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Ultimate Sinatra
Ultimate Sinatra
Offered by musicalatina&+
Price: $11.75
68 used & new from $4.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite perfect, but close., May 6, 2015
This review is from: Ultimate Sinatra (Audio CD)
Reviewing the 2-disc Target exclusive.

It's really hard to please a hardcore Sinatra fan with a single disc collection, when most fans have a hard time paring down the best performances from each label he recorded on to one disc, much less his entire career. For the more casual fan, this will be less maddening. The tracklist has basically everything the casual fan would want - Nancy, Strangers In The Night, New York, New York, My Way, Fly Me To The Moon, Come Fly With Me, etc. The sound quality is rather good, and the performances are excellent. The bonus track, Just In Time, even includes studio chatter, which is always interesting to hear.

A version has been released in Australia featuring a complete unreleased concert from 1961. An abbreviated version of that disc is included in a version available exclusively at Target stores in the US. While it's unfortunate that Target couldn't get that same expanded disc, what's included here is still a nice substantial bonus and worth the extra couple of dollars to go buy it at Target, especially when that disc by itself would probably cost as much as the Target edition. (Albeit a standalone release would probably contain the full concert, but I digress.) The audio quality isn't perfect but it sounds like they did the best they could with the source material.

If you're a hardcore fan, you might search for the 2-disc Australia release and the 4-CD box set version of this. For the casual fan, the single-disc will suffice. For the somewhat less casual US fan, or the casual US fan who just likes bonuses, the Target version is a great value as well.

The Sound Of Music (50th Anniversary Edition)
The Sound Of Music (50th Anniversary Edition)
Price: $9.00
62 used & new from $6.58

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the promised upgrade, but not a complete failure., March 10, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Once again, Sony/BMG drops the ball on finally offering the definitive version of this legendary film soundtrack by YET AGAIN including the soundtrack LP versions of several songs we've bought over and over again already.

Several tracks boast extended versions on the back cover, including the opening number. What they fail to tell you is that expansion was simply about a minute of wind and bird noises, before going into the original LP version of the song. I find that incredibly insulting. Several other tracks remain in their shortened LP versions, including "Processional And Maria" and "I Have Confidence."

Much of the material has been released in their original film versions on the bonus CD from the 35th Anniversary Edition, as well as the 24K Gold CD included with the deluxe 30th Anniversary laserdisc. That Gold CD was also partially released in cassette form with some copies of the 1994 VHS reissue of the film. So we know this material exists somewhere, it's just a shame that Sony just wants to continue to drop the ball instead of doing it right for once. The Gold CD and cassette even contain an extended intro to The Lonely Goatherd - longer than even the film version - that has yet to be issued on any soundtrack release since. That version also contained an extended version of the Dixit Dominus/Alleluia track that, again, was longer than even the film version. That version also remains unreleased on any other version of the soundtrack. I also believe the Gold CD and cassette are the only release, to date, of the full film version of "Processional And Maria."

This 50th anniversary edition isn't a total failure, however. Sound quality is good, for the most part, although Do-Re-Mi has way too much reverb - much more than I remember being on any version of the soundtrack. And most people, especially first time buyers, may not be as picky about the LP versions being presented. It's nice that there's still SOME extra material present here, such as the film version of "Sixteen Going On Seventeen," and let's face it, we'll probably buy the 55th and 60th anniversary editions too, just because we love this music so much. There's definitely extra material on several tracks, especially instrumental tracks, because this disc clocks in at around 75 minutes - the 40th anniversary edition had a similar tracklisting, but with 10 minutes of interview tracks with Richard Rodgers and Charmian Carr, so it only stands to reason that there HAS been some expansion of some of the material present here. (The 45th anniversary edition replicated the 40th exactly, except the interview tracks were removed and replaced with an overproduced and sicky sweet performance of "My Favorite Things" with Lea Michele.)

The packaging is one area of this release that isn't a disappointment whatsoever. Despite the web image being rectangular, fear not - this is not a digipak or, even worse, a cardboard wallet. Instead, it's a jewel case inside a cardboard slipcase. The front and back artwork are replicated on both the slipcase and jewel case, but the slipcase has the front text and some of the back text and the tracklisting border with a nice gold foil effect. The booklet contains some nice photographs, two nice essays including one from Julie Andrews, and is beautifully designed. If only this same effort had gone into presenting the music in 100% pristine quality in their original film versions, even if they had to turn this into a 2-CD set, this would actually be the definitive soundtrack. And to be fair to the original LP versions, if they were to make another 2-CD set, those versions should absolutely be included as bonus material. That original LP was, after all, the version that topped the Billboard charts in 1965, stayed in the top 10 for 8 months and on the charts for nearly 4 1/2 years, sold an estimated 11 million copies worldwide, and received a Grammy nomination for Album Of The Year.

