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1 Composer/Songs: Cole Porter Arrangements/Orchestrations: Edward Powell, (Easy To Love orchestrated by Powell and Leo Arnaud)

Born To Dance
Rhino Handmade RHM 27778, TT: 66.29, 18 tracks (mono and stereo)

**** Quintessential

Producer: George Feltenstein, Performed: MGM Soloists, Studio Orchestra & Chorus, Musical Director, Alfred Newman by Ross Care My admittedly biased opinion that Cole Porter is probably the greatest American songwriter (I once wrote a major Porter appreciation for the Library of Congress) has apparently been vindicated by the recent Porter media blitz. Four major Porter MGM musicals (including Kiss Me Kate and Silk Stockings) have been remastered on DVD, and the Rhino Handmade CD series which recently reissued The Pirate, has also released Porters first major original film score, MGMs 1936 Born To Dance. Born To Dance was developed as a starring vehicle for MGMs new dancing star of the 1930s, Eleanor Powell, but also introduced two of Porters most enduring vocal standards, Easy To Love, and Ive Got You Under My Skin. Porter recycled the former from a Broadway show in which the leading man was intimidated by the songs octave and a half range, but, apparently unaware of its vocal demands, a young James Stewart delivers a beguilingly artless rendition. His ensuing duet with Powell (voicedoubled by Marjorie Lane) is followed by an elaborate set of orchestral dance variations that commence in a sleek, almost 1950s mode, and climax with a nod to Ponchiellis Dance of the Hours. Porter outBerlins Irving Berlin with Rap Tap On Wood, one of the most infectious and rag-ish tunes Cole ever wrote. Both Easy and Rap Tap are presented in stereo that must make them two of the earliest Hollywood numbers yet presented in true spatial sound. (While the instrumentals are admittedly thrilling like this, the new mix does tend to overwhelm the vocals just a tad). Aside from its great solos Born To Dance features several equally elaborate ensemble numbers. Love Me, Love My Pekinese, a droll operetta pastiche/parody, somehow manages to fuse Kurt Weill, Gilbert and Sullivan, the sailors hornpipe, and a grandiose Navy chorus into a uniquely high camp moment, as funny on CD as in the film. In contrast, another piece, Hey, Babe, Hey, is one of the most deliberately corny (yet appealing) MGM numbers prior to You Can Count On Me from the later On the

2 Town. BTD musical direction by Alfred Newman, now topping his precocious New York theatrical career with a supra-Broadway Hollywood sound, and orchestrations by Edward Powell, fuse to provide some of the most stylish and vivid orchestral playing for some of the most elaborate Hollywood numbers up to this point. (The final Swinging the Jinx Away runs nearly fifteen minutes!) There is excessive noise on some of the cues, but considering the age of these tracks (vintage 1936) the results are still amazing. This complete Born To Dance is a very special treat for lovers of early Hollywood musicals, exhilarating orchestral sound, and the late, truly great Cole Porter. (Now when will Rhino present us with the never-recorded On the Town with its wonderful Leonard Bernstein orchestral ballet music?) Ross Care