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The Orphan of Zhao
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The Orphan of Zhao

13 Mar. 2006 | Format: MP3

£8.99 (VAT included if applicable)
Song Title
Digital Booklet: The Orphan of Zhao
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 13 Feb. 2006
  • Release Date: 13 Mar. 2006
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 19:59
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001F38FY4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 335,468 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Keep the good work flowing 24 Mar. 2006
By John Marquette - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Stephin Merritt has created another imaginative work with "Showtunes" in his 26-track CD. I've listened to it several times on my commute to and from work, and I'm not quite sure why one of the reviewers object to his absent voice. His other musical enterprises - 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, Magnetic Fields - don't always have him front-and-center. What he brings to us with "Showtunes" is more of his clever lyrics and catchy tunes.

One track is especially remarkable - "Hail, Son of Heaven". It sounds to me like the Iraq War Anthem. You could read a bit of political intrigue into "Showtunes" lyrics, but hey, why bother? Just enjoy the opera excerpts and the liner notes.

Why did I rate it with only four stars rather than a full five? His capolavoro, "69 Love Songs" (the three-disc set), has everything I want in a funny, clever, and touching entertainment package and gets the full five stars in my book.
29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
The Magnetic Fields meets The Mikado... 16 Mar. 2006
By svf - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The curiously gifted songwriter Stephin Merritt is best known as the guiding force behind several acclaimed indie-pop groups -- most notably The Magnetic Fields, who amazed, delighted, and sort of overwhelmed us all with the three CD collection 69 Love Songs (and then followed up with the underwhelming album i.) Over the past few years, Mr. Merritt has also written songs for three music theater productions by Chen Shi-Zheng, and Showtunes is jam-packed with 26 of them.

These tunes encompass everything you love (or perhaps don't?) about Stephin's songwriting -- they are clever and witty, compact and concise, tuneful and cloying... and a bit precious at times. There's one major problem however -- Stephin isn't singing any of them.

Instead, the Showtunes are (appropriately, I guess) performed by vocalists and choruses from "the original casts" in a mannered, over-enunciated, Broadway-esque style that sounds more like Gilbert & Sullivan than The Magnetic Fields. And sadly, I couldn't stand it.

Maybe listeners more enamored of musical theater than I am would not be as distracted by this (I can't stomach Cole Porter songs sung this way either.) Besides, the arrangements are fantastic, using unconventional ensembles that convincingly blend Asian instruments with lute, autoharp, accordian, marimba, and steel drums -- thankfully without the electronic clutter that sometimes intrudes upon Magnetic Fields productions. (Happily, a few instrumental selections are sprinkled throughout the CD.)

But unfortunately, all I could think about while listening to Showtunes was how much better these songs would sound if they were sung by Merritt's soulful, resonant, unpretentious baritone voice instead. And I suspect that many of his other fans will feel the same way, hoping as I do that Stephin has worked through this musical theater phase once and for all.

In the future, if he combines the formidable songwriting and orchestration skills heard on Showtunes with the sincere and direct vocal performances that graced so many of the 69 Love Songs, I expect to be amazed and delighted by Stehpin Merritt again and again.

Meanwhile, be forewarned: The Magnetic Fields meets The Mikado may not be your cup of Oolong tea.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Consider The Source 16 Oct. 2006
By Robert Burns - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I know that the reviewer right before me gave this 1 star and called it "the worst drivel he'd ever heard". Before you allow this to sway you, look at his other reviews. This is a guy who's favorite band seems to be Chicago. Also, it would appear that he has purchased more than one box set of the TV show "Frasier".

Take a negative review by this guy as a sign that the "Showtunes" album might well be excellent.

Stephen Merritt might be a little too adventurous for someone who's brain has been turned to pudding by the blandness of Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Strange, inspired genius 21 Nov. 2006
By Poor Napoleon - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Stephin Merrit is easily one of the busiest men in music. His style is distinct and diverse at the same time, lending itself to a variety of different projects. Showtunes is such a different project.

The namesake has to do with the numerous plays Merritt has composed music for. This package is the best of those recordings, which are available seperately, at least from certain online retailers. However, this is probably your best bet. Merritt (and many fans, based on some of the unfavorable reviewers) realize that some songs don't sound great out of context. And since these are from musicals, that's to be expected. However, for the most part, these tracks are fantastic - their catchy, witty, and very tuneful. Not hearing Merritt sing on them may be an acquired taste for some, as Merritt's drull baritone suits his songs well. That they aren't sung by him make them no less his. One of the wittiest lyrics has to be "The little Hebrew girl heard her mother's dying wish: 'don't become a Christian, just be Jewish.' Lyrics like this are abound in a very diverse, mixed bag of goodies.

Chen Shi-Zheng directed the plays represented here, and all fall into the tradition of Chinese theatre. Consequently, many of the recordings are tinged by some of that sound. It's amazing how Merritt so easily allows this to fit into his sound.

For those who don't think this is signature Merrit, however, check out Shall We Sing a Duet and its reprise. Tell me that couldn't have fit well on 69 Love Songs.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Funny and pretty much fun 16 Sept. 2007
By Mark Brumfield - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It had been a while since I'd purchased or heard any new Stephin Merrit and was totally unaware of Showtunes existence until a week or so ago. The price was right so I gave it a shot and am happy to say that Mr. Merrit's well has not run dry. Melody and humor still reign in Merrit's world and we're all the richer for it.
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