In 1962, before either Carol Burnett or Julie Andrews had become true household names, a concert they gave together at Carnegie Hall was the springboard that launched two phenomenally stellar careers. Within the next few years, Burnett had her own television show and Andrews was famous for films such as Mary Poppins. The two best friends, though each stars in their own right, had a certain chemistry together, which was even more apparent in 1971 when they did a second concert special at Lincoln Center.
Sony Masterworks has now released a two-disc edition featuring highlights from each of these performances, with classic material that has been remastered for CD. While there are certainly some issues relating to the limits of the format, in general this is a worthwhile collection that will make listeners nostalgic for the golden age of variety shows.
Although Carol Burnett may be more widely known for her comedy genius, and Julie Andrews for her singing ability, this retrospective collection reminds us that Burnett was actually a solid singer, and Andrews could be quite funny (if not a bit wooden) in her own right. That the two entertainers are so different somehow makes their combined style work even better; they feed off each other both in terms of traded punchlines and making room for each other in their duets.
One technical issue with releasing a recording of concerts in this style is knowing where to put the track breaks. The flow of a stage show means that the end of one number and the beginning of the next often overlap somewhat. With LPs this wasn’t so much of an issue, as most people would put the needle on at the beginning and just let the record play through. For a CD and downloadable release, however, the studio engineer has to put more thought into where to separate the songs. In general it seems to work out well in this case, though those who are listening to the tracks on shuffle may find some of the breaks a bit jarring.
If you have never seen the television footage from either of these specials, you may find it a little difficult to follow what’s going on with some of the songs that relied more heavily on the visual element. Many of the numbers featured comedy in the choreography, and at times you can hear the audience laughing and you may not understand why. In this sense, the collection seems more appropriate for those who have either already seen the television specials, though if you haven’t yet, these audio renderings of the performances will certainly make you want to.
Overall, this is a strong collection from two brilliant performers who have a rare chemistry with one another. If you are a fan of either Andrews or Burnett, this set is pretty much a must-have.
Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall:
1. No Mozart Tonight
2. You’re So London
3. Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be
4. From Russia: The Nausiev Ballet
6. From Switzerland: The Pratt Family
7. History of Musical Comedy (Medley)
8. From Texas: Big “D” [The Most Happy Fella
Julie and Carol at Lincoln Center
10. Our Classy, Classical Show
11. Girls in the Band
12. Madame Abernall’s/I Could Have Danced All Night
13. He’s Gone Away
14. Medley of the ‘60s
15. Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie