The CD issue of this recording gives no specific date for the recording session, but does list April 1954 as the month when the recording was made. This is contradicted by several contemporary news accounts from the last week of April 1954. These state that the recording will be made the following week, with an article in Billboard being more specific than the others and stating that there will be three recording sessions starting on May 3.
30,000 copies were sold in the first three months. In the next two years, another 150,000 copies were sold. It was MGM's best-selling LP until the soundtrack of Gigi surpassed it.
Featured the original cast with Martin Wolfson as Mr. Peachum. At the time the recording was made, the original Mr. Peachum, Leon Lishner, had already left the cast. Jo Sullivan and Charlotte Rae had both also left the cast by the time the recording was made, but they are heard on the recording.
MGM decided to make a cast album. But when MGM's CEO attended a performance, he submitted a list of musical numbers that would have to be deleted from the record and list of objectionable lyrics that would need to be changed. The lists were submitted at the recording session. Marc Blitzstein and Lotte Lenya were able to keep all of the musical numbers on the album (after much argument). But lyrics still needed to be censored and Blitzstein was forced to submit revised versions as the songs were being recorded. All "hell's" and "damn's" were removed, as were all references to whores, pimps, drunkenness and cat-houses.
Other rewrites included:
- The removal of Sloppy Sadie's knifewound and Little Susie's rape in Mack the Knife.
- The section in the second finale referring to "he steps on your face".
- Some of the imagery in the "Tango-Ballad" was watered down.
- The word "ass" in "Call from the Grave" had to be changed and the line became "Stand on your feet".