Golden Boy LP

“Golden Boy” – Original Broadway Cast

Artist: Sammy Davis, Jr.
Format: LP
Label: Capitol
Cat. Num.: SVAS-2124
Rel. Date: November, 1964
SDJr.info Rating:
Available at Amazon
Get it on iTunes
Golden Boy LP

“Golden Boy” – Original Broadway Cast

Artist: Sammy Davis, Jr.
Format: LP
Label: Capitol
Cat. Num.: SVAS-2124
Rel. Date: November, 1964
SDJr.info Rating:
Available at Amazon
Get it on iTunes

Details

Without a doubt the most significant career development for Sammy Davis, Jr. in the 1960s was his decision in 1963 to return to the Broadway stage, and to take the leading role in a musical version of the Clifford Odets stage play Golden Boy.

The musical had major repercussions for Sammy professionally (he wouldn’t be entirely finished with the show until September 1968), politically (the show’s interracial romance was highly controversial), personally (by the conclusion of Golden Boy’s run on Broadway he was effectively separated from his wife, May Britt) and medically (his voice suffered enormously during 1964, and arguably never truly recovered).

For more details about the musical itself – its development, plot, score, and civil rights impact – please see the pages on this site dedicated to the Broadway run of Golden Boy (1964-66), and the Chicago and London run of Golden Boy (1968).

Opening night on Broadway was 20th October, 1964, but Sammy and the company had suffered through 16 weeks on the road in Philadelphia, Boston and Detroit, with multiple re-writes necessitating rehearsal during the day and performance at night. Given Sammy sang in 11 of the show’s 16 numbers, one clear consequence was the toll taken on his voice. In both Detroit and in previews in New York Sammy suffered from hoarseness, and what he referred to as bouts of laryngitis.

In truth, Sammy had doubtless developed vocal nodules, which notably affected his singing (and which in most cases require complete rest or surgery to resolve). In Golden Boy’s initial weeks after opening, Sammy struggled through, however, and any deficiency in his singing was made up for in the energy of his performance.

Capitol Records had invested over a quarter of a million dollars in Golden Boy’s production in exchange for the rights to the cast album, and had heavily promoted the score (music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams), which in 1964 directly translated to ticket sales. So, there was no postponing the cast album recording, set for 25th and 26th October. Despite the parlous state of Sammy’s voice, Capitol completed its recording, and released the LP in November. It debuted on the Billboard charts in December, peaked at #36 and remained on the charts for 16 weeks.

Sammy was justifiably unhappy with the Capitol recording. The following April, when his voice had somewhat recovered, he convinced the powers-that-be at Capitol to let him re-record four numbers from the show: “Night Song”, “Stick Around”, “I Want To Be With You” and “Can’t You See It”. Despite being in better voice in the 1965 cuts, some critics have suggested that Sammy is actually in better character in the 1964 recordings, and that the re-recordings lack a certain je ne sais quoi in comparison to the grittiness of the original.

Golden Boy LP 2

Golden Boy re-release cover art

Capitol re-released the album, making two other changes along the way: to close the LP they switched in the instrumental piece that accompanied the big boxing match finale, and in so doing removing the haunting reprise of “Gimme Some” that actually closed the show on stage. Secondly, they changed the cover art – replacing the provocative image of an interracial embrace with a brushstrokes portrait of the show’s star: Sammy. No doubt a marketing decision made for a variety of reasons…

Strouse and Adams’ ambitious urban-inspired score is considered by critics to be some of their best work – despite its tortured path to opening night. In the end, Strouse and Adams wrote over 50 songs for the production, and “Can’t You See It” was first performed at the matinée the day before opening night in New York!

The impact of the score’s unconventional (for Broadway) jazz and gospel sounds combined with the power of the lyrics provided numerous highlights, such as the scene-setting “Night Song”, the gangster number “While The City Sleeps”, and the big duet ballad “I Want To Be With You”. And … don’t forget the show’s big production number, “Don’t Forget 127th Street”.

Golden Boy remains a rarely-revived Broadway curiosity – it was a landmark cultural event, a one-man tour-de-force, a bold and different sound for the Great White Way, and, when all was said and done, a bit of a mess. The cast album remains both an enjoyable listen, and a fascinating time capsule of a crucial moment in the career of Sammy Davis, Jr.

