Friday, September 14, 2018
Eli Oberstein returns! Music of South Pacific and Oklahoma (Rondo ST 536; 1958)
Soooo... My disc has the yellow label, so this pressing is from Eli Oberstein's time as owner of Rondo. Now we know. This was a thrift find, and it's in halfway decent shape, with most of the issues in the final band. There's mild play damage, plus it's a lousy pressing (of course), so this took a little while to de-click. There were the usual major clicks that required track-splitting, and... this was a trial. Was it worth it? Sure--it's great stuff. Robert Russell Bennett did the orchestrations, (I thought they sounded familiar), which are terrific, and, whoever the Broadway Symphonic Jazz Orch. was, they do a generally expert job, though God knows what happened at the close of Oklahoma. Weren't retakes allowed? But I guess we can forgive a train-wreck when it happens in the final measures. We know the I chord is coming.
Oh, and this is a MY(P)WHAE rarity--a stereo recording!
Music is fine, everything sounds very well-recorded in the first place--the master tapes probably rocked--but something bad happened during the transfer to vinyl (the left channel drops out completely at one point), and there are some very poor edits. They rival the bad cut in the Beach Boys' Heroes and Villains. None of the early cut-offs were my doing--I swear. This includes the sudden drop-off at the end of Oklahoma's third track.
The Oklahoma tracks don't have individual titles, so I didn't give them any. South Pacific is a single band.
I like the cover, even if the gorgeous model looks like she'd rather be somewhere else. Actually, it's probably Liat, mourning the death of Lt. Cable. In that case, extra marks for an unusually thoughtful budget jacket.
I'm not a big fan of musicals, but I love South Pacific in every possible way. Maybe my three years on this ship has something to do with it. We played games with the Russians during my time (early 1980s) on the Lockwood, too, and vice versa. Once, a Russian carrier pulled up closely beside us, and I missed the whole thing because I was on watch inside in the Combat Information Center. But, back to South Pacific....
The songs are magnificent, the characters are totally memorable (though Ray Walston's performance in the 1958 film almost has me taking that back), and the social statements are still powerful--because, sad to say, they're as relevant as ever. The 1958 film could be a lot better, mainly because (as noted by John Kerr in an interview), so much attention was given to the set-ups--due to issues of lighting, weather, etc.--that the acting was rushed and under-rehearsed. It shows. And much of the dialogue must have been post-dubbed, given all the stilted line-readings from decent actors. As an actor, Kerr wasn't exactly a live-wire lead, but I really like him as Cable. But we're not here to discuss the 1958 film....
We're here to hear some great music and arrangements on a zero-budget label. So good, we can forgive the "zero-budget" part.
Click here to hear: Music of South Pacific and Oklahoma
1. Music of South Pacific (arr: Robert Russell Bennett)
2. The Music of Oklahoma, Track 1 (arr: Robert Russell Bennett)
3. Same, Track 2
4. Same, Track 3
5. Same, Track 4
Music of South Pacific and Oklahoma (Rondo ST 536, 1958)
The Broadway Symphonic Jazz Orch., cond. by Suzanne Auber, Pianist.
(Orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett)
"In these recordings the music has not been reshaped or reformed for the benefit of stereo"--from back jacket. That's a relief! I hate it when music is reshaped or reformed for the benefit of stereo.