Nimbus Records on Facebook Nimbus Records on Twitter Nimbus Records on YouTube


Howard Keel: Bless Yore Beautiful Hide - A Centenary Tribute, His 28 Finest Soundtrack Recordings 1950-1955



Retrospective pays a centenary tribute to the late, great singing actor Howard Keel (1919-2004) with a wonderful array of the famous songs from his magnificent 50s film musicals. Keel was one of the most famous faces on the silver screen. Following on from stage success in Oklahoma!, Keel’s booming baritone and rugged good looks made him a big star of a whole string of marvellous 50s MGM musicals. Later, he trod the 70s and 80s nightclub circuit before achieving fame for a new generation as “Clayton Farlow” in Dallas. With his rich, powerful voice and commanding stage presence (he stood 6’4”), he was dubbed a “singing Clark Gable.”

As a homage to one of the truly great musical stars, we present Bless Yore Beautiful Hide. This was perhaps Keel’s best-known song, from his greatest triumph Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954). But there are also 27 other musical highlights drawn from the soundtracks of this and 10 other films of the 50s, including Annie Get Your Gun, Show Boat, Calamity Jane, Kiss Me Kate, Rose Marie and Kismet. Also featured are his co-stars Kathryn Grayson (in seven duets), Betty Hutton, Doris Day and Jane Powell.

Howard Keel: Bless Yore Beautiful Hide - A Centenary Tribute, His 28 Finest Soundtrack Recordings 1950-1955


Born in Gillespie, Illinois, USA, on 13 April 1919, Harry Clifford Keel’s 100th anniversary was imminent at the time of writing this review in mid-March 2019. That he had a voice was early evident but his fanatical Methodist mother was “opposed to all forms of entertainment, but after hearing Lawrence Tibbett at a Hollywood Bowl concert when he was 20 inspired him to venture into vocal training. He had some tough years during the war, but after the war he came to Broadway through the help of Oscar Hammerstein II, appearing in both Carousel and Oklahoma! And also had a successful stint in London. The early 1950s were his great years as movie star, featuring in the eleven musical films represented on the present disc and some less than successful productions as well – an enormous workload within five years. A handsome man with an infectious smile and a handsome bass baritone voice to match endeared him to musical lovers worldwide. But after those years in the Hollywood limelight he had a blossoming stage career – and quite a few movie stints as well. He also had a late internationally recognised success as Clayton Farlow for ten years (1981 – 1991) in the TV soap opera Dallas. Suddenly he was known to more people than ever before and started making solo albums, which he had never done before. Fortunately his voice was well preserved well into his mid-70s. He died in California on 7 November 2004 aged 85.

The 28 songs recorded here during his early 30s of course find him in youthful voice, it is beautiful, steady, he can be quite expressive and he has a lot of nuances in his vocal armoury. There are several great musicals here with music by some of the greatest composers in the business: Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Harry Warren, Cole Porter, Rudolf Friml and Sigmund Romberg – and the two final tracks are from Kismet, where all the melodies – almost – are adapted from Alexander Borodin’s works. I can’t help feeling that the musical taste almost 70 years ago veered towards the sentimental. The orchestral arrangements are sometimes rather sickly-sweet and the singing also a bit sugary with quite heavy rubatos – but beautiful it is. Among the highlights are without doubt the excerpts from Annie, Get Your Gun, where also Betty Hutton, “The Blond Bombshell”, is quite amusing in the title role, singing really ugly – intentionally of course – in Anything you can do. She was actually a late replacement for Judy Garland. Kathryn Grayson, who appears in several productions, including Show Boat and Kiss Me, Kate, where especially Wunderbar is wonderful with charming trills. In this musical Howard Keel is very good in Where is the life that late I led?, a number that never disappoints with a good singing actor.

It is also worth pointing out that the recently deceased André Previn conducts the excerpts from Kiss Me, Kate and Kismet. The former music was recorded when he was just 24. As a memorial of his early work in Broadway musical this issue is also valuable. But of course the main reason for acquiring the disc is the singing of Howard Keel. MusicWeb-International