Entertainment » Music

Call Me Madam - Original Recording

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Sunday Sep 2, 2012
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In this crucial period of partisan politics leading up to the national election, Masterworks Broadway has smartly released one of the classic spoofs of the political world, "Call Me Madam," on CD and digital formats for the first time, and the synchronicity between the two events alone makes the score worth a listen.

Originally created in 1950 as a vehicle for Ethel Merman, this comedy, with its Irving Berlin score, and directed by George Abbott, was loosely inspired from the actual assignment of Washington’s "hostess with the mostess’" Perle Mesta, as ambassador to Luxembourg in 1949 by then president Harry Truman. Imagine that, a powerful woman in politics? Tell that to the recent speeches by the Republican candidates.

Furthermore, it seemed appropriate that the show, a Broadway box office success, would have political drama associated with it when it was time to go to the studio and record Berlin’s score. Merman was under contract with Decca Records, who wouldn’t allow her to go record a show released and funded by rival RCA Victor. So while Decca went and made their own recording of Merman performing such hits as the mentioned, "The Hostess with the Mostess’ on the Ball," "The Best Thing For You," and the standard, "(I Wonder Why?) You’re Just in Love," RCA brought in Dinah Shore, its current superstar, to take Merman’s place as Mrs. Sally Adams on vinyl. Shore’s take on the role is vastly different from Merman’s, but her down-home sound and sincere interpretation are equally enjoyable, and she’s supported by the original cast of the show, while Decca brought in ringers to support Merman’s recording.

Both women would continue to have successful careers, and this release gives us a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Shore singing those Berlin melodies before she found her mark on television. A rare recording that is worth the listen.

"Call Me Madam"
Dinah Shore and the Original Broadway Company
CD and Digital formats
Masterworks Broadway

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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