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on January 16, 2008
I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Anne Murray. Her voice is so warm and comforting. I've always loved the intelligence, independence, and strength she conveys even (especially?) when the songs are about heartbreak and loneliness. On this new CD, her duet partners express their respect and admiration for Anne through their excellent performances (with one exception) as well as their quotes in the liner notes (a couple of the artists are not quoted).

No two reviews will have the same favorite, and mine is no doubt somewhat subjective: I am thrilled to hear my former Emory University schoolmates--Indigo Girls!--sing with Anne on "A Little Good News." I imagine this will be the first time many Anne fans will have heard the wondrous harmonies of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, and I strongly recommend their entire catalog. Fans of the song will notice that Diane Sawyer has replaced Bryant Gumbel in the lyrics, and that Ireland has been replaced by Gaza. Sadly, this song will probably be just as timely in another (damn has it been) 25 years as it was in 1983 and is today.

Another personal favorite of mine has always been "Time Don't Run Out on Me". While I'm thrilled Carole King is on board to sing this with Anne (Ms. King co-wrote it with ex-husband Gerry Goffin), I wish the ladies hadn't slowed the tempo down for their version. The original kinda rocked! I still can't believe it didn't make the pop chart back in the day. (Let it go, Jeff. Just let go of it already.)

All the performances are beautiful. I don't think I've ever heard k.d. lang turn in a performance that isn't flawless. No exception here ("A Love Song"). Shania Twain does a great job with Ms. Murray on the immortal "You Needed Me." I imagine it would have been easy to screw up such a standard. They don't! The one song here that actually was a duet the first time around ("Nobody Loves Me Like You Do", with Dave Loggins) is done here with Anne's daughter, Dawn Langstroth. The song is even sweeter this way than when it was a romantic duet. Aww... It was nice to hear Jann Arden ("Somebody's Always Saying Goodbye") after so long. Someone will need this reminder: Ms. Arden's big U.S. hit was "Insensitive." Pop radio played to death, then never gave anything else from her so much as a spin. (Again. Let it go, he tells himself...) And "Snowbird" is about as far from Andrew Lloyd Webber as Sarah Brightman is likely to get--unless you are familiar with "(I Lost My Heart To A) Starship Trooper". Ms. L-W does brilliantly. I especially enjoyed the liner notes for that one.

I can't not mention Olivia Newton-John, because I love her. "Cotton Jenny" is not my pot o' tea but it's so nice to hear these two icons singing together. Speaking of icons, and getting back to the exception noted above (you thought I forgot about that didn't you), a word about Dusty Springfield. I remember Ms. Springfield's version of "I Just Fall in Love Again" from her criminally-ignored LP "Living Without Your Love" (now available on CD, by the way). This posthumous duet was recorded with "the blessing of the Springfield family and estate". I'm happy that Anne Murray respected Dusty enough to have included her on this CD, but naturally sad that Dusty is no longer with us to have actively participated in the creation of the song as a duet.

