Celebrating Cole’s 123rd

Welcome to another Wildcard Wednesday! In celebration of Cole Porter’s 123rd birthday (coming up on Monday, the 9th of this month), I’m sharing an unreleased 1977 television special entitled From This Moment On, which features Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, and Ethel Merman. (Bob Hope makes a cameo too.) A fun watch; enjoy!

I also want to highlight some of Porter’s neglected classics. Naturally, there are too many to list here (and I won’t be featuring anything from shows that have previously been covered on Musical Theatre Mondays), but these are just a few that I think YOU, the sophisticated Porter lover, should know about.

 

01) “I’m In Love Again” from Greenwich Village Follies of 1924

A big hit during the ’20s, I’m dismayed that the song isn’t better known today. Porter’s hottest tune of the decade, “I’m In Love Again” scintillates with rhythm and joviality. This rendition by Jack Payne and his Hotel Cecil Orchestra is my favorite recording.

02) “Looking At You” from Wake Up And Dream (1929)

The most enduring number from this musical revue that initially opened in London before coming to New York (with some slight musical alterations)  is “What Is This Thing Called Love?” But this number has such hot charm! Here again is Jack Payne, this time with the BBC Dance Orchestra.

03) “They All Fall In Love” from the film The Battle Of Paris (1929)

One of two numbers that introduced Porter to writing songs for the screen, “They All Fall In Love” was performed in the film by the legendary Gertrude Lawrence. This piano bar rendition is by Justin Hayford, who sings all the wonderfully catchy lyrics.

04) “Kate The Great” written for Anything Goes (1934)

Porter wrote this number for Anything Goes, but it was reportedly excised when Merman refused to sing the dirty lyrics. One of his smartest, telling of Russia’s Catherine the Great, this rendition was recorded by Kim Criswell for McGlinn’s excellent recording of the restored original score.

05) “Hey, Babe Hey” from the film Born To Dance (1936)

Jimmy Stewart starred in a musical? Yes, he did — and sang Porter’s extremely difficult (it baffled William Gaxton, for whom it was first written) “Easy To Love.” Aside from that classic (and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”) I’m nuts about this forgotten nautical-themed ensemble number.

06) “From Alpha To Omega” from You Never Know (1938)

You Never Know was the first score Porter composed after his riding accident, and he later went on to call it one of his weakest. I think’s that’s a gross overstatement — as there are many excellent and unknown tunes in the show. This comes from the 1973 Off-Broadway Cast LP.

07) “Make It Another Old Fashioned, Please” from Panama Hattie (1940)

One of the biggest hits from Panama Hattie, the fourth of five shows that Porter composed for Ethel Merman, this was much better known when Merman was around singing it. Since her passing, it’s been a bit neglected. Enjoy a wistful LIVE recording from the Original 1940 Production.

08) “Hasta Luego” from the film Something To Shout About (1943)

This film score is an unknown embarrassment of riches — including the moderately popular “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.” But I’m wild about this glib break-up song, complete with Porter’s iconic Latin beat. Ripped from the film, here’s “Hasta Luego.”

09) “Hence It Don’t Make Sense” from Seven Lively Arts (1944)

From an ill-fated musical revue that starred Bert Lahr and Beatrice Lillie, the only completely worthwhile song is “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” However, this particular number has a swinging sense of fun, especially as played here by Tony Pastor and his orchestra.

10) “Should I Tell You I Love You?” from Around The World (1946)

Another ill-fated musical, Around The World was more a visual showcase than a musical one. Porter wrote few songs for the score, and none of them became hits. However, “Should I Tell You I Love You?” has an appealing simplicity. Sung here by Larry Laurence (Enzo Stuarti).

11) “They Couldn’t Compare To You” from Out Of This World (1950)

This is a brilliant score, and it will undoubtedly end up featured on Musical Theatre Mondays at some point. A sexy retelling of a Plautus play, this number is sung in the show by Mercury and the girls. This comes from the (virtually complete) original cast album.

12) “I Am In Love” from Can-Can (1953)

Though this show, featuring many excellent (some unknown) songs, was adapted for the screen, this exhilarating number shamefully did not make the transition. This recording is by Peter Cookson from the original Broadway cast recording.

 

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Come back next Wednesday for another Wildcard post! And tune in tomorrow for more Xena!

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