In 1976, DRG (Digital Recording Group) began as an opportunity to release an anthology of legendary recordings from the vaults of MGM Records. Eclectic music fans responded greatly to these never-before-released recordings and soon the focus of the young independent label was expanded to include new film soundtracks, cast albums, jazz and cabaret performers. What began as a personal passion quickly found an ever-expanding audience looking for quality music off the beaten path.
The business quickly grew on the licensing of several key soundtrack recordings. Among the high-sellers were Diva – a quirky cult film released in 1981, the Merchant Ivory hit A Room with a View in 1986 and, most notably, Cinema Paradiso – the 1989 Oscar-winning foreign film. Since its release, Cinema Paradiso was an outstanding seller for the label and by far the top seller of our current extensive catalog. More recently we have released film soundtracks for Franco Zeffirelli’s Tea with Mussolini, David Mamet’s The Winslow Boy and the current art house favorite Francis Veber’s The Closet. Special Editions of both Diva and Cinema Paradiso were re-released in 2001 that include extensive photos, notes and bonus tracks.
In addition to film soundtracks, DRG is regarded as the major record label of several legendary cabaret performers including Tony Award-winner Faith Prince, MAC award winners Karen Akers, KT Sullivan & Julie Wilson as well as jazz greats Carol Sloane and The Ralph Sharon Quartet. But our long association with Tony and Grammy winner Barbara Cook remains unsurpassed. As one of the world’s premier interpreters of classic standards, Ms. Cook remains in a class by herself. The accolades that pour in for each recording we do with her continue to outdo the previous ones. Ms. Cook has provided us with stellar financial returns – her recent 2-CD live set from Carnegie Hall has sold over 17,000 units in less than six weeks, her total album sales for the label exceed 200,000 units. Our top selling vocal reissues include recordings from Marilyn Monroe (in a Special Edition with rare & previously unreleased tracks), Judy Holliday and Edith Piaf.
The strength and passion of the label continues to be musical theatre recordings. The first cast recording on DRG was the 1977 A Party with Betty Comden and Adolph Green, followed by Liza Minnelli in The Act and then the 1980 Tony Award-winning A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine..Since then DRG has recorded nearly 30 Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring shows, among them: the 1999 Tony Award-winning smash hit revival of Kiss Me, Kate, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s State Fair, the Forbidden Broadway & Nunsense anthologies as well as seven recordings from City Center’s Encores! series. Some of our catalog includes exclusively licensed cast albums originally heard on other labels and long out of print. We continue to be a strong force in cast recordings. DRG along with Sony Classical are now the only labels that actively seek to record Broadway musicals. Show producers look to us for the care and quality that they can only get from a label that speaks their language.
Our cast albums often extend to National touring productions; including the 1999 touring production of FAME – The Musical, the 2001 National Touring production of Godspell, to the 50th Anniversary production of Guys and Dolls starring Maurice Hines (due in stores in November 2001). Over the years DRG has received Grammy nominations for several cast recordings including Hollywood/Ukraine (1980), Black & Blue (1990) and Kiss Me, Kate (1999). In 1999, our recording of City Center’s Do Re Mi won the Association for Independent Music Award. Our cabaret recordings have also picked up Grammy nominations forEartha Kitt, Shirley Bassey and, won the award for Patti Page,Cleo Laine and Gerry Mulligan.
In commemoration of our 25th year, we released two very special recordings: Show Stopping Performances (12628) – a specially priced 2-CD set that features 40 show stopping performances from all of our cast albums (either recorded for DRG or licensed to us) along with Great Cabaret Performances (91477) – 20 classic performances from our live and studio cabaret recordings. Our silver anniversary is a perfect time to stop and reflect on the incredible music we’ve been fortunate enough to bring to our loyal listeners as well as newer generations looking for style and substance over the latest trends. In February 2002, with our access to the vaults of Sony, EMI & BMG – we have been able to license various titles that have never been released on CD. In addition to The Broadway Collector Series, these four reissues are currently available: