It's hard to make a memorable cast album from a show most people would like to forget.

It's hard to make a memorable cast album from a show most people would like to forget. Sweet Smell of Success soured critics when it opened on Broadway this spring, and this score makes the main reason clear: lackluster music by Marvin Hamlisch with merely serviceable lyrics by Craig Carnelia. Lead John Lithgow has some appeal onstage as smarmy columnist JJ Hunsecker, but nobody ever accused him of being a great singer. Brian D'arcy James and Kelli O'Hara are in fine voice, but they're still limited by the material. Songs that drive the plot or delineate character are weak and generally unmelodic, with a grating ensemble chorus adding punch but not flavor. The few songs from nightclub scenes are the best, including "I Cannot Hear the City," which could be effectively extracted for cabarets.—WH

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