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Julie Wilson In London... With Friends

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Album Review

British reissue label Sepia Records, which specializes in assembling albums of unlicensed recordings that have recently entered the public domain in Europe (where copyright extends for only 50 years), coyly entitles this collection of early-'50s tracks Julie Wilson in London...with Friends, even though it consists largely of performances by various cast members of musicals that played in the West End. Wilson was a member of those casts, but she appears on fewer than half of the selections. In those days, many successful American musicals opened productions in London, which meant there was plenty of work for Americans like Wilson, who were second-line stars at home, appearing in touring versions of shows or replacing major stars on Broadway rather than originating roles themselves. Wilson, also known as a nightclub performer, did exactly those things in Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, appearing in the second female lead of Lois/Bianca and singing "Why Can't You Behave" and "Always True to You in My Fashion." Then, on March 8, 1951, she opened in the part in London, although the production starred Patricia Morison (who had also starred on Broadway) and Bill Johnson. They dominate the ten tracks from the show, which were recorded for five single 78 rpm discs by the English Columbia label soon after the opening. Wilson stayed on in London to star in a British musical, Bet Your Life, opposite Arthur Askey, and the two make a good impression in the entertaining seven tracks from the show, also recorded and originally issued by English Columbia, as does Sally Ann Howes. Less impressive are the four medleys from Guys and Dolls that open the disc, performed by a studio cast including Wilson in the comic role of Adelaide. Guys and Dolls is very much an American show, and the failed attempts by the British performers at American accents make this one of the weaker performances of the score, in addition to being one of the shortest. The album ends with both sides of a single Wilson recorded with Jerry Wayne for Philips Records in the cutsey pop-novelty style of the early '50s. Show music fans will welcome this release, even though the sound is sometimes muffled and there are typos in the annotations. (Poor Patricia Morison always seems to get an extra "r" added to her last name.) Pop music fans, finding a cache of rare Wilson material, will also be pleased.


Born: 21 October 1924 in Omaha, NE

Genre: Vocal

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

Cabaret singer and musical theater star Julie Wilson was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1924, the daughter of Russell Wilson, a coal salesman, and Emily Bennett Wilson, who became a hairdresser. She displayed an interest in theater and music in her youth and began singing with local bands at the age of 14. She enrolled at Omaha University, majoring in drama with a minor in music, but dropped out when she successfully auditioned to replace an ailing performer in a road tour of the musical revue Earl...
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Julie Wilson In London... With Friends, Julie Wilson
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