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    $13.99 $12.33 list($18.98)
    1. Il Divo
    $13.49 $12.29 list($18.98)
    2. Spamalot (2005 Original Broadway
    $13.99 $12.79 list($18.98)
    3. Breakaway
    $13.49 $8.89 list($18.98)
    4. It's Time
    $13.49 $12.73 list($17.98)
    5. Careless Love
    $20.99 $20.21 list($24.98)
    6. The Phantom of the Opera (2004
    $13.49 $13.48 list($18.98)
    7. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005
    $13.49 $13.39 list($18.98)
    8. Wicked (2003 Original Broadway
    $13.49 $13.48 list($18.98)
    9. Little Women The Musical (2005
    $13.49 $8.79 list($18.98)
    10. Come Away with Me
    $12.98 $8.89 list($18.98)
    11. When I Fall In Love
    $13.49 $8.64 list($18.98)
    12. Michael Buble
    $13.49 list($18.98)
    13. The 25th Annual Putnam County
    $13.49 $8.99 list($18.98)
    14. Closer
    $13.49 $8.98 list($18.98)
    15. Feels Like Home
    $12.98 $9.95 list($18.98)
    16. The Phantom of the Opera (2004
    $13.99 $12.49 list($18.98)
    17. Sondheim Sings, Vol. 1: 1962-72
    $30.49 $18.32 list($37.98)
    18. The Phantom of the Opera (Original
    $13.99 $13.18 list($18.98)
    19. Pacific Overtures (2004 Broadway
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    20. As I Am

    1. Il Divo
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0007QS4KK
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 1
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    While not exactly classical crossover's take on The Monkees, this international quartet of young male vocalists from America, France, Spain and Switzerland shares a similar genesis. Assembled after a long talent search and audition process, they were teamed with pop producers Per Magnusson and David Krueger (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys) and Steve Mac (Charlotte Church, Kelly Clarkson) and turned loose on a slate of classical-pop favorites, with a dramatic, dynamically nuanced read of Toni Braxton's signature "Unbreak My Heart" setting the standard. While the deceptive ease of their harmonies belie the group's disparate nationalities and talent search roots on the melodramatic "Hoy Que Ya No Estas Aqui," Morricone's glorious Mission theme, "Nella Fantasia" and the cascading "Passera," the album's pop-oriented material is a decidedly more mixed bag ."Everytime I Look At You" and "Feelings" (not Morris Albert's) soar gracefully, while "The Man You Love" seems more a throwback to the producers' boy band roots. The standard "My Way" and a lovely, bonus cut Italian version of "Unchained Melody" close the album out on a high note, even if their safe familiarity doesn't offer the promising quartet a sufficient musical challenge. --Jerry McCulley

    [NOTE: A dualdisc version including DVD is now available.]

    More Divine Crooners To Explore


    Haunted Heart, Renee Fleming

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    Andrea, Andrea Bocelli

    Follow Your Heart, Mario Frangoulis

    On the Moon, Peter Cincotti

    Taking a Chance on Love,Jane Monheit

    ... Read more

    Reviews (119)

    1-0 out of 5 stars PLEASE DON'T EVER TOUCH THE MIC AGAIN
    Even Mariah Carey's "Glitter" was better than this (And I didn't like that album either). This "IL DIVO" group is one of the worst acts I've ever come across. THEY TOTALLY RUINED TONI BRAXTON'S "UN-BREAK MY HEART". Even Ms Braxton sounded better in Spanish (She did a Spanish version). "Un-Break My Heart" is the kind of song that if it is going to be remade, Do have any Males Remake it. This Album SUCKS

    1-0 out of 5 stars Ugh.
    Really.When one bad tenor insists on singing it's bad enough, but four bad tenors at once?What did we do to deserve this?Well, we can't really expect great things from Simon Cowell, can we?I don't even need to buy this CD to know that it would horrible.Just from the samples available on Amazon, it sounds like they are all trying to outsing each other, which in turn causes them to strain, which causes them to go sharp.This is like Ashlee Simpson.Why would someone really, genuinely think this is good?It disgusts me.If I could give it a rating of negative stars, I would.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Tenors out of tune.
    I listened to the samples of this groups' songs and did not like it at all. It sounds like they are trying to outsing each other. Their voices sounds like they are imitating the 3 tenors but did not quite made it. I will not buy the CD even if you give me a hundred bucks. That's what I think of this group Il Divo (really bad sound and bad song selection). So Simon you're not really a good judge, I don't know why you say all those nasty words at some of the contestants in Amercian Idol. This group of yours sounds really bad, it needs fine tuning.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Great talent, bad direction
    The guys can sing. I'll give you that. But what on earth are they singing? Certainly nothing appropriate for them or their style. Taking guys from around the world and making a pop group was an interesting idea and, if done right, could have been something special. But Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart"??? Are you kidding me? The guys sound uncomfortable singing these songs and it makes me feel uncomfortable listening to it.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Original?Yes.Tolerable? Not quite...
    I must hand it to Simon Cowell, this is an intriguing project.Taking classical (not new wave classical but REAL classical) and pop and attempting to meld the two together is an interesting notion.Ultimately, however, the band fails.First and foremost, Il Divo will never be able to escape the fact that they are a manufactured band, brought together by a talent search and, essentially, given everything they needed on a silver platter.Yes, it worked with the Sex Pistols and a few others, but bands created by a record company, for the most part, spew out whatever crap their adoring label wants them to.Their poppy take on classical will make fans of classical music despise their superficiality, their classical take on pop will make most pop-listeners dismiss them as boring or as a silly novelty.If you must buy this album, "Nella Fantasia" and "Passera" are better than most of the other tracks. ... Read more


    2. Spamalot (2005 Original Broadway Cast)
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0007OY2TE
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 16
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    As gleefully silly yet wickedly smart as the beloved British comedy troupe and their 1975 cinematic savaging of the Arthurian legend that inspired it, this adaptation ofMonty Python and the Holy Grail by MP's Eric Idle and longtime musical co-conspirator John Du Prez has much more on its feverish agenda than merely trashing King Arthur and firmly upending his Round Table. The film's plot remains largely intact, but its core songs ("Knights of the Round Table," "Brave Sir Robin") and comic thrust have been both expanded and satirically redirected, a musical comedy shotgun that takes dizzy aim at pop culture in general, and Broadway in particular. After typically Pythonesque distractions that somehow find us in "Finland..," stars David Hyde-Pierce, Tim Curry, Hank Azaria and company get busy conjuring the Lady of the Lake with the unlikely help of "Laker Girls..," while cast members Sara Ramirez and Christopher Sieber deliciously skewer contemporary Broadway cliches via the loopy showstopper "The Song That Goes Like This," a tune whose reprise also deliciously sends up every overwrought stage diva from Merman to Minelli. Idle has shrewdly ripped off--well, interpolated--Life of Brian's "Always Look On the Bright Side" for the new show, and even a snatch of "The Lumberjack Song" in "He Is Not Dead Yet." "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" reveals the frankly Semitic secret to stage success, and the French get can-canned on "Run Away!" Meanwhile, our bravest knight is de-closeted on the Manilow-mauling "His Name is Lancelot" before the familiar sound of clomping coconut shells brings down the curtain on the season's goofiest if satirically dead-on comic delight. --Jerry McCulley

    Have Fun with More Irreverent Musicals


    Urinetown

    The Rocky Horror Picture Show

    The Frogs

    Zanna Don't

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    Avenue Q

    ... Read more

    Reviews (29)

    4-0 out of 5 stars The review that goes like this
    Once in every Amazon.com page there comes a review like this. It starts out with an intro and ends up with...um...an ending?

    Anyway, "Spamalot" is an outstanding musical, complete with amazing singing, wonderful orchestration, and hilarious farce. My favorite songs are "The Song that Goes Like This" and "Diva's Lament." The former is a love song about singing love songs. I'm not sure that the Lady of the Lake and Galahad are in love, but they sure know how to sing love songs, and to tell the audience how to do it. In the latter (Diva's Lament), the Lady of the Lake has not been onstage since the first act, and she is not at all pleased about it. Another great one is the Laker Girls' Cheer. The Lady of the Lake's handmaidens suddenly turn into cheerleaders to welcome Galahad to King Arthur's army.

    Purists who expect an exact retelling of the movie may be a bit disappointed, as several plot points have been changed. For example, it has been "politically corrected." As far as I can tell, references to God have been replaced by the Lady of the Lake. Considering the nature of the references to God in the movie, I'm OK with that. Instead of searching for the literal Holy Grail as they do in the movie, the grail has turned into a metaphor for the thing that each character wants the most and is seeking to find (thus removing references to Jesus).

    Also, the ending has been changed. Since I don't want to spoil the suspense, I won't tell what happens, but I was happy about that. The movie, though great, is so anticlimactic.

    My biggest problem with the musical is that two characters turn out to be gay, which is not at all in keeping with the legend. (But then, when has Monty Python stayed true to legend?)

    Overall, I think this is a great musical, and it will be enjoyed for years to come.

    "I can't believe there's more. It's far too long, I'm sure. That's the thing about this [review]. It goes on and on and on...

    The [review] always ends like this!"

    5-0 out of 5 stars This is the show that goes like this
    I bought this CD the day it came out and I wish it had come out sooner! This is a wonderful Broadway Score!! Eric Idle certainly has given the Python fans and the Broadway fans something to share. It has some of the catchiest music I have heard in along time. I'm acutally listening to it right now.
    From the opening (Tuning) it starts out with a laugh. Then we move into the overture and Historian's Introduction to Act 1. That track sets the tone for the entire show. You know you are in for a laugh. I really admire people that can write songs like this. I wish I was that talented.
    Now to the music istelf. My favorite track on this CD is "The Diva's Lament (Whatever Happened To My Part)." This really struck a cord with me because, being in theater, I know people like this. I can actually picture them singing this song and being serious about it. Especially the line "Call my agent dammit!" Then she complains about it again in "TWice In Every Show." I really enjoy shows that take the time to make fun of themselves and have a good time doing it. Like Urinetown. Some other songs of honorable mention are "The Song That Goes Like This," "Find Your Grail," "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" and "His Name Is Lancelot." These are humorous songs that (to me) really sell the show. It was also nice to see them use some of the Python songs. "Knights of the Round Table," "Brave Sir Robin," "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and "Finland." Of course some of the lyrics have been changed and others have been added, but they make the songs better in my opinion.
    As for the performers... all do a great job. I LOVE Sarah Ramirez. That woman can belt a song. I truly hope she wins a Tony Award. As for the male cast, I was surprised at David Hyde Pierce. It was nice to see him cut loose and act crazy. Chris Seiber does very weel in his songs, especially The Song That Goes like This. I'd love to sing that song. Tim Curry is good, but sometimes I feel he overplays it a bit. I know this is comedy (and I might change my view when I actually see the show in June) but he really overdoes it on some of his songs. Hank Azaria doesn't do much solo singing but what he does do is great. He was quoted once saying that he was cast in the show for his voices and not his singing and dancing. Well, we shall see when the Tony Awards are announced.
    All in all this is a great CD to add to your collection. It has comedy, great music and a great cast. Don't pass it up.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Broadway show, as only Monty Python can make it
    I saw this musical at The Shurbert Theater in Chicago. At I never laughed so hard at a show period. It combined the chaos of Python with the production values of Broadway. I think it cost more to make the musical than it did in the orginal movie in 1974. Anyway, it was treat because it was the most star studded show I had ever to date. Not including seeing Sally Ringwald in When Met Sally, and David Hasseloff in Chicago, both in London. This show starred Tim Curry as Graham Chapman's role of King Arthur. When he first stepped on stage the theater erupted. So did I, because I always admired Curry. He had an amazing performance which I excepted him to do. Since he was great in Rocky Horror Picture Show. He was well perpard to off the wall crazy. Another star was David Hyde Pierce, Miles of the great show Frasier. He played "Brave" Sir Robin, Eric Idles part, who also wrote the musical. He was also incredible including one number called You Won't Succeed On Broadway(If You Don't Have Any Jew) He did a whole number just spoofing Jewish Musicals. Including Fiddler On The Roof where did the bottle dance, which got him an ovation. The next big name was Hank Azaria. He does like half the voices on the Simpsons. He could definatly do this show, where he played Sir Lancelot, and the French Taunter. Played orginally of course by John Cleese. One note about the show was that Cleese was the voice of God. I'm surprised he wasn't credited. Oh well. THe most amazing thing about the show was that the supporting cast could keep up with the big three and many times stole scenes from them. One BIG example of that was Sarah Ramirez. OMG!!!!! She was commanding and was the typical Broadway diva, which was her all around character, but she played the Lady Of The Lake, The Witch and The Cow!! They gave the cow that the French threw at the knights had its own song! Other great performers like Christopher Sieber,(who played Sir Galahad) Micheal Mcgrath(Patsy) Steve Rosen(Sir Bedevere) and Christian Borle( who for the record was the singing clerk in Thats On E-bay commerical. The songs were great. Of course they took the "Knights OF The Round Table" song. But they also included the " Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, and Hole OF The Universe from different movies. They include most of the famous scenes from the movie. THe black knight, which got an ovation. THe killer rabit, Prince Herbert. The knights that say Nie. The show was amazing the alubm is too. But if you want the full experiance, you might want to see the show.

    5-0 out of 5 stars ...AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT...
    Take it from a Monty Python fan who's planning a New York trip around this production, this is a must have for an self-respecting Pythonier. This album features the current and original Broadway cast of the new musical (opened March 17, 2005) basedon the infamous "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."Python member Eric Idle co-produces, lovingly ripping off moments and songs from the original. Although there are more than enough new material to make up for such indiscretions, like the inclusion of Life of Brian's "Bright Side of Life."In fact, any fear of redundancy is squished as if by a big Flying Circus foot, when stars like David Hyde-Pierce, Tim Curry, Hank Azaria lend their talents and voices to giving a fresh face to this much revered material. And speaking of fresh faces, with the introduction of the Lady of the Lake, played by Sara Ramirez, who is only referenced briefly in the movie, Spamalot achieves new levels of Broadway satire. For example, Ramirez is featured in the hilarious "The Song That Goes Like This," and "Whatever Happened To My Part?" a shot atstage and divas in general.
    Tim Curry (of Rocky Horror and the recent CD readings of the Lemony Snicket series) sounds terrific, his voice is better now than ever.While this is no substitute for see the production, I think, along with all of its links (like the historian's intros) the albumn creates a great feel for the stage show's energy.So Runnn Awwway to buy this CD.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A WONDERFUL ENTERAINING CAST ALBUM
    I just purchased the cast album of Spamalot. Unfortinatly I haven't seen the play, but judging by the cast album it must be a very entertaining musical. I haven't enjoyed a cast album like this in a long time. I've played it over and over and I enjoy it more every time I play it. It's fun, tuneful, and the cast is just wonderful. I guess if you see the play you can actually come out humming songs, especially Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life. Listening to this song, it's like having Jerry Herman back on broadway. I highy recommend this CD. ... Read more


    3. Breakaway
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00064ADRK
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 10
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    Amazon.com

    Kelly Clarkson could have played her American Idol-propelled career much differently, languishing in the role of dippy ingénue or shunting her musical development by leaning too heavily on overnight stardom. Instead she dug in her heels and allowed good sense (or a good manager) to steer, and somewhere Simon Fuller and the rest of the TV gang ought to be smiling. Credit Breakaway, which couldn't be more aptly titled--the sophomore set represents a seismic split from the thin if pretty stuff debut Thankful set forth. Here we encounter Clarkson as superstar, with the humility that made her likable on the first disc tucked tightly under her arm. First single and leadoff track "Breakaway" topped the pop charts on arrival, and its rock-friendly thumps, dips, and rolls don't wear out their welcome; they blend, instead, into the firestorm of beats and guitars that is "Since U Been Gone," another shout-it-out rocker. Those songs set the tone for the rest of the disc in all its fury: The innocence is long gone, numbers including "Addicted" and "Hear Me" say collectively, and Clarkson's of a mind to kick it. The big, expressive voice ringed by the occasional high-pitch trill--the one that prompted millions to get behind her on Idol--doesn't dip entirely off the radar, though. On "Where Is Your Heart," and the stunning live closer "Beautiful Disaster," it's there in full force--a hint, maybe, that despite the wide, smart career step Breakaway represents, her fans come first. -Tammy La Gorce ... Read more


    4. It's Time
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00070Q7VO
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 27
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Michael Bublé's assured debut and the tireless year of globe-trotting touring he spent promoting it elevated the 20-something Vancouver native into the first rank of pop crooner revivalists. His sophomore studio follow-up largely turns on the same formula that helped make his considerable vocal prowess so attractive to mainstream audiences, mixing the nigh flawless, if expected Sinatra-channeling ("I've Got You Under My Skin") with more playful and inviting renditions of pop standards like the Gershwin's "A Foggy Day in London Town," "Feeling Good," "Try A Little Tenderness" and Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin." But it's the eclectic mix of more contemporary material the singer seasons them with -- apt tribute to Bublé hero Bobby Darin -- that keeps him walking the narrow tightrope between artistic intrigue (a blues-tinged vamp of Holland-Dozier-Holland's "How Sweet It Is," Leon Russell's lovely "Song For You," with a guest turn by Chris Botti) and the kitsch-laden abyss ("Quando, Quando, Quando"'s Euro-centric duet with Nelly Furtado, a ring-a-ding-fling with the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" that echoes fellow Canadian crooner/rival Matt Dusk's more successful flirtation with Lennon-McCartney). Arranger/producer Tommy LiPuma offers Bublé a welcome swinging jazz showcase on "The More I See of You," a bracing respite from the rest of producer David Foster's slick, if typically bloodless MOR production.-- Jerry McCulley [Note: Aspecial edition including two bonus tracks--"Dream a Little Dream" and "Mack the Knife"--is also available.]

    Michael Bublé and More


    Michael Bublé

    Come Fly with Me

    Totally Bublé

    Come Fly with Me (DVD)

    Two Shots

    Peter Cincotti

    ... Read more

    Reviews (103)

    5-0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BRIGHTEST STARS ON THE WORLDWIDE MUSIC SCENE
    Michael Buble continues climbing the ladder of stardom with his latest CD "It's Time". I saw Michael sing "Feeling Good" on the David Letterman Show and his performance was truly outstanding. With his International appeal and record sales in the millions, it has now become very apparent that Michael Buble has truly found his audience and has become one of the brightest stars on the worldwide music scene.

    With "It's Time" Buble has given his legions of fans exactly what we wanted, more of the same but with a bonus, an original song. This album like his first "Michael Buble" is a very well thought out mixture of well-loved standards, light rock, and classic pop hits with the addition of an excellent original called "Home". All thirteen of these songs are recorded and produced superbly and Michael's tremendous voice and performances just keep getting better and better. The addition of other well-known contempory artists on a few of the tracks makes this cd an extremely good value and I really like this formula of combining two or more wonderful talents to create great music. The sky is the limit for Michael Buble and if this CD is any indication it is going to be a very enjoyable ride.

    If you like Sinatra and Swing, I would also suggest Monte Procopio's "Swingin' With Style". He is another crooner that can really swing with the standards.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The absolute best male singer today...
    This man is one in a lifetime as far as I'm concerned. Ever since I was ateenager, and that was a long time ago, the sultry and sophisticated 'blues' sound of Frank, Dean, Tony, et al have kept me interested in 'real' music, and that's why I have played contemporary and Jazz piano for over 40 years.. the romance that is so delectable in a young persons' life -even if they don't know it at the time- is found- and will last- in Michael's music..thank God there is someone out there with the talent that Michael exhibits. His renditions are first rate by any standard, he brings new life and zip to old classics that the current generation(s) may not have even heard before. And his song "Home' almost brings me to tears every time I hear it.. isn't that something. Canada should get behind Michael as we have here a budding superstar of the magnitude of Celine Dion and even the untouchable GordonLightfoot.

    5-0 out of 5 stars What Can I Say?
    Before i bought this album, I'd only heard a few songs, mostly from Michael's first album. I bought "It's Time" solely for the track "Home" (which is totally worth it!). I was very impressed with this whole album. It's very eclectic. Michael Buble's vocals are amazing and soothing all at the same time. His covers are creative and polished.

    If you're looking for some great music, do yourself a favor and pick up anything by Michael Buble! You'll thank me for it!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Celebrate Michael Buble's musical magic!
    It's Time is a celebration of musical magic! Michael Buble is a refreshing and welcome addition to the music scene. Celebrate how he manages to make every song on this cd his own and he accomplishes it with style and panache.

    Since my purchase of It's Time it has been in steady rotation both in my car stereo and in the offices and will continue playing for a long long time. There is something on this album for all moods and it's refreshing to enjoy EVERY track on a cd for a change. Thank you Mr. Buble.

