"This was the inaugural album of Varese Sarabande's (now defunct) theater music division, and remains one of the best. This is an essential album for Sondheim fans. Originally intending to showcase Sondheim's incidental music, producer Bruce Kimmel instead chose to include a bunch of songs from aborted projects, or cut from shows (establishing the precedent for his Unsung Musicals and Lost in Boston album series).Here are songs from "Saturday Night" half a decade before the show finally got premiered, Sondheim's early compositions for scrapped TV shows (including "The Two of You", written for Kukla Fran and Ollie), and "There's Always a Woman" and "That Old Piano Roll" cut from Anyone Can Whistle and Follies, respectively (the latter song can still be heard in the Follies overture, and it's nice to know where it actually came from).The performers (almost all of whom would become Varese regulars) are uniformly outstanding, with particular mention having to be made of Debbie Gravitte's devastating rendition of "Water Under the Bridge", and the riotous "There's Always a Woman" with Kaye Ballard and Sally Mayes. No Sondheim fan can afford to be without this one."
What a Great CD!
Frankie | Los Angeles, Ca. United States | 06/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This just HAS to belong to any sondheim fan. Judy Khuns rendition of "what can you lose?" is touching and kay ballards duet "there's always a woman" (cut from anyone can whistle) is great! At first i didn't buy it because i didn't know the sungs. afterall it's UNSUNG sondheim. But it's the greatest move i have ever made. other mentionable highlights are Saturday night, No, mary ann, and water under the bridge. This CD will make you laugh, cry, and dance!"
Valuable only if you don't have any of these songs elsewhere
Dean Backus | Hillsboro,OR | 10/06/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In the early 90's this was a fascinating CD, as it gave listeners a chance to hear many of Sondheim's "lost treasures" which might otherwise be gone forever. (The man does not do "trunk songs" which can be dropped into other shows.) Time, however, has not been kind to this collection. The first four tracks from "Saturday Night" have some bouncy charm (I never realized before how naughty the lyrics for "Love's a Bond" are), but with the glorious complete cast album released a few years ago with David Campbell in the lead, they've now been rendered redundant. (And "In The Movies," though boasting endearing vocals, suffers with all of its context and intercutting songs gone.) "What Can You Lose" can't measure up to Madonna and Mandy Patinkin's sensitive performance on her "I'm Breathless" album (and that would hardly qualify as "unsung"). "That Old Piano Roll" is fun but slight, and "Truly Content" mines the same lyrical phrase over and over till the fun wanes, despite Judy Kaye's winning vocals. "Water Under the Bridge" is one of the weakest songs Sondeheim's probably ever done, and deserves obscurity. Other, better songs here with often exquisite renditions are nonetheless available on other discs, and thus again hardly qualify as "unsung": "I Believe In You," a sweet and lovely song, is on Bernadette Peters' second "Sondheim Etc." CD (though Rebecca Luker's warm, enchanting rendition here is nothing to sneeze at), Mandy Patinkin frantically covered "Multitudes of Amys" on "Experiment," Madeline Kahn and Peters jousted with "There's Always a Woman" on the "Anyone Can Whistle" cast album from the mid-90's (props to Kaye Ballard's biting performance here though), Streisand covered "Goodbye for Now" on "The Movie Album" (and gave it a poignancy and depth it probably doesn't really deserve for such a drab little song). What's left? A cheerful, seemingly menage-a-trois ditty called "The Two of You" (which, bizarrely, was apparently written for "Kukla, Fran and Ollie"). A just plain wonderful "No, Mary Anne," which combines an impassioned performance, hard-bitten realism and sweeping romanticism into something quintessentially Sondheim. (The liner notes indicate that Sondheim expected this to be a parody of a big hit song, "like 'Hello Dolly!'" Those who know anything about Sondheim--and the yawning chasm between his style and Jerry Herman's--may find their heads exploding at that one.) Two endless instrumental pieces from "The Enclave" and "Invitation to a March" (tracks #6 and #12) that are mostly remarkable for how uninteresting they are. The liner notes are outstanding and offer lots of intriguing perspective (listening to "Multitudes of Amys," and you just might wish that "Company" had ended as it was orginally intended to). If you don't have CDs by Peters, Madonna, Streisand, et all, this is a great introduction; otherwise, bump it way down the priority list."
Entertaining and Interesting.
baritone88 | Madison, WI USA | 05/11/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A good compilation of Sondheim's less-known work. Some of them are less-known for good reason, but most are interesting and offer insight into the work of this most important American composer. Very nice."