Red, Hot and Blue

Red-HotEthel Merman With Studio Artists, 1936 (Liberty/AEI) {usr=4] Hoping for another Anything Goes, producer Vinton Freedley put Cole Porter and Ethel Merman together again, this time adding Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope to the mix. But Red, Hot and Blue, about a missing heiress who can only be identified by a waffle-iron brand on her buttock, ran only about half as long as its predecessor. Merman recorded her four major songs from the show with pianists Fairchild and Carroll and their orchestra, and she’s in top form here — belting “Ridin’ High” to high heaven, breaking your heart in “Down in the Depths (on the 90th Floor),” and swinging with insouciance through the title song and “It’s DeLovely.” Also included are a Fairchild-Carroll instrumental medley and the amusing “The Ozarks Are Calling Me Home,” performed by Ramona and her Grand Piano. (Note: AEI’s CD also contains selections from the Arthur Schwartz-Dorothy Fields show Stars in Your Eyes. Other songs from Red, Hot and Blue can be found on Ben Bagley’s Cole Porter Revisited album.) — Jeffrey Dunn