Composer: Martin, David
Lyricist: Hughes, Langston
McNeil, Claudia/Stewart, Melvin/English, Anna
The Broadway musical Simply Heavenly is based on "Simple Takes a Wife" and other "Simple" stories by the celebrated black poet Langston Hughes. The story is about Jess Simple, an honest, easy-going man trying to raise enough money to divorce the wife he does not love in order to marry his new love, Joyce; his experiences with the neighbourhood colourful characters and his unsuccessful attempts to escape Zarita, the local man eater who is bent on leading him astray. Simply Heavenly also highlights many aspects of Harlem, its jazz, its humour and the universal problem of paying the rent and buying a shot of gin.
Langston Hughes, who also wrote the book and lyrics for this musical, collaborated with musician and bandleader David Martin, who contributed the music, on Simply Heavenly. The show opened in New York in 1957 to moderate success but failed to find an audience in London when it transferred to the West End in 1958 with Bertice Reading in the lead. As a result of the failure the original London production was not recorded. However it was revived in London in 2003 and it was second time lucky for this time the show achieved a healthy run of over 200 performances and won numerous awards.
For bonus tracks we have included eight by Bertice Reading; recordings she made in Paris in 1956 and one by "Bloody Mary" Juanita Hall - Love Can Hurt You, a song she co-wrote with Langston Hughes.
All 24 tracks are appearing on CD for the first time.
1. PRELUDE & SIMPLY HEAVENLY - Marilyn Berry 2:48
2. LET ME TAKE YOU FOR A RIDE - Anna English & Melvin Stewart 2:03
3. BROKEN STRINGS - Brownie McGhee 2:47
4. FLYING SAUCER MONOLOGUE - Melvin Stewart 1:41
5. DID YOU EVER HEAR THE BLUES? - Claudia McNeil & John Bouie 4:03
6. I'M GONNA BE JOHN HENRY - Melvin Stewart 2:17
7. WHEN I'M IN A QUIET MOOD - Claudia McNeil & John Bouie 3:31
8. LOOK FOR THE MORNING STAR - Anna English 2:35
9. GATEKEEPER OF MY CASTLE - Marilyn Berry & Melvin Stewart 3:00
10. LET'S BALL AWHILE - Anna English & Ensemble 1:45
11. BEAT IT OUT, MON - Duke Williams & Ensemble 2:10
12. THE MEN IN MY LIFE - Anna English 3:21
13. GOOD OLD GIRL - Claudia McNeil 3:01
14. MISSISSIPPI MONOLOGUE & FINALE - Melvin Stewart 5:06
15. DID YOU EVER HEAR THE BLUES?
(Pop Version) - Claudia McNeil 2:34
BERTICE READING - "JAZZ SINGER"
(Tracks 17 - 24)
16. ROCK AND ROLL 2:22
17. BLACK COFFEE 3:46
18. IT'S ALMOST LIKE BEING IN LOVE 2:19
19. LOVE FOR SALE 2:58
20. ST. LOUIS BLUES 3:03
21. NO MORE IN LIFE 2:45
22. OLD FASHIONED LOVE 2:39
23. LEFT BANK BLUES 3:09
24. LOVE CAN HURT YOU - Juanita Hall 3:27