Jack Hulbert, Cicely Courtneidge, Leslie Hutchinson, Jeanette MacDonald, Al Jolson
Label: Pearl
Original Release Date: February 27, 2001
NOTE: the song Little Things You Do is NOT by Rodgers & Hart: the song was included in the show One Dam Thing After Another (a.k.a. Cochran's 1930 Revue) BUT was written by someone else.


This compilation presents period recordings of songs used in musicals written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart between 1925 and 1935. But it should not be considered a comprehensive "greatest-hits" collection. Producer Jack Raymond is the author of Show Music on Record, a book that lists recordings of show tunes made by members of the casts of stage productions. This album is part of a series "dedicated to collecting together the original cast, or earliest, recordings of the greatest 20th century composers of shows and musicals," according to a sleeve note. Original cast albums did not come into vogue until the mid-'40s, but occasional recordings by cast members date back to the beginnings of recorded sound. In many cases, these were recordings of the shows' most popular songs made by its popular stars, and here are standards like "Here in My Arms," "The Girl Friend," "My Heart Stood Still ," "Ten Cents a Dance," "With a Song in My Heart," "Dancing on the Ceiling," "Love Me Tonight," "Mimi," and "Isn't It Romantic," sung by such stars as Beatrice Lillie, Helen Kane, Ruth Etting, Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, and Al Jolson. But many of the songwriting team's best-known songs of the period are missing: no "Manhattan," "The Blue Room Lyrics," "Thou Swell," "You Took Advantage of Me Lyrics," or "Lover." All of those songs were recorded for hits at the time, but not by cast members. In their place, one finds many obscure songs performed by many obscure singers. Thankfully, that makes for plenty of unfamiliar examples of Hart's wordplay, Rodgers' sense of melody, and the vocal talents of people like Jessie Matthews and Sidney Burchall. But it also means that The Ultimate Rodgers & Hart, Vol. 1 is an album more for aficionados of musical theater than more casual music fans.