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Mary Martin - My Heart Belongs To Daddy
A Centenary Tribute - Her 26 Finest, 1938-1959

see end of review for track listing
Mary Martin with various orchestras
Recorded 1938-59
RETROSPECTIVE RTR 4231 [77:35]

Mary Martin, versatile star of stage, screen and latterly TV, began recording in 1938 with the song that lends its name to the title of this disc, My Heart Belongs to Daddy. It comes from Leave it To Me, the Cole Porter show of that year and Martin’s first Broadway outing. Other cast members included Sophie Tucker and Gene Kelly. This was an auspicious beginning and she went on to enjoy a successful career into the late 1980s. Retrospective has taken the sensible idea to group songs under paragraphs - Cole Porter, Rhythm on the River (the 1940 film), Birth of the Blues, represented by two famous numbers with Bing Crosby, South Pacific and then miscellaneous songs that represent the centrality of her repertoire and her stage musical milieu.
 
Her Cole Porter is, for the most part, nice and relaxed and elegantly laid-back. There’s no sense of the hipster in I Get A Kick Out of You and there no eyebrow-raising paragraphs in Let’s Do It. The ethos is warm, leisurely, and slightly watchful. She reveals her coloratura side in a rather arch version of that nineteenth-century charmer, Listen To The Mocking Bird, in which Woody Herman’s band condescends lightly and politely to swing the second part. More representative is the sassier-by-far Ain’t It A Shame About Mame? And those Decca sides with Crosby - and Jack Teagarden in Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie - from Birth of the Blues.
 
She’s as sultry as she ever gets on Do It Again! - music by Gershwin - in which a twinkle in the Martin eye comes across. Another piece of musical archaeology, The Lily of Laguna, a Music Hall special, fares less well, even with Bing on hand. Her duet with singer Kenny Baker on Weill’s Speak Low is reasonable though not wholly persuasive, but the support Camarata and his orchestra provide in I’ll Walk Alone and Beyond The Blue Horizon is excellent. It’s possible that her greatest recorded legacy is to be found in the South Pacific sides, recorded in April 1949 and this quartet of songs will never date. She starred in The Sound of Music on stage and sings it here in a 1959 recording. She duets with her son, Larry Hagman - Dallas’ JR Ewing - on Get Out Those Old Records and leaves behind nice, but hardly outstanding versions of classics such as My Funny Valentine and The Lady is a Tramp.
 
These sides have been well remastered and there’s a typically useful booklet note to help direct one’s listening.
 
Jonathan Woolf 

Track listing
1 My Heart Belongs To Daddy
2 Let’s Do It
3 I Get A Kick Out Of You
4 Katie Went To Haiti
5 Listen To The Mocking Bird
6 I Don’t Want To Cry Any More
7 Ain’t It A Shame About Mame?
8 The Waiter And The Porter And The Upstairs Maid (With Bing Crosby & Jack Teagarden)
9 Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie
(with Bing Crosby)
10 Kiss The Boys Goodbye
11 Do It Again!
12 The Lily Of Laguna (with Bing Crosby)
13 Speak Low
14 I’ll Walk Alone
15 Beyond The Blue Horizon
16 Almost Like Being In Love
17 A Cock-Eyed Optimist
18 I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair
19 I’m In Love With A Wonderful Guy
20 Honey Bun
21 My Funny Valentine
22 The Lady Is A Tramp
23 They Say It’s Wonderful (with John Raitt)
24 The Sound Of Music
25 Get Out Those Old Records (with Larry Hagman)
26 Goodnight, Wherever You Are