Gilbert and Sullivan and Danny Kaye (1947–49)

Danny Kaye with
Johnny Green and his orchestra and
Victor Young and his orchestra
Australian Festival FX-5095
Australian Festival FX-5095
Australian Festival CFR10-513
Australian Festival CFR10-513
Decca DL 5094
Decca DL 5094

Danny Kaye was reputedly a first-class G&S fan, but he never played any G&S on stage, as far as I know. This disc gives every suggestion that he would have been quite good at it. All the songs are full of character, and several of them have updated lyrics. For example, in the Nightmare Song, all the words from "For you dream..." to "You're a regular wreck..." are substituted — quite cleverly, I might add. I could have done without him singing Yum-Yum's "The moon and I," which is crooned like a popular ballad and is slightly rewritten to suggest a man singing about his love, rather than about himself.

The selections are as follows (conductor and recording date in parentheses):

The Judge's song (Johnny Green; 2-Dec-47)
"When first my old, old love I knew" (Johnny Green; 2-Dec-47)
"In enterprise of martial kind" (Johnny Green; 2-Dec-47)
"The Policeman's song" (Johnny Green; 4-Dec-47)
"If you're anxious for to shine" (Johnny Green; 4-Dec-47)
"The Nightmare Song" (Johnny Green; 4-Dec-47)
"The moon and I" (Johnny Green; 19-Dec-47)
"My name is John Wellington Wells" (Victor Young; late 1949; mat. L5142)
"When I was a lad" (Victor Young; late 1949; mat. L5143)
Liner Notes
Liner notes to Decca Album 694

The set was originally issued on 78rpm and 45rpm discs, including the first seven selections. The remaining two selections were recorded separately about two years later, and then the whole set was re-issued on 10" LP. After a long period of unavailability, the set was re-issued on CD in 2004.

The Policeman's Song was included on "The Best of Danny Kaye," MCAD 31058 (1987). The Policeman's Song and "When you're anxious for to shine" were included on a more recent Danny Kaye compilation, "Entertainer Extraordinary" (ASV Ltd LIVING ERA CD AJA 5270).

David Cookson points out:

Both tracks were recorded on 4 December 1947, and both were conducted (and arranged?) by Johnny Green. The credit for the Policeman's Song includes the words "with male quartet & orchestra conducted by Johnny Green". There's an extra verse to the Policeman's Song, and the third verse of If You're Anxious For To Shine has been completely altered. I believe the additional lyrics were written by Sylvia Fine, Danny Kaye's wife.

The liner notes to the original album (see inset; above) provide more background on the rewritten lyrics. Correspondent Maxwell Siegel points out that there is an extended discussion in Leslie Baliy's 1956 revised edition of The Gilbert and Sullivan Book, pp. 14–17. Siegel notes, "Baily quotes from his correspondence with Sylvia Fine, in which they discuss the updated lyrics as well as the decision to record "The Moon and I" as a contemporary love ballad." (Baily is hostile to the liberties taken with Sullivan's orchestrations.)

Decca Album 694
Decca Album 694
Issue History
Summer 1948 Decca 78rpm 24473/5 in Album 694 3 78rpm discs; 7 selections
45rpm ED 540 Two-disc set
ca. Late 1949 Decca 78rpm 24865 1 78rpm disc, 2 further selections recorded late 1949
10" Mono LP DL 5094 One disc; 9 selections
???? Australian Festival 10" Mono LP CFR10-513  
45rpm FX-5095 One EP. Contains items from Pinafore, Mikado, Trial and Pirates. (See cover, pictured above.)
2004 AVID CD AMSC799 Also includes 1953 D'Oyly Carte Sorcerer and Martyn Green's Gilbert and Sullivan