I was tempted to make some mischief over this being a ladies-only project. No doubt much of this CD will appeal to the "cult following" I was blissfully unaware of until reading the entry for Ms. M in the 1983 version of "The Rolling Stone Record Guide." But for me, ineligible for that segment of the pop audience, guys' voices would just mess up the pretty. I'm keeping this CD out for a while; like Anne Murray's other LPs & CDs, it's a tonic for troubled times.
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VINE VOICEon January 15, 2008
I have been an Anne Murray fan all my life. I grew up listening to her music. I know most of the songs on here but not all of them. My favorite track is "You Needed Me". Anne and Shania Twain sing so well together. I also love her duet with KD Lang. They harmonize great so well on "A Little Love Song". Amother gem is the duet with the late great Dusty Springfield. "I Just Fall In Love Again" is a classic love song. "Snowbird" is a track that makes me feel happy. Sarah Brightman has such a pretty voice. Other tracks that stand out here are "Danny's Song" with Martina McBride and "Another Pot O' Tea" with Emmylou Harris. I never heard of the singer Isabelle Boulay, but she sings beautifully with Anne on the French song "Si Je Te Revois". The piano playing is lovely on this track. I have never heard the song "You Won't See Me", but it is very upbeat. I like the guitar playing here. I love the music of Anne Murray.
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on January 14, 2008
This album was released in Canada in November, 2007. It's been selling quite well here. 'Croonin' has been my favorite Murray album since it's release, but this one has knocked it down a notch. I'm not sure who choses duet partners (if it's the artist or the label) but regardless, they've made a great choice here from the late Dusty Springfield to Shania Twain to Martina McBride etc etc. The greatest contrast is 'You Needed Me' with Shania. I believe this is Anne's 35th album and it's truly a great one. Some nice one on one liner notes with k d lang conspicuously absent. This disc sounds better every time you listen to it. Enjoy!
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on April 4, 2008
I just adore Anne Murray. There is something about her that is so welcoming and inviting and familiar. It's like she's a member of the family or an old friend. I grew up listening to her as a very small child. My mom and dad often played her records and 8-tracks. All these songs on Anne's new CD, "Duets: Friends & Legends" are so special and perhaps even motivational. Anne's voice is so strong and harmonious on each of the tracks. I can't say that it's better than the originals, I'd have to say that it's certainly a tossup! My favorite song is "Danny's Song." That has to be one of Anne's most recognized and celebrated hits because it's so fundamental and universal in a way. The lyrics could really apply to just about anyone. And the new version on this CD with Martina McBride is absolutely stunning. I love how Anne is able to mix both the old and the new on "Duets" and come up with a contemporary and creative work of art. Some of my other favorite songs on this CD include: "Snowbird" (one of Anne's biggest country-crossover hits,) "Daydream Believer" (sounds so perfect with Nelly Furtado!) and "You Needed Me" (sung with another country-crossover star, Shania Twain.) I have so much respect for Anne because she is such a brilliant artist with so much talent and she truly is a very, very beautiful person. Who do I recommend this CD to? Anyone with a heart. Or to anyone that's feeling down because no matter how you feel Anne Murray can lift your spirits. "Duets" will always put a smile on your face!
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on February 28, 2008
Beware: This will be long, but Anne Murray's been away for quite a while, and she's created a masterpiece that deserves to be properly observed and admired - track by brilliant track (all 17 of them). Or, you could just take the fast answer that it's FANTASTIC, and you should absolutely get this CD pronto. Now, where was I?

What an amazing, inspired return Anne Murray has created with her new CD, Anne Murray Duets: Friends & Legends. Anne has been away from the limelight for a good number of years now, but in the U.S. alone, for the week ending February 2, 2008, this CD was the second-highest debuting album on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart (coming in at #42), along with debuting at #8 on the Top Country Albums chart and at #3 on the Top Internet Albums chart. "Duets" is already her highest-charting U.S. album since 1999.

She's taken a cue from Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, and Reba McEntire in recording a "duets" album (although Reba's CD was released only a couple of months earlier than Anne's) - live, in the same studio with her partner(s) - in this case, either in Toronto, Nashville, or L.A. Anne has joined with a group of 23 very diverse women to create 17 superb and lovely tracks, revisiting many of her biggest hits and also some of the songs she's recorded over the years that were special to her fellow Canadians.

The liner notes in this CD are fascinating and full of intriguing information. In addition to interesting facts, in most cases both artists offer impressions of their experiences recording the track or a special significance the song may have had on them. These are some of the finest liner notes I've seen in a CD in years. Anne's partners truly represent an international cast: seven fellow Canadians and seven more from the U.S., six from Ireland, two from the United Kingdom, and one from Australia. Some are established superstars, others are up-and-coming artists, and still another is actually a deceased legend.

