Broadway First Take

(Slider Music - 2000)

Recording Credits: Restored recordings from original acetate recordings.


One always hears about the demo recordings publishers used to have done to interest pop singers in recording their songs, but one never actually hears them. Until now, that is: This is the first volume in an ongoing series of demo recordings of music for Broadway shows and movie musicals. The recordings were made at a fairly advanced point in the gestation of the works, only a few months before they opened, and they were intended to solicit cover versions that would create pop hits. Thus, the interpretations are not stage-like, but rather evoke the pop music of the day. As annotator Stephen Citron notes, the unknown singer who performs "It Only Takes a Moment" from Hello, Dolly! sounds a lot like Johnny Mathis, though his claim that "Mathis eagerly created a cover recording which quickly rose to the top of the charts" is total fantasy. Also incorrect are Citron's assertions that Louis Armstrong's recording of "Hello, Dolly" predated the one here (in fact, it occurred two months later) and that sales of the Armstrong record induced a name change in the show (in fact, the show opened in January 1964 and the Armstrong record didn't hit the charts until February). Leaving aside liner note errors, this is a charming collection of mostly basic renditions of songs from Hello, Dolly!, the film Gigi, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Male singers Bernie Knee, Jack Carroll, and Jack Haskell have smooth pop voices reminiscent of Dick Haymes and Jack Jones, but the real find is Rose Marie Jun, who handles all the female leads with warmth and perfect diction, but without imposing her own personality on the material. No wonder Hello, Dolly! composer Jerry Herman, whose work has been manipulated by generations of divas, praises her so highly.