Entertainment :: Music

Li’l Abner - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Friday Feb 7, 2014
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In 1957, the two-dimensional world of Dogpatch, USA, was adapted from its comic book to the Broadway stage, becoming the classic musical "Li’l Abner." Subsequently, animator Al Capp’s backwoods characters were made into a moderately successful movie, with the requisite soundtrack album. Now, for the first time, the 1959 recording from the motion picture has been made available digitally from Masterworks Broadway.

The record features all the rural stereotypes that were the staple of Capp’s world, and are sung by many of the same actors who brought "Li’l Abner" and his peers to life on the stage. Peter Palmer is the title role, the studly, albeit not particularly bright, young man who is the constant target of the voluptuous Daisy Mae, played in the film by Leslie Parrish (though sung on the record by Imogene Lynn). Capp’s creation of Sadie Hawkins Day did the equivalent of "going viral" during the strip’s publishing tenure and is still practiced in communities to this day.

The songs are catchy, even without depth, as they were crafted by Gene de Paul and the great Johnny Mercer, both of whom having previously collaborated on "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" for producers Norman Panama and Melvin Frank. The titles are an indication of what’s in store for the listener who may not be familiar with Capp’s world: "If I Had My Druthers," "Unnecessary Town," (both featuring Palmer) the historically backwards "The Country’s In The Very Best of Hands," and the square-dancing tribute to one of the town’s most respected figures in its history, "Jubilation T. Cornpone," performed by the always entertaining Stubby Kaye (Nicely Nicely in the movie-musical of "Guys and Dolls").

A thinking "cap" is not needed to enjoy this soundtrack from the glory days of the movie musical.

"Li’l Abner (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)"
Peter Parker, Stubby Kaye, Johnny Mercer, Leslie Parrish
CD and Digital formats
Masterworks Broadway

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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