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Music Review

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Lucky to be Me
A Life in Music


Artist: Alfred Drake
Label: Stage Door Records
RRP: £9.99
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STAGE 9062
Release Date: 26 April 2019

To many, the name Alfred Drake will be somewhat of an unknown, certainly to younger fans of Broadway and musical theatre. But to others, of shall we say a certain age, he was one of the first true stars, and an iconic figure on the Great White Way.

In a career that encompassed every possible aspect of the performing arts, from Gilbert and Sullivan operetta to classic Broadway musicals and the plays of Shakespeare, his legacy is unparalleled. However, when you listen to his elegant voice a true picture of his spectacular artistry emerges.

Lucky To Be Me - A Life in Music represents the first time a solo album of Alfred Drake's recordings has been issued. Presented as a Deluxe 2CD set, the album includes an entire disc of "Demos, Live Performances and Rarities" culled from Drake's own private archive of recordings.

Stage Door have selected beloved songs from Oklahoma!, Kiss Me, Kate, and Kismet, but have used less familiar performances to create a truly unique compilation with which to honour the great man. Of special note is the inclusion of the great 'Soliloquy' from Carousel, the recording of which he was most proud.

Highlights from these unreleased treasures on disc 2 include his 1940 Metropolitan Opera Audition and demos recorded for the Broadway musicals The Liar and Courtin' Time. Compiled with the assistance of Broadway historian and Alfred Drake archivist George Dansker, Lucky To Be Me - A Life in Music showcases the brilliance of Alfred Drake's work on stage and in the recording studio. There were many great stars on Broadway in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. The distaff side had, of course, Mary Martin and Ethel Merman, to name only two of the most famous of that era. But there was only one comparable male star in this musical theatre galaxy - and that was the great Alfred Drake.

I loved this recording - not only for the excellent unrelated items, that, whilst not the best quality in times due to their sources, are a real treasure trove. It was nice to hear not only the less popular and released versions of the classic tracks, but also with a full orchestra accompanying his iconic voice. Of course, the items from Carousel and Oklahoma are always favourites, and sounding great here, but it was also rewarding hearing lesser know tracks from shows such as Roberta and The Liar, even if only in demo format. I had a few favourites on this release, 'Lonely Town' (from the wonderful On The Town) and the more-than-interesting practice tracks on disk two being the stand out for me.

There is also a very informative CD booklet, compiled by George Dansker, who is also the curator of Drake’s personal archive. It really is very good, and gives a great insight into Alfred Drake. Stage Door is also releasing, at the same time as this release, the Theatre Guild production of 1944’s Sing Out, Sweet Land!, which featured Drake along with Burl Ives and Juanita Hall. This was a Decca release back in 1947 and also features some other great Drake tracks.

A very welcome recording featuring great tracks by a voice who remains to this day Broadway's ultimate leading man.


Ian Gude

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