Wednesday, December 30, 1998

December 30, 1948: Kiss Me, Kate opened on Broadway

Originally posted May 19, 2011. Last updated September 4, 2018.

Kiss Me, Kate (cast/soundtrack)

Cole Porter (composers)

Opened on Broadway: December 30, 1948

Cast Album Charted: February 26, 1949

Soundtrack Charted: January 23, 1954


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


Peak:
US: 110-C, 7 S
UK: --
Canada: --
Australia: --

C cast album
S soundtrack

Quotable: --


Genre: show tunes


Album Tracks – Cast Album:

  1. Overture c
  2. Another Op’nin’, Another Show (ANNABELLEL HILL) c
  3. Why Can’t You Behave? (LISA KIRK/ HAROLD LANG)
  4. Wunderbar (PATRICIA MORISON/ ALFRED DRAKE)
  5. So in Love (PATRICIA MORISON)
  6. We Open in Venice (ALFRED DRAKE/ PATRICA MORISON/ LISA KIRK)
  7. Tom, Dick or Harry (LISA KIRK/ HAROLD LANG/ EDWIN CLAY)
  8. I’ve Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua (ALFRED DRAKE/ MEN’S CHORUS)
  9. I Hate Men (PATRICIA MORISON)
  10. Were Thine That Special Face (ALFRED DRAKE)
  11. Too Darn Hot (LORENZO FULLER/ EDDIE SLEDGE/ FRED DAVIS)
  12. Where is the Life That Late I Led? (ALFRED DRAKE)
  13. Always True to You in My Fashion (LISA KIRK)
  14. Bianca (HAROLD LANG) c
  15. So in Love (Reprise) (ALFRED DRAKE) c
  16. Brush Up Your Shakespeare (HARRY CLARK/ JACK DIAMOND)
  17. I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple (PATRICA MORISON)
  18. Finale: Kiss Me, Kate (ALFRED DRAKE/ PATRICIA MORISON)
c on cast album only

Album Tracks – Soundtrack:

  1. Too Darn Hot (ANN MILLER)
  2. So in Love (KATHRYN GRAYSON/ HOWARD KEEL)
  3. We Open in Venice (KATHRYN GRAYSON/ HOWARD KEEL/ ANN MILLER)
  4. Why Can’t You Behave? (ANN MILLER)
  5. Were Thine That Special Face (HOWARD KEEL)
  6. Tom, Dick or Harry (ANN MILLER/ BOBBY VAN/ TOMMY RALL)
  7. Wunderbar (KATHRYN GRAYSON/ HOWARD KEEL)
  8. Always True to You in My Fashion (ANN MILLER/ TOMMY RALL)
  9. I Hate Men (KATHRYN GRAYSON)
  10. I’ve Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua (HOWARD KEEL)
  11. From This Moment On (TOMMY RALL/ ANN MILLER/ BOBBY VAN) s
  12. Where is the Life That Late I Led? (HOWARD KEEL)
  13. Brush Up Your Shakespeare KEENAN WYNN/ JAMES WHITMORE)
  14. Kiss Me, Kate (KATHRYN GRAYSON/ HOWARD KEEL)
s on soundtrack only

Notes: A 1998 reissue of the cast album “restored the play's original overture (left off of the original recording), from a recording of the piece made a decade later. Unfortunately, its presence is also a reminder of the fidelity, warmth, and crispness that is lacking in the original cast material.” BE

The 1990 CBS Special Products reissue “lengthened the album from 39 to 51 minutes. Six years later, Rhino stretched that out to 63 minutes [and 27 songs] by including more instrumentals and underscoring, and the reissue producers stripped off the sound effects.” R-S


Singles/Hit Songs *:

So in Love
- Patti Page (1949) #13
- Gordon MacRae (1949) #20
- Dinah Shore (1949) #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:

Kiss Me, Kate was the most successful Broadway musical of Cole Porter’s career, much to his and everyone else’s surprise. Porter was thought to be in decline in the late ‘40s, having suffered such recent failures as Around the World in Eighty Days on-stage and The Pirate in movie theaters.” R-C

