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Music Review

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Singles and Rarities


Artist: Pat Suzuki
Label: Stage Door Records
RRP: £9.99
STAGE 2440
Release Date: 20 April 2018

I have always been a fan of female vocalists. As I think I’ve said before, my collection (after cast recordings) shows a heavy bias towards the ladies, and I have CDs by most of them. One of the ones who has escaped my collection up until now (although I’ve heard a couple of her albums over the years) is Pat Suzuki. "Who?" I hear you ask. Yes, granted she’s not perhaps that well known, but if you haven’t heard of her, or have for that matter, then Stage Door Records have made it very easy to get acquainted with her with their latest releases. Not only have they released a collectors CD of her Singles and Rareties, they have also released her entire back catalogue on the Complete Albums Series.

American actress and popular singer Pat Suzuki is best known for her role as Linda Low, the brassy nightclub singer, in the original Broadway production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song (1958). The show, in which she sang 'Grant Avenue' and 'I Enjoy Being a Girl,' made Suzuki a star, and the latter song became her signature. The musical, featuring a mostly Asian cast and dealing with the difficulties between clashing cultures in the American West-Coast immigrant community, made a splash on the cover of Time Magazine in December 1958, when the faces of Pat Suzuki and Miyoshi Umeki were superimposed in front of an American flag. Two years later Suzuki was to sing at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.

Flower Drum Song ran for 602 performances on Broadway, and brought Pat Suzuki a Theatre World Award for her debut. In 1959, Suzuki released a solo album called Broadway ’59, which opened with the three most popular songs from Flower Drum Song alongside numbers from the then current Broadway shows Redhead, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Bells Are Ringing, West Side Story and First Impressions. The album was a critical and commercial hit and brought her a nomination for a Grammy Award in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category in 1960.

The Singles and Rarities collectors CD compiles all of Pat Suzuki’s non-album singles recorded for RCA, Capitol and PDA Records between 1958-1967. The CD concludes with a selection of unreleased tracks recorded for Pat!, a mid Sixties solo album that was never completed. The five unreleased tracks include a showstopping version of Stephen Sondheim's 'Everybody Says Don't' (from Anyone Can Whistle), a striking interpretation of Frank Loesser's 'Never Will I Marry' (from Greenwillow) and a unique reinvention of the Harold Arlen standard 'When The Sun Comes Out’. This is probably more for collectors, as the title suggests, although the material here is equally impressive. I loved the Sondheim, which sits well against perhaps more "classic" songs. I particularly enjoyed ‘Love Eyes’ from the much-neglected musical Whoop Up.

This is an excellent show case of Suzuki’s work, and Stage Door have done a great job. Sound quality suffers at times, but I guess the source material here is the best that could be obtained. Still very listenable. A worthwhile investment.


Ian Gude

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