    5-0 out of 5 stars WOW
    I love all genres of music but hold a special place for jazz in my heart. I bought Michael's album "Its Time" because I love jazz and those whose musical opinion I value gave it the thumbs up. I popped it in and listened to the first track, "Feeling Good". Starts slowly, unassumingly... then WOW, it starts swinging, he starts showing off his vocal prowess, and I sat there with my jaw dropped and knew INSTANTLY this guy was something special! Its rare that I like a song the very first time I hear it, I've never loved one the first time I heard it. I LOVED "Feelin' Good" the first time I heard it, and had the same reaction to track 4, "Quando Quando Quando." Most of these songs are covers you will recognize, but the really amazing thing is that Michael makes them sound different... you feel like you're hearing them for the first time. Michael's voice is like a hybrid between a young Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick Jr., but his style is 100% his own. I literally have not stopped listening to this album (all tracks are great) since I bought it. I am going to see Michael perform in Memphis this August (2005), and I couldn't be more excited! I am very thankful for such a wonderful young artist who is bringing this fabulous music to the masses (and to many young fans previously unexposed to jazz). This music- and Michael Buble'- should be celebrated!



    ... Read more


    5. Careless Love
    list price: $17.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0002NRRAG
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 55
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    Amazon.com

    When Madeleine Peyroux's debut, Dreamland, was released in 1996, its success threw her for a loop. She's taken eight years to create this follow-up, and, at age 30, she brings a confidence and resilience to this dozen-song set. She's able to move seamlessly between songs by writers as diverse as Elliott Smith and W.C. Handy, whose title track was popularized by Bessie Smith. Though American-born, Peyroux absorbed the language and culture of France growing up in Paris with her French-teacher mother. On her debut, she covered Edith Piaf, and this time out she wraps herself around "J'ai Deux Amours," which Josephine Baker sang to the Allied troops during World War II. --David Greenberger ... Read more


    6. The Phantom of the Opera (2004 Movie Soundtrack) (Special Extended Edition Package)
    list price: $24.98
    our price: $20.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00065L706
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 121
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    Amazon.com

    For better or worse, Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Gaston Leroux's gothic horror/romance novel has done for stage musicals what Spielberg's Jaws did for fish stories, with worldwide sales of its original cast album approaching 25 million. While director Joel Schumacher's film turns on his typically ambitious visual verve, its new film soundtrack recording has been paradoxically focused in scope, yet beefed up dynamically via the brawny presence of a hundred piece orchestra and The London Boys Choir. This single disc version showcases all of Phantom's key songs (a deluxe, double-disc edition is also available), with Gerard Butler imparting a welcome, youthful sensuality to his Phantom, making a fine foil for Emily Rossum's ever-conflicted Christine. Original show orchestrator David Cullen has fashioned compelling new contemporary arrangements to frame Webber's songs -- which now conclude with the lilting, upbeat new ballad he wrote for the film, "Learn to Be Lonely," sung by Minnie Driver's Carlotta.--Jerry McCulley ... Read more


    7. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005 Original Broadway Cast)
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000929AB4
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 45
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    With this giddily entertaining show, David Yazbek confirms that The Full Monty wasn't a fluke--few on Broadway can equal his melodic verve and lyrical cleverness. Based on the 1988 movie of the same name, the show deals with a pair of con artists swindling rich women on the French Riviera. Lithgow brings debonair charm to the Michael Caine part, while Norbert Leo Butz (Wicked) proves to be a comic dynamo in the Steve Martin part. And Yazbek provides them with an array of catchy tunes (adorned in beautiful Bacharach-style arrangements by Harold Wheeler). Butz goes ballistic on the hilarious "Great Big Stuff," which demolishes conspicuous consumption, then pairs up with feisty leading lady Sherie Rene Scott on "Love Is My Legs," a wicked sendup of Celine Dion­style torch epics. Meanwhile, Lightgow nails the tender ballad "Love Sneaks In." A delicious jazz reprise of "Nothing Is Too Wonderful to Be True" by Scott and pianist Bill Charlap shows that Yazbek's songs don't need flashy pizzazz to be memorable. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

    Other Great Musicals of the Season


    Spamalot

    The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

    The Light in the Piazza

    Little Women

    All Shook Up

    Altar Boyz
    ... Read more

    Reviews (11)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Fun,and enjoyable
    This CD has music that can be very fun and enjoyable to listen to.The score has a bit of a jazzy sound to it.the music is not pretty nor is the singing pretty but it is not supossed to be.This is a CD album for those Musical fan's that are stick and tired of stuff like Hairspary and some of the other corny Musical's out there.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Norbert saves the day!
    This is one of the most embarrassing CDs to exist. It's not completely atrocious because there are about 4 songs that I enjoy, but that by no means makes a great, or even good cast recording. I only feel sorry for Norbert & Sherie because they've really gone backwards from their days of The Last Five Years. The lyrics are by no means witty or amusing. Sample lyrics are...

    "Great big stuff! I really do deserve it!"
    "My hotel gives away free shampoo."
    "My shoes are gone. My wallet's gone. My watch is gone."
    "These pies are French. These guys are French. These fries are French."

    I'm not going to deny that the show was funny (all in part to Norbert). I thought Norbert was fantastic and I hope he wins the Tony. The entire cast sings their little hearts out. But I honestly quiestion why the score was nominated. The CD makes absolutely no sense if one has not seen the production before. The music is pretty weak and the lyrics... well, you saw those samples above. Save your sanity and purchase "Light in the Piazza."

    4-0 out of 5 stars DAVID YAZBEK IS THE COLE PORTER OF OUR TIME!
    First off, I have not seen the Broadway play yet.This review is for the CD, and it is all David Yazbek through and through.He is definitely the Cole Porter of our time, in terms of lyrical wit (and bawdiness), rhyming skills, rhythmic abilities and timing, etc.Musically, this disc picks up where "The Full Monty" left off...with mostly Broadway show-type numbers and lots and lots of humorous and witty lyrics.I encourage all of you theatre goers who also like great pop/rock to check out David's 3 pop/rock discs under his band name, Yazbek.Meanwhile, I've got a fall trip to the Great White Way in my future...

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
    I made a vow to myself that, after a less-than-shining experience not long ago, I would never again see a Broadway musical without first being familiar with the show's music.However, while recently in NYC I gave in to temptation and caught a performance of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels".I was already a fan of the movie and absolutely couldn't resist the idea of seeing several of my Broadway idols in the flesh.So, I was hesitant but hopeful.
    Yet from the first moment the overture began, I was transported.The mood of the piece is immediately set, and you are swept up in the intrigue and underhanded dealings of our loveable scoundrels.I was delighted from the start.The performances are all utterly top-notch.Lithgow is simply a marvel, and it's such a treat to see him here, I was literally awestruck at his first appearance on the stage.His "Love Sneaks In" is definitely one to pull on the old heart strings.Sherie Renee Scott has always been one of my favorite Broadway singers...her voice is simply unreal for its crystal quality and clear belt, not to mention her ability to carefully and tenderly interpret lyrics (every time I hear her exclaim "These fries are French!" I laugh).Joanna Gleason is a legend.She's got such ease and charm, it's a pleasure to watch and even more so to hear her.
    Of course, he who truly runs off with the production is none other than Norbert Leo Butz.The rumors are true: He's incredible.I've always loved his gorgeous voice, from "The Last Five Years" to "Wicked" to this production.He doesn't get the opportunity to play the swooning love interest like the previous two productions, but the lushness and depth of his voice still shines through.And his miraculous range as a performer is astounding both in person and on this soundtrack.He goes from "Great Big Stuff" to "All About Ruprecht" to "Love is My Legs" (my far-and-away favorite track, it never ceases to make me smile) and manages to infuse each number with so much energy and magnetism.I can only imagine the outcry if he doesn't roll away with the Tony.
    The cast as a whole has one thing which really makes the difference between an okay show and a great one: Joy.Every actor has such a good time up there, it's obvious.And infectious.There's nothing an audience responds to better than the cast that truly enjoys themselves and each other.And you need only listen to "Dirty Rotten Number" to witness the obvious admiration and affection our two main scoundrels have for each other both in and out of character.
    Combine the beautiful music and this stellar cast with the amazingly witty and literate lyrics in each number.Every track must be listened to several times over before all the references and jokes and asides are deciphered.There are still moments of awe when I pick up a line I previously missed or wonder to myself, exactly how DOES a writer pull off something like that?
    In all, this is a truly unique experience.No, it's not laden down with some deep message about life or love.No, it's not scathing social commentary (though there are a few lines in there, most especially the "Bushes from Tex" passage in "Ruprecht", which speak to today's audience: "The Bushes from Tex were nervous wrecks because their son was dim....But look what happened to him!" Let me assure you, the audience went wild!).It's good, (mostly) clean fun, the soundtrack to which I have played innumerable times since I was fortunate enough to receive a free copy before the performance.Of course, there is bonus material on the newly-released soundtrack which makes me wonder if I shouldn't go buy that as well! It's worth the money for the ticket AND the soundtrack.If you're fortunate enough to live in close proximity to Broadway, I urge you to see it.If not, listen to this soundtrack and enjoy thoroughly.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent soundtrack -- and I've seen the show
    I saw this show on Broadway about a month ago and have been waiting for the release of this CD since then.It's quite a good recording of all the show's music.I would probably avoid buying it until you have seen the show, but then again John Lithgow does use Track 17 to humorously warn you that the tracks which follow could give away the plot's twists and turns -- which is awfully gentlemanly of him.The jacket has a great synopsis of the plot and all lyrics included, in case like me you can't quite understand every one of Lithgow's words in the songs with the 'Schiffhausen' accent.My favorite song has to be Lithgow's 'Love Sneaks In', which is short but sweetly done with the emotion that I love from Lithgow in his work.

    The CD also has three demo tracks at the end from David Yazbeck.Two out of three are wastes since he performs them himself -- the production versions of 'Ruprecht' and 'Here I Am' are done much more effectively than these pitiful demos.However, the demo of 'Nothing Is Too Wonderful' with Sherie Scott singing is a different twist on the song which I really enjoyed -- the kind of mellow piano-based tune you'd expect to hear in a jazz bar.Quite nice, in my view.

