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The Best of 2004

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January 11, 2005

A review of the best new releases of 2004.

PLAYLIST
Selection Source Performer(s) Comments
Fly Enron Air GOP Party Monsters, Volume 1 Wayne Lammers They have friends in high places!
My Drugs are Red, White and Blue GOP Party Monsters, Volume 1 Wayne Lammers Celebrity junkie Rush Limbaugh whines to a cheery C&W tune.
Mission Accomplished GOP Party Monsters, Volume 1 Wayne Lammers Major combat operations in Iraq are over, right?
Do the Chicken Hawk GOP Party Monsters, Volume 1 Wayne Lammers The best dancer gets a Presidential Freedom Medal!
The I Hate Ann Coulter Song GOP Party Monsters, Volume 1Caroline Kuhn Ideal for singing along.
Rabekin The Company - SoundtrackLight Rain 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. Light Rain is your basic "world beat" band, absorbing a number of different ethnic traditions; find out more about them at www.pinkgypsy.com/literain/
Universal Bank Commercial The Best of the National Lampoon Radio HourGeorge Coe and Bob Dryden Just because it's called a "trust company" doesn't mean they do.
Ray One from Creative Force The Company - SoundtrackJohn Zeretzke and M.B. Gordy III John Zeretzke is another musical world traveler and music educator; see www.ocpac.org/fromthecenter/music/zeret.html for more information.
Losing My Mind The Best of Liza MinnelliLiza Minnelli This driving (and slightly demented) dance mix version (from the 1989 LP Results) of Stephen Sondheim's left-of-center take on the classic torch song is oddly effective, even if it's light years away from the composer's original intention.
All That Jazz The Best of Liza MinnelliLiza Minnelli This recording of the opening number from Kander and Ebb's Chicago was released as a single in 1975. Minnelli never actually did the show, despite her long association with the songwriting team that created it.
Ophelia Leaving HomeRebecca Luker This portrait of the doomed heroine of Hamlet is by Amanda McBroom, from the show Will's Women.
Chelsea Morning Leaving HomeRebecca Luker 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.
Rope on a Stick Retail Comedy at Wholesale PricesStevens and Grdnic Hey, you bought the three-blade razor, so what the hell...
Dotty And Caroline Caroline, Or Change - Broadway CastChandra Wilson, Tonya Pinkins, Aisha de Haas 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. In this sequence, Caroline waits for the bus home and gets into an argument with her friend Dotty over the changes the latter has made in her life.
Moon Change Caroline, Or Change - Broadway CastAisha de Haas The moon {de Haas) reminds Caroline that things change, even in the South.
Moon Trio Caroline, Or Change - Broadway CastAisha de Haas, Chandra Wilson, Tonya Pinkins Caroline and Dotty reflect on the moon's reflections...
The Bus Caroline, Or Change - Broadway CastChuck Cooper ..as the bus (Cooper) arrives - late - to inform them that J.F.K. has been killed.
Something Just Broke Assassins - Revival CastCompany Bystanders from various eras of American history react to the assassination of JFK and others with shock and grief. 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.
Onion Radio News 3 The Onion's Finest News ReportingDoyle Redland Cop Kills His Own Partner and Vows to Track Himself Down
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland -Chapter 5 Alice's Adventures in WonderlandCyril Ritchard, New York Woodwind Quintet "Advice from a Caterpillar" This 1957 recording features one of the great British actors of the previous century. Although best known in the USA for his role as Captain Hook in the musical version of Peter Pan (1954), Ritchard had a long and distinguished stage and screen career.
Introduction / Biology 103 Professor John Moschitta's 10 Minute UniversityJohn Moschitta That's life! John Moschitta is a very active "voice over" actor whose major claim to fame was his ability to speak incredibly rapidly and still be completely understandable.
Shall We Dance? Change PartnersCraig Rubano This isn't the more well-known Rogers and Hammerstein number from The King and I but rather a Gershwin brothers song from the 1937 Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers vehicle Shall We Dance
Change Partners Change PartnersCraig Rubano This one is by Irving Berlin from the 1938 Astaire/Rogers film Carefree. Rubano is originally from St. Louis and makes frequent trips back here to visit family and perform on various local stages. His most recent appearance was as the closing act in the 2004 Grand Center Cabaret Series.
Night and Day It's De-Lovely: The Authentic Cole Porter CollectionFred Astaire with Leo Reisman and His Orchestra Recorded in 1932, this is from Gay Divorce, which opened on Broadway on November 29th of that same year and ran for 248 performances. It was the only Broadway show Astaire did without his sister Adele and was also his last appearance there; Hollywood stardom would follow shortly thereafter when the show was filmed as The Gay Divorcee with much of the Broadway cast intact except for the female lead. On the stage it was Claire Luce; on screen it was Ginger Rogers.
You're the Top It's De-Lovely: The Authentic Cole Porter CollectionCole Porter with Vince Giordano and His Nighthawks Through the miracle of digital audio editing, Porter's voice tracks from 1934 (which were originally accompanied by Porter's own rather clunky piano playing) have been wedded to a contemporary performance of a 30s-era chart.
It's All Right With Me John Barrowman Swings Cole PorterJohn Barrowman, Pro Arts Orchestra of London conducted by Stewart Mackintosh 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. This one is from Can-Can (1953).
Ca, C'est l'Amour John Barrowman Swings Cole PorterJohn Barrowman, Pro Arts Orchestra of London conducted by Stewart Mackintosh This was written for the 1957 Gene Kelley film Les Girls, in which he plays a dancer involved with three showgirls (Mitzi Gaynor, Kay Kendall and Taina Elg).
What Is This Thing Called Love? John Barrowman Swings Cole PorterJohn Barrowman, Pro Arts Orchestra of London conducted by Stewart Mackintosh This one is from 1929, when it appeared in the show Wake Up and Dream and (according to the coleporter.org web site) in a film entitled Night and Day. I can't find any other mention of a 1929 film with that title, however.
You've Got That Thing Jason Graae Live at the Cinegrill: An Evening of Self-IndulgenceJason Graae This wasn't a 2004 release, but Graae will be appearing with Liz Callaway this Saturday at Washington University's Edison Theatre. The song is originally from Fifty Million Frenchmen (1929).
It's De-Lovely It's De-Lovely: The Authentic Cole Porter CollectionShorty Rogers And His Giants Rogers gives the CD title track an upbeat jazz instrumental treatment in the 1957 recording.
Can I Steal a Little Love? The Cooler - SoundtrackJoey Fatone, Jr. Yes, that's right, it's the kid from 'N Sync doing a pretty respectable Frank Sinatra impersonation. In the film he plays ambitious (and unscrupulous) jazz singer Johnny Cappella.
Candy The Cooler - SoundtrackRebecca Kyler Downs Singer/songwriter Downs specializes in swing, jazz and related genres; find out more at www.rebeccakylerdowns.com.


Acronyms and other mysteries defined:

OC: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Cast recording of a Broadway show, along with the date.

OS: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Soundtrack recording of a film, TV show, etc.


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