Baker Street [Original Broadway Cast] [Bonus Tracks] by Original 1943 Broadway Cast on CD
The 1965 Broadway musical Baker Street was based on the Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but it reminded many viewers of a very different if contemporary three-named British writer, George Bernard Shaw, and his creation Henry Higgins in the play Pygmalion, adapted to the musical theater as My Fair Lady. As in My Fair Lady, the setting was Victorian London and an intelligent, upper-class bachelor with a misogynistic attitude was confronted with a vibrant woman, in this case an actress. The score, credited to Broadway newcomers Marian Grudeff and Raymond Jessel, but with last-minute interpolations by the veteran team of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (fresh from their biggest hit, Fiddler on the Roof), reinforced the similarities to the earlier show, mixing sprightly cockney numbers with songs of self-assertion by the lead female character and depictions of both the lead male character's smarts ("It's So Simple") and his disinclination toward romantic entanglement (Bock and Harnick's "Cold Clear World"). The score was adequate, but, even with the outside additions, not distinctive enough to produce a memorable song that would live outside the show or do anything to buck up a production that suffered from too much plot and a lack of clear direction. (Was it a mystery? Was it a romance?) Although noted more for their non-musical performances, Fritz Weaver as Holmes and Inga Swenson as the actress also were adequate, but again, there wasn't a bravura acting performance to make the show compelling. The result was a relatively long-running (313 performances) failure that became a theatrical footnote. MGM Records, which handled the cast album, also arranged for other artists to record music from the show for promotional purposes. One was Richard Burton, who at the time was appearing on Broadway in a production of Hamlet that shared a producer with Baker Street. His recording of "A Married Man" (sung by Watson in the show) was basically a spoken word rendition, though it had something of his King Arthur in Camelot. Bandleader Kai Winding recorded a jazzy version of the instrumental "Baker Street Mystery," which accompanied a ballet in the show. Both of these tracks were released as singles, then included in the 1965 LP Hit Songs from Baker Street and Other Broadway Musicals. When Decca Broadway finally decided to reissue the Baker Street cast album nearly 41 years after its initial appearance, the two performances were added as bonus tracks. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide
Decca, DeCca U.S.
Music Theater, Soundtrack
Cast Recordings, Musicals
Soundtrack, Soundtrack, Cast