    Do yourself a favor -- see the show first, which is an enjoyable experience, then get the soundtrack.For the most part, you won't be disappointed. ... Read more


    8. Wicked (2003 Original Broadway Cast)
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0000TB01Y
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 57
    Average Customer Review: 4.57 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    One of the most common complaints about musicals is that the books are flimsy pretexts from which to hang numbers. Wicked runs into the opposite problem: it has a great plot but too often the songs just get in the way. Based on Gregory Maguire's novel of the same name, Wicked tells us what happened between Glinda the Good and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, before Dorothy showed up in Oz. And the show is lucky to boast a pair of ace leading women in the main roles. As Glinda, Kristin Chenoweth delivers a sensational star turn, displaying a crystal-pure voice and sharp comic timing; Idina Menzel lends her powerful pipes to the tricky role of Elphaba. Unfortunately, you wish they had better material to work with. Stephen Schwartz's pop score is often dragged down by overly synthetic orchestrations and sentimental lyrics (think Chicken Soup for the Witch). Still, at its best Wicked is a seductive slice of popular entertainment that could well give a younger audience a lasting taste for musical theater. --Elisabeth Vincentelli ... Read more

    Reviews (241)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible
    Although I've been a huge admirer of both Kristin Chenowith and idina Menzel for a few years now, I was not sure what to expect upon first hearing this soundtrack. Actually, I ended up seeing the show on broadway, and buying the CD the day after because i couldn't get enough of this music! Stephen Schwartz has made a brilliant creation, and couldn't have gotten better voices to sing it. The vocal harmonies are beautiful throughout. Defying Gravity, the real showstopper (much thanks to Ms. Menzel's UNBELIEVABLE voice), gave me almost as big of a chill when hearing it on the soundtrack as it did in live performance. Ms. Chenowith's lovely voice carries songs as well, and the song Popular is cute and funny, while showing off her vocal talent. Aside from Defying Gravity, my favorite songs are I'm Not That Girl (sung by Ms. Menzel), and the love ballad As Long as You're Mine. It's a fun, entertaining musical more full of emotion than I had expected it would be. Between Norman Leo Butz, and the two leading women, I can hardly put into words the feeling that their voices produce- you have to hear it to know! This is definitely one of the best new broadway shows to come about since RENT, and I hope it has a long, successful run.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Deliciously wicked and most definately wonderful
    Being of fan of the original novel and ecstatic that a musical was made from the book, I bought the CD the day it was available. It is pure and simple magic. Idina Menzel, who's voice blew me away on the OBC of Rent, proves her power and stands right up there with the superb Kristen Chenowith. I've been playing the CD non-stop since Decemeber, and with great fortune and luck, I was able to see the actual Broadway show this past weekend...front row lottery tickets. The power and majesty of this show cannot be conveyed on this CD, but it comes very close. Seeing all these perfomers dance, sing, and act the songs I fell in love with cannot be described. You'll have to see it for yourself. There's not a bad song in the show or on the CD...these songs, standing alone on the CD out of context from the show, are enough to move anyone. From Idina's perfect 'The Wizard and I' to 'No Good Deed,' from Kristen's comic songs to ballads, from their duets together (no two voices have ever matched better), and from Norbert Leo Butz's 'Dancing through Life' to 'As Long as Your Mine,' this CD is a definate to buy and share!

    5-0 out of 5 stars AMAZING
    If you haven't seen the play... you must go NOW!!! Idina Menzel who plays Elphaba (Wicked Witch) is amazing and awesome to watch... I've seen the play twice and hope to see it again!! If there were such thing as 6 stars... This musical absolutly deserves it!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Sublime...
    Miss Kristin Chenoweth... If there is a greater star on the rise on the great white way I dare you to name her. I spend my days puttering around in my care listening to Ariella Vaccarino's must-have CD series "Voice Lessons to Go" in preparation for the moment I put the real deal on here and try my best to match the vocal styling of Ms. Chenoweth... and fail (but maybe with these vocal CDs I've been listening to... who knows). Anyway, the woman is a queen of the stage at the moment and this recording is a vocal photograph of a true star in the midst of her prime. I highly recommend buying it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wicked Rocks!
    You wouldn't expect a teenager to love broadway music, but Wicked has me hooked!I can't get enough of "The Wizard and I" and "Defying Gravity".Other great tunes on the cd are "Popular", "As long as you're mine","I'm not that girl", and "Popular". The vocalists are fabulous, the tunes are catchy, and its a fun cd to listen to! If you want to hear a GREAT CD, listen to Wicked! ... Read more


    9. Little Women The Musical (2005 Original Broadway Cast)
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000929ABY
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 97
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women concerns four sisters in post-­Civil War Massachusetts, but at times it feels as if its musical adaptation should have been called "Little Woman," so focused on a single sibling it is. Both Allan Knee's book and Sutton Foster's natural charisma and energy help constantly train the spotlight onto tomboy Jo. Yet it's not that much of a problem because Foster is strong enough to carry the show. She gets excellent support from the rest of the cast and especially cabaret artist Maureen McGovern, who as Marmee gets two beautiful ballads ("Here Alone" and "Days of Plenty") that are tailor-made for her imperial, burnished tone, and could well acquire a life outside the show. Composer Jason Howland worked as either musical director or musical supervisor on three period-set Frank Wildhorn musicals (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War), which gives him a distinct experience in dealing with the historical setting here. Although the score oftentimes veers to the bland side, Howland also shows encouraging signs of spryness ("Five Forever") and melodic confidence that at one point slyly honors Sondheim ("Astonishing"). Old-fashioned in the best possible way, Little Women makes a good complement to Wicked for those trying to entice a younger audience to the delights of the musical theater.--Elisabeth Vincentelli ... Read more

    Reviews (21)

    3-0 out of 5 stars The Music is pretty standard and lacking
    I am a hugh Musical Fan And I also Buy aot of cast recording.I find this recording to be lacking in depth .The music does not really bring one in it can be a bit boring but overall pretty good.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt Musical Theatre!
    Being a big fan of L.M. Alcott's classic I was sceptical about this CD. Also not having seen the show I was taking a chance buying it. I am sure glad I did. From the moment the music started playing I felt such a connection to it. And overwhelming emotion! By the time I got to "Some things were meant to be" I was sobbing and continued all through the very poignant "Days of Plenty".
    There is such delight in being reminded of childhood dreams and family togetherness, that our fast-paced lives sometimes forget. I don't believe Ms Alcott would be spinning in her grave at all. I bet she is thrilled that the Marchs' has been brought to life for another generation to discover and enjoy. It might be a story set in a different time........but the themes and emotions are timeless.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Sutton Shines!
    It is sad that this show had such a short run . The performances by Sutton Foster and Maureen McGovern were pure musical theatre. Sutton's "Astonishing" is simply that and Ms. McGovern had me in tears during "Days of Plenty". Now that the show is history grab the cd and experience what will be missed on Broadway!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Musical CD In Many Years.
    On of the best musical theater CDs I have heard in many years. I find myself listening to "Astonishing" and "Days Of Plenty" over and over again. Sutton Foster's pure, flawless, voice shines as Jo, while Maureen McGovern delivers her songs with the percision of a pop diva. This CD is a must have for any theater fan!

    5-0 out of 5 stars It's Astonishing!
    When I first heard that Little Woman was going to be made into a musical I was really excited. I bought the album the day it came out and received it the next day. Whne I first listened to it, I must say I was disapointed. I thought it was just plain boring, so I put it away for a week. Then, I decided to give it a second chance, so I listened to the whole thing through. I was suprised when I ended up liking a few of the songs. After listening to it a few more times, I ended up liking even more of the songs. And as Icontinue to listen to it, I fall in love with another song each time. Those who write terrible reviews for this CD obviously are closed-minded people who expect to be blown-away the first time they listen to it. Well, unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Not every show can be as big as Wicked(and even in that CD, some songs take mutiple listenings before you like them.) Soms shows are a bit more quiet, but that doesn't mean it's any less amazing.

    The songs on this CD are amazing. My two favorties are the nothing-less-than inspirational and powerful "Astonishing" and the heartfelt sisterly song "Some Things are Meant to Be". So many of the songs are wonderfully witty such as "Take a Chance on Me", "Better", "Could You?" and the touching "Small Umbrella in the Rain." And of course there are Marmee's two tearjerkers "Here Alone" and "Days of Plenty". Then, there's songs that just make you smile such as "I'd Be Delighted", "Five Forever", and "The Weekly Volcano Press". And then, there's a song that makes you want to get up and sing "The Fire Within Me." "Off to Massachusetts" is a song that NEVER gets out of your head.

    The singers sing beautifully. Period. Maureen McGovern and Sutton Foster have powerful voices, but that's a given. Amy McAlexander as "Amy" has a cute voice that fits her character well. Megan McGinnis as "Beth" really does have the voice of an angel and her voice makes you want to sob in "Some Things are Meant to Be". Jenny Powers as "Meg" has a soothing voice fit for the oldest March sister.

    All in all, this CD is fabulous! It's definitely worth buying! ... Read more


    10. Come Away with Me
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00005YW4H
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 41
    Average Customer Review: 4.19 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    It is not just the timbre of Norah Jones's voice that is mature beyond her 22 years. Her assured phrasing and precise time are more often found in older singers as well. She is instantly recognizable, blending intimations of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone without sounding like anyone but herself. Anyway you slice it, she is a singer to be reckoned with. Her readings of the Hank Williams classic, "Cold Cold Heart" and Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You" alone are worth the price of the CD. Jones's own material, while not bad, pales a bit next to masterpieces such as these. They might have fared better had she and producer Arif Mardin opted for some livelier arrangements, taking better advantage of brilliant sidemen such as Bill Frisell, Kevin Breit, and Brian Blade; or if the tunes had simply been given less laconic performances. Jones has all the tools; what will come with experience, and some careful listening to artists like J.J. Cale and Shirley Horn, is the knack of remaining low-key without being sleepy--sometimes less is not, in fact, more. --Michael Ross ... Read more

    Reviews (1262)

    5-0 out of 5 stars "Come Away With Me".....I would!
    A buddy, affectionately known as 'That Ricky Guy,' discovered that I had never heard of Norah Jones. Well, he thought so much of this unique and gifted song stylist (and of me, for some reason) that he gifted me with a copy of this CD. I pay attention to Ricky's musical evaluations because he is the only still-living person I know who was actually there at Carnegie Hall in 1961 to witness Judy Garland's Ultimate Triumph (though he was probably on his mama's knee), and he said Norah Jones is good. He's right. He's definitely right!

    It's human nature for us, hearing a singer for the first time, to make the inevitable comparisons....and I did just that listening to Norah. There were touches of Peggy Lee, I thought...certainly Rita Coolidge...Blossom Dearie, though the voice isn't that fragile...some of Nina Simone's subtle emotion. And of course she's a jazz singer, but there sure is a touch of country in that delivery of hers, maybe even a gentle hint of smokey coffee-house folk singers. But finally it dawns on you that Norah Jones, this young girl with a talent far older than she herself, has seduced you....reeled you right in with her OWN individual brand of musical magic.

