This Is the Army

This-is-the-ArmyOriginal Broadway Cast, 1942 (Decca) 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) Shortly after the start of World War II, Irving Berlin created a new version of his World War I revue Yip! Yip! Yaphank. The resulting show, This Is the Army, was incredibly successful: It played to turn-away business on Broadway before traveling the country, serving as the basis of a Hollywood film, and then touring cities and army bases all over the world for the duration of the war. All proceeds from ticket sales, music royalties, movie profits — about $10 million in all — were donated to the Army Emergency Relief Fund. But as acclaimed as the show was onstage, it simply doesn’t come across on the cast recording. There are nine songs here, and the best of them are the two that have become standards: “This Is the Army, Mr. Jones” and “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” the latter sung by Berlin himself. Other songs, including the attractive “I’m Getting Tired So I Can Sleep,” are performed so squarely that they seem nearly comical. To fill out its CD release of the album, Decca included the original cast recordings of songs from Harold Rome’s returning-G.!. revue Call Me Mister (which are fun) and four choral selections from Moss Hart’s Air Force drama Winged Victory (which are not). — David Wolf