Both of Anne's big Kenny Loggins' hits are here: "Danny's Song," with Nashville's fabulous Martina McBride (making up for her dreary 2007 Christmas album); and "A Love Song," with k.d. lang (from Alberta and yes, the spelling of her name is correct). Martina and Anne open the CD with a strong and beautiful country pairing that definitely helps one recall Murray's stellar original. But k.d.'s voice, as always, is "like buttah." It's virtually aural silk. She can easily sing as smoothly as if she were this generation's Karen Carpenter: so gloriously, stunningly beautiful. (It's no wonder she's Tony Bennett's favorite duet partner.) Her pairing with Murray is utterly goose-pimply, or as we say in Hawaii, "like chicken skin awreddy!" Their track, "A Love Song," is by far one of the strongest on the CD. This writer has his own "Constant Craving" for k.d. lang's singular voice, and it was made to blend with Murray's. What a beautiful track.

Another is the duet with Anne Murray's daughter, Dawn Langstroth, an excellent singer in her own right who is on the rise in popularity in Canada. She is also accompanying her mom on Anne's current tour and is performing with her, including their duet from this CD. This tour, announced in October 2007, is reportedly her last (she is 62 years old as of the date of this review). However, the announcement was made prior to the album's release in the late autumn in Canada and this winter in the U.S. The CD's surprise (and welcome) success has required Murray to add many additional performances throughout Canada and the U.S., so perhaps she might change her mind. Langstroth and Murray re-interpret "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do" from a lovers' duet into a quite different one - between mother and daughter. (The original 1984 single was recorded as a duet with Dave Loggins of 1974's Please Come to Boston fame. Dave Loggins is Kenny's cousin.) The entire song is transformed in meaning, and it soars with emotion and the obvious love that the two share. Langstroth struggled with anorexia nervosa in her recent past, and both she and Anne dealt with their private pain by revealing it very publicly, going on both Canadian and American TV to discuss Dawn's affliction. Their bond literally comes through in this exquisite track that deals with a very different kind of love.

Also excellent is an update of Murray's evocative (and, some claimed, provocative) 1983 hit "A Little Good News" with the equally provocative duo Indigo Girls. The lyrics have been updated to reflect current events and changes in TV news anchors. It's just as compelling in 2008 as it was a quarter-century ago. In fact, Indigo Girls add far more to the song than the original. Simply exceptional.

A truly delightful (if not eerie) treat is the exquisite pairing of Anne with the late British "white soul" songstress, the one and only legendary Dusty Springfield, on "I Just Fall in Love Again." Murray and Springfield were close friends, and as it happened, both singers recorded this song and released it as singles in 1979; Dusty first, Anne shortly thereafter. Springfield's single went nowhere, but Anne's version became one of the biggest hits of her career. The family of Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien (Dusty Springfield's real [and full!] name) gave Anne their blessing in taking Dusty's original 1979 vocal track and digitally inserting it into Anne's recording to create the effect of a duet. To hear Dusty Springfield singing a "new" song in a "duet" with Anne, so beautifully interpreted in Dusty's slightly different take of the song (which Anne follows to close out the song after beginning it with her usual version) is spine-tingling. This track alone is the reason to buy this CD. It's literally that good.

Allister MacGillivray's "Song for the Mira" is a protest folk song first recorded by Murray on her 1982 album "The Hottest Night of the Year." It began as a song of hope and desire for Nova Scotia's longest river (at about 34 miles) that the Mira on Cape Breton Island be left alone. The local residents were seeing their riverside and surrounding area being sold off to wealthy outsiders who were buying the land to build commercial property and seasonal condos for wealthy outsiders on what the locals believed to be their rightful land, to be left in its pristine condition. "Song for the Mira" has since become a veritable anthem for the citizens of Canada's Atlantic maritime provinces, begging for a halt to the continual development, but thus far their song and the people's pleas have fallen on deaf ears. In this CD, however, the pairing of Anne Murray and Irish sextet Celtic Woman is nothing short of heavenly.

"Another Pot o' Tea" is another obscure Murray nugget that she is revisiting, first recorded on her 1974 album "Love Song," which yielded the aforementioned hit "A Love Song." The legendary Emmylou Harris lends her unique voice to this tender, melancholy Gaelic-English folk song. The blend of Harris' voice with Murray's aches with emotion and longing. It's another gem amongst many found on this CD. On the other hand, fellow Canadian Gordon Lightfoot's sunny and bouncy love song "Cotton Jenny" is another possibly little-known track to many Americans who may not be that familiar with some Canadian songwriters' tunes. It was first recorded by Murray on her 1971 LP "Talk It Over in the Morning," and here it's juiced-up with the absolutely welcome return (and lovely voice) of Australia's Olivia Newton-John, whose soprano blends perfectly with Murray's contralto. Olivia plays with the notes and uses her upper register nicely, playing off Anne's lower alto voice, and the up-tempo beat and cheery lyrics make this track one of the most lighthearted of the CD's selections.

