Music and Lyrics By: Nöel Coward
Book By: Gerard Frow, Alan Strachan and Wendy Toye
Distributed By: Masterworks Broadway
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Sometimes I have to wonder at the strange sorts of albums I receive to review. One such wonderment is Cowardy Custard, a cast recording of a musical revue based on the life of English playwright, composer, actor, director and singer Nöel Coward. The original revue appeared in London in 1972 and ran for 405 performances. A recording of the original cast was made by RCA and Masterworks Broadway re-released the album in CD and digital format in September 2013.
A two-disc album, Cowardy Custard is a rather tedious tale, featuring tracks that can range anywhere from thirteen seconds (Darjeeling) in length to a whopping twenty-seven minutes (Opening Medley). When I listened to the first track...that twenty-seven minute track featuring a medley of Coward's work...I realized that I was going to hate this album. That feeling didn't leave me all through the experience.
Quite honestly, having heard about Nöel Coward's flamboyance and wit, I expected much more from this album, but, out of the twenty-six tracks, only a couple actually made me chuckle. I Went to a Marvellous Party describes what a raucous party can be all about. Performed by Patricia Routledge with terrific comedic timing and delivery in a haughty, upper class tone, the track was quite amusing. The only other track I found remotely enjoyable was Let's Do It, a parody of the Cole Porter hit Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love.
To sit through two CDs featuring twenty-six tracks worth of music and only find two songs worth listening to is simply painful and I wouldn't recommend this album to anyone. As popular critic Sandy Kenyon so often says, I sit through this pain, so you won't have to.