- Released: October 25, 1999
- Label: Pearl
- 1.My Heart Belongs to Daddy
- 2.Kiss the Boys Goodbye
- 3.Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)
- 4.Katie Went to Haiti
- 5.Lucky to Be Me
- 6.Mountain High, Valley Low
- 7.I Get a Kick out of You
- 8.Foolish Heart
- 9.That's Him
- 10.The Waiter and the Porter and the Upstairs Maid
- 11.Do It Again
- 12.I'll Walk Alone
- 13.Wait 'Til the Sun Shines, Nellie
- 14.Lonely Town
- 15.Ain't It a Shame About Mame?
- 16.Where You Are
- 17.See the Monkey
- 18.I Don't Want to Cry Anymore
- 19.What Is This Thing Called Love?
- 20.Vision Song
- 21.Why Shouldn't I?
- 22.You're Lonely and I'm Lonely
- 23.Who'll Buy My Violets?
- 24.Bitter Harvest
- 25.Most Gentlemen Don't Like Love
Compilation producers: Tony Watts, Colin Brown.
Liner Note Author: Tony Watts.
Recording information: Burnswick, American Decca (12/02/1938-03/??/1946).
Broadway star Mary Martin (1913-1990) is best remembered for songs like "(I'm in Love With) A Wonderful Guy" from South Pacific (1949) and "Do-Re-Mi" from The Sound of Music (1959). But she had an extensive career before appearing in those shows, and this 25-track collection chronicles her early years, starting with her Broadway debut in Cole Porter's Leave It to Me! (1938), kittenishly singing the risqu? "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," and continuing only through her third Broadway musical, Lute Song (1946). The abrupt cut-off is a legal necessity: Europe's 50-year copyright limit on recordings means that the British Flapper label only had access to material from 1948 or earlier for this 1999 release, unless it wanted to seek permission from the copyright holders and pay licensing fees. (In the U.S., Sony and Universal continue to claim copyright on these tracks.) But Martin did plenty of recording during the seven-plus-year period under consideration here. After cutting the version of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" for Brunswick Records that leads off this album, she signed to Decca Records and did a variety of sessions. There was her debut solo album, Cole Porter Songs (1940), including "Let's Do It," "Katie Went to Haiti," "I Get a Kick out of You," "What Is This Thing Called Love," and "Why Shouldn't I,"; there were songs she sang in the movies she made in the late '30s and early '40s, such as "Kiss the Boys Goodbye," "The Waiter and the Porter and the Upstairs Maid" (with Bing Crosby and Jack Teagarden), "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" (with Crosby), and "Ain't It a Shame About Mame"; there were independent songs, such as her hit version of the World War II standard "I'll Walk Alone"; and there were cast recordings for her first starring vehicle on Broadway, One Touch of Venus (1943), as well as Lute Song (plus a couple of songs as a studio-only replacement cast member in On the Town). It makes for a quite varied collection that ranges from the cute to the clever to the sentimental to the slightly bizarre (at least, out of context -- the Lute Song material, with its Oriental tone and odd subject matter, seems to come out of left field). Martin handles it all well, seeming to adopt a different vocal character to match each song. Since Flapper did not have access to the original masters and had to make do with transfers from old 78 rpm records, the sound quality varies, too, unfortunately; particularly poor are the tracks from One Touch of Venus, and maybe that's why "Speak Low" and "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," two of the show's best-known songs, are missing. The 1995 Koch Records album The Decca Years 1938-1946 and the 1996 MCA/Decca reissue combining One Touch of Venus and Lute Song present these recordings in much better fidelity, with Columbia/Legacy's 1993 compilation 16 Most Requested Songs including the Brunswick version of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and the 1991 MCA reissue that combines Fancy Free and On the Town containing Martin's recordings of "Lucky to Be Me" and "Lonely Town." These more legitimate releases account for all the tracks here except for the last one, a 1938 recording of "Most Gentlemen Don't Like Love." Typical of an unlicensed release, the album has unreliable annotations, including misspellings and incorrect recording dates. Even worse, Tony Watts' liner notes, constituting a brief biography of Martin, are rife with factual errors. Contrary to his false statements, Martin was not cast in Leave It to Me! by producer Laurence Schwab (he discovered her, but the show he had in mind for her never materialized, and she then auditioned for Leave It to Me!, which he did not produce); Peter Pan was not "sadly underappreciated by Broadway audiences" (it had a contractually limited run because of a live television broadcast that had been planned ahead of time); the part of Maria in The Sound of Music does not call for "a woman of 'a certain age,'" but, on the contrary, for a girl barely out of her teens, if that, while Martin was 45 when she played it; and she did not star in Hello, Dolly! in 1963, but rather in 1965. (This album is not to be confused with an identically titled collection released by ASV/Living Era in 2004 that contains tracks recorded through 1950, including selections from South Pacific.) ~ William Ruhlmann