    Just as I didn't know Norah until this evening, many of the songs were also new to me....but I'm sure will become old friends. I especially loved "One Flight Down," and the title song she wrote herself, as well as "Nightingale" and "The Long Day Is Over." Of course my favorites were the two familiar standards, "Cold, Cold Heart" and "The Nearness Of You" (let's face it....I'm basically stuck back there in time wanting more details of Garland's encores from my friend Rick) but I really do think Ms. Jones would be doing herself (and us) a great service if she borrowed a page from Diana Krall and recorded an entire album of the old classics. She has the genuine talent to give new life to old chestnuts...and she should!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Music To My Ears
    I grew up in the sixties and am not a fan of most of today's music. Popularity and Grammy Award wins normally don't persuade me to buy an album. However, Norah Jones's invitation to "Come Away With Me" was too hard to resist. I fell in love with her voice and enjoyed every song on the album. The tasty arrangements, performed by outstanding musicians, not to mention her own melodic piano playing, perfectly complimented Norah's sensual, seductive voice. For me, the music recreated the atmosphere of a late night jazz club. "Don't Know Why" is one hit song that I never get tired of hearing. I was especially impressed by the arrangement of Hank Williams's country classic "Cold Cold Heart." She transformed it from a honky-tonk lament into a jazz ballad. J.D. Loudermilk's "Turn Me On," when performed by Ms. Jones, had the desired effect on me that the writer intended. The melancholy "The Long Day Is Over" effectively conveyed weariness, suggesting that it's time for the sleepy patrons to finish their drinks and go home, because even late night jazz clubs have to close sometime. Closing out the album with Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness Of You" implied that Norah will not be going home alone. "I need no soft lights to enchant me, if you'll only grant me the right, to hold you ever so tight, and to feel in the night the nearness of you." This album totally won me over and turned me into a Norah Jones fan.

    1-0 out of 5 stars GET AWAY FROM ME
    Cold, calculating, but ultimately callow Upper Middle Class pop jazz from an Ice Queen who sings with all the soul of a doorstop. If this is indeed Ravi Shankar's daughter, she inherited not one iota of her father's passion and artistry. Phony through and through.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, distinguished voice and sophisticated music.
    In a world where the new "singing sensations" are the unoriginal screamers who participate to "American Idol" and similar TV monstrosities, it's really refreshing to witness the rise of a REAL talent with a REAL music background and an exceptional panache for musical "buon gusto."

    Norah doesn't have a "big" voice, so what? Neither did Billie Holiday, but I'll take her over any screamer at any time. It's not by chance that I mentioned Billie Holiday, because that's the kind of voice Norah reminds me of, and I simply love it. Sultry, smoky and haunting are the three adjectives that immediately come to my mind.

    On to the music, Norah's songs are a delightful blend of country, blues and jazz, all encased by electronic-free arrangements (i.e. real singers need no walls of synthesizers and special effects to cover the flaws of their voice...) and some very tasteful but unobtrusive piano playing by Norah herself.

    I basically like all songs in this album, but my favorites are the title track ("Come Away with Me", a really delightful jazzy waltz), "Don't Know Why" (a Pat Metheny-esque tune featuring a beautiful melody and an exceptionally tasteful arrangement) and the amazing "The Nearness of You", where Norah showcases her incredible ability to perform immortal standards with nothing behind her voice but her own superb piano accompaniment.

    The fact that this album received 8 Grammy awards makes me a little less pessimistic on the future of pop music.

    2-0 out of 5 stars cub away wif be
    Norah Jones... either she ought to have her deviated septum fixed or she was suffering from a head cold when she cut this album. In either case, perhaps Amazon should put together a two-cd deal featuring Norah Jones and one of Jonathan Richman's records. Stuffy-nose pop fans, rejoice!
    But seriously folks, this stuff is not music. If you want to hear comatose jazz stylings, check out Blossom Dearie Sings Comden and Green or her version of Someone to Watch Over Me. This is pure heroin. You bang it in the mainline and fall back on the flophouse bed with the hypo still sticking out of your arm. Norah Jones, on the other hand, is not satisfied until her tracks ramp up to some up-tempo peak of countryfication. Just so you know she means it when she whispers out, "Cub away wif be... inna dight." Sounds suspiciously like the cold sufferer on a Nyquil commercial. ... Read more


    11. When I Fall In Love
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $12.98
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0002VL0K6
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 23
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    Amazon.com

    This is not the typical example of an artist from another genre jumping on the crowded standards-and-ballads bandwagon. When I Fall in Love instead represents an instrumental stylist busting out of a box to find a much more suitable platform for his craft. These tracks are the fruits of an obvious labor of love for everyone from the featured musicians to the arrangers to the engineers. The arrangers, particularly Billy Childs and Gil Goldstein, give Botti's trumpet a broad-brushed orchestral backdrop that allows him to emerge from the swirling strings and bouncy horns with bold strokes of creative improvising. Some tracks are obvious nods to Gil Evans and the lush arrangements of 1970s CTI recordings. Even the guest vocalists, Sting and Paula Cole, let his trumpet sing first before their respective cues on "La Belle Dame Sans Regrets" and "What'll I Do." The only blemish here is the obvious attempt at smooth jazz airplay with Sade's "No Ordinary Love." --Mark Ruffin ... Read more


    12. Michael Buble
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000088E6D
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 247
    Average Customer Review: 4.45 out of 5 stars
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    Pop's rush to raid the cradle continues with this promising debut by 25-year-old Canadian singer Michael Bublé. And while the young vocal star's good looks are smart enough for a boy band, his muse seems to have sprung from a more sassy and compelling musical era. Mentored by Paul Anka (whose '50s hit "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" is covered in dreamy, cabaret fashion here), Bublé sings in the orbits of Darin and Sinatra, covering swing epoch gems ("Come Fly with Me," "The Way You Look Tonight," "That's All") and rock era standards (Van Morrison's "Moondance," "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" by the Brothers Gibb, Queen's "Crazy Little Ting Called Love") with equal aplomb. David Foster's production is typically slick and played to the back row of the bleachers, but it's informed by smart contexts provided by such arrangers as Johnny Mandel, Randy Waldman, and Mike Melvoin. If the choices of material are sometimes staid and predictable, they also give the singer a crucial framework for building toward something more challenging; his is a bright future. --Jerry McCulley ... Read more

    Reviews (345)

    4-0 out of 5 stars I Like this CD - A Lot
    I just bought this CD 3 days ago, and I've played it probably 10 times already. Its a pretty good album - Michael Buble has a very good - although Sinatra/Torme/Connick - sounding voice. The arrangements are well made too - but Just The Way You Look Tonite should have preferably been arranged as a slow croon rather than bossa nova style.

    I usually look into the Tower reviews to see if anybody else liked the CD's I buy, and it seems that a lot of other people like MB as well as I do. There are however a few people who really blasted him in their reviews. Not only blasted, but outright insulted him - a Karaoke singer!? Really now. Around 10 of 155 reviewers gave him 1-3 stars, and all I can say is that talent is in the ears of the beholder (or in this case, the listener). Measuring MB on the review scale, he is most obviously a talented singer who has moved his audience.

    I hope MB comes out with his own album of The Great American Songbook. I'll be looking forward to hearing it, and reading the reviews.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Harry Connick Jr. eat your heart out!
    I first heard Michael Buble in the film DOWN WITH LOVE. I turned to my friends and asked "Who is that singing? He's great!" But I didn't think about the unknown singer for weeks.

    Then I was in a CD store with the same friends and one turned to me and said "You must get this CD. This is the guy you liked from DOWN WITH LOVE." Well, I bought the CD and rushed home to listen to it.

    This guy has real talent. Harry Connick Jr. may be a fine musician but he is but "a poor man's Sinatra" next to a singer like Michael Buble. Buble brings something more to the standards. He has a sweeter voice than Connick yet brings a more individual style too. In some ways he is reminiscent of Bobby Darin but whereas Darin could certainly swing, Buble also brings a sensuality to his music. His version of "Sway" is by far the best I have heard and my current favorite from the CD.

    The arrangements are all great and the selections range from standards like "Fever" and "Come Fly With Me" to new classics like "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" and "Moondance". Buble's cover of "The Way You Look Tonight" would make even Fred Astaire proud.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The boy is soooooooo good!
    I bought singing lessons on CD "Voice Lessons TO GO" by Vaccarino, because I was tired of being embarrased to sing with him when my husband was around! I love to play Buble's CD over a good home cooked meal. It is is such romantic music- his voice is so charming. I am also a huge Harry Connick Jr. fan. If you like one, you'll like the other.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A word to the detractors;
    So you like Frank and Bobby better? Quite a left-handed insult. Although it's fair to say that Bubel comes from that style, (and who could be interested in this kind of music without listening to a -lot- of Sinatra?), it's also apparent to me that this guy just opens his mouth and -sings-, naturally and musically. Some people aren't built to punk out, guys. Let's allow two or three saloon singers to have a career .

    5-0 out of 5 stars "Michael Buble" one CD you will never get tired of playing.
    Michael Buble is a special talent. I have been listening to his self-titled album "Michael Buble" for quite some time now and every time I hear Michael sing I am just amazed at how mature and seasoned his voice is. Others have mentioned comparisons to other great performers from the past, but Michael doesn't have to rely on anyone's reputation but his own. With his gorgeous voice and unique style he will be a permanent fixture in the pop music scene for many years to come. This CD is really well done. The song selections and production are perfect for a singer of Michael's great ability. You are really going to enjoy this CD!

    If you enjoy listening to crooners and Big Band Swing, I would also suggest Monte Procopio. His 13-piece band swings and Monte can really sing the standards. ... Read more


    13. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2005 Original Broadway Cast)
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0009A1AMS
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 58
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    When was the last time you heard a musical with a truly hilarious book? Rachel Sheinkin has concocted such a thing for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, one of the most unexpected hits of 2005. Unfortunately, Sheinkin's wit is mostly lost on a cast album; fortunately, the show's songs are by the great William Finn. Set at the titular event, the musical never looks down on the competiting kids (played by adult actors), instead portraying them as endearingly nerdy but also smart, and endowing them with real personalities rather than predictably spelling-bee tics. The cast is uniformly superb, although personal faves include Sarah Saltzberg, playing Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre with a delicious lisp ("Woe Is Me"); Jesse Tyler Ferguson, bringing sweet innocence to Leaf Coneybear ("I'm Not That Smart"); and Dan Fogler, in a breakout comic performance as William Barfee ("Magic Foot," sounding like a sly tribute to Kander & Ebb). This show may be small in scale, but it's a huge winner. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