Anne never forgets her maternal Acadian ancestry and maintains a display of same at The Anne Murray Centre - a museum that celebrates her life and extraordinary career - in her hometown of Springhill, Nova Scotia. The Acadians were French explorers primarily in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia but who were eventually expelled by the British. They then resettled in the area that would become Louisiana. That is why today's New Orleans, and everywhere in Louisiana, a unique dialect of the Acadian-French language and its culture remain, now also integrated with Creole, Caribbean, and other cultures. This information is provided to explain Anne's French-language duet (closing out the CD) with Quebec singer Isabelle Boulay on "Si Jamais Je Te Revois (If I Ever See You Again)." Murray first recorded this song on her 1991 album "Yes, I Do."

Other tracks include a 1996 live performance culled from a Montreal concert in which Celine Dion joined Anne onstage to duet on "When I Fall in Love." Both singers recorded the song in 1993 - Murray on her album Croonin', and Dion recorded the song for the Sleepless In Seattle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack as a duet with Britain's Clive Griffin. The Dion/Griffin single reached the Top 25 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart during the same year. While the duet is passable (Dion overpowers Murray, of course) and the audio quality is not exactly overwhelming, the interesting note is that the two never actually rehearsed or performed the song together until the actual concert that evening. Celine sang her part through the speaker of her cellphone with Anne on the other end during the afternoon preceding the concert, but somehow the two pulled it off quite nicely that evening! Now, that's two pros if ever there were any.

Young British Columbia native and quickly-rising pop/rock star Nelly Furtado holds her own on a revved-up version of Anne's "Daydream Believer," one of her all-time biggest hits. Her original 1980 recording was a cover of The Monkees' #1 hit from 1967, featuring Britain's Davy Jones on lead vocal. Alberta's Jann Arden does a superb job in her duet with Anne on "Somebody's Always Saying Goodbye"; it's another standout on the CD. While rather prolific in her native Canada, Arden is best known to Americans as the one-hit wonder behind 1994's hit single Insensitive. She also appears with Murray in the concert DVD An Intimate Evening with Anne Murray (1999). (Celine Dion's live 1996 concert duet performance of "When I Fall in Love" with Murray has also been added to this same DVD.)

Murray insisted that the composer sing the duet with her, and Anne got her way. The legendary Carole King duets with Anne on "Time, Don't Run Out on Me" (co-written with ex-husband and decades-long writing partner Gerry Goffin), one of this writer's personal favorites in Anne's repetoire. Though she's now 66 years old as of the date of this review, King's voice is still strong, powerful, and expressive, and she makes quite a suitable partner for Murray. The one-time Brill Building composer and girlfriend of Neil Sedaka (inspiring him to compose his hit "Oh! Carol"), who went on to record one of the biggest-selling albums of all time, Tapestry, has lost not a whit of her soul and warmth. However, probably my biggest disappointment is Shania Twain's performance on 1978's #1 smash "You Needed Me," the all-time biggest hit of Anne Murray's career and, as the liner notes reveal, Anne's personal favorite song in her repetoire. The Ontario native trades off lines with Murray, yet it comes across as a surprisingly lackluster performance, especially considering that Twain's liner notes reveal that she specifically requested to duet on this song. However, further along in the track, the responses to each other do serve to add a bit of interest to this timeless classic - albeit a tiny bit.

