Brooks' simple melodies--"rude" is his word for them, and reportedly, Brooks composes by humming while someone else transcribes--take you back to the milieu of '50s variety shows, such as Broadway's "New Faces of 1952" or TV's "Your Show of Shows." (Brooks wrote for both.) When Lane's Max lapses into doggerel Yiddish amid that terrific intro, "The King of Broadway," it's like hearing a Sid Caesar master class in dialects, compressed into seven or eight seconds.
Brooks isn't above stealing from himself, not to mention anybody else. "The King of Broadway" sounds a great deal like Brooks' "Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst" from his 1970 film "The Twelve Chairs." A lot of the "Producers" score glides in one ear and out the other ("I Wanna Be a Producer," " 'Til Him," even Lane's climactic lament, "Betrayed"). But arranger Glen Kelly and orchestrator Doug Besterman have done wonders in terms of fleshing out Brooks' efforts.
Rather than backing away from the dated, groan-inducing bits from the movie, Brooks and Meehan fly headlong into anything, anything that may (or may not) have worked for Brooks over the last 50 years. Brooks has scored with Hun-zapoppin' show tunes before, notably in "Blazing Saddles" with "I'm Tired." Here, we get a little diversion featuring singing pigeons with little Nazi armbands giving their pal Liebkind (Oscar) the one-wing salute in "Der Guten Tag Hop Clog"--"sort of a Nazi hoedown," in Max's words.