Party With Comden & Green


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Review Text In 1958-1959, when lyricist/librettists Betty Comden and Adolph Green appeared on Broadway in their anthology revue Party with Betty Comden and Adolph Green for 82 performances, they had been responsible for songs in the Broadway shows On the Town, Billion Dollar Baby, Two on the Aisle, Wonderful Town, Peter Pan, Bells Are Ringing, and Say, Darling, not to mention having written for their 1940s nightclub group, the Revuers, and done songs and scripts for the movies. By 1977, when they returned to Broadway for 92 performances of a revamped version of their revue, they had added Do Re Mi, Subways Are for Sleeping, Fade Out -- Fade In, and Hallelujah, Baby! to their résumé, but the last of these had come ten years earlier. (They also had written the libretto, but not the lyrics, for 1970's Applause.) Perhaps as a result, the 1977 version of A Party with Betty Comden and Adolph Green was not much changed from the 1958 version. They shoehorned "Make Someone Happy" from Do Re Mi -- the best-known song they'd written in the previous 20 years -- into a medley of songs from Bells Are Ringing. Green sang "Capital Gains," a song about the rise and fall of a shady financier, from Subways Are for Sleeping. And they did two songs they had written with composer Cy Coleman, "The Lost Word" and "Simplified Language," for Straws in the Wind, a 1975 Off Broadway revue about the future. Otherwise, the material was the same as that from the earlier version of the revue, with a few cuts to make room for the new stuff. The day after they closed in New York on April 30, 1977, they opened a tour in Washington, D.C., and it was recorded for this two-disc set, which is not to be confused with the album of the same name that Capitol Records issued of the 1958 show. Here, accompanied only by pianist Paul Trueblood, they present the entire 100-minute act, describing their career dating back to the Revuers and putting their all into some of their best songs, including "New York, New York," "Ohio," "Just in Time," and "The Party's Over." Comden acknowledges that they can't really re-create the performances of the stars who sang these songs on Broadway, but only re-create their own demonstrations of them. Both are spirited performers enthusiastically putting across lyrics they wrote themselves, which helps make up for the unevenness of their singing. (Comden and Green actually have good voices, but clearly they aren't accustomed to singing professionally, and, of course, they didn't write these songs for their own voices, so things don't always go smoothly.) As they admit early on, they came out of satire and had to learn to write "with heart," and it's often the humor that scores over the sometimes more generic love songs. But Comden and Green make a good case for themselves (again) as important songwriters for the musical theater in the post-World War II era. [Angel reissued the CD in 1993.] ~ William Ruhlmann

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Part 1 - 51:59

CD: 2

  1. 2. Part 2 - 49:28

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