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Are you aware of Ben Bagley?


joined:12/31/69

joined:
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Are you aware of Ben Bagley?#0
Posted: 2/15/04 at 8:58pm
OK folks, you know you're out there.

What was the first song that turned you on to Ben Bagley and his enthusiastically crazy love for the musical theatre?

My experience was first seeing Kaye Ballard and the cast of THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ENTIRE WORLD AS SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF COLE PORTRE on NBC'S "Today" show back when the show first opened in 1965. I was totally smitten. But then I lost track of the zaniness and actually Ben Bagley never registered with me then. I only knew Kay Ballard.

Flash foward to living in NYC over 10 years later. My parter plays for me the Off-BC LP of DECLINE and I make the association with my teen years. Then we listen to RODGERS AND HARD REVISTED and I hear "At the Roxy Music Hall. I can't get enough. I can't find the lyrics so I write them down from endlessly playing the album. I was hooked.

Thank you Ben, RIP. You did a tremendous service to the life of the musical theatre by your enthusiastic and loving approach to all the wonderful songs that came before.

Who else? Stand up and proudly say,

"I am a Ben Bagley afficiando and I'm not ashamed to admit it."

Yours for class on Broadway!

Broadway Bulldog
Updated On: 2/18/04 at 08:58 PM

joined:12/31/69

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re: Closeted Ben Bagley Admirers#1
Posted: 2/15/04 at 9:49pm
Com'on, folks. You know you're there!

Bulldog
MusicMan
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joined:5/16/03
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re: Closeted Ben Bagley Admirers#2
Posted: 2/15/04 at 9:53pm

Ben Bagley claimed me with Kaye Ballard singing I'VE STILL GOT MY HEALTH on one of the Porter albums.
I got to meet BB once--I was dating his niece (or whatever the relation was). A peculiar but memorable man who performed a considerable service for musical theater lovers everywhere. His kind will not be seen again. (Though I own most of the series on LP, I regret that I have yet to hear and collect all of the extant albums. "Ah, well, we'll catch up, some other time..."
Broadway Legend
joined:12/31/69
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re: re: Closeted Ben Bagley Admirers#3
Posted: 2/15/04 at 9:59pm
Thank you Music Man. I never met BB but I didn have a friend who was invited to his apartment. I never heard the rest of the story. Yikes!

I credit BB with expanding my naive knowledge of musical theatre to the nth degree. I have numerous albums but not all. I'm still collectings. I just realized that THE LITTLEST REVUE was all Vernon Duke. The classiest of musical theatre composers. According to Bagley, Frank Loesser put up his own money to orchestrate LITTLEST REVUE simply because he greatly admired Duke's work. That is class.

Bulldog.
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re: re: re: Closeted Ben Bagley Admirers#4
Posted: 2/15/04 at 11:24pm
Four songs stand out in my memory: "Ive Got A Crush On You Mister Clean," sung by Jane Connell, "Garbage" sung by Bea Arthur, something about if you love with a love that's true sung by (Yes, Bulldog) Miss. Estelle Parsons and a wonderful song called "Mister Off Broadway" (One of the lyrics being: "Give my regards to the Jan Hus Auditorium.")
He had a night club, Ben Begley, on 55th Street between 5th and 6th. Unable to gain entrance, I used to walk by just to stare at the display case as a very sophisticatedly challanged pre-teenager from Long Island.
Kisses, Bully
Gladys
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Gladys, you got class!

Broadway Bulldog
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MasterLcZ
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I want to like the Bagley albums more than I actually do.

Ben Bagley's 'Revisited' albums appeared from the early 1970s on a time when very few people were interested in recording obscure material by the great masters of the Broadway & Hollywood musical (and when the oily Michael Feinstien was in diapers), so he deserves great credit for that. But the quality of singers he assembled for each album varies widely. Here are Barbara Cook, Dorothy Louden, Elaine Stritch and Blossom Dearie (an aquired taste I've yet to aquire)...but alas here also are Nancy Anderson, Phillis Diller and her husband Wade Donovan (yes, Dollypop, I know you loved her in TWHM but she is unbearable on the Bagley discs) and other worse singers in often horrible new arrangements. So one needs to pick and choose very carefully to find the gems among a lot of dross.

Often, the best part of Bagley's albums are his rib-tickling liner notes and cast bios of which the following is typical: "HERMIONE GINGOLD: Miss Gingold scored a theatrical triumph in this country in 'John Murray Anderson's Almanac' and her motion pictures sucesses include 'Gigi', 'White Slave Queen', 'Promise Her Anything' and Harold Pinter's 'Adventures of Busty Brown'.

I met Ben many years ago when I was just a pimply-faced teen. He was very, very drunk.

Worth checking out are the recordings of Ben's 'Shoestring Reviews', which he mounted for a few years in the late '50s and for which he largely supplied the music & lyrics. The only performer of note who came out of these shows was Bea Arthur, and I was very dissapointed she made no mention of them in her recent Broadway one-woman show. She's very funny in the recordings of them, particularly 'The Arts'.

'Shoestring '57' features my favorite obscure Bagley song: "The Rochelle Hudson Tango".
"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
Updated On: 2/16/04 at 02:34 PM
Broadway Legend
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Master, I find that part of the charm of the recordings. The singers aren't all top notch but some of the arrangements are first rate in my opinion. The Bagley recording of TOO MANY GIRLS is quite a treat, and priceless.

These recordings aren't for all tastes but the depth of the material is what it's about. Hell most of the performers who recorded for Bagley have more style and panache then the ubiquitous performers one reads about on the online message boards.

You gotta love 'em!

Bulldog

Updated On: 2/18/04 at 02:58 PM
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Who has NOT heard of Ben Bagley and his musical theatre song LPs/CDS?

I am curious to know how many of you never heard of him, especially since it looks as if only 4 of us acknowledge some familiarity.

Thanks, Bulldog
MusicMan
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You gotta know that Bagley's record company was HIM and him alone. He achieved what he did with virtually no money. It was his passion for the American musical's legacy that got the stars to contribute their talents gratis and got the LPs pressed.
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That's right MusicMan. The guy has to be admired for his passion for the American Musical and its forgotten songs and shows and his determination to preserve them.

Thanks for your comments.

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