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What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

116 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 29, 2012
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Frequently Bought Together

What We Saw From The Cheap Seats + Far + Begin to Hope
Price for all three: $27.20

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Editorial Reviews

What We Saw From The Cheap Seats was recorded over an eight week period during the summer of 2011 in Los Angeles. Spektor wrote each of the 11 tracks on the album. She arrived at the session with a collection of new compositions, but others were pulled from earlier periods. She and Elizondo fleshed out instrumentation and sought to make each of the songs stand alone sonically. Most of the songs were recorded live with Spektor on piano and vocals, while additional instrumentation was added to these original takes. Of working with Spektor, Elizondo says Regina Spektor is that rare artist that continues to surprise. Just when you think you have her figured out, she knocks you out with something completely different. It s that spirit that drives this record. Each song takes you on a journey that only Regina is capable of providing. She has truly outdone herself.



Spektor studied classical piano and garnered a loyal live following in New York before self- releasing two albums. Her breakthrough album, Soviet Kitsch, was released by Sire Records in 2004 followed by Begin to Hope in 2006. The album included worldwide fan favorites "Fidelity," "Samson," "On The Radio" and "Better" and is certified gold in the U.S. Spektor followed up with far (2009) and Live from London (2010), which was recorded at the Hammersmith Apollo Theater during the far tour.


1. Small Town Moon
2. Oh Marcello
3. Don t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
4. Firewood
5. Patron Saint
6. How
7. All The Rowboats
8. Ballad Of A Politician
9. Open
10. The Party
11. Jessica

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 29, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sire / Wea
  • ASIN: B007MDQW3W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,399 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By T. A. Daniel on May 29, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Regina Spektor's last album, 2009's Far, found the singer-songwriter at her most accessible. This move seemed to put off long-time fans; Spektor's appeal before finding her way to VH1 was her offkilter songwriting. With WHAT WE SAW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS, Spektor has returned to the fun, strange songwriting that initially brought her into the spotlight. This album was produced by Mike Elizondo (who also worked on FAR): perhaps most well known for taking Fiona Apple's EXTRAORDINARY MACHINE and giving it a streamlined and focused spin.

WHAT WE SAW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS is hard to predict. Not only do songs range in tempo, tone, and mood from one song to the next, these shifts can happen mid-song (notably in the album opener "Small Town Moon.") Listeners can, however, expect the impulse-driven piano pop that mixes blends of genre, nonsense, and convention. The changes in style never feel like Spektor is aping a genre or playing the chameleon; instead, it feels as if Spektor's imagination is running wild in the studio. The result is an interesting, fun album.

The opening "Small Town Moon" begins as a conventional piano pop song, but it soon gives way to typical Spektor mannerisms (starts, stops, repetition, etc...) before ultimately opening up into a stomping chant of "Everybody not so nice, nice." It's hard to really describe it, but it's great fun to experience. "Oh Marcello" is similar in its unpredictability, ranging from wild falsettos to beatboxing from Spektor. This is followed by "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)," a song that incorporates hints of tropical music with horns and a Russian chorus.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Christopher D. Hardtke on May 30, 2012
Format: MP3 Music
"What We Saw" is an excellent continuation of Regina's unique approach to her craft. If you're a fan of her quirks and eccentricities, her guttural stops and starts are still here, although to a lesser extent than is found in the previous efforts "Far" and "Begin to Hope". The same could be said about her playfulness at the piano, which appears toned down (reined in?) here as the songs take on a more traditional structure. That's not to say that the songs are flat, each contains Regina's unique vocal delivery. Her vocal impressions (impersonations?) are still abundant. On "Far" Spektor infamously impersonated a dolphin, but on "What We Saw" she limits her impersonations to staccato percussion on "Oh Marcello" as well as on the frantic, rollicking "All the Rowboats". On "The Party", Spektor does her best impression of a trumpet.

There are several standouts, beginning with the album's opening track, "Small Town Moon", a song that sounds as if it would easily have been at home on her excellent "Begin to Hope" album, at least that is until the song changes tone and goes off in a new (and not unpleasant) direction 90 seconds in, before returning. Equally strong are "All the Rowboats", "Ballad of a Politician" and "Firewood", which wasn't originally a favorite of mine until one lyric really stood out. Many songs deal with aging/getting older, and the verse "You'll want to go back, You'll wish you were small, Nothing can slow the crying, You'll take the clock off of your wall, And you'll wish it was lying" certainly resonates, but it is a preceding line that really conjures up mental images, and it made me smile while listening to it: "Someday you'll wake up and feel a great pain, And you'll miss every toy you ever owned". Sweet, bittersweet and heartbreaking all at once.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Josh on June 1, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I don't normally write music reviews because the matter is so subjective, but I wanted to draw attention to the bonus track titled Call Them Brothers, which I didn't learn about until after I bought the 11-track version of What We Saw From The Cheap Seats. I like this song more than all the other songs on the album. The track is included with the Deluxe Version of the album, and Amazon offers it as a separate MP3 download. Amazon also sells a different version of Call Them Brothers as an MP3 download that features Spektor.

The reason I rated What We Saw From The Cheap Seats three stars is because some of the songs are too polished for my liking. For example, I strongly prefer the version of Ne Me Quitte Pas on Songs (2002) to the version on What We Saw From The Cheap Seats.

I thought some of the songs on Far (2009) were too polished as well, and I was hoping What We Saw From The Cheap Seats would have a more raw sound like Spektor's earlier albums.

The album Live in London (2010) includes performances of songs from Far that I think are better (less polished, more raw) than the studio recordings. Hopefully, Spektor will release a live album that includes songs from What We Saw From The Cheap Seats.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Anderson on June 6, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Such a letdown from her previous work. I love her so much and this was heartbreaking. All of the beautiful piano playing and quirky lyrics are missing from this album. Total sad face.
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Topic From this Discussion
Deluxe Version- Audio CD format
I remember reading somewhere that the deluxe edition was exclusive to iTunes but I can't remember where, and I could be wrong, but I do think that's the case.
May 21, 2012 by Tree_Hugger |  See all 3 posts
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