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Audio CD, March 14, 2006
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Theme from The Orphan of Zhao0:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. At Madam Plum's 2:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. The Top and the Ball 1:48$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. What a Fucking Lovely Day! 1:20$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Auntie Toothache 2:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. It's Hard to Be the Emperor 1:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Sounds Expensive 1:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. The Red Shoes 1:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Fan Dance Cha-Cha 1:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. The Little Maiden of the Sea 3:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Ukulele Me! 1:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. Train Song 1:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. The Little Hebrew Girl 2:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen14. Shall We Sing a Duet?0:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen15. The Song of the Humble Serf0:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen16. The Collar and the Garter 1:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen17. Shall We Sing a Duet? (Reprise) 1:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen18. Sorry, Wrong Show 1:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen19. The Storks 1:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen20. In the Spring, When I Was Young 2:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen21. The Ugly Little Duck 3:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen22. And He Would Say 3:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen23. The World Is Not Made of Flowers 1:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen24. Behold the Lowly Centipede 1:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen25. In China, Said the Moon 3:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen26. Hail! Son of Heaven 1:06$0.99  Buy MP3 

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Stephin Merritt has always taken utmost care with the commercial release of his music, and Obscurities, a collection of hard-to-find recordings—several culled from his private reels— is no exception. One of this anthology's most striking ... Read more in Amazon's Stephin Merritt Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 14, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B0009K7RLQ
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,635 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Showtunes features a selection of songs Merrit composed for three plays directed by acclaimed Chinese theatre director Chen Shi-Zheng, The Orphan of Zhao, Peach Blossom Fan, and My Life As A Fairy Tale. Feature members of the original casts and ensembles. Nonesuch Records. 2006.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John Marquette on March 23, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Stephin Merritt has created another imaginative work with "Showtunes" in his 26-track CD. I've listened to it several times on my commute to and from work, and I'm not quite sure why one of the reviewers object to his absent voice. His other musical enterprises - 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, Magnetic Fields - don't always have him front-and-center. What he brings to us with "Showtunes" is more of his clever lyrics and catchy tunes.

One track is especially remarkable - "Hail, Son of Heaven". It sounds to me like the Iraq War Anthem. You could read a bit of political intrigue into "Showtunes" lyrics, but hey, why bother? Just enjoy the opera excerpts and the liner notes.

Why did I rate it with only four stars rather than a full five? His capolavoro, "69 Love Songs" (the three-disc set), has everything I want in a funny, clever, and touching entertainment package and gets the full five stars in my book.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful By svf on March 16, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The curiously gifted songwriter Stephin Merritt is best known as the guiding force behind several acclaimed indie-pop groups -- most notably The Magnetic Fields, who amazed, delighted, and sort of overwhelmed us all with the three CD collection 69 Love Songs (and then followed up with the underwhelming album i.) Over the past few years, Mr. Merritt has also written songs for three music theater productions by Chen Shi-Zheng, and Showtunes is jam-packed with 26 of them.

These tunes encompass everything you love (or perhaps don't?) about Stephin's songwriting -- they are clever and witty, compact and concise, tuneful and cloying... and a bit precious at times. There's one major problem however -- Stephin isn't singing any of them.

Instead, the Showtunes are (appropriately, I guess) performed by vocalists and choruses from "the original casts" in a mannered, over-enunciated, Broadway-esque style that sounds more like Gilbert & Sullivan than The Magnetic Fields. And sadly, I couldn't stand it.

Maybe listeners more enamored of musical theater than I am would not be as distracted by this (I can't stomach Cole Porter songs sung this way either.) Besides, the arrangements are fantastic, using unconventional ensembles that convincingly blend Asian instruments with lute, autoharp, accordian, marimba, and steel drums -- thankfully without the electronic clutter that sometimes intrudes upon Magnetic Fields productions. (Happily, a few instrumental selections are sprinkled throughout the CD.)

But unfortunately, all I could think about while listening to Showtunes was how much better these songs would sound if they were sung by Merritt's soulful, resonant, unpretentious baritone voice instead.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert Burns on October 15, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I know that the reviewer right before me gave this 1 star and called it "the worst drivel he'd ever heard". Before you allow this to sway you, look at his other reviews. This is a guy who's favorite band seems to be Chicago. Also, it would appear that he has purchased more than one box set of the TV show "Frasier".

Take a negative review by this guy as a sign that the "Showtunes" album might well be excellent.

Stephen Merritt might be a little too adventurous for someone who's brain has been turned to pudding by the blandness of Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
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Topic From this Discussion
Credits: McAbee on autoharp?
Yes. Cory McAbee is credited for autoharp performances on The Orphan of Zhao.
Apr 7, 2006 by Leslie L. Tamaribuchi |  See all 2 posts
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