BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!

We're now well into summer and the last Broadway season brought many new recordings for us to listen to and own. Also, some specialty recordings and solo entries.

Favorites in my ipod this summer: NEXT TO NORMAL, STEPHANIE J. BLOCK - THIS PLACE I KNOW, LIZ CALLAWAY – THE BEAT GOES ON, CORTES ALEXANDER'S ALBUM - SWELL and Dolly Parton's HALOS & HORNS. Here’s a "round-up" of what has recently come out and, as always, we’re making it easy (and cost-effective) to click and buy. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

GYPSY Original Broadway Cast Recording 50th Anniversary Edition
Masterworks Broadway

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (5 out of 5)

Can we stop with the GYPSY recordings now - please!? Enough already. That said, this 1959 recording, starring Ethel Merman (with yet MORE bonus tracks than the last re-issue of the same recording) and with new production photos, is the one to buy. Beautifully packaged and available at a really reasonable price, this edition hit the streets on May 5th of this year. This is the one to own. So is the Bernadette Peters 2003 recording. Personally, I'm also a fan of the GYPSY Motion Picture Soundtrack recording. The rest of them - have merit, but not special - unless you're a fan of the particular star. The bonuses and all the minutiae that are included in this edition can be found at www.sonymasterworks.com

Original Cast: LES MIZ HIGHLIGHTS
First Night Records

No Rating

This is, without a doubt, the "whore-iest" reason for a release I can ever remember. The Press Release states: "Featuring I DREAMED A DREAM, The Song That Recently Captured The International Spotlight Through Susan Boyle's Performance on BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT, As Originally Sung By Patti LuPone On The London Cast Recording." Need I say more? Of course, it's a great recording and this is the first Highlights CD released of the London Cast, as the Original Cast Recording climbed up the charts after the Boyle youtube virus spread to millions of viewers. Re-packaged and called LES MIZ Highlights, when the Brits used to use LES MIS?. I don't know -- no point in rating it. Classic ... and "whorey!" Oh, I almost forgot ? the press Materials also state "features 19 tracks on one CD and includes Tony Award winning Patti LuPone's London recording of I DREAMED A DREAM." Hello? Are you kidding me? Do you remember she won an OLIVIER AWARD for playing FANTINE ???!!!

HAIR: The New Broadway Cast Recording
Ghostlight Records

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (2.5 out of 5)

Wow. I am really on the fence about this cast recording. Seeing the show is an infectious affair and you leave the theatre "high", but something just didn't translate from the stage to the recording studio and onto the disc. I don't know why. If you haven't seen the show, hearing this would not "sell" you on going to see it. Great cast, but the ROCK element seems totally missing. This is SURE to win BEST REVIVAL and deserved a "wilder" recording. I don't get it. The Original Broadway Cast recording still "rocks" and so does the film soundtrack, which was beautifully produced .. even though the film was no good. Sorry to not love this more - that hurts.

LISTEN
By OUR TIME THEATRE COMPANY

Sh-K-Boom Records

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (3 out of 5)

This is a wonderful idea and a wonderful cause with a wide array of pop and Broadway notables. If you buy this .. you will be supporting a wonderful organization (click here to see our feature) .. but, quite honestly .. It's a ...tough listen...

UTE LEMPER: Between Yesterday and Tomorrow
Chameleon Records

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (2 out of 5)

I love Ute Lemper. She is a unique -hold no prisoners - kind of performer. Bigger than life and, even better, unpredictable. This recording, however, is not any of that. She has penned all but one of the tunes here and, I suspect, that's the root of the problem. Any artist of her caliber 'dreams' of doing this sort of project. It's a sort of 'World Music' affair. However, it's her journey and we rarely get let in. Odd and more pop than theatrical. Maybe multiple listens will help. Noble attempt and well produced and packaged.

9 to 5 Original Broadway Cast Recording
DOLLY RECORDS

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (3 out of 5)

Well, this was one of the "guilty pleasures" of this past Broadway Season. A real "crowd-pleaser" that has already announced it is closing. The cast is "top-notch" and Dolly Parton was the perfect Ambassador for the show. The songs/score are pleasant enough, but I don't think you'll play this one over and over.

NEXT TO NORMAL: Original Broadway Cast Recording
Ghostlight Records

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (5 out of 5)

REJOICE! We can stop playing SPRING AWAKENING and start living on NEXT TO NORMAL! This show is a knockout and they are being rewarded right now on Broadway, after having gone away quietly and doing their homework on fixes, after the Second Stage production - which people were fascinated by, but not satisified with. Well, they are now - and they've released a recording on a fantastic DOUBLE-DISC! Produced by Kurt Deutsch, Joel Moss and the producer of the show, David Stone, this is dizzying to listen to. Loved the show - love the disc. Predicting a GRAMMY for the Cast Recording. Great booklet, great packaging - BUY IT! It's SO GREAT when people do it right! Thank you.

