The original-cast album of The Book of Mormon, among the most popular new musicals to open on Broadway in recent seasons, reached the #3 slot on Billboard’s album-sales chart on June 16. It was the highest-charting record of its kind to be released since 1969, when the original-cast album of Hair was the top-selling album in America for 13 weeks. The last time any such record moved a comparable number of units was in 1992, when The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running show in Broadway history, sold 54,000 copies in a week.
But The Book of Mormon’s freakish success was due not only to the Tonys it had won a few days earlier but also to the show’s having been written in large measure by the creators of the long-running cartoon series South Park. And even with the South Park imprimatur, the Book of Mormon album was released not by a major record label but by Ghostlight, an independent label that specializes in original-cast albums. Such specialty labels exist and thrive because most major labels no longer think Broadway shows are worth bothering with, even though the original-cast album was not only a mainstay of the record business for decades but one of the keys to popularizing the LP in the first place.
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