Barbra Streisand: What Matters Most (Columbia)
This new Streisand album is subtitled Sings The Lyrics Of Alan and Marilyn Bergman so it might appear that this is an anthology collection of past recordings. But this is a brand new album and it has made its debut at the lofty No.11 spot.
Streisand and the Bergman’s have had a long and intimate relationship. All three grew up in the same Brooklyn neighborhood and, believe it or not, Streisand has already covered 51 Bergman songs. This new release covers 10 songs of theirs that Streisand had not previously covered.
While the Bergman’s may be best noted for Streisand’s signature song, The Way We Were, she had yet to cover other Bergman evergreens like Nice ‘n’ Easy (a title song to a Sinatra album of the ’60s) and The Windmills Of Your Mind that won an Oscar for Best Song from the 1968 Steve McQueen film The Thomas Crown Affair.
Streisand acts as producer here as well, and she really wants her friends’ lyrics to shine through so there is mostly light instrumentation to What Matters Most, although Nice ‘n’ Easy and That Face offer light swing to their elegance.
Babs has now recorded 61 Bergman songs making for a rewarding catalogue for fans and colleagues. The 24-page booklet is loaded with vintage photos and lyrics.
Jackie Evancho: Dream With Me In Concert (Columbia)
Young 11-year-old wonder child Jackie Evancho has released this live album just three months after her platinum selling Dream With Me. Hence the new title here Dream With Me In Concert that features almost exactly the same lineup of songs on her studio album and, to tell you the truth, there really isn’t much difference in sound between the studio set and this live CD.
I guess one of the big highlights is the duet with Barbra Streisand on Somewhere from the West Side Story, while Evancho juggles her music between pop songs and crossover classical popera with the two tunes here from Puccini, Nessun Dorum and O Mio Babbino Caro—the later only one of two new songs not on the studio release.
But the real bonus feature here is the additional performance DVD that is augmented with a large photo gallery and interviews.
This two-disc set was only released yesterday but I am willing to bet Dream With Me In Concert hits the top five album charts even though the music is nearly identical to the studio recordings.
It still is freakish to hear such amazing talent and a powerful woman’s voice come from such a tiny gifted pre-teen.
Nothing But The Beat (Virgin/EMI)
You get the strong sense this album has come out three months too late. This is full-on summer/club party music where the first song and smash hit finds Guetta and Flo Ride asking Where The Girls At?
Coming from a major tourist city like Kelowna I can tell Guetta and co. that they aren’t in the clubs anymore but rather at work or college and Guetta has seriously missed the boat on Nothing But The Beat.
This collection isn’t nearly as strong as Guetta’s last album and its four hits and this edition is particularly brain dead which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for club music. But the season is done and I don’t hear many more hits on this inferior offering. One of the better songs comes from will.i.am with his nearly topical tune and plainly spoken Nothing Really Matters, where he explains club music is pure escapism.
The worst track here, besides Guetta’s dull tech instrumental, is Snoop Dogg’s Sweat where it sounds like he literally phoned in his robotic phrase ‘I just wanna make you sweat’ for Guetta to play with.
It isn’t a good sign when the all-star help (17) outnumbers the 13 tracks on the disc.
Deep Purple: Shades of Deep Purple 2011 (Eagle)
Eagle Records has become one of the finest re-issue labels on the planet right now especially for certain acts. There is an ocean of re-issue Rory Gallagher from Eagle as well as scads of new Deep Purple. All the discs feature rare and unreleased material, and in the case of Deep Purple’s highly regarded 1968 debut Shades Of, there are studio outtakes, live TV performances, BBC sessions and an alternate take of The Beatles’ Help.
I never quite got to all of these yet but there is also a Special Edition CD and DVD titled Phoenix Rising that includes a “lost” 1975 concert film and a band documentary.
Meanwhile, for the uber compleatists there is a two-CD concert set MKII The Final Concerts that I am told also have never before seen the light of day. Big bonuses for the big fans.