Broadway producer Herman Levin and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner were working on a musical called Li'l Abner before they abandoned it for another project: My Fair Lady, with music by Frederick Loewe.

ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING

Li'L Abner
REISSUE PRODUCERS: Didier C. Deutsch, Darcy M. Proper
ORIGINAL PRODUCER:Goddard Lieberson
Sony Classical/Columbia/Legacy
SK 87700

My Fair Lady
REISSUE PRODUCERS: Didier C. Deutsch, Darcy M. Proper
ORIGINAL PRODUCER:Goddard Lieberson
Sony Classical/Columbia/Legacy
SK 89997

Barnum
REISSUE PRODUCERS: Didier C. Deutsch, Darcy M. Proper
ORIGINAL PRODUCER:Cy Coleman, Mike Berniker
Sony Classical/Columbia/Legacy
SK 89999



Broadway producer Herman Levin and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner were working on a musical called Li'l Abner before they abandoned it for another project: My Fair Lady, with music by Frederick Loewe. It turned out to be a wise move; My Fair Lady won the 1956 Tony Award for best musical and became one of the greatest shows in American theater history. Still, Li'l Abner wasn't exactly lost. With music by Gene de Paul and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, it enjoyed a respectable run and became a staple of stock and school productions. Both shows were recorded by Columbia's legendary producer, Goddard Lieberson, and both have been reissued by Legacy. Remastered with astonishing clarity, this definitive recording of My Fair Lady remains a romantic stunner; lyricist Dick Scanlan's liner notes and two brief discussions Lieberson had with the creators and the principals are more curious than essential additions. New material on Li'l Abner is more compelling, particularly Ken Mandelbaum's enlightening notes, previously unavailable tracks, and two songs cut from the show. The score, energetic and rowsing, if rarely subtle, maintains the crowd-pleasing humor you'd expect from a show based on a comic strip. Bonus tracks also enliven Barnum, an acrobatic 1980 show about circus-founder P.T. Barnum. The score —mostly brass band marches, rounded out with simple '70s-style pop tunes —is instantly accessible, if not consistently memorable. Liner notes from Tony Award-winning lead actor Jim Dale are a welcome inclusion, but four added numbers performed by composer Cy Coleman himself are the real treat. Other Legacy reissues include the original 1968 off-Broadway cast album Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and the 1964 studio cast recording of Oklahoma! —featuring John Raitt, Florence Henderson, and Phyllis Newman.—WH