Leonard Bernstein – West Side Story Soundtrack

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West Side Story Soundtrack

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

What separated the best pressings from the rest of the pack turned out to be more than just rich, sweet, full-bodied sound. The better pressings make the various singers sound dramatically more solid, three-dimensional and real. You can hear the nuances of their deliveries much more clearly on a copy that sounds as good as this!

Tubey Magic to Die For

This early ’60s LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate solid, palpable, real persons singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 57 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

Side One

Super Hot, very present and lively, with that classical fat bottom that ’60s all-tube recordings tend to have.

Side Two

Equally good, with rich, clear, breathy vocals. This is the right sound – relaxed and natural and never dry.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Prologue
Jet Song 
Something’s Coming 
Dance at the Gym 
Maria 
America 
Tonight

Side Two

Gee, Officer Krupke! 
I Feel Pretty 
One Hand, One Heart 
Quintet 
The Rumble 
Cool 
A Boy Like That / I Have a Love 
Somewhere (Finale)

AMG Review

The soundtrack of the West Side Story film is deservedly one of the most popular soundtrack recordings of all time, and one of the relatively few to have attained long-term popularity beyond a specialized soundtrack/theatrical musical audience. (It is an entirely different recording, it should be emphasized, from the original Broadway cast recording, which was also a massive-selling album.)

Its widespread impact could be attributed to a few factors: the wide range of compositional and orchestral styles, from cool swing jazz and shades of Latin pop to classical; the universality of the storyline, pitting underdog lovers against the world; and an assortment of songs that goes well beyond the sentimental love odes that are the staples of musicals (though it has some of those, too), including some downright tough posturing and sardonic social commentary.

“Jet Song,” “America,” “Gee, Officer Krupke,” “Tonight,” “Cool,” “Maria,” “I Feel Pretty,” and “Something’s Coming” are all among the most famous and oft-sung soundtrack numbers ever. 

Background

West Side Story is the soundtrack to the 1961 film West Side Story. Released in 1961, the soundtrack spent 54 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s album charts, giving it the longest run at No. 1 of any album in history, although some lists instead credit Michael Jackson’s Thriller, on the grounds that West Side Story was listed on a chart for stereo albums only at a time when many albums were recorded in mono.

In 1962, it won a Grammy award for “Best Sound Track Album – Original Cast” and Johnny Richards orchestrations of the movie score (on Kenton’s West Side Story) also winning a Grammy in 1962 for “Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album” further bolstering the popularity of the movie and soundtrack. In the United States, it was the best-selling album of the 1960s, certifying three times platinum by the RIAA on November 21, 1986.

Though the album was released just a few years after the release of the original broadway cast recording, it is according to Broadway Babies preferred by some to the earlier version both sentimentally, as the film succeeded in establishing the musical as a “popular masterpiece”, and musically, as it contains “beefier orchestration”.