Tuesday, December 27, 1977

December 27, 1927: Show Boat opened on Broadway

Originally posted August 11, 2008. Last updated September 3, 2018.

Show Boat (cast/soundtrack)

Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein II (composers)

Opened on Broadway: December 27, 1927

Cast Album Recorded: 1928

Soundtrack Charted: July 21, 1951


Sales (in millions):
US: --
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): --


Peak:
US: 119-S
UK:
Canada: --
Australia: --

C cast album
S soundtrack

Quotable: “Generally considered to be the first true American ‘musical play’” – Wikipedia


Genre: show tunes


Album Tracks:

  1. Overture
  2. Cotton Blossom
  3. Make Believe
  4. Ol’ Man River
  5. Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man
  6. Life Upon the Wicked Stage
  7. Till Good Luck Comes My Way
  8. I Might Fall Back on You
  9. Queenie’s Ballyhoo
  10. Olio Dance
  11. You Are Love
  12. Act I Finale
  13. At the Chicago World’s Fair
  14. Why Do I Love You?
  15. Bill
  16. After the Ball
* Original song order from 1927 show.

Singles/Hit Songs *:

After the Ball
- George J. Gaskin (1893) #1
- John Yorke Atlee (1893) #2

Ol’ Man River
- Paul Whiteman with Bing Crosby (1928) #1
- Al Jolson (1928) #4
- Paul Robeson with Paul Whiteman (1928) #7
- Revelers (1928) #10
- Luis Russell (1934) #19

Bill
- Helen Morgan (1928) #4

Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man
- Helen Morgan (1928) #7
- Ben Bernie (1928) #19

Make Believe
- Paul Whiteman with Bing Crosby (1928) #7

Why Do I Love You
- Nat Shilkret (1928) #9

You Are Love
- James Melton with Victor Young Orchestra (1932) #20

* As was common in the pre-rock era, multiple versions of a single song from a Broadway show would become hits. All chart positions are from the U.S. Billboard pop charts.

Review:

Show Boat “is generally considered to be the first true American ‘musical play’.” WK It separated itself from the operettas, light musical comedies, and Follies-type musical revues of the 1890s and early 20th century by telling a dramatic plot-and-character driven story accompanied by music. WK

The musical, with music by Jerome Kern and lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein II, was based on Ednar Ferber’s 1926 novel of the same name. WK The show works in a few songs not by Kern and Hammerstein, including Bill, written by P.G. Wodehouse in 1918, but reworked by Hammerstein for Show Boat. Goodbye, My Lady Love by Joseph Howard and After the Ball by Charles K. Harris have become mainstays in the American stage productions of the show as well. WK

The show opened on Broadway on December 27, 1927 at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York, where it ran for a year and a half. The 1928 London cast album was released in England before the United States. Since the U.S. had not started making original cast albums of Broadway shows, there was no album made of the 1927 Broadway cast. WK However, for the 1932 revival of the musical, a cast album was made featuring Helen Morgan and Paul Robeson, who were both in the original American and London casts of Show Boat, E-C alongside “James Melton, Frank Munn, and Countess Olga Albani” WK and an orchestra conducted by Victor Young. WK The recordings of “Ol’ Man River and a Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man…are truly authoritative. The…sound is astonishingly good.” E-C

The show was revived again in 1946, 1983, and 1994. WK Similarly, cast album recordings have been made multiple times, including 1946, 1956, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1971, 1988, and 1994. It was also made into a movie in 1936 with members from the original Broadway and London productions. It was made into a movie again in 1951 although it “was prettied up considerably and reshaped almost beyond recognition. On the other hand, Howard Keel’s baritone is one of the most pleasing voices in movies of that era, and teamed with Kathryn Grayson’s fluttering alto, the results are beguiling on songs like Only Make Believe.” E-S It “wasn’t treated too seriously by most purists until the 1990s, when it emerged as a minor classic in its own right.” E-S


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Saturday, December 17, 1977

Elvis Costello gets banned from Saturday Night Live: December 17, 1977

Originally posted December 17, 2011.



Saturday Night Live made its name in the 1970s not just for its live sketch comedy, but for musical performances. For the December 17, 1977 broadcast, the Sex Pistols were scheduled to perform. Their criminal records complicated the process of getting them visas in time so Elvis Costello & the Attractions were invited instead. Ironically, one would have assumed no one was more likely to provide controversy than the Pistols, but Elvis proved them wrong.

Costello wanted to promote his upcoming new single “Radio Radio”. However, the powers-that-be wanted an already established song from his repetoire. Lorne Michaels, the show’s producer, also didn’t want them to perform the song because of its anti-media message ZM which criticized “the commercialization and payola of the airwaves.” RS Costello seemingly obliged, kicking into a performance of “Less Than Zero”. However, he’d barely started the song when he turned to his band yelling “Stop! Stop!” and then informing the audience, “I’m sorry ladies and gentleman, there’s no reason to do this song here.” He then launched into “Radio Radio” instead.

The move got Costello banned from the program for more than a decade. Michaels was not a fan of such spontaneous changes and was reportedly infuriated that it put the show off schedule. ZM Costello has said the move was inspired by a Jimi Hendrix performance on BBC television in which he was supposed to play “Hey Joe” but opted for a cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” instead. That broadcast was stopped when it ran “longer and louder than the show’s producers intended.” WK

Costello finally appeared as a musical guest again in 1989 and also in 1991. For SNL’s 25th anniversary in 1999, the Beastie Boys were beginning a performance of their song “Sabotage” when Costello interrupted them and they played “Radio Radio” together.

Click here to see the 1977 performance of “Radio Radio”





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Friday, December 16, 1977

Saturday Night Fever premiered in U.S. theaters: December 16, 1977

Originally posted December 16, 2011.



This 1977 drama told the story of Brooklynite Tony Manero, played by John Travolta. He lived with his unsupportive parents and worked a dead-end hardware store job. However, his weekends were devoted to dancing at the local discotheque.

British writer Nik Cohn provided the inspiration for the movie with his 1976 New York magazine article “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night”. Cohn was a newcomer to the United States and a stranger to the disco lifestyle. Unable to grasp the subculture which he was expected to write about, he fabricated the article based on a Mod acquaintance. WK

The movie has been largely credited with popularizing disco around the world. It made Travolta a household name and the soundtrack, which prominently featured the Bee Gees, was one of the best-selling albums of all time. In fact, the film was the first example of cross-media marketing with a single being used to promote the film before its release. WK

The film was considered by many critics to be one of the best movies of 1977. It was featured in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made and in 2010 was selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. Travolta earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.




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