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The Way We Were

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Album Review

After spending decades in stage and movie musicals dating back to the 1940s, Howard Keel surprisingly achieved a new phase in his career after he took a part in the prime-time soap opera Dallas while in his sixties. It brought him a whole new audience, especially in Great Britain, where he had appeared on-stage in the West End long before, and when his debut solo album, With Love for Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, was issued in the U.K. in 1984 under the title And I Love You So, it made the Top Ten, inspiring the chart-making follow-ups Reminiscing: The Howard Keel Collection in 1985 and Just for You in 1988. Keel retained rights to those albums, and he has licensed the material to Prism Leisure, which has configured it differently to come up with a series of compilation albums. In whatever combinations, the assessment of them is much the same. On The Way We Were, Keel, his rich baritone largely intact, mixes performances of show tunes, some of which he performed on-stage and screen, with his takes on more contemporary songs. He is at his best on the former, naturally enough, though he certainly tries his best on the latter. Here, the medley of songs from Annie Get Your Gun, recalling Keel's performance in the 1950 film version, is excellent, and his rendition of "If Ever I Would Leave You" from Camelot is powerfully affecting. But the more complex "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music is beyond him, and there's not much he can do with turgid '70s adult contemporary fare like "I Won't Last a Day Without You," of which there is too much on this collection. Still, his singing is always pleasurable, and he finds ways to interpret "Cycles," and even "Love Story," that gives these mediocre songs some resonance.


Born: 13 April 1917 in Gillespie, IL

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Howard Keel made a splash as the cheerful and virile leading man in numerous MGM musicals of the 1950s, but it wasn't until 1984 that he received the chance to record his first album as a solo performer. The opportunity came about thanks to his long-running role in the popular nighttime soap Dallas, where he played opposite Barbara Bel Geddes as matriarch Miss Ellie's husband, the silver-maned Clayton Farlow. The prominent role that he stepped into in 1981 put him back into the spotlight after a...
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The Way We Were, Howard Keel
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