Last post I did a review of an LP from 1959 celebrating Hawaii as the 50th United State. Well, this week I've got an LP celebrating the (fabulous) 49th state, Alaska ("the last frontier" as some refer to it and as it's referred to on the record). This is a very, very obscure title. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it's completely lost to history. Apparently, it's the original score for a quasi-Broadway musical production by the same name, though very little about it (or this album, for that matter) comes up doing a quick Google search. I'm actually not 100% sure when this was released, either. Some indicators point to 1959, but some online sources point to the early- to mid-60s. My best guess would be '59-'60, though. It wouldn't make sense for it to be released too long after it became a State, and that was in 1959 too (January 3rd, to be exact).
In line with the era's commercial tradition, but unlike last week's LP (unfortunately), this one has first-class pinup cover art (possibly some of the best I've ever seen), and, despite the cold Alaskan climate, she still decided to show off some gams! How nice of her! Something else I find interesting about this record is that it was composed by Elizabeth Firestone Willis who, as it turns out, was the wife of Charles F. Willis, the president of Alaska Airlines from 1957 to 1972. I don't know whether, or how much, the Alaskan aviation industry was financially affiliated with this record or the production, but there was certainly a direct connection.
Let's Go To Alaska | We're On Our Way | Come See A Land | It's Alaska | Golden Nugget Saloon Sequence | Anchorage Town | Under The Starlight | Remember Alaska | Otto Von Kotzebue | Swingin' Sleigh Ride | That's What Happy Is For | It's Alaska (Reprise)
Really, put simply, this album would be hit or miss for most people. It's got an obvious showtuney thing going on with it, but considering it was composed for a musical production, I wouldn't expect it to deviate too far from that general format. Other than that, the songs are catchy and sugary-sweet, almost like vintage TV jingles. Well-distinguished from the rest of the material, however, is one track that clocks in at over nine minutes, consisting of a skit in the "Golden Nugget Saloon" in which Nugget Nell recounts her life struggles and how she ended up in Alaska. I was cracking up in my seat listening to this, in part because it's kind of cheesy, but mainly because its lyrics would probably be a good PG-13 by today's standards. I don't want to give it all away, but there's talk of polygamy, prostitution and more. If you listen to one thing on this entire album, make sure it's the "Golden Nugget Saloon Sequence" (track #5), I highly doubt you'd be disappointed.