Fine and Dandy

Fine-and-DandyStudio Cast, 2004 (PS Classics) 1 Stars (1 / 5) PS Classics’ recording of this 1930 musical presents a fairly conventional score by Kay Swift and Paul James (a nom de plume for Swift’s husband, James Warburg). The show was a vehicle for comedian Joe Cook. It features a catchy title tune that became a standard, as well as a big ballad (“Can This Be Love?”) and a new-dance-craze number (“The Jig-Hop”). In these and other numbers, Swift’s hot-jazz rhythms and bluesy chords are pretty good imitations of the work of her sometime boyfriend George Gershwin. James’ lyrics, while illogical and a little casually rhymed, have an infectious, early-Depression optimism. If the material is decidedly second-tier, the execution of this recording is first-rate. Working from the one surviving fragment of Hans Spialek’s orchestrations, Russell Warner and Larry Moore wrote sensational period charts that are played here by an excellent 28-piece orchestra, energetically conducted by Aaron Gandy. If you can get past Mario Cantone’s screeching of the title song and Anne Kaufman’s amateur-night line readings, many of the performances are enjoyable: Gavin Creel ingratiates instantly in “Starting at the Bottom,” Jennifer Laura Thompson is an appealing ingenue, and Andrea Burns exudes musical-comedy snap in “The Jig-Hop” and “I Hit a New High.” Best of all is Carolee Carmello; if this were a live stage show, her “Nobody Breaks My Heart” would surely stop it. The score is shortish, but the disc generously includes an appendix of guest stars warbling other Kay Swift tunes. The Jessica Molaskey-John Pizzarelli duet “Can’t We Be Friends?” is so contemporary cool, you’d never guess that the song dates from 1929. — Marc Miller