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Album Review

Call Me Madam, a fictionalized account of the life of Washington hostess and ambassador to Luxembourg Pearl Mesta, was Irving Berlin's final hit Broadway musical. It was also his second collaboration with Ethel Merman, who had starred in his most successful show, Annie Get Your Gun. Opening October 12, 1950, Call Me Madam settled in for a run that eventually totaled 644 performances, making the commercial prospects of a cast album bright. Unfortunately, there was a glitch. The show had been financed by RCA Victor Records, who claimed the cast album. But Merman was an exclusive recording artist for Decca, one of RCA's major rivals. The result was two albums: RCA replaced Merman with Dinah Shore, while Decca replaced the rest of the original cast with Dick Haymes, Eileen Wilson, and a chorus. The Decca album got out of the gate first and, featuring the show's star, was bound to be the more successful anyway; it just missed topping the charts. Merman is, of course, the recording's chief asset, as she belts out half of the album's songs (the original EP and 10" LP versions had only eight tracks, but they were quickly superseded by a 12-track 12" LP), including "Marrying for Love" and "The Best Thing for You." Her duet with Haymes, "You're Just in Love," was the hit of the show, reaching the Top 40. Haymes was in typically good voice on his solo, "Once Upon a Time Today."

Biography

Born: 16 January 1908 in New York, NY [Astoria]

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Ethel Merman was the leading American musical theater performer of her generation, creating roles in 13 Broadway musicals between 1930 and 1959, and continuing to appear in shows occasionally through 1970. Her clarion voice and exact enunciation were perfect for an era when a stage performer was required to sing loud enough to be heard at the back of the theater without amplification. That made her a favorite of the leading songwriters of the day, and she introduced some of the most memorable songs...
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Top Albums and Songs by Ethel Merman

Call Me Madam, Ethel Merman
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