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Catherine Surowiec, March 2010

The prime attraction of this Cole Porter triple bill is Aladdin, the Broadway master’s first musical for television, broadcast on CBS in February 1958. Heralded with much fanfare, this expensive production turned out to be his musical swansong, but it’s well worth exploring, not only for Porter completists. Today the concept seems more than a little derivative of two popular Alfred Drake vehicles, Broadway’s Kismet and the television musical The Adventures of Marco Polo, while some have carped that it’s second-rate Porter and Sal Mineo’s Aladdin has a troubled street-kid quality, but in its favour, Anna Maria Alberghetti makes a lovely Princess, we get to hear Dennis King late in his career (singing the Astrologer’s waltz, “Trust Your Destiny to Your Star”), and best of all, there’s Cyril Ritchard as the wily Magician, who has the score’s best number, the fruity “Come to the Supermarket in Old Peking”. It also contains the last song Porter ever wrote, the bittersweet “Wouldn’t It Be Fun (Not to Be Famous, Not to Be Rich)”, recorded for the album but evidently not in the 90-minute live television broadcast. An added attraction is a first-rate privately recorded 1957 preview of four of the songs, performed by unidentified vocalists, with a short introduction by Porter himself.

Filling out the CD are five numbers from the soundtrack of Porter’s last film musical, Les Girls (1957), featuring Gene Kelly, Mitzi Gaynor, and Kay Kendall and Taina Elg (luscious ladies both, but dubbed). Not prime Porter, alas: “Ça, c’est l’amour” sounds like a hold-over from Can-Can, while “You’re Just Too, Too” and “Ladies in Waiting” hark back to shows like DuBarry Was a Lady. Rounding out this album of late Porter rarities is the Dream Ballet (incorporating “Let’s Do It” and “All Through the Night”) from the soundtrack of the 1956 film version of Anything Goes…

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2010

We have come to the end of Cole Porter’s creative life, a career that had been troubled by his constant uncertainty of his work, despite having brought to the world some of the greatest musicals. Aladdin was for the ‘DuPont Show of the Month’ and televised in February 1958 on CBS. An overture creating a pseudo-Chinese atmosphere leads to a series of typical Porter vocal numbers, the heartfelt I Adore You being the highlight. Spiced with Porter’s tricky rhythms it is not from his top drawer, but many will, like me, enjoy anything that came from his pen. There seems to have been a pre-show run-through, the artists unknown in these additional tracks, though in quality they were a cut-above the eventual broadcast cast. The sound quality there is also much better than the cramped sound of the final show. The music for the film, Les Girls, is at a higher level, this original sound track recording featuring the star names of Gene Kelly and Mitzi Gaynor, and comes in the best 1957 Hollywood sound. The disc ends with an orchestral track of the big dance number from Anything Goes played with the American ‘zing’ and smoochy tempos. A real treat.

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