DEAR JERRY: Having just returned from New York City, where I took in several Broadway shows, I find myself wanting more knowledge about original cast recordings.
I understand the difference between an original cast performance and a movie soundtrack recording, both of which often exist for the exact same show; however, a couple other commonly used terms are not yet clear. They are “studiotrack” and “studio cast.”
As the guy who wrote the book on recordings of this type (“The Official Price Guide to Movie/TV Soundtracks & Original Cast Albums”), please explain a bit about these terms, and how they differ from one another?
Barry Carlyle, Auburndale, Fla.
DEAR BARRY: First, for readers less familiar with the subject, let's review the two main categories of show tune recordings.
A “cast” recording is one made during a live stage performance. If the assemblage of players is the first for a particular show, an album of their performance is an “original cast” recording.
Years after a successful show closes, a new group of players may present their version of a show. Such a recording would be an “original revival cast,” or, if not with the original revival troupe, just a “revival cast.”
It doesn't end there. Most of the top Broadway shows are staged by other groups, across America as well as overseas. When recorded, we end up with the likes of “original Los Angeles cast, original Los Angeles revival cast, original London cast, original London revival cast,” and so forth for countless locations worldwide.
As you might imagine, the opposite itinerary also occurs, as shows originating elsewhere work their way to America and, perhaps, even Broadway.
Many of the top stage shows catch the eye of the film industry, resulting in a big screen rendering, usually with all or most of the same music and, often, dialogue, as heard in the stage version. Though exceptions exist, Hollywood's interpretation usually follows the live show by several years.
A recording of the music as presented in the film is an “original soundtrack.” Those with music from a televised program are “TV soundtracks.”
Which brings us to your question about studio casts and studiotracks.
There can be only one original cast; however, most of the record labels issued an album of songs from virtually all of the triumphal shows. They would have artists in their stable go into a studio and record the songs from the live show. Such an album is known as a “studio cast.” Usually, a studio cast does not involve the same performers who appear in the stage show, though there are some exceptions there too.
When a studio recording is made of songs from a film, the resultant disc is a “studiotrack.” As with casts, there can be unlimited studiotracks, but only one original soundtrack.
For films for which no original cast performance exists, such as “Goldfinger,” it is easy to identify the studiotracks. The original soundtrack is on United Artists, so any other label's album by that title is a studiotrack.
For films inspired by stage shows, it is the time of release that usually separates studio casts from studiotracks.
“Oklahoma,” for example hit the Broadway stage in 1943, with its original soundtrack issued by Decca. Between '43 and 1954, numerous companies, including even Decca, released studio cast recordings. When the film came out on Capitol, in 1955, the other labels jumped on the bandwagon, but their issues are all studiotracks.
IZ ZAT SO? Leading the pack of the most valuable cast (not soundtrack) albums are ones unknown to most folks. Here are the Top 10 (with prices noted): 1. “No for an Answer” ($525); 2. “Body in the Seine” ($400); 3. “Music in the Air” ($400); 4. “Sandhog” ($325); 5. “Clownaround” ($250); 6. “Good News” ($250); 7. “Jeeves” ($250); 8. “Maria Golovin” ($225); 9. “Parade” ($225); 10. “Be My Guest” ($200).