CD Reviews


Webmaster: Len Mullenger

[Jazz index][Purchase CDs][ Film MusicWeb][Classical MusicWeb][Gerard Hoffnung][MusicWeb Site Map]

Irving BERLIN (1888-1989)
Annie Get Your Gun: Original Broadway Cast (1946) and Original 1950 Film Soundtrack

Medley from Annie Get Your Gun [5:47]
Arranged by Leroy Anderson
Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops
Recorded in New York, NY on 19 June, 1950
Doin’ What Comes Naturally [3:23]
The Girl That I Marry [3:08]
You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun [3:12]
There’s No Business Like Show Business [3:10]
They Say It’s Wonderful [3:05]
Moonshine Lullaby [3:13]
My Defenses Are Down [3:35]
I’m An Indian Too [2:41]
I Got Lost In His Arms [2:44]
Who Do You Love I Hope [2:58]
I Got The Sun In The Morning [2:55]
Anything You Can Do [3:10]
Ethel Merman – Annie Oakley
Ray Middleton – Frank Butler
Robert Lenn – Tommy
Kathleen Carnes – Winnie
John Garth III – Trainman
Clyde Turner – Porter
Leon Bibb - Waiter
Recorded in New York, NY on 26 & 28 May, 1946
There’s No Business Like Show Business [1:07]
Ethel Merman & Mary Martin with orchestra, conducted by Jay Blackton
Recorded in New York, NY on 15 June, 1953

Doin’ What Comes Naturally [2:47]
The Girl That I Marry [2:30]
You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun [3:03]
They Say It’s Wonderful [2:58]
My Defenses Are Down [3:17]
I Got The Sun In The Morning [2:17]
Anything You Can Do [3:10]
There’s No Business Like Show Business [2:32]
Betty Hutton – Annie Oakley
Howard Keel – Frank Butler
Keenan Wynn – Charlie Davenport
Louis Calhern – Col. Buffalo Bill Cody
Adolph Deutsch, conductor
MGM Studio Orchestra and Chorus
Recorded in Hollywood, CA on 30 March and 3-7 October 1949 ADD

NAXOS 8.120790 [67:40]

Crotchet Budget price

Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun first opened at the Imperial Theatre on May 16, 1946, and ran for 1,147 performances. It was the third longest running musical of the 1940s and the biggest Broadway hit of Ethel Merman's career. The music is arguably Irving Berlin’s most enchanting and distinguished complete score. It was certainly the greatest box-office triumph of his career, and it yielded at least half a dozen substantial song hits. Indeed, "There’s No Business Like Show Business" has since become the unofficial anthem of American theater.

As brilliant and inventive as Berlin's melodies and lyrics are, his was by no means the only salient contribution to the remarkable production. Mention also is normally made of Ethel Merman's compelling and irresistible performance as Annie, Joshua Logan's imaginative staging and the colorful choreography of Helen Tamiris. Thus it certainly seems that it would be a blessing when Naxos re-released the original Broadway cast recordings bundled with the original 1950 film soundtrack. They even were kind enough to add a couple of other distinguished performances.

The album starts with a well done Boston Pops recording of a medley of the music. The performance itself is worthy of preservation, with Arthur Fiedler conducting and the Pops in top form. Though the recording fidelity is certainly nothing special, it is evident that Naxos took great care to get as clean a recording as possible for the mastering. There is only so much that one can do with historical recordings of this type, and at least for this track they’ve taken the original recording as far as possible.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the original Broadway cast recordings. While the performances are definitely energetic and fun, there is a loud tape hiss throughout the entire playback. Certainly these are vintage recordings, and there is a trade-off in fidelity when the tape noise is removed, but some reduction in high fidelity would certainly be warranted when the noise is as loud as it is in this recording.

The 1953 encore recording of Ethel Merman and Mary Martin singing "There’s No Business Like Show Business" is better recorded and produced. Unfortunately the performance itself is not particularly good. The two singers perform in unison, vying for the lead and attention throughout. The best that can be said of the performance is that it is short.

The final eight tracks from the film soundtrack cast are less energetic, but more polished than the Broadway recordings. Even though Merman made the part of Annie Oakley famous, Betty Hutton does a better job singing the role. It’s probable that Merman’s stage performance was the superior one. For at least these recordings, Hutton’s delivery is sung rather than belted throughout. The remastering is also better accomplished, with far less tape noise and better sound fidelity. This could be because the recording technology was superior, but the fact remains that these are both better performances and recordings.

The fact that these are original Broadway and film cast recordings certainly makes this album a historical record of note. As a result, anyone who is going to perform the musical or is interested in the history of the Broadway musical would enjoy this album. Unfortunately, with the sound fidelity problems that accompany the centerpiece recordings of this album, it is difficult to highly recommend this album to any other audience.

Patrick Gary

Return to Index