    Other Great Musicals of the Season


    Spamalot

    Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

    The Light in the Piazza

    Little Women

    All Shook Up

    Altar Boyz

    ... Read more


    14. Closer
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
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    Asin: B0000CFW87
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 13
    Average Customer Review: 4.34 out of 5 stars
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    Thanks to a fortuitous intersection of talent and fate, 22-year-old Josh Groban hasn't finished his senior year in performing arts school but has already released his sophomore effort on a major major label. Fans of the young vocal phenom's debut will find much to enthrall them here, even if it nudges the singer closer to the center of producer/mentor David Foster's MOR pop sensibilities. Eschewing much of its predecessors more overt classic-lite pretensions and pop-rock covers for a slate of dramatic, Eurocentric ballads that serve as a showcase for the singer's inviting baritone, Groban shrewdly positions himself as the American alternative to the Bocelli-Watson crossover axis. "Caruso" may find the singer falling short of its operatic inspiration, but "Oceano" and "My Confession" quickly showcase the singer's truedramatic range (which seems to all but yearn for a bona fide Broadway musical challenge), while a vocal take of Bacalov's graceful "Il Postino" theme uses classical virtuoso Joshua Bell's violin flourishes to good effect. To his credit, Groban displays some promising efforts at songwriting collaboration on the bittersweet "Per Te" and "Remember When It Rains," while the ambient/ethnic soundscape of Deep Forest's "Never Let Go" offers a teasing alternative to the record's otherwise melodramatic production formula. Groban has found commercial triumph via Foster's mentoring, but there remains a nagging sense here that he hasn't truly pushed himself as an artist--yet.--Jerry McCulley ... Read more

    Reviews (411)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Remarkable voice
    My four star rating is given because Josh Groban has, in my opinion, the best male voice out there right now. I bought this CD strictly to hear him sing. In that I wasn't disappointed although some of the song choices leave me somewhat less than thrilled. "Mi Mancherai" is done so beautifully. It is by far my favorite. The collaberation of he and Joshua Bell was genius. Tracks 2,4,6,7, and 11 are also lovely. "Remember When It Rained" was written by Josh Groban and is quite pretty. He plays the piano on that song and does so very well. I hope he will do more playing in his future projects. As for the opinions about "Caruso" being less than well performed, I would have to disagree.
    The pop sound in some of the songs I could gladly do without. Ideally, he would stick to a more classical sound with the instruments adding to the beauty of his voice rather than detracting from it.
    This is the only CD I've ever bought the day it came out. I will likely do the same next time. And if there are more violin or piano or cello accompaniments and fewer by electric guitars and drums, I will be thrilled!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A little range reach but "Closer" to roots of appeal.
    I love music - all kinds of music. But the music on this cd seems almost tailor made for what my heart loves to hear best. David Foster has this incredible way of building a movie set of music around a spectacular voice. The effects are dramatic and to Josh Groban's interprative credit not melodramatic.

    Josh Groban really took a couple of risks here, he cowrote and plays piano on "Remember When It Rained". It's great to hear something a little different from him even if it isn't the best track on the cd. Some of the tracks sound a little saccharin like "Broken Vow" - the live version on the cd/dvd was better but "My Confession" is a wonderfully elegant ballad that takes Josh's voice to a higher range and works majestically well. Some of the tracks are absolutely spectacular like "Mi Mancherai" which includes some of the most expressive violin from Joshua Bell and "Oceano" which also includes musical arrangements that compliment and frame Josh's exquisite voice. Josh Groban's absolute pitch, warmth and power are showcased so well but this cd illustrates some lovely diversity not seen in the debut. It's hard to ascertain what Josh Groban is conveying when he sings but the aura of emotional distancing doesn't interfere with the extraordinary delivery on each track, it creates an appealing mystique. Even if a couple tracks are skippable - the cd overall is a demonstrative delicious big bang.

    5-0 out of 5 stars WOW WHAT AN AMAZING ARTIST
    This guy is amazing and i think that anybody that disagrees with me is crazy. This is a true artist and it is a GOD given talent also. You have to buy this CD if you really want to hear good music.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Blew me away
    This guy and I are the same age and I cannot believe that wonderful voice comes out of him. This CD is a must get and I am glad I bought it. It is a perfect way to relax after a long day- his voice just soothes you. Favorite tunes are of course Oceano- also Mi Mancherai, Per Te, and Remember when it rained. He packs so much power into his music and Thank God for whoever discovered him!

    1-0 out of 5 stars 0 Stars
    What the world needs now is NOT an opera version of Clay Aiken! or should I say opera-wannabe version. Do yourself a favor and get the "Cabaret" soundtrack of the movie for some REAL MUSICAL TALENT. F-(-) ... Read more


    15. Feels Like Home
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00018D44U
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 15
    Average Customer Review: 3.61 out of 5 stars
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    Norah Jones blew everybody away with her jazzy, country-tinged,Grammy-winning debut CD, Come Away With Me. On this recording, Jones doesn't mess with her trademark formula. Under Arif Mardin's cozy co-production, Jones is supported by her writing partners, her Handsome Band, and some special guests (country legend Dolly Parton, Levon Helm and Garth Hudson of the Band, and jazz drummer Brian Blade, to name a few). Jones's Texas-twanged vocals and her sparse acoustic and electric Wurlitzer piano lines enliven the CD's 13 tracks, from the light and lively single, "Sunrise" to Tom Waits' "The Long Way Home" and the bouncy duet with Parton, "Creepin' In." Jones's soul-baring piano/vocal rendition of Duke Ellington's "Melancholia," retitled "Don't Miss You at All," proves she's a true Blue Note artist with unlimited potential. --Eugene Holley, Jr. ... Read more

    Reviews (495)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Middle of the road
    I am a Norah Jones fan but have to admit that her music is somewhat generic. The songs seem to blend into each other - besides the first single 'Sunrise' which is at least distinctive. She has a tendency to repeat a single word/line all throughout the song, until the fade out .. kind of following a formula of sorts. Not much content in the songs, not very good songwriting perhaps. I'm not a songwriter but would prefer songs where it doesn't feel like a broken record at times.

    The good points are that it's a very nice soothing album that you can put on in the background. Plus, she does have a wonderful voice. It's more country than her previous album, but that's a good thing .. I presume that's why it's called 'Feels Like Home'.

    Definitely recommended. It's good music to just put on during a drive home or for relaxing with a cup of hot chocolate (or coffee or whatever's your poison).

    PS: The CD has copy-control, I haven't had any problems with it but it's just something to keep in mind .. since according to the back, it might not work with most car CD players.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A unique, musical sound; great songs
    I was in a mood to find some new artists, and indirectly heard of Norah Jones. Amongst the other albums I ordered, I was very surprised and pleased to find this one. Norah's voice is very cool -- the songs are a little jazzy, a little bluesy and a little rock. They are all pleasing and complex without being too much, too loud, etc. I find myself listenging and discovering new aspects of the music each time and this has become one of my favorites.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Short and Sweet...
    A Norah Jones CD would sound just like one long continuous boring song if there were no breaks between tracks!
    I really tried hard to find some enjoyable quality in her music. But after the third song, she really starts to become annoying to listen to. It's like someone dragging their fingernails across a chalk board.

    5-0 out of 5 stars heaps better than the first cd...
    I was never a fan of Norah's, but the week this cd was released every music store in town was playing it in heavy rotation, so i started to like it, then i decided to buy it and i love it! it took me ages to get into it though. first i played my favourites and now have worked up to playing the whole cd. My faves would have to be Sunrise, Creeping In, Toes, Humble Me, Don't Miss You At All and The Prettiest Thing. The line in Humble Me 'Baby Teresa she's got your eyes, i see you all the time, when she asks about her daddy i never know what to say', really got to me. it's such a sad song..it made me think of Norah as a mom though, which was kind of weird, but i think she'd be a great one : ) This CD is fantastic and well worth the money. What's the enhanced bit on this CD?

    5-0 out of 5 stars great sophomore cd
    please ignore and disregard the mean one star reviews foe this excellent sophomore album from the grandaughter of the great indian sitar maestro ravi shankar and it gives me great pride as an indian to listen to her great albums and her accompilshments.very highly recommended.go norah go!!!!!!! ... Read more


    16. The Phantom of the Opera (2004 Movie Soundtrack)
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $12.98
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000654YWY
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 854
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    Amazon.com

    For better or worse, Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Gaston Leroux's gothic horror/romance novel has done for stage musicals what Spielberg's Jaws did for fish stories, with worldwide sales of its original cast album approaching 25 million. While director Joel Schumacher's film turns on his typically ambitious visual verve, its new film soundtrack recording has been paradoxically focused in scope, yet beefed up dynamically via the brawny presence of a hundred piece orchestra and The London Boys Choir. This single disc version showcases all of Phantom's key songs (a deluxe, double-disc edition is also available), with Gerard Butler imparting a welcome, youthful sensuality to his Phantom, making a fine foil for Emily Rossum's ever-conflicted Christine. Original show orchestrator David Cullen has fashioned compelling new contemporary arrangements to frame Webber's songs -- which now conclude with the lilting, upbeat new ballad he wrote for the film, "Learn to Be Lonely," sung by Minnie Driver's Carlotta.--Jerry McCulley ... Read more


    17. Sondheim Sings, Vol. 1: 1962-72
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0009299JC
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 558
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Imagine yourself sitting in Stephen Sondheim's living room as he sits at the piano and sings 19 of his songs, some still in the gestational stage.That's the gist of Sondheim Sings, Vol. 1: 1962-1972, the first installment of what promises to be a large collection of private recordings Sondheim made "for fun" at the home of a friend.Naturally they're from shows relatively early in Sondheim's career, such as Company, Follies, A Funny Thing..., Anyone Can Whistle, and A Little Night Music.But just because the songs were written for those shows doesn't mean they made the final cut, so the selections range from the ultra-familiar "Send in the Clowns" and "Broadway Baby" to the less-familiar "Pleasant Little Kingdom," "Marry Me a Little," and "Love Is in the Air."Of course anyone who's the least bit versed in Sondheim song collections probably already knows "Marry Me a Little" and other such fare, but more rare is "No, Mary Ann" (from a never-produced movie called The Thing of It Is), "Truly Content" (a single song from The World of Jules Feiffer), and "The Lame, the Halt and the Blind" (cut from Anyone Can Whistle).A further element of interest is that some of the songs are different from their final stage versions.The changes are minor--a word here, a line there--but they offer a glimpse into Sondheim's working process.The beautiful booklet reprints all the lyrics as sung here, with notations for where they were eventually changed and to what. It also includes historic photos and detailed notes by Sondheim archivist Peter E. Jones.

