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Product: Audio CD
Title: The Phantom of the Opera (Original 1986 London Cast)
Label: Decca U.S.
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Love Phantom, but this isn't the definitive version

I'm a Phantom fan, so needless to say I love this show. And of course it was the London cast recording which first made me fall in love with it.

However, it's far from being the definitive, all-wonderful version some people feel. Michael Crawford deserves great credit for his wonderful work in the role, but he's not the ONLY Phantom. There have been Phantoms with better voices, and Phantoms who've poured more emotion into the role (I've seen 18 of them, I should know). And the show has changed a lot since the days of the OLC recording, from lyrics to staging to emotional inflections and what is expected from the role.

Incidentally, regarding the Canadian cast recording, someone said "Canadian Phantom better? Peter Karrie is horrible!" - Of course, it was Colm Wilkinson on that recording, NOT Peter Karrie! Karrie, incidentally, was voted the favourite Phantom of members of the international Phantom Appreciation Society in two polls some years back.

All in all, if you love this album - see the show. Then see it a few more times. You won't regret it.

Product: Audio CD
Title: It Had to Be You... The Great American Songbook
Label: J-Records
Artist: Rod Stewart
Rating: 3/5
Customer rating - 3 out of 5
Rod's voice just doesn't cut it on these classics

If you're a Rod Stewart fan, you'll probably enjoy this, but if you're intested in interesting versions of old standards and american classics, this isn't for you. Better stick to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Steve Tyrell, Bobby Caldwell or Harry Connick, Jr. Rod's coarse voice isn't consistent with the soft, mellow melodies of these classics.

Product: Audio CD
Title: John Mellencamp
Label: Sony
Artist: John Mellencamp
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5

Mellencamp has always been one of those artists I hear on the radio and find myself singing along. I haven't bought a CD of his since Scarecrow and thought I had outgrown his simplistic songwriting, until now. The songs on his latest are surprisingly strong and rich. I simply can't stop playing this CD and am kicking myself for dismissing him in the past. I won't make that mistake twice. Mellencamp has made my list of artists I buy without hearing. Thanks John for showing me how wrong I was about you.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Live In New York City
Label: Sony
Artist: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Rating: 2/5
Customer rating - 2 out of 5
Another "Live" Letdown

Bruce can't do much right when it comes to live albums. Once again he includes the same songs, virtually identical versions, of songs we've heard too many times. Some of the more obscure material here is excellent, but to include a over 10 minute version of tenth ave. freezeout, with the ridiculous introductions of the band, was too much. Then to include the worst song he's ever continued playing live, Murder Inc., is incredible. I say his having seen him many times, and owning many boots that put this to shame. What a waste.