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|1. Overture/And All That Jazz|
|2. Funny Honey|
|3. When You're Good To Mama|
|4. Cell Block Tango|
|5. All I Care About|
|6. We Both Reached For The Gun|
|8. I Can't Do It Alone|
|9. Mister Cellophane|
|10. Razzle Dazzle|
|12. Nowadays (Roxie)|
|13. Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag|
|14. I Move On|
|15. After Midnight|
|16. Roxie's Suite|
|17. Cell Block Tango (He Had It Comin')|
|18. Love Is A Crime|
The first thing you hear on the album is the Overture. There's a little history of the birth of this overture. A while back, there were two songs originally planned for the finale spot. One was called "Loopin' The Loop" and the other was called "It". The song "It" was dropped so they were left with "Loopin' The Loop". But then soon after, they realized the finale would be better if it were more sophisticated and classy. So Fred Ebb & John Kandar wrote the song "Nowadays" to replace "Loopin' The Loop". The music you hear on the overture is really the music to "Loopin' The Loop".
After the Overture, you're introduced to Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) with the song "And All That Jazz". The song is basically about music, liquor, and sex, which sort of paints a picture of what is happening to Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger). Catherine does an excellent job with singing the song. She has a powerful yet controlled voice. Afterwards, Roxie Hart sings a song of love & devotion, dedicated to her dear husband, Amos in the song "Funny Honey". But vibes soon change, as Roxie's emotions changes towards her husband from a loyal, caring, funny, sunny husband to a disloyal brainless halfwit. Renée does a good job on singing the song. She almost possesses that Billie Holiday vibe. You're then introduced to Matron "Mama" Morton (Queen Latifah) as she sings a song about reciprocity in "When you're Good To Mama". This was actually a very surprising number to listen to, since I have never heard Latifah sing. The way her voice gets presented & portrayed is perfect & flawless.
In "Cell Block Tango", 6 Separate women each tell a story on how they ended up in jail and obviously, all of them involved murder. The first one is "Liz" (Susan Misner, the one who says "POP"). She tells a story of her unsympathetic husband Bernie, who wouldn't stop popping gum. The second is "June" (Denise Faye, the one who says "SIX"). She tells a story on a lying boyfriend. "Annie" (Deidre Goodwin, the one who says "SQUISH") tells a story of her jealous husband who accuses her of having an affair. The story of "The Hunyak" (Ekaterina Chtchelkanova, the one who cries "UH-UH") is hard to understand...unless you know Hungarian. She tells a story about betrayal and false accusations. She technically doesn't belong in there, but she "can't explain it to the police". Next is Velma Kelly (the one who says "CICERO"). She tells a story of her performing musical acts with her sister and husband. She then talks about a night of fun in a hotel, which soon gets sidetracked when Velma catches her sister, Veronica, and her husband, Charlie, having a bit "too much fun". The last one is "Mona" (Mưa Harrison, the one who says "LIPSCHITZ"). She talks about her artistic boyfriend (he was a painter), one that cheated on her. In my opinion, this is the best song on the album. It has a dark & evil mood but with a seductive, addictive, and lustful vibe. The constant chanting of "He had it Coming!" is very dark, but addictively sexy. They all do an excellent job, but if I were to be picky, I'd leave out Mưa. For some reason, she sounds very overdramatic when she's saying her dialogue. But it's a very minor (but noticeable) thing...it doesn't kill the song at all.
After, You're then introduced to Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), in the song "All I Care About". This song is actually a metaphoric song. Billy looks at himself (through the song) as a caring, loving, nice person. But in reality, he's a manipulatively money hungry guy out for all he can steal. He's a lawyer that has never lost a case for a female client. Richard Gere does an ok job singing the song. I mean, It isn't bad, but it isn't perfect either. Then there's the ventriloquist number, "We Both Reached For The Gun" where Roxie (well, actually Billy) addresses the public and the newspaper on how she's innocent. Richard Gere actually does a good job on this (as long as you ignore the fact that he's using his "ventriloquist" voice). He hits the last note perfectly. "Roxie" is...well, sung by Roxie. She sings about how fame and glory. Roxie does a good job in this song. I enjoyed that extra bit of attitude she has when she's saying the dialogue. In "I Can't Do It Alone", Velma Kelly tries to woe Roxie into doing joining together in a double act. In this number, there is more music than singing because in the movie, this is more of a dance number, rather than song.
In "Mister Cellophane", Amos (Roxie's Husband) sings about his sad life where nobody ever notices him, hence the alias title "Mister Cellophane". Here is another person who surprised me; John C. Reily. His voice is incredible, and he sings actually VERY well. The song has a "pity me" vibe. "Razzle Dazzle" is the song Billy sings to Roxie to try to calm her down before the trial. Once again, Richard Gere does an ok job. "Class" is a humorous song sung by "Mama" and Velma. It's basically talking about how everyone has lost their manners and sophistication. "Nowadays" is Roxie's last solo number, where she sings about how nothing lasts forever.
"Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag" is the duet of Velma Kelly & Roxie Hart and also the finale (in the movie). The duet of "Nowadays" is basically the same as Roxie's Solo; nothing lasts forever, but all is heaven, nowadays. The basic message is "savor your moment". "I Move On" is sort of the "aftermath" of "Nowadays" where the "moment is gone" and hence the name, "I Move On". "After Midnight" is a musical number played during a point in the movie. It doesn't do much for me although it's very relaxing. "Roxie's Suite" is also another music number from the movie. Its Roxie's musical theme (obviously) in the movie, but again, it doesn't do much for me. It has that sassiness to it, but that's about it. "Cell Block tango (He had it coming)" is the hip-hop version of the previous track. It is sort of unnecessary, although I do find it a bit catchy. It has Lil Kim & Queen Latifah rapping, with Macy Gray singing the hook. Although I normally find Macy's voice horribly annoying, it actually sounded nice this time, and it actually worked. But judging the song as a whole, I'd say its medium quality since both Queen Latifah & Lil' Kim can spit better rhymes then that, and they could've gotten a better sounding vocalist to sing the hook. The last track is Anastasia's "Love Is A Crime". I found this a little bit cheesy since the lyrics are pretty much predictable (it sounds like the lyrics were taken from the script itself). Plus no offense to her but, Anastasia isn't the best vocalist. Some say her voice is "unique". I say her voice is "weird"...but that's another story...
So why the 4.5? A rating of 5 would mean complete perfection, which is irrelevant in a way since there are little problems I didn't like. The album is good, but to say it's perfection would be an overstatement... Other than the few tiny problems, this album is excellent & perfect in a way, although I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. You have to know your music to really appreciate this album. If you watch TRL and believe all its hype, then stay away! The bonus DVD provides a little sneak peek at the movie...so even if you don't see the movie (Although I recommend you do), you'll still enjoy the music on this album. And with the "Album of The Year" Grammy success of soundtracks to "The Bodyguard" & "O Brother Where Are Thou?" don't be surprised if you see this "2003 Picture of the Year" win "Album of the Year" as well...
Being brought up on theater, I am constantly floored by Catherine Zeta-Jones' performance on the soundtrack and in the movie. Her energy is amazing and is unlike anything that you have ever heard. I've seen the movie four times and I got more chills after "All That Jazz" the fourth time than the first. She is the only person who can make a song which relies heavily on physical action ("I Can't Do It Alone") a song you can't skip on the soundtrack.
Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere, and John C. Reilly all do well with their songs. Queen Latifah is absolutely shocking in "When You're Good to Mama". Having only heard her rap, I was surprised that she could sing. And I mean SING.
The best track on the disc has to be "Cell Block Tango", in which several women, including Zeta-Jones, relive the accounts of how they killed their husbands. For those of you who have heard the song, the translation to the Hungarian section is as follows:
What am doing here?/ They say my famous lover held down my husband while I chopped off his head./ But it isn't true, I am innocent./ I don't know why Uncle Sam says I did it./ I tried to explain it at the police station but they didn't understand me.
The bonus DVD includes the music video for "All That Jazz". The video is basically a montagé based around Catherine Zeta-Jones' movie performance. The picture quality isn't spectacular on this. I hope it's better on the actual DVD. The "Behind the Scenes" featurette has interviews with Zeta-Jones, Reilly, Zellweger, Gere, Latifah, Rob Marshall (the director), and Ric Wake and Randy Spendlove (the soundtrack's producers). The rehersal footage is great on the feaurette. There are also numerous clips from the movie. It clocks in at about 15 minutes. The third section, the demos, are actually pretty interesting. They're recorded by the original cast (I assume) as well as the show's writers, Kander and Ebb.
Even if you have the original soundtrack, the limited edition version is worth buying. Hopefully there isn't that much overlap when the actual movie is released on DVD.
First, about the soundtrack. All of the songs bring back memories from the movie, like "Overture/And All That Jazz" (who knew Catherine Zeta-Jones had such a voice?), "When You're Good To Mama," "We Both Reached For The Gun," "Funny Honey," "I Can't Do It Alone," "Mister Cellophane," "Cell Block Tango" and "Razzle Dazzle." Anastacia sings "Love is a Crime," which is a bonus track, inspired by the film. It's a good song, but it doesn't fit in too well with the rest of the performances. Lil' Kim and Macy Gray join Queen Latifah on another bonus track, "Cell Block Tango (He Had It Comin')," which is pretty good, but still, it's the songs from the movie that shine. And I love "Class," although it wasn't featured in the film.
Now onto the DVD. It's fabulous! You get Catherine's video for "And All That Jazz," behind-the-scenes footage (the entire cast is interviewed, as well as Rob Marshall, the director) and Kander & Ebb's original demos (audio only) of "And All That Jazz," "Roxie" and "Razzle Dazzle" from 1975.
The lyrics are also included in the insert, which I think is very nice. If you love Chicago as much as I do, then you definitely should own this!