    And how is Sondheim the performer?Broadway fans are well aware that performances by songwriters can be valued for their insight and passion, but not necessarily their beauty.There's a 1971 quote from Sondheim: "For those of you who have not had the pleasure of hearing my voice before, I tend to sing very loud, usually off-pitch and always write in keys that are just out of my range."That's a self-deprecating exaggeration, but it's probably best said that Sondheim is a good pianist who as a singer won't make anyone forget Barbara Cook.Sondheim Sings is a product of PS Classics' non-profit wing, and proceeds from the recording will go to Young Playwrights Inc., which Sondheim founded to support playwrights under 18.--David Horiuchi ... Read more

    Reviews (5)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Treasure!
    What a great treasure it is to hear Mr. Sondheim sing these great songs, although I'm disapointed they included more from Anyone Can Whistle and his unproduced shows than his more popular ones, they are still great. I'm exited to see the next edition of this series.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Sondheim Brilliance Captured on Remastered Demo Tapes
    He has an unfair reputation for penning songs people cannot sing along with, but I have to admit I'm a sucker for a Stephen Sondheim tune, even the overplayed ones like "Being Alive" and "Not a Day Goes By". So for me, it's a treat to hear a thirtyish Sondheim himself sing his own compositions accompanying himself on the piano. Granted he talk-sings in a very modest range and often veers off-key in spite of his best efforts, but his buoyant enthusiasm and keen intellect are so infectious throughout that I eventually became indifferent to his marginal singing talent. The other pertinent fact is that Sondheim is a superb piano player pounding the keys effortlessly as if he's composing and improvising his performances on the spot. He just turned 75 earlier this year, so PS Classics has collected 19 of his demo tapes from 1962-72 and digitally remastered them for this special recording. It was a fertile period for Sondheim, and this disc provides evidence with selections originating from seven of his shows from this decade - four unqualified hits ("Company", "Follies", "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "A Little Night Music"); a failure that has justifiably gained stature over the years ("Anyone Can Whistle" which has the most songs here - five); and a couple of obscurities ("The Thing of It Is" and "The World of Jules Feiffer"). Several of the songs here never made the final productions, much less the cast recordings, which makes this unvarnished compilation recording especially valuable. It's also just great to hear an unedited Sondheim so unfettered, exuberant and maddeningly clever.

    Sondheim produces a bouncy gem in "Pretty Little Picture" from "Forum", which offers smart, densely written lyrics over a hyped-up sea chantey melody. From "Jules Feiffer", "Truly Content" is a sweet ode to an unrealized dream of becoming a movie star that even includes the opening notes of "The Star Spangled Banner" as a finale interlude. Who else but Sondheim would mention Fay Wray and George Brent as his screen idols? He captures a frenetic romanticism on "Multitudes of Amy" and "Marry Me a Little", both from "Company", two of the most astute songs about being in love and obsessively infatuated I've ever heard, the latter particularly affecting with the rolling piano keys propelling the melody. The title tune from the failed "Anyone Can Whistle" has a loping open-heartedness that sets the mood of the show beautifully. The same can be said about his touching rendition of the familiar memory lament "Losing My Mind" from "Follies", where he unexpectedly changes his pitch when he moves into the chorus. Also from "Follies", "Don't Look at Me" vividly displays his sharp wit and high sense of personal drama, as does "Pleasant Little Kingdom" with its driving rhythm. From "Anyone Can Whistle", Sondheim really captures the aura of a carnival sideshow with "Miracle Song" and continues the spirit with shifting tempos and revivalist character changes interrupted by pilgrim murmurings on "The Lame, The Halt and the Blind".

    And here's a great example of the typical creative process behind a Broadway show - with its stern opening chords, "Invocation" was intended as a more clarion opening number for "Forum", but then it was decided to replace it with the pliant soft-shoe number "Love Is in the Air", but both were finally jettisoned in favor of the well-known "Comedy Tonight", which is not included here. "The Glamorous Life" demo is particularly fascinating for Sondheim's ongoing explanations of the plot developments and character's vocal turns in "A Little Night Music", as he sings in front of an attentive audience. Sondheim also sings a fine, unadorned "Send in the Clowns", refreshing for the lack of dramatic excess usually associated with the song. With his skilled grasp of melody and his dexterous use of changing imagery, this just provides proof that he composes music for the ages. There is also a 32-page booklet included with complete lyrics, historic photos and a brief background story.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
    If you're absolutely obsessed with Sondheim, you'll possibly like this recording. I find him a genius, but he has one of the worst voices I've ever heard. Don't turn up the volume while playing it or you'll have every dog in the neighborhood howling.

    4-0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 stars!
    Just shy pf perfection- i mean- what is perfect? Great, great, music here- I must reccomend!

    5-0 out of 5 stars There is a God!
    ...and, as a very accurate member of Finishing The Chat promptly pointed out, he's publishing his demos! ... Read more


    18. The Phantom of the Opera (Original 1986 London Cast)
    list price: $37.98
    our price: $30.49
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    Asin: B00004YTY2
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 151
    Average Customer Review: 4.63 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (261)

    4-0 out of 5 stars "Let the specacle astound you!"
    I can get a pretty good sense of what a theatrical experience this show must be from listening to its London cast recording. All that thundering, overpowering, eerie but beautiful music, which is actually pretty good and may very well be Andrew Lloyd Webber's best. The above-average, occasionally beautiful and touching lyrics to such songs as "Music of the Night," "All I Ask of You," "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," and "Point of No Return." The fine performance of Michael Crawford as the Phantom, which does a great job of conveying the character's passion and pain and thankfully doesn't really conjure up memories of his best-forgotten days as a juvenile lead in such fimusicals as "A Funny Thing..." and "Hello, Dolly!" The beautiful voice of Sarah Brightman as Christine. The supporting cast, from Steve Barton's Raoul to Rosemary Ashe's stunning Carlotta to the two theatrical agents, Andre and Farmin (or something like that). All contribute to the enjoyment and, yes, spectacle of this recording, and no doubt did and, in the case of the music and lyrics, still do contribute to the success of the stage show. All are reasons for buying it, so why not?

    5-0 out of 5 stars Not the best recording ever. . .the ONLY recording ever
    Alright, let's get this straight. It's a simple math problem; even a first grader could get this. Michael Crawford=Phantom. Phantom=Michael Crawford. That's just how it is. In the title song, when he sings "The Phantom of the Opera is there"...oh its brilliant. Especially that funny thing his voice does on the "Phaaa" part of Phantom. Normally it might be a little awkward, but in this role its absolutley perfect. He really makes us sympathize with him and almost makes you bawl in the Finale.

    Sarah Brightman does a great job with Christine. Most peolpe absolutely screw up the vocals at the end of the title song (ah-hem, 1992 Japanese Version and Sandra Joseph on Broadway. Hate to say it, but it doesn't work with their voices. Yeah, they can sing, but just not that. They do very well otherwise though) I like the way she screams out "I'll go MAD!" in Notes II.

    The only bad part about this (but it's quite minor) are Madame Giry and Joseph Buquet. Buquet's voice is kind of breathy and the vibrato takes over and Madame Giry's voice is a little breathy also, but nothing major.

    The orchestra in this is beautiful. In most recordings, the orchestra cuts short in the intrumentals before Hannibal and after the Auction (which is one of the best parts) but in this one is it really powerful. It gives you goosebumps because it blends so well together. Especially when the horns come in!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Recording
    I simply love this recording. I have never seen Phantom performed on the stage and this is the only recording I have ever heard of the Phantom of the Opera, but I was delighted to hear its music. I have had this CD for only a week and cannot stop playing it for some reason! It has quite a musical score, and the story is very sad. I have never read the book (although I am waiting for its arrival from Amazon after ordering it), so I cannot tell you whether it is true to the original story. The story is that of a man who has been abandoned by all mankind and must live in a labyrinth under the opera house. He falls in love with Christine Daae and becomes her tutor. She believes that the Phantom is the Angel of Music sent by her deceased father. The Phantom loves her so and wants her career in the opera house to advance. He sends notes to the managers, telling them to give her main roles instead of the prima Donna Carlotta. It is a heart wrenching story because you really feel sorry for the Phantom.

    The cast is strong. MICHAEL CRAWFORD plays the Phantom on this recording and is argued by many phans to be the best phantom. I have heard no other recording, so I can't argue that point. The role of Christine was written for SARAH BRIGHTMAN, so naturally she does well. There are many high notes and her role can be compared to that of COSETTE in LES MISERABLES because it seems that the majority of her parts are high. RAOUL is played by STEVE BARTON, and his voice is marvelous. ROSEMARY ASHE plays CARLOTTA. I don't like the part of Carlotta, but that isn't Ashe's fault!

    Some of the music in this sounds familiar, like from CATS (I'm talking about a couple bars of music, not like a whole song or anything), so that is very interesting. If you like Andrew Lloyd Webber, you will love this rock opera! I like "Angel of Music," "Phantom of the Opera," and "Music of the Night."

    Buy this CD because it is worth every penny!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Just as good the 100th time!
    This is truly a great recording. Overall, I am totally in love with it, but I am here to give a review, not to push my personal biases on others. So, from the standpoint of a musician, actress, and singer, here goes. First of all the actors...
    MICHAEL CRAWFORD: Overall, Awesome. Truly the best cast member. His voice is easy to listen to, and very expressive. He IS the Phantom. No questions asked. Technically, not perfect, but this is theatre, not technical type singing. Sometimes, he sounds like he has a bad cold, and tends to slide into the correct note on the higher notes, but overall, this detracts very little from his outrageous awsomeness.
    SARAH BRIGHTMAN: Not a huge fan of Sarah's, I'm afraid. Vibrato is one thing, but when you sound like a chipmunk singing while sitting in one of those massage chair things, you're using a little too much. She hits all of the notes beautifully, but you would too if your husband wrote the part for you. Her acting skills and expression are below par, and her inunciation is like she's singing with dental equipment in her mouth. She should definately practice singing more forward, as she gets caught in the back of her throat frequently. Her solos can wear on the nerves, but overall, you could do worse, she's not completely devoid of vocal talent, and she sounds fine when she's singing with someone else.
    STEVE BARTON: Not much to say about him. No surprises here, but easy to listen too, expression is on par, and he is technically the best out of the three leads. No complaints, but I've heard this voice a million times before.
    OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT: Carlotta is excellant, and beautifully annoying, all though she does have one moment in NOTES where she slips out of character for a phrase. Meg sounds like she's singing while trying to breath through an oxygen tube, in other words, barely audible. I would have liked to hear her more in the harmony on Angel of Music. Everyone else: Fine. Cooly. No complaints.
    AS FOR THE MUSIC: There is a lot of it, and it rocks. The orchestrations are fabulous for Broadway, and the melodies are beautiful, if frequently repetitive. Don't buy this if you don't like the tune of Angel of Music, it shows up in practically every song. The chorus numbers are ass-kicking and funky harmony-full.
    THE FINAL VERDICT: You can't go wrong here. Even if you despise Sarah Brightman, everyone else more than compensates for her, erm , lack of pronunciation. Crawford is at his best, and the melodies are some of the most memorable in musical history. Even newbies to the Phantom world will rejoice. Go ahead, throw away your money here. You won't be dissapointed.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Overblown, but still worth a listen.
    I am not one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest fans. But still, this is a good show. People that give this negative reviews claim that it is overated. And they are correct. But there are very good melodies in this show, although the lyrics are not top quality. There are also so many layers of the phantom that Gaston Leorux wrote in this character that are not explored in the lyrics. In this show we have little reason to sympathize with the main character. But in Sondheim's"Sweeney Todd" we are told in sometimes Gruesome detail why Sweeney has those killing sprees. But these shows are completly different animals of the theater. Phantom is a show that takes you to another world, while "Sweeney" makes you think. In my opinon, this is Andrew Lloyd Webbers last good show. ... Read more


