This CD is actually pretty good, considering you get 40 songs for less than $16. Let's evaluate the pros and cons.
Two classic songs that are performed excellently are Phantom of the Opera and I Don't Know How to Love Him.
Of course you want to compare Phantom to the classic Michael Crawford/Sarah Brightman version. Well, guess what? This version is BETTER, in my opinion. The woman has a deeper voice than Brightman, and her singing style is just awesome. The ending of this version is different, but in a good way.
And of course, the standard for I Don't Know How to Love Him is Yvonne's version. This version is different, but it grew on me quickly. This version has a country feel to it, almost. Somehow it works and sounds great.
There are a lot of great performances in this collection. My favorites include: Heaven on Their Minds, Everything's Alright, Could We Start Again Please, Another Suitcase in Another Hall, Buenos Aires, Rainbow High, Only You, Starlight Express, Angel of Music, Masquerade, All I Ask of You, Half a Moment, and Whistle Down the Wind. I think they're all great versions of their more famous counterparts.
First of all, there are some technical problems that are kind of disappointing. A few of the songs have a very echoe-y sound. Any Dream Will Do, Another Suitcase in Another Hall, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, and There's Me are the songs that come to mind that are the worst in this regard. It isn't really bad, just enough to be slightly annoying, more so when the volume is turned way up on your CD player.
A few songs are worthy of skipping over when listening to this collection. In my opinion, Superstar, Sunset Boulevard, and Gethsemane are the biggest disappointments.
Superstar just doesn't cut it for me. The singer really overdoes it, making it overstylized... really makes you yearn for Murray Head. I can't stand listening to it. Just my opinion.
Sunset Boulevard is one of my very favorite musicals, so I was really hoping that the singer would do justice to its title song. Unfortunately I don't think he did. You can't help but compare it to Alan Campbell's fantastic version. This guy has a very choppy way of singing, when I'm used to it being sung so smoothly. Maybe it will grow on me. However, that last note is much stronger than Alan Campbell's. Too bad it doesn't make up for the rest of the song.
Finally, Gethsemane. The inevitable fact is that no one can sing this song like Michael Ball. This guy tries, he really does. But for me, he doesn't have the right voice or the right style. So please listen to Michael Ball's performance of Gethsemane if you want to know how breathtaking of a song it can be. It's on the Royal Albert Hall DVD, and I'm sure he's got it on one of his CDs.
Anyway, overall, this is a good CD if you like quantity over quality. Don't buy it for the classics, as you'll probably end up disappointed with many of them. Buy it for the lesser known songs. You probably won't like every song, especially if you're a big ALW fan, but for the price, it's worth it.
If you want classic versions of classic ALW songs, you might prefer something like "The Very Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Broadway Collection".