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4.4 out of 5 stars23
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 15 February 2006
Expecting a Tori Amos or Bjork clone it was a pleasant surprise to find that this dysfunctional mix of songs and stories sounds more like a blend of Michelle Shocked, Patti Smith and the wonderful Ani Difranco. Regina's confidence, vocal range and swirling piano skills are apparent from the start, the album feel is so close to the live renditions. Spend your time and get to know the songs, its not an easy listen the first time. Enjoy.
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on 2 October 2007
The reviews here are saying this is Regina Spektor's best album but since it is a 'best of' compilation of her previous three outing this shouldn't come as a surprise. This isn't to review the album just to tell you if you are getting her other, older albums you may not need to get this one unless you want the DVD.
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When Regina Spektor put out the brilliant "Soviet Kitsch," a lot of people hailed it as a great debut. Of course, it was actually her third album, after the equally brilliant "Songs" and "11:11."

The highlights of those albums are collected in "Mary Ann meets the Gravediggers and Other Short Stories," a sort of best-of collection for anyone who can't locate those first two albums. In other words, this best-of collection is a gorgeous collection of vibrantly eccentric songs.

There's no real order to these songs either. "Mary Ann" veers madly from one album to the next, and most of the songs selected are perhaps deliberately her quirkier ones. You won't find the bittersweet pensiveness of "Ode to Divorce" or any of her quieter songs.

Instead "Mary Ann" is dominated by the thumping insults of "Sailor Song," the rapid-fire minimalist anthem "Oedipus," the dancey scatting of "Pavlov's Daughter," and the rambling, bittersweet pop song about a poor little rich boy, with Spektor changing speeds at a second's notice. "You don't love your giiiirlfriend/And you think... that you should... but shethinksthatshe'sfat/Butsheisn'tbutyoudon'tloveheranyway!"

The high points are the rippling beauty of "Us" ("They made a statue of us/and put it on a mountaintop/now tourists come and stare at us...") and the exquisite "Love Affair," which tells of a love affair, "the kind of love affair/which every respectable building must keep as a legend."

Regina Spektor is often compared to Tori Amos and Fiona Apple, mainly because she plays piano, and they can't find anyone else she is even remotely comparable to. Instead, Spektor plays her music as if piano and strings have been discovered for the very first time, and she is pioneering a new, brave musical style.

Her use of piano and strings is pretty unconventional (and I mean that in the best way), with jagged cello and sharp piano notes, along with a few tambourines, drums and thumping feets. It's part anti-folk, part coffeehouse blues, part oddball pop, and Spektor does it with comfortable flair.

And she can do the coolest things with her edgy voice. "Chemo Limo" is almost entirely blurted out in rapid-fire songs ("IcanaffordchemolikeIcanaffordalimo..."), but can switch to a sweet soaring trill in songs like "Us," where she ripples all over the phrase "we're living in a den of thieves."

For a look back on the now-flourishing career of this insanely talented singer/musician, "Mary Ann Meets the Gravediggers" can't be beat. A treasure.
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on 7 February 2006
As the title suggests Regina is indeed a strange and enticing mix of the two.
This particular version (CD+DVD) has the added extra of a few bizarre short-films set to Regina’s fine brand of emotional quirk.
The single 'Us' has been getting a lot of airplay and deservedly so. It has a great feel to it, might sound a little like a pianist at a ballet recital to start with, but it soon rolls into some lovely sustained strings and piano.
Basically if you were a fan of early Tori Amos or a fan of early Bjork then I think you will love this album. Please note her sound is not Tori and neither is it Bjork, but from the first listen you will see why I quote these two in order to describe her unique and enthralling sound.
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on 22 September 2007
This was the first Regina Spektor album I bought, and I still think it's by far the best. Full of quirk and intrigue, whereas (dare I say it) some of the later works (like new album Begin To Hope) have elements of Norah Jones and other duller singer/songwriters. Oedipus, Chimo Limo, Consequence Of Sound, Lacrimosa.....the list of brilliant and highly original songs is endless. Full of personality, everybody should definitely buy this album.

The only thing that lets it down is the poor production on some of the tracks (is that a ruler I hear being banged on a desk as percussion in one song?...), but in some ways this does add to the quirkiness....
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on 6 February 2006
I became aware of Regina Spektor by listening to BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, on which she was a guest. Her performance of the wonderful Love Affair on the show inspired me to look further into her music. I bought this album as a result and was quickly impressed. It is in essence a harmonious blend of fantastic female vocals singing clever lyrics to jazz piano and unusual melodies. Most refreshingly, none of the tracks on this album are over-produced, and I prefer artists that don't doctor their material unnecessarily so as to pander to the commercial palette. Regina Spektor is Russian by descent, and this is notable as an influence, but is in harmony with that part of her which is American. At times her melodies can be a challenge to listen to if you're not in the mood, but I'm glad I've found an artist who is so simple and unusual, but at the same time clever yet unpretentious. Wonderful stuff. Highly recommended!
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on 19 March 2007
...because it's her best. Her most consistent collection of songs (to date), where she gives her incredible voice full reign over the music. The guy who "skipped from 'Sailor Song' to 'Us'" is missing out - there's at least four more outstanding songs in between. 'Pavlov's Daughter' and 'Consequence of Sounds' feature some of the best lyrics and vocal performances on the album.

Overall I prefer this to the new CD, 'Begin to Hope' - where the vocals and lyrics seem slightly tamer. I'm not one to discard more 'mainstream' music, but in that case I think she lost some of her magic. It's still a great album though.
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It's not often I find an album for every mood..this album is fantastic! Truly wonderful..with elements of various genres, Regina deals with original, interesting topics and adds her beautiful unique vocals. With humour, detail and despair- this album has it all!

It's hard to pick out a favourite track, but I particuarly love "Love Affair" and "Lacrimosa".

This album has inspired me to play the piano again!

I can't recommend it enough!
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on 15 February 2006
Just in case anyone was curious: this album is in fact a compilation of songs from regina's first three albums (that I know of anyway). They are 11:11, Songs and Soviet Kitsch and are all lovely. 11.11 is probably a bit mor jazzy than the other two, but they are all very varied and regina shows her sense of humour, wit, sensitivity, and her beautiful voice in all. Soviet Kitsch is the only which is still easy to get, as far as I can tell.
This will be a lovely selection of songs, but I just thought I'd let you know that there's a lot more on offer from regina than just those on this album. I'd personally prefer to search out one of those, but I prefer to see the songs laid out as they were origionally inteded to be.
So to sum up: buy a regina album, but decide whether its this or one of the other 'real' ones. By the way, I am seeing her live tomorrow and I can't wait!
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on 6 November 2007
This album is for UK fans, as her previosuly album/s not available in the UK. It contains songs from her previously album/s (not avaiable in UK). Amazing album - I wouldn't expect anything less from Regina. All quirky, edgy songs about a range of topics/people/events. Highly recommended.
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