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Product: Audio CD
Title: Les Miserables - The Musical That Swept the World (10th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall)
Label: Relativity
Artist: Claude-Michel Schonberg, Colm Wilkinson, Judy Kuhn
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Good except for Colm


Out of the four different cast recordings of musical "Les Mis", I strongly recommend two of them: The 10th Anniversary Concert (1995) and The Complete Symphonic Recording (1988). Why? Because the former has the best cast, the latter has the complete musical score, full libretto, and Anthony Warlow. Both of the recordings have one thing in common, that is international cast. "Les Miserables", probably the best musical ever written, does need an international cast to do the ultimate justice.
Just want to take a brief look at the fabulous cast that have created this musical sensation:
The role of Valjean simply belongs to Colm Wilkinson. His strong and dynamic vocal delivery perfectly captures Valjean's heroic qualities. Because of this, plus his figure, I cannot accept anyone else in this role. Philip Quast portrays Javert brilliantly. His vocal strength, his dramatic expression... Nobody, in this role, can match his vocal and expressive generosity. And so is it true for Michael Ball as Marius. From high to low, from loud to soft, his voice is totally amazing. While he always sings truly from his heart, his "Empty Chairs Empty Tables" that night is heart-wrenching. Eponine, my favorite character, has gathered the most controversy in the reviews because of her player Lea Salonga. I have to say I enjoy this Eponine very much! Lea has the purest voice I've ever heard, and from her voice, I hear beauty, as well as pathos and rages. Her being "too American" doesn't bother me at all. She sings perfectly, of course. This is a one-night concert of the musical, and everyone is trying to be perfect. Talking about the perfect, there is a little nit-picking to Michael Maguire as Enjolras. He seems getting a little bit strained while reaching the pitch. I am sure he is capable of hitting his pitch more easily, but, for some reason and unfortunately, he didn't bring out the best that night. Other than this, he is tall, he is handsome, and he sings strongly. Vocal-wise, Anthony Warlow gives the best Enjolras. Feel his power in The Complete Symphonic Recording! It's absolutely not an overstatement to describe Anthony's voice as a perfect musical instrument. Ruthie Henshall creates a most touching Fantine. She feels the role and transfers every bit of tenderness and bitterness of Fantine through her unique and beautiful voice. And the unforgettable Thenardier and his wife! Alun Armstrong handles the character in between vicious and comedic just right. Another American girl in the cast is Judy Kuhn as Cosette. With a natural and clear soprano, although lacking certain inflection, she gives the best shot to a somewhat weak character. Have to mention two young marvelous actors, Adam Searles as Gavroche shows quite a matureness on stage. Hannah Chick as young Cosette seems to be a little shaky vocally, but turns out fitting the character very well. The last but not the least is the "students" and the choir, just wonderful!
All in all, this is a truly riveting performance, certainly a wonder on the musical stage.
If you like this CD, get the DVD, because it will only intensify the greatness by actually seeing the performance. If you don't like this CD, try the DVD, because it might change your view and you probably will start to like it.



Product: Audio CD
Title: Hello Again (1994 Original Broadway Cast)
Label: RCA
Artist: Michael John LaChiusa
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Fascinating adaptation of "La Ronde"


"Hello Again" is Micheal John LaChusia's muscial adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's play about sexual intricacies, "La Ronde"(the latter was recently adapted once again by David Hare and was featured in the 98-99 Bway season starring Nicole Kidman-"The Blue Room".) Just the cover of this CD is enough send close-minded conservatives far away...however, those willing to give it a listen will not be dissapointed. LaChusia's score is rich and varied as it hops from one locale and time period to another. The cast is truly top notch and the CD liner notes do a great job of filling in the blanks about this most interesting Lincoln Center Theatre production. For those who are willing to take the time and really listen...LaChusia's score is a treasure, however, one time listeners may be dissapointed. Much like his comtemporaries, LaChusia's music merits repeat examinations and rewards loyal listeners.



Product: Audio CD
Title: The Living Daylights [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
Label: Capitol
Artist: Various Artists, John Barry
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
outstanding soundtrack!


Before he died, Cubby Broccoli commented that he did not care for the A-ha's The Loving Daylight theme and hey would return to he ballad style of Bond songs. That sort of shocked me, when I read that, for I consider The Loving Daylights one of the top three - Tom Jones' Thunderball and Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger the other two. A-ha was he first Timothy Dalton string of Bond Film, so maybe that express some of Cubby's displeasure. While Dalton made a good boy, he was too tenderhearted for some. This sound track, with all the beautiful John Barry music, rocks. The music is bright, incisive and sensual. Some sound tracks give you small cuts of music from the film, but this gives your wonderful full-length songs that just floats around you and lifts you up!
I use this soundtrack for my aerobics' work out. It is the perfect lengths and pace to do a complete workout. A-ha's song just gets the blood to pumping! It makes the hour pass so fast and is fun.



Product: Audio CD
Title: Nuclear Cowboy
Label: Pro Rock Productions
Artist: John Sykes
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Something different? This is it! Rock-guitar fan? GO FOR IT!


You might say that this album is overproduced, that it smells too much to hip-hop, nu-metal, industrial and techno; that Sykes' voice sounds a tad dulled here and there... whatever! While it's true that the use of synthesized loops and computer overdubs are extensive in this release, they just serve to give some fresher colors to a picture that still remains as solid as a hard rock. Beyond genres and clich?s, I think that this one is a brilliant effort by John Sykes. He managed to give a modern mood to the music here without compromising his explosive style, and the final result is no less than amazing.
For those wondering who John Sykes is, it should be enough saying that he was the guitarist and co-songwriter of the Whitesnake's 1987 mega-successful album. For those knowing who Sykes actually is, well... don't expect another Blue Murder album in "Nuclear Cowboy". You will in fact hear very few from the previous Sykes albums you might know. There is almost nothing from Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake or Blue Murder, apart the flashy soloing, the great vocals and the heavy riffing. Yes, the guy still showcases his wide-open, deep vibratos and his squealing harmonics; but excluding "We Will" (which does sound pretty old-school in spite of the modern production) and the ballad "I wish it would rain", this is a new John Sykes that you are still to discover. However, if you are a guitar lover don't be worried at all: her majesty the Les Paul proudly screams loud all along this release!
So... how the heck does this "Nuclear Cowboy" sound alike after all? Well... I would just say "heavy as hell!", but it wouldn't be enough, as I should also say that it sounds at the same time familiar and different, mainstream and revolutionary, contemporary and bold... Some people will need some time to digest this, as the modern atmosphere can be scary for purists; while some other people will immediately applaud the experiment. For me, this album is more heterogeneous and interesting than the mellow "Loveland", the heavy (but slightly monotonous) "20th Century" and the somewhat forgettable "Out of my tree".
"Nuclear Cowboy" shows a Sykes at the peak of his songwriting and playing skills, and it's a shame that many people will misunderstand the purpose of this masterpiece. Few times stylistic moves are done without loosing the authenticity and the charm of the original style; but Sykes succeeds in "Nuclear Cowboy" where others fail. This stylistic change is for the good, and he made absolutely no compromise: the essence of the artist is still there! Thus (to conclude, that this is becoming too long ;-)), open your ears to overcome your prejudices and take a listen to this criminally overlooked (and underpromoted!) work of art. Five freaking stars!