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Product: Audio CD
Title: Bridge Over Troubled Water/This Is The Night
Label: RCA
Artist: Clay Aiken
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
What an inspiration!


Not only does Clay Aiken have an amazing voice, he's also got a wonderful spirit and personality. It's no surprise that he has so many fans and his CD is number 1 in sales.



Product: Audio CD
Title: Giuseppe Verdi: Aida
Label: RCA
Artist:
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
A Less Than "Celeste" AIDA


In the booklet accompanying the original 1970 LP release, producer Richard Mohr stated that this AIDA was RCA's fourth effort in twenty years. No doubt the driving reason for the repetition was that they had just lost to London/Decca the rights to their 1962 recording, a classic with Price, Vickers, Merrill and conducted by Solti, and they were anxious to keep a Leontyne Price AIDA in their catalogue to stay competitive. They should have been more careful to make sure the end product was worthy of the attempt.
The first mistake RCA made with this set was their choice of conductor. Erich Leinsdorf, a conductor capable of brilliance in the theatre, makes a distorted, psychadelic mess of the opera with his careless, erratic pacing. At times the orchestra seems to be caught off guard by his sudden bursts of speed, and at other times almost lulled to sleep by his lethargic baton.
For her part, Leontyne Price was still the best Aida to be heard, but in this case her sensitivity to the conductor was not an asset. Contrary to the views of some critics, her voice is even more luminous than before, with a greater consistancy from top to bottom and there are many exquisite moments, passages that can leave the listener breathless. Certain dramatic points have also been refined to greater poignancy. Sadly, as in all her collaborations with Leinsdorf, the beauty is twisted, spoiled by exaggeration.
The other performers are left to their own devices and are successful to varying degrees. Domingo, in his first recording of the role sounds young, virile, fearless, everything Rhadames should be. Although he would later refine his interpretation both dramatically and vocally, there is really nothing to find fault with. Bumbry and Milnes both have a great time showing off their voices and sound glorious, but their characters are, for the most part, little more than skin deep. Sotin and Raimondi fill their roles very well, making the most of their meagre dramatic possibilities, and the other minor roles are all adaquately filled, with one exception. Joyce Mathis makes a delicious High Priestess in the first act, her voice glowing, radiant and pure. Her singing in this part makes me wonder where she disappeared to.
As for the recording itself, RCA seemed to be moving into their "dark, woody" period. All their recordings from this era that I've heard literally remined me of the dark wood wall paneling so popular at that time. All brightness of sound is played down in favor of the darker elements, robbing the sound of part of its spectrum. The aural staging, another factor that is crucial to the virtual experience of opera on record, is unexciting and routine. In short, it sounds like this recording was produced on auto-pilot, mechanically great but with no flair.
Finally, to add insult to injury, this recording is at full price. If it had delivered more of what its cast list promised, it might have been worth it. As it is, this version is not a first choice, definitely a less than "celeste" AIDA. (Note: This particular release on CD is the one to get if you DO want this recording. The newer re-issue of this AIDA by RCA/BMG in their "Opera Treasury" series is to be avoided because of its exceptionally poor sound quality; all the vocal and instrumental climaxes are overdriven, like someone turned the input level up too high on the recording equipment. It's worth the extra money for the better sound.)



Product: Audio CD
Title: Northern Exposure II: West Coast
Label: Ultra Records
Artist: Sasha & John Digweed
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
The Northern Exposure Journey


This cd is one of my top ten all time favorites. It just gets better and better each time.Northern Exposure- West Coast Edition takes you on a journey. A place of the known. Once you begin you don't stop. The intro starts off at a content place, with warm music. The Light and Third Man begin the journey's obstacles, driving deeper and deeper reaching highs and lows. Taucher's Waters is wonderful. It Delivers a sadness to this journey. By this time the tension is so intense. Each song has slowly build up to the climax of the music. Then the tension is finally resolved. You are back at the beginning. Wondering what had happened. It was an incredible journey. This happens each time I play this cd. The journey just gets better and better. Everyone should experience this.



Product: Audio CD
Title: Überjam
Label: Universal
Artist: The John Scofield Band
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Drummers, get this one!


I can't add much to the prior reviews which are all well thought out and explain why you should get this disc perfectly. I just want to add that drummers should get this disc to hear drummer Adam Deitch. This is how funk/groove is played. Besides the playing, the sound of his drum kit, especially the snare is IMHO perfect also. Recorded just right by the studio engineer to boot, you'll be glad you bought this disc!