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Product: Audio CD
Title: The Phantom of the Opera (Original 1986 London Cast)
Label: Decca U.S.
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Original Cast Shines

I saw this show opening week in New York, and although the scenic effects were tremendous, I found the writing very weak. Listening to the album confirms this. webber has given us a few soaring melodies... but the lyrics are bland. they give little character insight and do nothing to advance the story. As a result massive chunks ov ethe novel are skimmed over or eliminated making teh story-telling muddled.
The cast is great. Michael Crawford reveals more of his voice than we had ever herd before. Sarah Brighman's silvery soprano seems just right for Christine. The orchestra sounds properly lush.
They are all let down by poor album production. Why does Andrew Lloyd-Webber refuse to allow his shows to be recorded digitally? The sound on both Cds is muddy. And the edits are painfully obvious. Beware early pressings which put each act into one long track (again, Webber's decision) making it impossible to skip the dull parts ... of which there are many.
The single Cd of highlights from the Canadian production (with Colm Wilkinson) is a much more enjoyable (and shorter) listen.

Product: Audio CD
Title: American Life
Label: Warner Brothers
Artist: Madonna
Rating: 1/5
Customer rating - 1 out of 5
Hot and Cold

I find this album one of Madonna's deepest...yet shallowest. The album is very consistant, which is not an asset.
AMERICAN LIFE:You must get used to it, but once you do, it's rather catchy. A good listen.
HOLLYWOOD:I used to think it was the most annoying song in the world. Now I love it!
I'M SO STUPID:Quite possible the worst track Madonna has ever sung. Poorly organized, and poorly written. It sounds like something my little brother would write trying to mock the Beatles and failing.
LOVE PROFUSION:Quite possibly the most radio-friendly song on the album. I really enjoy it, although it is slightly too repetitive.
NOBODY KNOWS ME:A fun dance number, but not 1% of "Music."
NOTHING FAILS:I actually find this song quite annoying. In fact, I HATE it! It is so poorly mixed. I mean the song is VERY well written and sung, but I just hate the guitars. And not only that, but although the choir was a good idea, they sing much too loud and the music cannot be heard. And after their stint is over, it is almost silent with just a light guitar...the song is strange in that way. It is very slow and soft, then the choir starts to yell...then they shut up and suddenly it's quiet again. Enough to give me a headache.
INTERVENTION:Beautifully written. The guitars and production (and programming)? Snore City.
X-STATIC PROCESS:Did I say snore city last time? I think it fits better here. The guitar squeaks over and over and to know the entire song, just know the words "I'm not myself when..." It is sung 14 times, almost in a row!
MOTHER AND FATHER:Although an extremely strange track, it is very catchy and I absolutely love it. I dance and dance to it. The vocals are done really strange, but that is done on purpose as it kind of adds to the "plot."
DIE ANOTHER DAY:Hated this from the first listen, now I love it. You've heard it before...right?!
EASY RIDE:Once again, snore city. But wait! It starts and stops! I mean SNOOZE city.
This album is just plain too boring. And annoying. While it does have some great tracks ("Die Another Day," "Hollywood," "Love Profusion," etc.), they are all seperated by absolutely horrible tracks ("Nothing Fails," "Intervention," "I'm So Stupid," "X-Static Process," "Easy Ride").
I almost want to throw the CD down the drain every single time I listen to it.
No wonder it didn't go FULL platinum in the US and was falsely certified under the "Madonna Pretense."
I just hope American radiostations stop boycotting Madonna because of her being against blowing Iraqi babies up for oil and nonexistant weapons of mass destruction.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Get Lifted
Label: Sony
Artist: John Legend
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Buy it will love it

It is very rare to find a cd that you can play from beginning to end without skipping songs in between. Ever since I bought it, my stereo hasn't played another cd. I absolutely love track 3, "I used to love you" and his ballad "Ordinary People", is one of the most beautiful and truthful songs about love that I have ever heard. He's got and incredible voice that matches his incredible talent. I would highly recommend this album. I've even buying copies to give to my friends.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Oh, Brother! (1981 Original Broadway Cast)
Label: Original Cast Record
Artist: Michael Valenti, Donald Driver
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Oh Brother! What a Joy!

Okay, the reviewers trashed this show, but the matinee preview audience I was seated with LOVED it. Fast, loud, and funny with an attitude exemplified by the first night program title page in ARABIC! That attitude pervades every number in the exceptional score presented by the entire exceptional cast. The score is bright, the lyrics witty and knowing and the performances stellar. Of particular note is the 11th hour number "A Loud and Funny Song," and the title song. It's fun, full of great performances (can enough be said about Judy Kaye?) and well worth the investment.