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Rhino Handmade MGM Musical Scores: DUBARRY WAS A LADY: Songs: Cole Porter, Burton Lane, Roger Edens

(music); Cole Porter, Ralph Freed, E. Y. Harburg, Roger Edens (lyrics) MEET THE PEOPLE: Songs: Sammy Fain, Jay Gorney, Burton Lane, Harold Arlen, Kay Thompson (music); E. Y. “Yip” Harburg, Henry Myers, Kay Thompson (lyrics) Arrangements/Orchestrations: DUBARRY: Leo Arnaud, Conrad Salinger, George Bassman, Sy Oliver, et al; MEET THE PEOPLE: Conrad Salinger, Hugo Winterhalter, Frank De Vol, Wally Heglin Rhino Handmade RHM 2 7851, TT: 78.00, 23 tracks (mono and stereo) ***** Quintessential for MGM Musical Fans Producer: George Feltenstein, Performed: MGM Soloists, Studio Orchestra & Chorus, Musical Director/Conductor: Lennie Hayton CD Restoration Released May 11, 2004

DuBarry Was A Lady is the 1943 MGM version of Cole Porter’s 1939 Broadway hit about a nightclub washroom attendant who, after having been slipped a mickey, dreams he returns to the French court of Louis XIV. The show starred Ethel Merman and Bert Lahr, but also launched the careers of Betty Grable and future MGM director, Charles Walters, who were dancers in the chorus. Like many Porter shows, only a few songs from the original Broadway score made it into the film, one reason being Porter’s risqué lyrics were often too darn hot for Hollywood to handle. A beautiful Porter ballad, “Do I Love You?” is sung by Gene Kelly, then used as the basis for an elaborate Kelly dance number with background by Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra and the popular ‘40s vocal group, the Pied Pipers. After the stage DuBarry the song was also used in a 1941 London revue, Black Vanities, where it was sung by Frances Day. The night club setting and lengthy dream sequence allow lots of room for musical numbers which have nothing to do with the story line, thus Dorsey and the Pipers are also featured in Porter’s slyly wicked “Katie Went to Haiti,” albeit with Porter’s lyrics drastically revised, especially the original kicker line “practically all of Haiti knew Katie.” (Look for Jo Stafford in the vocal group.) The only other surviving Porter vocal is the deliberately cornball “Friendship” in which the entire cast hokes it up for the film’s finale. Several deleted Porter songs were used as underscoring, reminding us that Porter was a wonderful composer and melodist as well as a brilliant lyricist. Additional songs, including the infectiously catchy title tune, were provided by composers Burton Lane and Roger Edens, and assorted lyricists, including E. Y. “Yip” Harburg of Wizard of Oz fame. Edens, also wrote his own lyrics for several numbers, including “Song of Rebellion,” a grandiose choral/orchestral number which sounds like something out of The Vagabond King. MGM musicals of the period were also as much musical variety shows as plotted musicals, thus leaving plenty of room for extraneous numbers that showcased both the major and more obscure (and bizarre) talents of the era. Among the latter are the Oxford Boys, a obviously ill-at-ease-infront-of-the-camera -three-man group that nonetheless does convincing vocal impersonations of various ‘40s big bands. Many tracks are in effective stereo, the most dynamic being Sy Oliver’s “We’ll Get It,” a wild swing number that spotlights various Dorsey soloists (including drummer, Buddy Rich) in fabulous

spatial sound. Seeing it today you’d never remotely suspect that Dubarry Was A Lady was produced in the middle of World War II. But we’re vividly reminded of that little fact by the disc’s bonus tracks from a relatively forgotten MGM flag waver, Meet the People, produced the same year as DuBarry, and with some of the same cast and creative talents. The songs are serviceable, but most interesting for the fact that MGM seems rather optimistically to view WWII as a breakdown of the class barriers in 1940s America. This is an overall excellent release, and the sound is especially good, but it will probably be most savored by fans of Porter and MGM, great ‘40s pop, and lesser-known film musicals. Ross Care