“Like Irving Berlin before Annie Get Your Gun, he was apprehensive about…writing character songs for a book musical in the manner of Rodgers & Hammerstein, having come out of a tradition in which the songs in a musical were more ornamental than substantive. And he was initially resistant to the idea for Kiss Me, Kate, a musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.” R-C

“Some credit for that no doubt went to the clever book by Bella and Samuel Spewack, which gave the plot a backstage, show-within-a-show framework in which the actors were playing actors who were appearing in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew, allowing Porter to write in both contemporary and Elizabethan modes. And the actors themselves – Alfred Drake and Patricia Morison in the leading roles, Lisa Kirk and Harold Lang in the secondary ones – added to the success of the work.” R-C

“But the main drawing card was still Porter, who turned in one of his most tuneful and witty collections of songs.” R-C “The lyrics were full of puns and sly sexual references, also Porter hallmarks. This was a score that not only featured an excellent romantic ballad, So in Love…but also a parody of operetta, Wunderbar, that began with the geographic joke ‘Gazing down on the Jungfrau/From our secret chalet for two,’ an impossibility, since the Jungfrau is a mountain in the Swiss Alps that tops 13,000 feet!” R-C

The show opened on December 30, 1948 and had a run of 1077 performances. It also won the Tony for Best Musical. When Columbia Records went to record the cast album, they opted for their new 12” LP format instead of the usually ten-inch records. This gave them room for 48 minutes of music. The result was “a commercial success that rivaled the stage production.” R-C

The soundtrack for the 1954 film was mostly “inferior to the…cast album,” R-S although there were exceptions. Howard Keel’s performance as Fred Graham was “the equal of Alfred Drake, who took the part on Broadway, and Ann Miller, as Lois Lane and Bianca, is at least as effective as Lisa Kirk was on-stage and gets more to do as well, having been given the song Too Darn Hot, which was sung by a different character on Broadway.” R-S

On the flip side, the censors “made themselves felt heavily in the song lyrics… [excising parts of the score which were] very suggestive [and] full of sexual innuendos, puns, references, and mildly naughty words.” R-S “Maybe this is what had to be done to get a film into movie theaters in 1953, but music fans can only be disappointed at the airbrushing of a classic score.” R-S


Review Sources:

Awards:


Related DMDB Link(s):


Tuesday, August 25, 1998

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill released August 25, 1998

image from rollingout.com

Originally posted 8/25/2012. Updated 3/9/2013.


Released: 25 August 1998
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) 1. Intro 2. Lost Ones (5/30/98, #27a RB) 3. Ex-Factor (1/2/99, #11a US, #4 UK, #1a RB) 4. To Zion (with Santana) (1/2/99, #63a RB) 5. Doo Wop (That Thing) (10/3/98, #1 US, #3 UK, #2 RB, sales: 0.5 m) 6. Superstar 7. Final Hour 8. When It Hurts So Bad 9. I Used to Love Him 10. Forgive Them Father 11. Every Ghetto, Every City 12. Nothing Ever Matters (with D’Angelo) (1/2/99, #20a RB) 13. Everything Is Everything (5/8/99, #35 US, #19 UK, #14 RB, sales: 0.5 m) 15. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 16. Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You (6/13/98, #35a US, #10a RB) 17. The Sweetest Thing (with Refugee Camp Allstars) (4/5/97, #61a US, #18 UK, #2a RB)

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 0.6 UK, 15.6 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 14 US, 2 UK

Rating:


Review: Lauryn Hill had distinguished herself as “most distinctive voice” AZ and “social heart” AMG of the rap group the Fugees, but “few were prepared for her stunning debut.” AMG It sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, was a number one album in the U.S., and landed her eight Grammys, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist. She took “seventies soul and made it boom and signify to the hip-hop generation.” RS

Miseducation “is infused with African-American musical history.” EW Not only does Hill serve up an “Aretha Franklin–caliber vocal,” TM but she “has the funky grunt of vintage Stevie Wonder” EW and “recalls the moral fervency of Bob Marley” EW as well as the “uptown soul of Roberta Flack.” EW However, “Miseducation is no withdrawal from the nostalgia bank.” EW She also keeps things current, collaborating with R&B superstars like D’Angelo and Mary J. Blige, and “flowing from singing to rapping, evoking the past while forging her future.” EW Her “verses were intelligent and hardcore, with the talent to rank up there with Method Man” AMG and “she could move from tough to smooth in a flash, with a vocal prowess that allowed her to be her own chanteuse (à la Mariah Carey).” AMG “If her performing talents, vocal range, and songwriting smarts weren’t enough, Hill also produced much of the record, ranging from stun-gun hip-hop to smoother R&B with little trouble.” AMG