The wattage is turned up on the renewal of Anne's version of "You Won't See Me," also one of Murray's biggest hits. Nashville country singer Shelby Lynne does a fine job of helping Anne pump some fresh, dance-worthy blood into this cover (of a cover) of The Beatles' 1966 song. Anne reveals that the late, great John Lennon told her backstage at the Grammy Awards one year that her original recording of "You Won't See Me" was the best cover version of any Beatles song he'd heard. An avowed Beatles fan who freely uses The Beatles' extensive songbook when recording her albums, she was (and still is) utterly thrilled. And then we have one of the most popular songs played by live country bands everywhere (especially at wedding receptions). The great Amy Grant duets with Anne on her timeless 1980 classic "Could I Have This Dance?" from the Urban Cowboy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Like Shania, I was expecting more from Amy, but the duo gets the job done. "Dance" is a simple country waltz, and sometimes the so-called "simple" songs are the most difficult to convey in the recording studio. That's why Anne Murray's soulful and elegant original hit single has stood the test of time and has remained one of her most popular songs (and remains a "must" on her set-list in every concert, even now) after more than a quarter-century.

Finally, talk about a snowbird out of her element! The UK's Sarah Brightman, the ex-wife of theatre composer extraordinaire Andrew Lloyd Webber ("Jesus Christ, Superstar," "Evita," "Cats," "Phantom of the Opera," "Sunset Boulevard," etc.), tries her best to fly away with Anne on the first #1 song of her career, 1970's "Snowbird," the single that launched her into stardom virtually overnight. But Brightman's soaring, high, lilting soprano is so much better suited to operatic and theatrical endeavors, while Anne's contralto just does not blend well with her. Brightman does try hard, though, reaching down as far into her singing register as she possibly can to "meet up" with Murray, because "Snowbird" just happens to be written and/or arranged in the high end of Anne's natural singing voice. Somehow, they got through it. Yet in the liner notes, both singers noted, as politely as possible, the difficulties in getting this track recorded. Still, it's not all that bad. I'm just disappointed that Anne didn't choose to extend the song a little. It still comes in at barely over two minutes, just as the original 1970 single did. With today's tracks regularly clocking in at four minutes plus, I was hoping to hear more of "Snowbird."

With 17 tracks, the listener will get a sample of many of Anne Murray's hits over the last nearly four decades, but there are some glaring omissions. Should she decide to do a second edition, some overlooked hits would need to be included, such as: "Another Sleepless Night," "Broken-Hearted Me," "Just Another Woman in Love," "Blessed Are the Believers," and "Shadows in the Moonlight," just to name a few.

Despite my few complaints, this album still warrants the full five stars (the complaints come from the guests, not Anne Murray). It is absolutely sensational. I have played it over and over again since I bought it, and I'm so pleased with it that I've reawakened my interest in Anne Murray and have purchased a number of other items featuring her - some mentioned above, but also her Anne Murray - What a Wonderful World DVD from 2001 and her An Intimate Evening with Anne Murray CD from 1998 (the audio version of the DVD mentioned above, but with some different track selections).

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Anne Murray's best work in many, many years. You really owe yourself the enjoyment of ANNE MURRAY DUETS: FRIENDS & LEGENDS. I also truly hope that Anne changes her mind about ending her touring, and I can't wait to see what she's going to do next. In a videotaped interview, she thought that her days in the studio were over and wasn't planning on doing any more recording. The commercial and critical success of this fantastic CD proves that such a decision would be an enormous mistake. Pick up this CD and...E N J O Y!

