Parade (Herman)

Parade-HermanOriginal Off-Broadway Cast, 1960 (Kapp/Decca) 2 Stars (2 / 5) This topical revue served as a calling card for a young composer-lyricist named Jerry Herman. It remains a pleasant diversion if you’re in the right mood. By 1960, Herman’s remarkable facility for songwriting was fully in place — although it’s a little disorienting to hear the melody of “Show Tune,” later used for “It’s Today” in Mame, and an overture passage that was recycled for “I Want to Make the World Laugh” in Mack & Mabel. Dody Goodman and Charles Nelson Reilly deliver the comedy material, including the notably dirty “Save the Village,” in which Goodman protests shutting down the Women’s House of Detention on Sixth Avenue (“There’s love in the laundry / There’s love in the showers / There’s love in the clinic”); “Confession to a Park Avenue Mother,” in which Reilly shamefacedly admits loving a girl from the West Side; “Maria in Spats,” about Maria Callas’s banishment from the Metropolitan Opera (“Why can’t I play the Palace / If Judy can play the Met?”); and “Jolly Theatrical Season,” which spoofs flop shows. The uneven but generally enjoyable ballads are handled by big-voiced unknowns Lester James, Fia Karin, and the astonishing Richard Tone, who has one number only: “Two a Day,” a salute to vaudeville that brings down the house even on disc. — David Barbour