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Product: Audio CD
Title: Acoustic
Label: Capitol
Artist: John Lennon
Rating: 3/5
Customer rating - 3 out of 5
A Few Highlights For Lennon Fans

I had to think twice before buying this CD released in 2004. It's been nearly 25 years since John Lennon's death and I was worried that this was a collection of recordings dredged from the bottom of the barrel. I am not disappointed for the simple fact that it contains a few excellent tracks that most Lennon fans will be happy to add to their collection.

"Imagine" is beautifully performed by Lennon live on an acoustic guitar. It is a gem. In my opinion, this would be a wonderful new single because it is that good. Other songs that are performed by Lennon superbly are "Look At Me," "Watching The Wheels," "Real Love" and "John Sinclair."

There are some songs that I would categorize as pedestrian, meaning Lennon was simply making a test recording and they lack the development of the songs listed above - in other words, they are boring. They are "Love," "Working Class Hero" and "Dear Yoko." A couple are just fragments of songs and I question the wisdom of including them on this CD, like "Woman is the Nigger of the World," "God" and "It's Real." The song "My Mummy's Dead" is not very different from the version on Lennon's "Plastic Ono Band" album.

A couple of Lennon's songs are obviously poor quality recordings and only the most die-hard fan will argue they are listenable. A distorted version of "Cold Turkey" along with weak versions of "Well Well Well" and "What You Got." I hate to do some Yoko-bashing, but there is one song on this CD that I wish I had not listened to at all. I began listening happily to "The Luck of the Irish" because it is a rare Lennon composition. This version is a duet with Yoko Ono that started to make my skin crawl before the song was half over. Yoko's voice and off-key singing was incredibly annoying.

The CD includes a nice booklet with never before published photos of John with acoustic guitars. There was also something I did not expect with the CD. The booklet contains not just the words to the songs, but also the chords and chord diagrams so that you can play along on your own guitar.

For the majority of Lennon fans, this will be an enjoyable CD because of the highlights, like "Imagine." The casual fan or someone new to Lennon's music will probably be disappointed by this CD because it lacks the polish of other Lennon releases.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Measure of a Man
Label: Rca
Artist: Clay Aiken
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Stunning Debut!

This is a very polished CD-Clay has done an amazing job! Every song is quite good. I feel that anyone unfamiliar with Clay would be impressed with his smooth,soaring vocals. A very classy CD to be enjoyed!

Product: Audio CD
Title: Evita: Music From The Motion Picture
Label: Warner Brothers
Artist: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Madonna
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
This is the CD I'd want if I was trapped on a desert island!

This is the very best version of the Evita music that has ever been recorded. I have listened to many other versions and none even come close to this CD. While there are others who have tried, no one could possibly hold a candle to Antonio or Madonna. Even if you don't like Eva Peron, the woman or don't know a single thing about her, buy this CD just for the wonderful music. You don't need to know a word of Spanish to know that this CD is muy bien.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Avenue Q (2003 Original Broadway Cast)
Label: RCA
Artist: Jeff Marx, Robert Lopez, John Tartaglia, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Avenue Q
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
There's a fine fine line between loving this muical and not

If you've read through several of the past reviews, you'll see that people tend to react STRONGLY to this material -- most think it's brilliant, but some find it trite or offensive, and you may be having trouble determining into which category you will fall.

I went to college with one of the composers, and I knew as soon as I read the song titles on this album that I would LOVE this show -- not only because Bobby is such a talented musician, but because the show's sense of humor is very much based on the experiences that our generation had in college and beyond.

In a nutshell, you will LOVE this show if you meet these two basic criteria:

1) You have a genuine fondness for Sesame Street. If you grew up loving the muppets and enjoying the simple truisms and upbeat tunes of Sesame Street songs, then you will appreciate the music and the style of the show. As a 30-year-old parent of a toddler, I have found myself falling in love with Grover and Prairie Dawn and the gang all over again as I watch the show with her and see it through her (delighted!) eyes. We own a 25th anniversary DVD of the best musical numbers from Sesame Street, and I think my husband and I have even more fun watching it than our daughter does, because as adults, we have come to realize that the musicians who write Sesame Street songs are BRILLIANT composers with strong backgrounds in numerous musical genres. The same can be said for the writers of Avenue Q -- sometimes it takes a very complex understanding of music theory and history to write songs that are so truly simple in their catchy melodies and so simply true in their clever lyrics.

If you are NOT a child of the Sesame Street generation, you may feel that the music of Avenue Q is simplistic or annoying and that the messages are trite or immature. But those of us in the know appreciate that this music is genius. (And the cast members' ability to channel Frank Oz and the other talented actors who have provided years of muppet "voices" is truly astounding.)

2) You can appreciate anti-PC "Gen Y" humor. Like South Park and the Simpsons, this type of humor is meant for people who have had political correctness drilled into them for so many years that they've realized it's time to LIGHTEN UP! If you could write a paper on why one should use the term "Asian-American" instead of "Oriental," then you'll probably be highly amused (and a little relieved) by the simple but true observances in "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." If you spent four years on a liberal campus where homosexuality was not only tolerated and accepted but perhaps even a bit hip and cool, then I bet you'll love hearing "Ernie" try to convince "Bert" that it's okay to be gay. If your women's studies class taught you all about why pornography is degrading to women, you'll likely laugh to hear an exasperated Kate Monster try to dismiss the notion that for most men (and plenty of women!) the Internet is, at least in large part, for porn. And anyone who has been ashamed to admit that they sometimes long for the safety, camaraderie and freedom of college life will instantly identify with a song about just such a sentiment.

Those who should skip Avenue Q include 1) people who think that a show is only worth listening to if the chords and rhythms are as complex as Sondheim, and 2) anyone who hasn't at one time considered Jim Henson a minor deity. (Don't get me wrong -- Sondheim is, of course, also a god -- but I think there is a place on Broadway for music that is less overtly cerebral and more hummable.)

SUMMARY: Politically enlightened, college-educated children of the 70s and early 80s who know the lyrics to the "Rubber Duckie" song and remember life before Elmo and political correctness will most likely adore Avenue Q. Everyone else should probably skip it.