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Product: Audio CD
Title: The Confidence Man
Label: Original Cast Record
Artist: Jim Steinman, Ray Errol Fox, Bobby Blume, Yancey Arias, Bruce Yeko, Jeff Olmsted, George Costacos Best, Norbert Leo Butz, Tom Christensen, Rayme Cornell, Jean Fox, Lauren Fox, Shani Glance, Andre de Shield, Mark Nadler, Terry Waldo, Julia Murney, Jamison Stern, Eric Michael Gillett, Thomas Stamet, LaChanze, Garrett Long, Chuck Cooper, Andrea Marcovicci, K.T. Sullivan
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Loved it so much I got the rights!

Upon hearing this musical I loved it so much I went out and got the rights to direct it onstage this October in Cincinnati! I was always a fan of Jim Steinman's music, but I now also have a great respect for the lyrics of Ray Fox. Fox is a wordsmith much in the tradition of Stephen Sondheim, with intricate wordplay and quick patter. I would suspect that it was his early work with Fox on this project that led Steinman himself into developing into a world class, phrase twisting. lyricist himself. And of course you have Steinman's great ear for melody, but with a much different feel than his Rock music. A great lost treasure of American theater (come see it in October!)

Product: Audio CD
Title: Stardust... The Great American Songbook, Vol. III
Label: J-Records
Artist: Rod Stewart
Rating: 3/5
Customer rating - 3 out of 5
" Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be "

Truth be known I really wanted to like this disc. After purchasing Rod's previous two Great American Songbook efforts I had figured this was going to be one of those slam-dunk releases. You know, one where you know exactly what you're getting before you lay down that hard earned dollar therein giving the music lover a rather 'warm and fuzzy' feel that comes with knowing what is to follow. Little did I realize that my purchase was not to be quite so warm and definitely a little on the fuzzy side.

This may just be a classic example of Rod Stewart going to the well one too many times. In his previous two efforts I was, for some inexplicable reason, able to dismiss this singers less then sterling phrasing on these standards. I didn't care about each songs tempo being the very same through-out every song, on both discs as well. It didn't even bother me that on more then one occasion Rod was guilty of perhaps having the proverbial 'tin ear.' As though each song was being hastily rushed thru for the closest possible release. Was I, a consumate music lover, bothered by these mere trifles. Not a bit! Until " Volume III " landed on my disc player ( with a loud thud! ) and a certain feeling of abject horror gnawed in my gut. A feeling that perhaps I had acted in haste.

I have to admit. While are some real treasures to be found here, i.e. " What A Wonderful World " with Stevie Wonder, " Manhatten " with Bette Midler amd " S'Wonderful ' there are just as many golden turkeys as well. Imagine my horror to hear Rod garble his way thru " Blue Moon " and especially the title track " Stardust " quite possibly the worst rendition I have ever heard of this classic. I almost wanted to cry upon discovering Rod butcher Cole Porters " Night and Day " an incredible song though one wouldn't know it whilst listening to Mr. Stewart attack it with all of the tenderness of the proverbial ' bull in the china shop.' Is Sinatra rolling over in that grave yet? At one point I recall throwing up my hands ( and coming perilously close to coughing up that Mexican dinner I had only just feasted on as well ) and wondered who had changed since the last release of the American Songbook series, me or Rod Stewart. It seems unfathomable that I could tire of Rod's rather lazy renditions of these popular classics but I must admit to saying " No Mas " before the end of the disc and donating it to my local library after serveral other attempts to digest it in one sitting. The whole affair seems as though with the resounding success of the previous two that Clive Davis and Rod Stewart are perhaps taking the entire episode as a lark and simply do not feel the need to truly work on these songs and give them the treatment that they so richly deserve. Please don't misunderstand me...I'm not asking for Tony Bennett's quiet intimacy with a classic or Mel Torme's unique phrasing but what the heck is up with Rod's version of " For Sentimental Reasons ' a tune that even to a hopless romantic like yours truly seems not only extremely dated but under Mr. Stewarts supervision is simply beyond awful. Did no one listen to these songs in the studio and think, " mmm, me thinks we'd better try this one again. " All in all the cd sounds as though it was recorded in a little over a week and rushed out to capitalize on consumers enjoyment of his other two discs. Am I wrong?

Well, hope springs eternal and I've learned one of life's invaluable lessons. Something about never leaping to conclusions or perhaps that thing about a fool and his money. I can't remember now. As for Rod, I still love Volumes I and II but for the next immenant release...where's that listening station. All the very best,

Product: Audio CD
Title: New Year's Eve Live at the Village Vanguard
Label: Polygram Records
Artist: Dr. Michael White
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Best mixture of New Orleans Jazz

Delighted to be in New Orleans at Preservation Hall last year. Dr. White was performing that evening. What a treat! Please reissue.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael
Label: Sony
Artist: George Michael
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5

george michael fans will love this includes his coming out song.