    19. Pacific Overtures (2004 Broadway Revival Cast)
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0009299J2
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 218
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Pacific Overtures opened on Broadway in 1976. It didn't do that well, but neither did it completely flop--quite a feat considering it's one of Stephen Sondheim's hardest-to-penetrate musicals. Set in the mid-19th century, the show describes the arrival of Americans in Japan and their influence on that country. Sondheim said he wanted to keep the lyrics simple, so they're haiku-like, with few rhymes. Meanwhile, the music gets increasingly Westernized as the show progresses, to underscore the progressive Westernization of Japan. This revival was performed in Japanese at the 2002 Lincoln Center Festival, before being adapted for an English-speaking Broadway opening with an Asian-American cast. The small orchestra does justice to the score, although one may wish for echoes of the original production's fuller arrangements. Toward the end of the CD, two consecutive tracks neatly show up Sondheim's versatility. The comic "Please Hello" features American, British, Dutch, Russian, and French admirals, and Sondheim subtly honors each country's tradition as each admiral takes his turn (if only the cast's accents were as good). The song segues into the somber "A Bowler Hat," in which the Westernization of Kayama (Michael K. Lee) is examplified by his owning a bowler hat. (B.D. Wong shows his customary assurance as the Reciter.) Narratively speaking, the song may well be among Sondheim's best. The CD ends with a 1975 demo recording of Sondheim and director Harold Prince performing the cut number "Prayers." --Elisabeth Vincentelli

    Other Recent Sondheim Releases


    The Frogs (2004 Cast)

    Sondheim Sings (vol. 1)

    Assassins (2004 Cast)

    Sweeney Todd (DVD)

    Bounce

    Mostly Sondheim (DVD), Barbara Cook
    ... Read more

    Reviews (1)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece that deserves better.
    "Pacific Overtures", Sondheim and Weidman's epic masterpiece, has always deserved to be appreciated, and the recent revival certainly had potential to finally be praised by critics and enjoyed by audiences.Unfortunately, as this recording shows, the limits of the production makes one wish for more.

    Sondheim's beautiful and complex score is watered down in order to be performed by an extremely small orchestra (only 11 musicians), causing this recording to pale in comparison to the original cast recording.While the cast is excellent (B.D. Wong's voice is excellent and he does a great job as the Reciter), often performing far better than the original, the instrumentation does not even come close to the lush and textured performance of the original.The pulsing and tense percussion and strings of "Four Black Dragons" is now played by a piano, which simply cannot capture what I believe to be Sondheim and Tunick's original intentions.

    Even so, this CD is a must for any Sondheim fan.The songs are incredible, almost all of which have a distinct Japanese feel despite being very accessible.The CD, like the recent recording of the revival of "Assassins", is more complete than the original cast recording, and includes the lovely song "Prayers" as a Bonus track as well as some dialogue to better connect the songs.

    "Pacific Overtures" is a masterpiece, to be sure, but one that needs a far better recording. ... Read more


    20. As I Am
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0007TFHES
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 512
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Television viewers know her as The West Wing's opinionated deputy press secretary Annabeth Schott, while Broadway aficionados are familiar with her Tony-winning work in Wicked and the revival of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, as well as the successful 2001 American Songbook anthology, Let Yourself Go. But on this eclectic collection of traditional and contemporary gospel anthems and related songs, songstress Kristen Chenoweth claims a bold return to her spiritual roots. Her chameleonic, crystalline soprano lights up the beloved title track standard and the Gaither's modern inspirationals "Because He Lives" and "Upon This Rock" with a deft, Broadway-bred sense of drama. Yet her voice remains supple enough to impart country charms to "It Will Be Me," "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" and Amy Lee Grant's "There Will Never Be Another." One-woman pop songwriting empire Diane Warren offer Chenoweth a typically melodramatic showcase on the spiritually generic "Borrowed Angels," while the unfortunate "Joyful, Joyful" once again proves Ludwig van still doesn't need any lyrical help with "Ode to Joy," thank you. The album's bonus cut, "Taylor, the Latte Boy," closes out the album on an upbeat note of playful, romantic innocence.--Jerry McCulley ... Read more

    Reviews (20)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Chenoweth Brings More than Herself in "As I Am"
    Prime Cuts:Upon This Rock, Borrowed Angels, The Song Remembers When

    For artists to cross pollinate into other musical genres is not a recent provenance.Pop superstar Whitney Houston has had cut a gospel soundtrack with "The Preacher's Wife" and American Idol winner Rueben Studdard has just professed his faith on his sophomore offering "I Need an Angel". Hence, it is of no surprise that cabaret singer Kristin Chenoweth to grace us with an inspirational themed CD.Not only is this a contemporary Christian record, but it is by far one of the most elucidating and effable efforts in years.What sets "As I Am" apart are the distinct readings Chenoweth and producer Christopher Harris has had given to these paeans.Rather than allow a genre to package the sonic output of the songs, Harris has allowed the songs to define the musical intonations.Hence, you will find power ballads in the Celine Dion league ("Borrowed Angels") side by side with the more acoustic-country sounding ("Poor Wayfaring Stranger") to an all-out gospel clamor ("Upon This Rock").In short, this album's pride of place resides in the fact that Harris has allowed these song to define themselves as any good recording producer ought to do. Also, thumbs are up with regards to the choice of songs selected:though Chenoweth has tackled some of the great hymns of the church (such as "Joyful, Joyful," "Because He Lives," the title track etc) some of the hidden gems of contemporary Christian music have been unearthed.This includes Sandi Patty's "Upon this Rock," Amy Grant's "There Will Never Be Another," Faith Hill's "It Will Be Me" and Michael W. Smith's "Word of God Speak".

    Though Chenoweth does not have a full bodied voice as that of say Whitney Houston, but what she is well compensated with her nonpareil range that can escalate to the operative high registers that most singers only dreamed of reaching.Her vocal gymnastics is parlayed to its full glory on the Sandi Patty's majestic ballad "Upon this Rock:" listening to how she soars higher and higher towards the end of this tune is just an experience well worth the price of this CD itself.Thoughlittle bit more subdued, her rendition of the old Easter hymn "Because He Lives" is another standing ovation moment as Chenoweth breathes live and verve into each syllable of this gorgeous profession of faith. More subdued, but no less affecting, is "Borrowed Angels" the brand new power ballad written by pop maestro Diane Warren.With all the hallmarks of a Warren hit, this contemplative number is a beautiful apologetic for suffering and death that has overwhelming Christia overtones.

    Some pedal steel certainly spices up the country flavor of Faith Hill's "It Will Be Me," but Chenoweth's flawless delivery certainly adds an undeniable slickness to it.Belonging to the same country fold is Trisha Yearwood's top 5 hit "The Song Remembers When."With its vivid images, this Hugh Prestwood penned ballad about the power of music to reach the recesses of the heart, is sure to induce tears of affinity.However, with such highly charged ballads as "The Song Remembers When," the Southern gospel "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" proves a more understated bluegrassy feel that certainly creates variety and some emotional breathing space.

    Perhaps out of place is the album closer the coy "Taylor the Latte Boy."On such a shiny and strong faith declarative album, this light weighted ditty about Chenoweth's crush for a Starbucks barista seems out of place.On a pop album, "Taylor the Latte Boy" could work.Further, Chenoweth's somehow frail delivery pales in comparison to Susan Egan's version which can be found on her latest LML release.Nevertheless, despite such quibbles, "As I Am" is truly a glorious and dexterous proclamation that ought to do her Savior proud.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, As Always
    Kristin has once again amazed us all with her new CD "As I am"...which is just that; as Kristin is. The CD contains songs reflecting the personal beliefs and loves of Kristin herself, which is obvious as the music is sung with heart and conivction. Kristin's unbelievable ability to switch effortlessly from broadway to jazz, from pop to opera, from character voices to comedic ones, and on is sure to please a buyer.

    Buyers should be aware that this CD does stray from Kristin's "broadway roots". Therefore, one seeking broadway songs, may be more likely to enjoy Kristin's first solo CD "Let Yourself Go" or "Wicked". However, Kristin's huge and beautiful voice still resides within the inspirational songs on this CD and one who is a fan would not be let down. Kristin has once again out-done herself with a beautiful CD that is sure to be a household favorite. Enjoy!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good Cd of hope
    Kristin has a very nice voice all most of the song's on this cd are good.This is good for anyone that wants postive music.

    5-0 out of 5 stars She's done it HER way!
    It saddens me to read some of these reviews.Some of you feel that Kristin has "let you down" because she has done a CD of inspirational songs and that she is becoming a conformist.God forbid anyone proclaim that they're a Christian these days!You feel this CD is not the "real" Kristin and she needs to go back to jazzy Broadway standards.It doesn't showcase her talent properly...blah, blah, blah...

    On the contrary, I think this IS the real Kristin and this CD shows just how versatile she and her magnificent voice can be.If you've ever heard Sandi Patti sing "Upon This Rock," you know she has an incredible range.I, for one, didn't think there was anyone else who could sing that song, but not only does Kristin pay wonderful homage to Patti, she one-ups her by taking the song even higher at the end.

    Yes, musicians make albums for their fans, but their albums are ultimately a reflection of themselves.I think this album is an incredible reflection of the beautiful person that Kristin is, both inside and out.And for those of you who won't buy this album because of the "Jesus" songs, it's your choice, but you'll be missing out on a terrific album.

    3-0 out of 5 stars If you were expecting Broadway
    You will be disappointed.
    There is no trace of a Broadway Baby anywhere on this CD.
    I guess it is proof that Kristin has star power that
    a sophmore CD release is made of her personal choices.
    I like it, for what it is. A CD of inspirational tunes.
    Vocally,Kristin is as always,gorgeous.
    But, for a CD of inspirational lyrics, I just don't "hear" it in her performance.
    The last song, included for us die-hards, Taylor the latte boy[so much fun to hear live in concert] is as jarring as the sound of an espresso machine when
    in queue with the serious songs on the cd.
    I doubt that
    this album is going to be played down to the grooves like
    I have Kristin's "Let Yourself Go".
    This particular CD is one you must experience yourself.
    Because the alchemy of "As I AM" is going to depend "soul"ly on the listener. ... Read more


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