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Splendid Effort With Some Missteps
on June 29, 2004
Celine Dion recently released her first live English language album. "A New Day...Live In Las Vegas," debuted at #10 on Billboard's album chart and is the precursor to a fall tri-DVD release featuring the same concert. While fans will certainly find plenty to enjoy it is not difficult to realize that this release could have been made far more relevant.
Dion's performance is, from beginning to end, top of the line. However, the quality of the setlist is not. After opening with Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy" she ill-advisedly rushes through two of her biggest hits, "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" and "Because You Loved Me". Both from her Grammy-winning 1996 album "Falling Into You," they are performed in just under six minutes and lack all the power of their original studio versions. Also, her low-key interpretation of Peggy Lee's "Fever" is extremely weak and a clear waste of space on the disc; the song does not suit her.
There are some extreme standouts, however. Her rendition of Barbra Streisand's "If I Could," which she dedicates to all the children and parents of the world, is heart tugging and inspired. Furthermore, her upbeat performances of her 2002 single "I'm Alive" and Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" perfectly demonstrate her versatility and vocal prowess. In fact, she displays it quite well throughout the entire performance, obviously without the use of any sneaky tricks or lip-syncing as she did in the past on her "The Colour of My Love Concert" DVD.
One problem with this release, nonetheless, is the blatant lack of Dion's own material. Of the thirteen tracks culled from the concert, eight were already made famous by other singers long before she ever sang them. She has enjoyed a rare career longevity and has had many well-deserved hits, such as her first stateside single "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" which hit #3 on Billboard's Hot 100, and the fact that only a droplet of those hits are represented is ultimately dissapointing, especially since there are exactly nineteen minutes of space on the disc where no music resides. On top of that, fans will be left irksome after noticing the obnoxious FBI "Unauthorized Duplication" warning stamp on the back of the album artwork and on the disc. Apparently, Dion has a penchant for intrusive logos, as was also evidenced by the shameless Chrysler advertisement included in the artwork for last year's quickly assembled "One Heart" album.
The addition of a bonus DVD that includes footage of Dion filming her "One Heart" video and in the recording studio as well as two lip-synced performances rounds out the package. It also is adorned by the FBI logo, and will only be part of the album's initial pressing. What still makes this worth your hard-earned money, though, are the two new studio recordings included at the end of the disc, "You and I" and "Ain't Gonna Look the Other Way". They are both perfect performances that prove that she is a world-renowned singer for a reason and that she is only getting better with age.