
Jim Andrews | Chicago, Illinois USA | 10/24/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is quite the oddest recording quality for a major C.D. release I've ever heard. The film was a mess but a big hit nevertheless. Isolated from the movie, the soundtrack reveals the truly lush qualities and sterling artistry in the performances. Conrad Salinger's arrangements, per usual, are amazing and unmatched. The talent represents as assemblage of peerless artists. So why is the sound here so muddy, muddled, off balance and just strange? I don't get it. The original 10-inch M-G-M L.P. sounded better! Annette Warren is a remarkable singer, but Ava Gardner's vocals are also tremendously moving. The lady who should have gotten the part of Julie is Lena Horne but the powers at M-G-M were too chicken to cast her. Still, her good friend Gardner is devastating in the role. Worth having, worth hearing, worth complaining about."
Larry G. Dixon | Florida | 08/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Truly an American Classic. I gave this copy as a gift to a 85 year man. He was overjoyed. I recommend this to anyone.