Thursday, February 5, 2015

Overkill of rehashed Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes by Sarah Brightman

If one mentions the name Andrew Lloyd Webber, the name Sarah Brightman usually follows. Understandably, considering one of the world's most popular musicals was written around her voice and created for her to star in both London and New York. Sarah Brightman's connection to Lloyd Webber shows began when she was cast in the original London cast of CATS. She went on to take over the starring role in the London production of Song & Dance, which also received it's own release as a cast album as well as preserved on video. Then came her performance with Placido Domingo in Lloyd Webber's own Requiem piece, a project that actually afforded her a classical hit song. Christine Daae was the third Lloyd Webber penned role Miss Brightman performed but not it wasn't the last. Though she is best known for her portrayal as Christine, she only performed the role for a short time in both London and New York. Despite their highly publicized 1990 divorce, Sarah Brightman and Andrew Lloyd Webber's working relationship continued when she took over the role of Rose in Aspects of Love in both the Broadway and London productions.
Two years later, Brightman released an album in Japan entitled Sarah Brightman sings the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber featuring a mix of previously released material as well as a new rendition Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again and a few numbers she'd only performed in concert. Three years later, Surrender was released and yet again, previously released material, including some featured on the 1992 album, in addition to a few new renditions and covers of Lloyd Webber tunes. Lloyd Webber has been quoted in regards to his belief that Brightman's interpretations of his music are the definitive renditions...Of course they are considering he knew she was a serious cash cow for him, his company as well as the record company.
While I enjoyed both albums for what they were, to me, they weren't the definitive renditions...I have yet to make it through her version of The Music of the Night without cringing. Trying to listen to both albums consecutively is difficult, not because her voice isn't one that one could listen to without a degree of irritation after a few minutes but for the fact that the selections are repetitive.
1997, Brightman and Lloyd Webber teamed up again with the release of The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection. Rather than recording new numbers...we hear selections from both the 1992 and 1995 albums condensed into one CD with all new artwork. 5 years later a rehash of the "Surrender" formula arrived on record store shelves with "Encore"...four previously unreleased numbers and all the rest from various albums...Of course my gullible ass bought right into it.
You'd think by now, the fact that Lloyd Webber and Brightman had squeezed enough juice from all of their previous albums that were no more than Greatest Hits cover albums but NOPE...2005 rehashed the greatest hits plus more with the release of Love Changes Everything - The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection, Volume 2. To be perfectly honest, if you threw out the 1992, 1995 and 2002 albums and kept this and the 1997 album, you'd certainly have a chronical of everything you'd ever want featuring Sarah singing Andrew's music.
With all of that said...Ya'll know I'm not much of a Brightman fan, other than some of her amazing pop albums such as Dive and Fly...I LOVE many others that have topped her performance of Christine (Bryant, Katona, Culliver, Caine, Southard, Joseph, Owen, Udine and many more)...but I do love the music of Lloyd Webber...among all of the music that's featured on the recordings mentioned above, the ones that I keep on my iPod are:

Anything But Lonely from Aspects of Love
Everything's Alright from Jesus Christ Superstar
Half a Moment from Jeeves
Last Man In My Life from Song & Dance
Make Up My Heart from Starlight Express
Only You from Starlight Express
The Perfect Year from Sunset Boulevard
The Phantom of the Opera featuring Michael Crawford from The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera featuring Steve Harley from The Phantom of the Opera
Surrender from Sunset Boulevard
Tell Me On A Sunday from Song & Dance
Unexpected Song from Song & Dance
Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again from The Phantom of the Opera

Yup, out of 5 albums featuring 77 tracks I only listen to 13. Seems worth the purchases huh?

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