VANESSA WILLIAMS: The Real Thing
Concord Records

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (5 out of 5)

This girl has "winner" written all over her. Yes, Vanessa Williams IS "The Real Thing" and what some of these current pageant contestants could learn from her is of biblical proportions. Before the internet and plethora of gossip shows, the first Black Miss America, was caught up in a photography scandal and handled herself with so much class ... that she went on to be a major recording artist, movie star, Broadway regular (even ENCORES!) .. and having a delicious NEW act on the hugely successful UGLY BETTY on ABC - relishing every delicious line, every fantastic outfit and flirting with chewing up the scenery on-set! This is a great album.. No screaming high notes or trying to impress - just a breezy, jazzy, latin-ish, vibe-y recording. The Real Thing is a "sure thing." Loved LAZY AFTERNOON and OCTOBER SKY, featuring Javier Colon - gorgeous! Great summer, party, "make-out" album!

STEPHANIE J. BLOCK: This Place I Know
PS Classics

(6 out of 5)

I cannot stop playing this CD. Both conceptually and artistically, it is one of the best debut recordings to come out of the Broadway community in quite some time. Block, currently onstage in 9to5, has a solid following and body of stage work, including THE BOY FROM OZ, THE PIRATE QUEEN and WICKED. Her voice is in pristine condition and she possesses both subtlety and nuance, as well as power - and the "good taste" of how and when to use it. She is joined on this recording, by a dizzying array of musical theatre writers, as they accompany, sing or participate in the recorded performances on a cut by cut basis. Just fantastic. This is a "must-have!" Sure to dominate the ipod this summer!

CHESS in Concert
Reprise

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (3 out of 5)

I just couldn't get into this recording .. OR the PBS Televised Concert - Live From London. There is NO ONE to "root for" in this mean spirited musical ... BUT the songs are fantastic and here is a powerhouse cast - Josh Groban, Idina Menzel and Adam Pascal ... and, still, something falls flat! It picks up steam as it goes on, but, for me, not even the concept album ... The Original Broadway Cast Recording STILL rocks my world! Also comes in a lower-priced "Highlights" version.

ROCK OF AGES Original Broadway Cast Recording
New Line Records

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (4 out of 5)

ROCK OF AGES was the surprise Off-Broadway Hit that became the surprise Broadway hit and got all those "surprise" TONY nominations. But, not so fast ... the show was directed by an uber-talented young gal, from the West Coast, Kristin Hanggi. She also directed a fantastic production of the original BARE ... before it got watered down on our coast. She has a knack for casting and "tone" and got it right with ROCK OF AGES. The "hitch" comes in that, when all is said and done, it IS a "jukebox musical." The album's really fun, but all the original versions of these rock songs are better than here. However, if you've seen the show ... you'll want this recording. The Company of performers give it their all and showed very strongly at the TONY Awards & telecast. Constantine Maroulis and all deliver and, I suspect, it got to be too much, vocally, for Amy Spanger, who has since left the show. She was replaced by Savannah Wise (Scott Wise's daughter). Gosh .. I remember when she was Young Cosette in LES MISERABLES, on Broadway. It's also nice to have James Carpinello back on "the boards."

ROAD SHOW: Original Cast Recording
Nonesuch/PS Classics

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (2.5 out of 5)

WISEGUYS, BOUNCE, GOLD! ... It's surprising that this isn't called ROAD KILL. I'm not being mean, but this show has had so many incarnations and who wants to criticize Stephen Sondheim? Not me! They have tried and tried. Nice recording. The cast is from the production at The Public Theater and is it any better than the BOUNCE recording (released by the same folks)? - Not really.

I still do love one song: "Isn't He Something!"

SHREK The Musical Original Broadway Cast
DECCA BROADWAY

BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special!BWW's Mid-Summer CD Review Roundup Special! (4 out of 5)

Well, what is there to say? They couldn't have cast this show better if they tried and I think it's a lot better than THE LITTLE MERMAID, but how often can you listen to these recordings? Well produced, well performed, certainly clever and the cast gets an A+ for their commitment to the material, but not something you need to re-live over and over again. I hope EVERYONE on Broadway gets to play human beings again asap. Case in point: NEXT TO NORMAL.

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