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Top Albums of 2004

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ALBUMS
Album Label Performer(s) Comments
Assassins PS Classics Revival Cast Stephen Sondheim's surrealistic musical about presidential assassins got a chilly reception at its premiere on January 27, 1991 and ran only 147 performances. The Roundabout Theatre revival was originally scheduled to open in the fall of 2001 but was postponed because of the 9/11 attack. The music and lyrics have, if anything, even more impact now than they did originally.
The Best of Liza Minnelli Columbia Liza Minnelli I've never been much of a Liza Minnelli fan, but this disc almost converted me – there's not a dud track on it. The singer's abilities have fallen off in recent years (as her 2000 show Minnelli on Minnelli demonstrated, sadly) but this collection of high points from earlier in her career is a winner.
Broadway: The American Musical Columbia Various artists This remarkable five-disc collection is a companion to the six-hour PBS series of the same name and includes most of the greatest hits of from over 80 years for Broadway shows, from The Ziegfeld Follies to Wicked, including many rare and out-of-print items.
Caroline, or Change Hollywood Broadway Cast This remarkable new musical is actually more of an opera in that it is entirely sung, with no spoken dialog. The libretto is by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and the music is by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie). The show is poetic and often surreal - household appliances have voices and personalities, for example, as does the moon. It's is set in Louisiana in November and December of 1963 and focuses on Caroline, a 39-year-old black divorcee, who is employed as a maid in a white Jewish household and her relationships with her employers, their young son (who sees Caroline as a powerful and regal figure – the "Queen of the basement") and her own family and friends – and how the Kennedy assassination changes their lives.
Change Partners Prosody Craig Rubano Native St. Louisian Rubano has gone on to Broadway and cabaret stardom without forgetting his local roots. Based on the cabaret show that he brought to the Grand Center Cabaret series this fall, Change Partners is Rubano's meditation on the notion of life as a dance and features a wide variety of songs by everybody from the Gershwins to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Carol King.
The Cooler (Soundtrack) Koch Instrumental combo lead by Mark Isham, various other performers The soundtrack for this drama about professional gamblers is a mix of original tracks like this one by jazz composer Isham and pop standards by a mix of singers, including some members of the cast.
The Company (Soundtrack) Sony Various The Company is Robert Altman's look at the backstage life of a ballet company. The score is appropriately eclectic, with everything from Bach to Van Dyke Parks, and is considerably more interesting than the film itself.
GOP Party Monsters, Volume 1 Woodstock Wayne Lammers, Pete Levin and others. Got the Red State Blues? This album of musical pot-shots at President Junior, John Ashcroft, Condlezza Rice and Ann Coulter will help you shake them off.
It's De-Lovely: The Authentic Cole Porter Collection Bluebird Various No doubt inspired by the release of the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely, this disc is a treasure trove of fine performances of Porter songs, both famous and obscure, including two in which Porter's own performance is matched (via the digital audio editing) with new instrumental tracks by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
John Barrowman Swings Cole Porter First Night John Barrowman British singer Barrowman has the kind of light, lyric baritone that seems to be in vogue these days and he puts it to good use on this disc of jazzy arrangements of Porter classics.
Leaving Home PS Classics Rebecca Luker, Alison Fraser, orchestra conducted by Christopher McGovern This solo disc covers a lot of ground, including songs by Stephen Foster, Janis Ian, Billy Joel, Carly and Lucy Simon and Lennon/McCartney. It's a testament to Luker's versatility that she handles all of them with ease.
Once Upon a Time - The Essential Ennio Morricone Film Collection (2004) Silva Screen City of Prague Philharmonic, Crouch End Chorus Morricone is a veteran Italian film composer who first came to international attention with his scores for "Spaghetti Westerns" such as A Fistful of Dollars and Once Upon a Time in the West. This collection includes music from those early films as well as later ones such as The Mission and The Untouchables.



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