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June 20, 2007

CD

Noël Coward at Las Vegas (DRG). In 1955 Noël Coward, who was past his playwriting prime, retrofitted himself as a cabaret singer, hired Peter Matz to arrange an evening's worth of his best show tunes, took himself to the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, and promptly became the hottest act in town. This live album, which documents his stage show, is a priceless document of Coward the singer-songwriter at the peak of his performing powers. The highlights include a high-speed version of "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tossed off with dizzying nonchalance and a gleefully naughty rewrite of Cole Porter's "Let's Do It" whose updated lyrics are even more outrageous than the original: "Tennessee Williams, self-taught, does it/Kinsey with a deafening report does it/Let's do it, let's fall in love." That such arch japes went over big a half-century ago says a great deal about America then and now (TT).

Posted June 20, 2007 4:42 PM

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