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Product: Audio CD
Title: My Love Is Your Love
Label: Arista
Artist: Whitney Houston
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Best CD ever made by any artist!!

Anyone who says this CD sucks are the type of people that don't even go through the whole CD. You can't trust them! I listened to the whole thing many times, and will listen to it many more times to come. This is the BEST CD made by any artist in the world!!! Buy it, listen to the WHOLE CD at least 2x's, and you will instantly fall in love!!! Trust me!!!! Give it a chance, and you will fall in love!!! Songs that deserve to be #1 are: Heartbreak Hotel, It's Not Right, But It's Okay, When You Believe, Until You Come Back, Oh Yes, You'll Never Stand Alone, I Bow Out, I Learned From The Best, My Love Is Your Love. Song that deserve to make the top 5 are: If I Told You That. Songs which deserve to make top 10 are: In My Business, and I Was Made To Love Him!! There!! The whole album!! more than 2/3 the songs will be, or would have been #1 hits if people gave Whitney a chance. (I Know What I'm Talking About) Her concert brought tears to my eyes!!! It was sooooo good!!!! "WHITNEY COULD SING MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB, AND BRING TEARS TO ANYONE'S EYES" -critic

Product: Audio CD
Title: In The Zone
Label: Jive
Artist: Britney Spears
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5

I can't stress enough the fact that this is most definitely Britney Spears' best album to date. It is so different from her other albums, with more experimentation and a more mature sound. Also, for those of you who feel that "she is leaving behind her younger fans" or "its too sexual"...WAKE UP! Her "younger fans" are growing up with her, and if you think she's too sexual, give yourself a shake. You clearly are ignoring the other female singers that are out there (ie. Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, ect). Don't judge her for being who she is, and don't let your opinion of her let you miss out on this amazing album.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Tells the Story
Label: Bar None Records
Artist: Brian Dewan
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
TMBG fans, you'd like this guy.

I saw him live in 92 or 93 when he opened for TMBG at Cornell in Ithaca, NY. He was highly amusing. One of the only times I've enjoyed the opening act to a show as much as who I went to see. We went out drinking with him after the show, and he was a very cool, down to earth, complete wacko.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Dreamgirls in Concert (2001 Concert Cast)
Label: Nonesuch
Artist: Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Great songs, great book, not integrated together

While DREAMGIRLS features book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and music by Henry Krieger, it will forever be associated with its original producer/director/choreographer Michael Bennett. Forgotten by many, this show received an incredible one-night fundraiser revival with an all-star cast almost twenty years after it first appeared on Broadway. The show will indubitably receive new attention from this excellent recording, but I doubt that it will ever become popular with amateur companies because the vocal requirements are too challenging.
THE STORY:In the 1960's, black musical artists were finally able to compete in the popular music scene, but not without struggles. DREAMGIRLS tells the story of a group of black artists (obviously modeled on the Supremes) as they try to succeed in the music industry. The word "dream" is very potent in the show, morphing over time from three Chicago girls' hopes to share their talents with a large audience, to the romantic image initially used to promote themselves as a nationally-recognized trio, to their power-hungry agent's use of the group to forward his own ambitions, to the women's ability to escape the music industry machine and achieve personal fulfillment.
The show works on several levels: it portrays the cut-throat tactics of the music industry, the compromises minority artists have been forced to make to be accepted by a larger audience, the interplay of a few individuals dependent on each other to succeed, and the personal changes these people go through over time.
The show focuses on three characters: Effie White (Lillias White), the original lead singer hiding her insecurities beneath her bravado; Deena Jones (Audra McDonald), Effie's modest best friend forced into the spotlight; and Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Norm Lewis), the agent who manipulates everything to advance his vision of how black artists should cater to a white-dominated audience. Four other characters also receive considerable attention: James "Thunder" Early (Billy Porter), the star to whom the girls first hitch their careers; Lorrell Robinson (Heather Headley), the youngest of the original three singers, in love with the married Jimmy; C. C. White (Darius de Haas), Effie's songwriting brother called to make a difficult decision; and Michelle Morris (Tamara Tunie), the singer brought into the group later, in love with C. C.
Tom Eyen's women are each complex, realistic characters, but not all the men fare as well. Curtis is a one-dimensional snake, and Jimmy seems to be an unrealistic caricature of a womanizing, over-the-hill singer.
THE MUSIC:Henry Krieger has created a plethora of great tunes in this score, starting out with R&B songs (including two favorites of mine, "I'm Looking for Something, Baby" and "Move"), gradually including more "mainstream" pop tunes (such as the title song) as the artists try to appeal to a wider audience, and even a disco tune ("One Night Only") as musical tastes of the audience change over time. The dialogue fades in and out over the songs, subtly helping to keep the pace of the show moving at a surprisingly fast clip.
So, what's the problem? More than a dozen of the numbers are written as tunes performed by the artists, not as plot elements set to music. Maybe it doesn't matter to most people, but I expect a musical's songs to advance the plot of the show. Don't get me wrong -- Krieger and Eyen are extremely clever in inserting plot elements within the instrumental sections of a song, or even choosing lyrics that reflect the mood of the characters at the time they are performing. For example, Effie reaches her epiphany while at an audition, singing a tune called "I Am Changing." (This is my favorite song in the show.) Very few of the songs in this score can be lifted out of the show and convey anything close to the creators' original intent.
THE RECORDING:I've never listened to the original cast recording, but it seems obvious from other reviewers that this is the recording to purchase because of its completeness. Although the music and plot are not well integrated, they occur simultaneously, so the completeness is necessary to convey either one on CD. Also, since so many of the songs in the show are concert performances, the reactions of a live audience add an infectious energy and realism.
This is truly a "dream" cast. Audra McDonald (who can do no wrong, in my opinion) has a magnificent voice and deftly conveys Deena's frustration at being forced to become glamorous when she'd rather spread a deeper artistic message. Lillias White has the perfect vehicle to showcase her powerful vocal and acting ranges in Effie, one of the ultimate "diva" roles ever created. As Lorrell, Heather Headley doesn't spend as much time in the spotlight, but her "Ain't No Party" is glorious. The one disappointment for me is Billy Porter, who seems to go for cheap laughs and quick vocal gymnastics, rather than striving to develop Jimmy into a believable character. However, I don't know how much of my disappointment with Porter is due to the character and music written for him by Eyen and Krieger. Besides the stars already mentioned, other Broadway greats fill in some of the minor roles, including Brian Stokes Mitchell.
This is definitely worth purchasing, especially since the opportunities to see a performance of this great show are virtually non-existent.