Monday, February 9, 2015

My thoughts of Evita, the Original Broadway Cast Recording

In an effort to share a little of my "cultured" mind with everyone...I've decided to post my thoughts of various cast albums I've listened to and have added to my music collection over the years. This entry features a recording that I had a love/hate relationship with. I love it but there are elements that I hate...but accept the bad to enjoy the good. ;-) I'm not an album journalist, I don't know the proper way to review an album...I can, however, explain why I love or dislike an album. THIS is one of those albums that I recommend to ANYONE looking to broaden their interest in musicals or even get the picture of what the show is about.
When it comes to cast recordings of Evita, fans of the show have an almost infinite selection of recordings to choose from. While many old school Evita fans prefer the original concept album featuring Julie Covington and Colm Wilkinson, the fans that discovered the show through the 1996 film featuring Madonna and Antonio Banderas usually prefer the soundtrack to the film. Fans of Ricky Martin certainly go for the 2012 Broadway recording featuring himself and Elena Roger. There are also a few that adore the original London highlights recording featuring Elaine Paige but for the hardcore Evita fan, the go to recording would be the Premiere American Recording featuring Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. My personal favorite recordings of Evita are actually the 1989/90 World Tour CD featuring Florence Lacey as well as the 2002 European Tour CD featuring Caren Lyn Manuel. Both only feature selections from the score on 1 CD each. When I'm in the mood for a full on COMPLETE Evita experience, I reach for the popular Premiere American Recording also known as the Original Broadway Cast recording personally autographed by Patti LuPone, who insisted on using my real name to personalize the message. Who questions a Broadway DIVA?

The second you hit play, you are met with the actual voice of Eva Duarte (years before she became Eva Peron) from an actual film from which she starred. As the scene from the film climaxed, the projector slows to a stop and the death of Evita is announced in both Spanish and English.

For me, this album is about Evita and I'm here for only one reason Patti FUCKING LuPone!!! It takes almost 8 minutes to get to her but it's worth the wait to hear her sing an abridged version of the Act 2 opener and theme that occurs throughout the show, Don't Cry For Me Argentina.

Mandy Patinkin's voice is hard to explain. He's a powerful singer but his high tenor tone can at times feel too powerful, sometimes coming across as a duel with the other powerhouse on this album, Miss LuPone. While I guess it worked in the theatre, I just feel his voice lacks the contrast to what one would expect to play against Evita. Then again, to compare him to David Essex and Colm Wilkinson, the 2 voices that were already recorded by the time Mandy was cast, it would be like comparing an apple, orange and a banana. Totally different colors, tastes and textures.

I could really go on for days in regards to this album and while not the best recording of Evita ever produced, it's a chronicle of the greatness of the show in it's original Broadway run and gives one an idea of why Patti LuPone became an iconic Broadway legend almost overnight. While it does have the sound limitations typical for analog recordings for the time it was recorded, the album has been beautifully transferred and mastered to the point that faults that may have been present in the original source are not as detectable as other albums recorded at the time.

During the late 1990's a one disc highlights album featuring numbers cherry picked from this 2 CD set was released. I'd personally avoid that one in factor of the complete 2 CD version just for the experience Evita has to offer in it's full splendor as it was originally intended to be heard.

Must hear numbers from this amazing album are:
Oh What A Circus, Mandy Patinkin's effortless rendition of Che's opening number...sang to the tune of Don't Cry For Me Argentina!!!
Eva Beware Of The City/Buenos Aires/Good Night and Thank You....Who am I kidding??? Patti's voice is AMAZING throughout this entire album but this is the must hear span of the entire album.
Don't Cry For me Argentina...though it's been sung and recorded many times (many times better) Patti's version is iconic and not to be missed. And who could listen to an Evita album without not listening to the signature song??? ;-)

Other Evita recordings I recommend can be found in the links below:

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