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BROWN (Norwich, Norfolk United Kingdom)

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Offenbach: Robinson Crusoe
Offenbach: Robinson Crusoe
Price: £33.20

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unfairly neglected masterpiece, 21 Mar. 2003
Robinson Crusoe in this wonderful translation is nothing short of a masterpiece. The translation is witty, the music is more Hoffmann than Orpheus and, at time, extremely moving. The recurring aria "Voice Of The Sea" is beautiful as is the Friday/Robinson duet. The opera has was fully restored for this recording and it shows that some of the "lost" numbers were among the best.
The only thing that lets this down (and makes it a four-star) is that the remastering for CD is slightly shoddy in places - especilly on the third disc. I have also kept the LP version for this reason.
But Opera Rara are an important label and works like this make me want to support them time and time again. Go on, treat yourself!

Swing When You're Winning
Swing When You're Winning
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.97

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of work, 20 Nov. 2001
Well, five years ago would we have thought that Robbie Williams would be one of the most successful pop artists that the UK has ever produced? Probably not. And if somebody had said he would make a successful big band album we would have laughed at them. And yet here we are - and here he is!
The critics have mercilessly panned this latest Robbie effort - but is it that bad? No, it's not is the straight-forward answer. In fact, it is quite good! Sadly the critics have been nice to Robbie for too long and have taken this move in a different direction as a good reason to do some Robbie-bashing! Ok, so it's not a masterpiece (although the live version soon to be released on DVD is close to magnificent) but we must remember that Williams is only 27 and Sinatra was 40 and over when recording these songs originally!
Now, we need to get something said once and for all. Mr Williams is NOT trying to be Sinatra here. He is simply having a good time recording some good songs that he loves and paying tribute the original artists. Nothing wrong with that. Williams' self-depracating (sp?) humour is liberally sprinkled throughout the album.
The opening number is probably the most unusual performance. It is a new song by Williams and Chambers, but sounds more like a Pastiche of the overblown songs from "Sunset Boulevard." It works perfectly and it is obvious from the opening of the album that Robbie's voice is getting stronger with each album.
"Mack The Knife" is next and is probably the weakest track on the album. Trying to pinpoint why is quite difficult. Nothing is vastly different from all the other performances on the CD - but something seems forced and unnatural here. I can't say anything more than that.
Next up is the "Something Stupid" duet with Nicole Kidman. The song is crap and always has been but the version here is professionally performed and the two voices blend perfectly.
"Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me" is an Ellington classic and given a groovy new arrangement here. This is one of the most successful tracks. Robbie is in good voice, swinging well and having a wail of a time.
"It Was A Very Good Year" is a duet with Sinatra. The idea is not one of the best, but both parties sing their parts well - and, what's more, it is far better done than most of the tracks on Sinatra's duets albums on 1990s.
"Straighten Up And Fly Right" is another great performance of a straight swing number.
"Well Did You Evah?" is a weird addition to the album. Being a "showtune" rather than a swing number, it sounds like an interloper - more so than Robbie's own composition at the start of the album. And yet this shows off yet another facet of Williams' talents as his pure showmanship is at the fore here as he duets with Jon Lovitz.
And now the masterpiece. "Mr Bojangles" is simply superb. Robbie Williams here puts in a performance betraying his young age. Something to be very proud of.
"One For My Baby" on the other hand is Ok, but lacks depth. But give the singer another ten years and get him to record it again and it will be brilliant!
"Things" is a duet with Jane Horrocks. A nice cool big band arrangement of the Bobby Darin number that could even be as good as the original.
"Ain't That A Kick In The Head" and "Have You Met Miss Jones" are more of the same. Great songs, well sung. "They Can't Take That Away From Me" features the vocal talents of Rupert Everett - and I'd like to say that Mr Everett doesn't utter one foul word in three minutes - now there's an achievement!
"Me And My Shadow" with Jonathan Wilkes shows great charisma between the two singers and they work brilliantly togeter. The album is concluded by a cover of the Bobby Darin classic "Beyond The Sea."
So, to sum up. It's not a masterpiece - but it is a very good attempt at an old-fashioned swing album and full marks to Robbie Williams for putting himself on the line and recording it. I can only hope that he doesn't take the critics to heart and he continues to spread his artistic wings. One final note - believe it or not, on most of the duets both singers were in the same studio at the same time!!!!

Elvis Now
Elvis Now

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An ironic title!, 6 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Elvis Now (Audio CD)
Ironic simply because the album was released in 1972 and the material was recorded between 1969 and 1971 - yes, it's one of those "leftover" albums. ie, it's made up of leftover studio recordings. That doesn't mean it's all bad, however, but it lacks a focus - as did most Presley 70's albums - and much of the material is mediocre.
"Help Me Make It Through The Night" sees Presley making a rare mistake on how to handle his material. His performance is too heavy handed for such a gentle song. "Miracle Of The Rosary" is one of Presley's lesser efforts in the gospel style, although a recent alternate take fares better than the master presented here. "Hey Jude" - Presley's only studio recording of a Beatle's number is a leftover from the famed Memphis sessions of 1969 that produced "In The Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds". Sadly the vocals are scratchy and most fans are now aware that the recording was actually unfinished! "Put Your Hand In The Hand" is another less gospel number.
"Until It's Time For You To Go" was the single from the album and is a good song, well sung, but nothing more. "We Can Make The Morning" is another good number but it is easy to tell that Presley was satisfied with too early a take as he and the backing vocals are not together.
"Fools Rush In" is a carbon copy of the Ricky nelson version of this standard - even with the same lead guitarist (james Burton). "Early Mornin' Rain" is a highlight though. Presley's laidback vocals fit the song wonderfully and it's a pity he never completed the aborted folk album for which this track was recorded. "Sylvia" is a typical Presley 70's ballad but seems slightly overblown. "I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago" was originally released in bits on "Elvis Country." The track is a great country number and one that deserves to be better known.
On the whole, this album is really for fans. If you are simply looking for a Presley 70's studio album try "That's The Way It Is," "Elvis Country" or "Promised Land."

Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back
Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £14.95

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 6 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back (Audio CD)
This, as you may gather from the title was Sinatra's comeback album. Recorded in 1973. Only nine tracks are on the album, but each is sung to perfection. This is in Sinatra's soft-rock idiom that he was using in the late 1960's, but is very much more successful than "Cycles" and the like.
The material is much stronger than those 60's albums, and much less commercial, too. A couple of these numbers could also fall into the "Art Song" category. Take "Send In The Clowns" for instance or, even better, is the very moving "There Used To Be A Ballpark". The latter is one of the best songs Sinatra ever recorded and it is a pity that we don't find it on any of his live albums. Musically and lyrically difficult, putting this on a comeback album was very daring indeed.
"You Will Be My Music" is an anthemic opener. Other highlights include "Let Me Try Again" (written by Paul Anka), "Nobody Wins" and the much-maligned, gospel-flavoured "Noah" which really isn't half as bad as anyone would have you believe.
"Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back" is not an easy listen, it requires concentration to get to know these songs, but it is worth the effort.

Let It Be Me
Let It Be Me
Offered by westworld-
Price: £4.98

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What happenned?, 6 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Let It Be Me (Audio CD)
This live recording of Nina Simone from 1987 is absolutely appalling. I am a big fan of Dr Simone, but this CD should not have been released. The vocals are consistently out of tune and the performances are flat and uninspiring. For an example of late Nina Simone, try "A Single Woman" - a near masterpiece, in comparison to this!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2009 7:02 PM BST

Offered by westworld-
Price: £20.00

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An album containing some of Simone's best vocals, 6 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Baltimore (Audio CD)
This critically acclaimed album contains some of the best singing of Simone's career - hence the four star rating. There are some beautiful songs here, too: "Everything Must Change" is a clear highlight in my eyes and the CD is a must-have for that track alone. "My Father" is also beautifully delivered - seven years after Simone's aborted first attempt, eventually released on "Sugar In My Bowl" 2CD set by RCA.
If these are highlights, then what of the rest? Well, the last two numbers on the album are gospel tinged, but Simone has done better. They are not bad, but just important in comparison the two songs I have already described. Of the remaing six numbers, three are reggae influenced, and Simone's voice fits this material like a glove. They are remarkably well sung, although anyone used to hearing Simone's earlier recordings may bawk at the sudden change in style. In fact, nothing that Nina Simone had previously recorded prepares us for this album. It leads her into new directions, it's just a pity that there was no follow-up.
The whole is not a masterpiece, but some of the tracks are when standing alone from the more minor elements of the album.

As Long As I'm Singing
As Long As I'm Singing
Offered by Bear Family Records GmbH
Price: £77.56

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it now!, 5 Oct. 2001
This review is from: As Long As I'm Singing (Audio CD)
If you are a Darin fan, you must buy this boxed set. If you have only ever heard him singing "Dream Lover" or "Mack" then also buy this and see what else there is to this unique performer.
This is a superb retrospective on all aspects of Bobby's career. Sadly, the Decca years are not represented, but all his affiliations with other labels are. It is so good to see a collection recognising his achievements in the folk, country and protest fields rather than just the kiddy pop and swing standards. There is also a nice smattering of unreleased material, much of it from demos or live recordings - and even some songs that have never appeared before in any form.
All the highlights are here from "Mack The Knife" and "Dream Lover" to lesser known masterworks such as "Long Line Rider" and "Sail Away". Liner notes are very informative, including a track by track review of the recordings included.
One small gripe is that only two songs are included from the tenure are Motown. A shame not to have great recordings such as "Hard Headed Woman" or the live Beatles Medley here. But there is only a limited space on four CDs!

The Capitol Years
The Capitol Years

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good solid collection, but could have been less conservative, 5 Oct. 2001
This review is from: The Capitol Years (Audio CD)
This is a good, solid start with which to introduce the Capitol recordings of Bobby Darin. Most of the tracks on this 3CD set have not been remastered, but a number of them have not appeared on CD before (some of which only on 45rpm single as far as I'm aware) and that must be a bonus.
The material covered is split up onto a CD covering single releases and their B-sides with the other two CDs being a random smattering of songs from Darin's albums for Capitol. The big band material is superb, but one must feel that the best tracks from the "18 Yellow Roses" and folk albums were omitted from this release in favour of titles that the general public might already be familiar with. A shame, but at this price, who can complain?

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