Track listing – 1964 Release

Track Song Artists Time
A1 Workout The Boxers 1:37
A2 Night Song Sammy Davis, Jr. 3:39
A3 Everything’s Great Kenneth Tobey / Paula Wayne 2:07
A4 Gimme Some (Whiskey and Beer) Sammy Davis, Jr. / Terrin Miles 1:52
A5 Stick Around Sammy Davis, Jr. 1:37
A6 Don’t Forget 127th Street Sammy Davis, Jr. / Johnny Brown and Company 5:43
A7 Lorna’s Here Paula Wayne 2:34
A8 This Is The Life Billy Daniels / Sammy Davis, Jr. 3:41
B1 Golden Boy Paula Wayne 2:39
B2 While The City Sleeps Billy Daniels 3:00
B3 Colorful Sammy Davis, Jr. 2:39
B4 I Want To Be With You Sammy Davis, Jr. / Paula Wayne 3:48
B5 Can’t You See It Sammy Davis, Jr. 2:20
B6 No More Sammy Davis, Jr. 6:30
B7 Finale (“Gimme Some” Reprise) Louis Gossett / Sammy Davis, Jr. 2:04
TOP TWO TRACKS

Night Song: One of the best “I Am” songs in Broadway history, Sammy’s first number in the show perfectly sets the scene. In his spoken introduction to the song on a Golden Boy demonstration record, Sammy sets up the song in this way: “Joe, having had the argument with his father … goes to the only place where he feels that he belongs: the roof of the tenement, which is his own special world.”

No More:
When Joe is left devastated and embittered at Lorna’s rejection, he sings this gospel-tinged paean to defiance, supported by the entire company: “I ain’t bowing’ down no more!” Laced with political subtext (“Shed my skin for you? No more. Oh, I worshipped you, that you can’t ignore. But I ain’t your slave no more!”), this was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s favourite number when he came to watch the show, its message of resistance resonating with him.

Track listing – 1965 and CD Releases

Track Song Artists Time
A1 Workout The Boxers 1:37
A2 Night Song Sammy Davis, Jr. 4:04
A3 Everything’s Great Kenneth Tobey / Paula Wayne 2:07
A4 Gimme Some (Whiskey and Beer) Sammy Davis, Jr. / Terrin Miles 1:52
A5 Stick Around Sammy Davis, Jr. 1:30
A6 Don’t Forget 127th Street Sammy Davis, Jr. / Johnny Brown and Company 5:43
A7 Lorna’s Here Paula Wayne 2:34
A8 This Is The Life Billy Daniels / Sammy Davis, Jr. 3:41
B1 Golden Boy Paula Wayne 2:39
B2 While The City Sleeps Billy Daniels 3:00
B3 Colorful Sammy Davis, Jr. 2:39
B4 I Want To Be With You Sammy Davis, Jr. / Paula Wayne 4:34
B5 Can’t You See It Sammy Davis, Jr. 2:24
B6 No More Sammy Davis, Jr. 6:30
B7 Finale – The Fight Orchestra 3:05

Release notes

  • Around June of 1964, the production recorded a Demonstration Record to build interest in the show. The first side consisted of an instrumental of “Night Song” and four numbers by Sammy Davis, Jr., all with spoken introductions by Sammy placing the songs in the context of the show: “Night Song”, “I Want To Be With You” (in which he sings both sides of the duet) and two numbers ultimately cut from the show: “There’s A Party Goin’ On” and “Yes I Can”. There is limited orchestral support, in many places just piano. The second side has six more numbers from the show including three by Paula Wayne, and one with Charles Strouse (the score’s composer) singing “There Comes A Time” (also ultimately cut from the show).
  • There have been four officially licensed CD releases of the cast album, all utilising the updated four re-recorded tracks, but utilising the original LP’s cover art.
  • It is also readily available for download and on streaming platforms.

Golden Boy Demo 1964 Demonstration Record – Selections from Golden Boy
Capitol RB-275
Rare LP released to build interest in the production.
 
Golden Boy LP 2  1965 Golden Boy – Original Broadway Cast
Capitol STAO-11655
Re-issue with four re-recorded tracks. Released again in 1977.
 
Golden Boy Bay Cities 1991 Golden Boy – Original Broadway Cast
Bay Cities 3012
The first CD release of this album.
 
Golden Boy Angel  1993 Golden Boy – Original Broadway Cast
Angel ZDM 65024-2-0
Released as part of a ‘Broadway Classics’ series. Outstanding presentation with five pages of detailed liner notes by David Foil, and another two pages consisting of a fascinating interview with Charles Strouse.
 
Golden Boy Razor+Tie  1999 Golden Boy – Original Broadway Cast
Razor & Tie 82202-2
Official reissue – features slightly modified cover art. Includes the first few paragraphs of liner notes from the original Capitol gatefold LP release, which mostly provides information about the original stage play of Golden Boy.
 
Golden Boy DRG  2006 Golden Boy – Original Broadway Cast
DRG 19079
Official reissue.
Golden Boy Download  2018 Golden Boy – Original Broadway Cast
Capitol Records
Available for download and streaming.