While she wasn’t shooting for a blockbuster, “she clearly realizes the benefit of wrapping even the harshest rhetoric in mesmerizing grooves.” EW “The swinging sermon” RS Doo Wop (That Thing) was a chart-topper which also was “an intelligent dissection of the sex game that saw it from both angles.” AMG That song’s line, “How you gonna win if you ain’t right within?’ also “turns out to be the defining question of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” TM

Doo Wop (That Thing)

“You can hear and feel the messages she tries to get across about God, love, motherhood, and life.” CS The album was “a collection of overtly personal and political statements.” AMG On To Zion, which features Carlos Santana, about putting her family before her career. She also “speaks eloquently on how the creators of urban music could use a moral compass,” TM putting the industry – including her own former bandmates and record execs – for putting “more emphasis on the bottom line than making great music.” AMG

“Yet the beauty of the album lies in Hill’s ability to make her self-righteousness ravishing.” EW She made “an album of often astonishing strength and feeling” EW which is “a perfect blend of hip-hop, R&B, gospel, and soul.” CS It is “one of the best solo female albums ever recorded.” CS


Resources and Related Links:


Award(s):


Monday, June 8, 1998

Time – People of the Century

image from cnn.com

As the 20th century came to a close, Time magazine published a series of magazines detailing its list of the 100 Most Important People of the Century. They were categorized in five sections: Leaders & Revolutionaries, Scientists & Thinkers, Builders & Titans, Artists & Entertainers, and Heroes & Icons. Albert Einstein was chosen as the Person of the Century. Listed below are the musicians who made the list, specifically in the June 8, 1998 issue on Artists & Entertainers:

  • Louis Armstrong
  • The Beatles
  • Bob Dylan
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Oscar Hammerstein II
  • Richard Rodgers
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Igor Stravinksy

Resources:

Saturday, February 28, 1998

Celine Dion hit #1 with “My Heart Will Go On”: February 28, 1998

Originally posted 1/7/2015.

image from theatlantic.com


Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On”


Writer(s): James Horner/ Will Jennings (see lyrics here)

First charted: 13 December 1997

Peak: 110 * US, 110 AC, 12 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)
* Song peaked at #1 for 2 weeks on the Hot 100, but was #1 for 10 weeks on the airplay chart.

Sales (in millions): 0.6 US, 1.48 UK, 15.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): 108.33


Review: When Titanic was released in 1997, it was the most expensive film ever made. TB-284 Such an oversized budget needed a larger-than-life voice to soundtrack it and Celine Dion was an obvious choice. True, detractors berated her over-the-top performance style and cheesy sentimentality as overwhelming her undeniably huge talent, but since that was often the same criticism of Titanic director James Cameron, hers was just the right voice to help sink one of the most hyped ships of all time.

In actuality, Cameron only wanted instrumental music in the film. BR1-864 As Walter Afanasieff, one of the song’s co-producers said, “Cameron didn’t want anything modern in his film…It was a period piece and he wanted to be true to the music of the time.” BR1-864 However, when James Horner composed “a melody to die for,” TB-284 lyricist Will Jennings couldn’t resist.

The song had a simple structure, but a range which few pop singers could handle. LW-179 Since Horner had a good relationship with Dion, LW-179 he asked her to record it, even though she didn’t like it initially. BR1-864 The originally reluctant director was won over. Jennings says that when Horner played the demo over the movie’s finale, “Cameron had to leave the room to compose himself.” BR1-864

Understandably, the melodramatic song drew eyerolls from some accusing it of being “overwrought and overblown,” TB-284 but the “money-shot line of ‘Near…far…whereeeeeeeever you are’…[made for] an operatic moment of almost Wagnerian pop.” TB-284 Truth be told, after Leonardo DiCaprio slips from his lover Kate Winslet’s grasp and into his watery grave, most of the audience were scrounging for tissues when the song kicked in as the credits rolled.


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Award(s):