on 2 March 2010
John Barrowman claims in interviews that "what you see is what you get". I don't believe him because inside the enthusiastic, passionate and endearingly giggly entertainer is an equally passionate but quieter, more reflective soul who doesn't always get a fair amount of airtime. However, in this very personal choice of songs, this aspect of his singing style is allowed to shine through especially in the slower numbers where his mellifluous voice seemingly effortlessly floats up to his higher register without strain. When I saw "You'll Never Walk" alone on the track listing I thought that this would be one to skip, but JB has reclaimed it from the football terraces and returned it to its roots as a song of love and hope. His wistful rendering of "Memory" is also refreshing. And of course he sings his heart and lungs out in the more up-tempo showstopping numbers but always with the lyrics clearly enunciated and the notes spot-on (well you would expect nothing less from such a consummate professional).
So buy this disc even if like me you don't recognise some of the tracks or think you won't like some of the tracks you do recognise - I guarantee you will be entertained.
Just a minor production niggle - the informative sleeve notes in what must be in 4 point font in white on black are really difficult to read, but is slightly better than Music Music Music's pale salmon pink on white.
on 29 July 2010
This album is, to say it in a word, Excellent. I know others have complained about duets, versions of songs, or other things, but the only thing I can say is the scope of songs is a bit too narrow (too many from the same writers, same show). Otherwise, John's performance is fantastic, especially on the ballads, and he and I share that same admiration for the material of Barry Manilow (how else would he have known the song, "The Kid Inside" from Barry's SHOWSTOPPERS album)? As someone who actually had to audition for Barry's band playing that song, that was the first time I'd ever heard it. The show it's from only lasted a few performances, but had this one stellar song, which John does justice.
I like the fact that on "Memory", he uses a different-type of arrangement than others in the past (not simply a 6/8 timing that is quite standard). The arrangements all-in-all are excellent, and plenty lush with strings and such, but it's John's voice that soars on this material. This is his genre, and he should be commended for coming back to it in full force and full voice.
Items of note:
1. "The Winner Takes It All" --- excellent arrangement, and vocal performance is stellar. Different than ABBA or the show it "came from" (we all know it was a hit first, then a show), and it's impressive. Do we really need the thundering drums at the end for drama? No ... but it still is a good recording.
2. "I Won't Send Roses" --- what a marvelous cut! John's voice is nearly perfect for this song (no one is perfect, people!), and he does an excellent job at conveying emotion and feeling in a lesser-known song from one of Jerry Herman's musicals that didn't quite do as well as, say, MAME.
3. "Unusual Way" --- usually sung by a female, John does a great job at interpreting the feeling of loving someone who is just plain bad for you, but how they complete you. It's a beautiful cut.
4. "So Close" --- as a fan of the original by Jon McLaughlin, I find it a good compliment to that particular arrangement. I don't, however, care for the singing over the soaring orchestral interlude between verses, but I also understand artistic judgment. I would rather he had sung the duet with someone that was more of a soprano than alto (or contralto), simply because she could have complimented his voice more, but the duet is good either way. I would have loved to have heard this with Katherine Jenkins doing the female vocals; that would be incredible. In listening to the track a few times, I really don't like the fact that it starts lower for the female singer, then some 16 bars later, it changes into a key a minor third above for John's voice. Accommodating arrangement? Yes. Great? Not as much as I would hope. It's kind of like listening to something and getting into it, then having them just change the song on you in the middle. Though her voice is very good, there is something that just feels like they are trying to challenge each other on who can be more in-control of the song. If he wanted to do something different, how about he sang it with another male (since he makes it quite known in "The Winner Takes It All" that he prefers men)? Now, that would be interesting. :)
The rest of the album contains material that wasn't mostly written for the theatrical environment, but adapted for the stage. Those songs chosen from THE BOY FROM OZ are excellent works, but there are two of them ... maybe next time, the producer will have a wider scope and find some songs from other shows ... just a thought.
Two tracks are kind of "over done" by singers today: COPACABANA and YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE. Those their arrangements and vocals are great, they are often performed too often. What about YOU'VE GOT TO BE TAUGHT or GETTING TO KNOW YOU by Rodgers and Hammerstein? Great songs, with current day analogies. COPACABANA was a hit on radio, then came a TV movie with Mr. Manilow, then a long-running stage musical that never quite made it to Broadway. Barry sings it every single night in Vegas at the Paris Hotel, and he made it his own. Why not do EVERY SINGLE DAY from Barry's other show, HARMONY. Quite a show-stopper there, and John would "nail it". Just a suggestion, John. You have no bigger fan than me, John --- I even read your autobiography (and damn BBC America for cancelling TORCHWOOD!).
As someone who has spent 30+ years of his life working in music, as well as films and TV, I have been exposed to a lot of greats, and great material over those years. Let's hope that John continues to thrill us with new recordings of great standards from the theater, and keeping doing what he does quite well: singing up a storm.
on 13 April 2010
John Barrowman really got it!!what a voice!!! From Memory,Don`t Cry out Loud,You Never Walk Alone to Abba`s the Winner Takes it All, I love it and love to listen to him, he is very speciell (afraid of my spelling)and I am not good enough to be detailed enough here, there is so much I wanted to say about this CD but I have problems to set word on what I feel. I am from Norway and my english is not good enough to be detailed and specific to this spesiell CD I am sorry, if I only could write it in Norwegian:)). But I will say buy this CD and play it and enjoy!! It`s Barrowman on his best after his CD Another Side,these two are my favorites!