CD RATING: ***** (out of 5) -- 28 Feb 08 -- BOB BOURBEAU
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 16, 2008
2008 is getting off to a great start with a terrific new album by the venerable Canadian recording artist Anne Murray. Produced by Phil Ramone, "Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends" quite unexpectedly blew me away. It is that good.
Ordinarily, I am not that big a fan of these "Duets" projects. I have found that a great many artists resort to these kinds of gimmicky productions in the waning years of their careers. Rod Stewart is one artist who certainly comes to mind. But this disc is the exception. For Anne Murray is still at the top of her game at age 62. And just about every one of the female artists she chose to work with on this project does an outstanding job as well. The roster reads like a "who's who" of Canadian female recording artists. Add to that impressive list the likes of Carole King, Olivia Newton-John, Sarah Brightman and Martina McBride and you have all the ingredients for an outstanding disc. Of the 17 tracks on "Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends" a dozen are remakes of some of her biggest chart hits. Of these, perhaps my very favorite is the tune that Anne sings with her daughter Dawn Langstroth. The haunting "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do" will send chills up your spine. I also thoroughly enjoyed "Danny's Song" with Martina McBride, and Anne's collaboration with Sarah Brightman on her 1970 hit "Snowbird". What an outstanding performance by both of them! Then there are the familiar hits done with a very fresh approach. Among these I can recommend "Daydream Believer" with Nelly Furtado and "A Little Good News" with the Indigo Girls. Finally, there are 5 other tunes on this disc that never appeared on the Billboard charts that you might not be familiar with. They are all terrific but my very favorite would have to be "Song For the Mira" a tune that Anne recorded with Celtic Woman. Very moving!
I see where some reviewers found this disc to be a bit boring. I could not disagree more. I was thoroughly impressed by the outstanding vocal performances on each and every song on this album. I am sure that most Anne Murray fans will be thrilled with what they hear here. In addition, I found that the liner notes included with "Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends" are among the very best that I have ever seen. My impression is that this album was an extremely well thought out project from start to finish. Kudos to everyone involved! Very highly recommended!
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on March 30, 2008
Okay, lets just be real, GREAT songs, great partners in vocals, yes, the arrangements are the same, the plod along just as they did "back in the day" but that is what makes them so great! Predictable, yes, but in a comforting, warm, embracing way. And how great is it to hear these stellar womens voices together singing love songs!
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on January 16, 2008
Having been a big Anne Murray fan since "Snowbird", I enjoy all of her albums. I admit I was disappointed when I heard this collection was comprised of duets with females only. I think Anne is a great duets singer (Dave Loggins, Kenny Rogers, etc.) and was looking forward to "mixed" duets. However, there is much that works well on this collection. The best is Anne singing with her daughter on "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do", one of my personal favorites. The CD liner notes explains why the lyrics mean so much to Anne singing this with her daughter. Dawn's voice has improved even more over a few years and she sounds great and blends great with her mother. Celine and Anne do a knockout lve number on "When I Fall in Love". Most of the other tracks are great, but these are the best. There are two tracks that just do not seem to work - "Cotton Jenny with Olivia Newton-John and "Time Don't Run Out on Me" with Carole King. Both are great Anne numbers, but they just don't sound good between these two ladies. My opinion. Most of the songs on this collection are special to me and have been for some time, so the CD is special to me, even though it may not be my favorite Anne Murray album. Hearing a new version of "Danny's Song" and "Another Pot of Tea" made me smile. And the fact that the duets are performed as female duets, does't really matter. These are songs that belong to one of the best artists ever to hit the airwaves!
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on April 22, 2008
Anne Murray has always been a favorite of mine, however, not hearing anything from her of late I worried that this album would not be up to her standards. I worried for nothing. If you like her, you MUST get this. Her duets are fabulous and she has not missed a beat! She's only gotten better.
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on January 15, 2008
I like Anne Murray very much and prefer when she sings songs with a bit of kick or drama. Otherwise a blandness tends to creep into her vocals and production. This was the case with many of her albums in the 1980s where every song sounded the same except for a brilliant tonic like "A Little Good News." This new album follows the same cloth of many singers in Murray's predicament. How many singers over the age of 50 have record deals with a major label? Now that she is over 60 I am sure this new record is a shot for commercial success with this interesting batch of women. It would have been nice to have some new songs comprise this collection but the selection here is a good overview of her career [my personal faves "Broken Hearted Me" and "Lucky Me" were not included in this collection]. Some of the cuts work better than others; Sarah Brightman sounds like she is in over her head and Shelby Lynne is done in by an overproduced arrangement. Anne sounds wonderful with kd lang, Olivia Newton-John, and Emmylou Harris. The big surprise is the song destined to be played at every lesbian wedding this year :) --"I Just Fall in Love Again" with Anne and Dusty Springfield, whose 1979 vocal is used from an album she made in the late 1970s. They sound wonderful together with real strings, folks, not synthesizers! Enjoy.
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