I should also note, this is not the 50th anniversary soundtrack included in the huge 5-Disc deluxe Blu-Ray/DVD/CD combo pack. That CD includes the soundtrack in its original 1965 LP format, supplemented by eight tracks from various international dubbings. Since I've not bought that set, I can't comment on the audio quality of that CD, but definitely know that this CD is different than the one in that set. A similar thing occured with the 45th anniversary edition - the standalone CD, as I said before, removed the interviews from the 40th anniversary disc and replaced them with Lea Michele's performance, while the CD included with the limited edition big box Blu-Ray/DVD/CD combo pack tacked her song at the end of the original LP version.

If you're buying this soundtrack for the first time or you only own one of the CD's that merely replicates the original LP, this is definitely the one to get. The sound quality, for the most part, is superb, the music, whether in its LP or film form, is glorious, and the packaging is well-designed and thoughtful. If you've already bought one of the anniversary expanded editions, your mileage may vary. I'm not sure I'd have bought this if I'd known RCA would once again drop the ball and the CD wasn't really going to be extremely different from the previous anniversary editions, but I can still see myself enjoying this over and over. At least until 2020, when I'm sure RCA will YET AGAIN reissue the CD - maybe then they'll get it right. Until then, this will suffice.

EDIT (March 13, 2015): Listening to the CD again, I have a few more notes:
1. I must somewhat correct my assessment of "Do-Re-Mi." Upon a second listen, it's only the children's vocals that have that odd reverb/echo effect. Julie's vocals are completely pristine. I don't know if this is in the original LP master, but naturally, it could have been solved with a remaster from the original isolated music and isolated vocal tracks, as I don't recall this on the 24K gold CD or any video version of the film. Many of my issues with this OST could have been solved that way, especially with the 2010 HD restoration of the audio elements, which would have allowed for a pristine remaster of the film versions with even better sound than the gold CD.
2. Much of the extra material on here that I mentioned is in the form of score that, until now, had only been issued on the 24K gold CD or the 35th Anniversary Edition. I hadn't looked at the 40th anniversary tracklist in a while, so I'd forgotten that some of these score bits were not on there.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 12, 2015 1:35 PM PDT

Taco Flavored Kisses
Taco Flavored Kisses
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The comeback we've been waiting for., January 10, 2015
This review is from: Taco Flavored Kisses (MP3 Music)
After years of mediocre success in music, save for the massive hit "On The Floor," J.Lo has finally released the single of her career with this genre-bending smash "Taco Flavored Kisses." Flipping on the formula created by "Last Dance" by disco queen Donna Summer, the song starts off as a Latin-flavored dance track, then segues into a gorgeous ballad, before ending with another refrain of Latin dance pop goodness. And the vocals. Oh my god, the vocals! She's obviously been doing vocal training, she's never sounded this completely flawless. Whitney who? Mariah what? Adele where?

I can't wait for the music video and for this song to impact radios. I can forsee this being such a huge massive smash hit, we'll forget all about "On The Flop." J.Lo is coming for weaves and lacefronts, you guys! Prepare for J.Lo to rule all of 2015 with "Taco Flavored Kisses."

Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: The Little Mermaid [2 CD]
Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: The Little Mermaid [2 CD]
Price: $13.79
34 used & new from $10.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The near-perfect edition of this classic soundtrack is finally available., January 4, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Walt Disney Records Legacy Collection line of beautifully packaged deluxe edition soundtracks for some of Disney's best-loved films continued in November of 2014 with this release of The Little Mermaid, timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the film's original theatrical release. (Sidenote: the 1990 VHS release was my first VHS - my my how time flies!)

Over the years, the soundtrack has received multiple issues, all of which basically recreate the same format and tracklisting - all of the songs clumped together at the beginning, followed by an embarassingly short program of score from the film. One can understand, as these releases were targeted towards children more than adult fans of the film. A release in The Music Behind the Magic box set expanded the OST to include some demos, but for the most part, the soundtrack has remained the same in its 1989 original release, a 1997 reissue with a new (inferior) cover (a pop re-recording of Kiss The Girl was included as a bonus track in some territories), and the 2006 2-CD Special Edition which could have fit on one CD, including the original 1989 format and a bonus disc of terrible Disney Channel star covers. Meanwhile, the majority of the film's Oscar-winning underscore and the long-wished-for release of Jodi Benson's reprise of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" remained unreleased. Disney has finally rectified this and released a soundtrack to cater to adult fans of the film and soundtrack lovers everywhere, but it's not without its faults.

Let me get the bad news out of the way. As you may have read in other reviews, three tracks have some odd editing choices. "Part Of Your World" starts off with the instrumental that preceded the song in the film, but instead of being edited seamlessly into the soundtrack version, it precedes the song, then goes into the dialogue from the OST version. While I don't find this overly bothersome, I would have still liked a more seamless edit to more faithfully recreate the song as it was in the film. (In fact, I'd have even appreciated removing the OST dialogue and replacing it with the film dialogue, which I always liked more.)

The next odd editing choice, and it may not bother most people and doesn't bother me, I simply wish it hadn't been done, was to leave out Pat Carroll's cackling in the "Poor Unfortunate Souls" reprise. As great as it finally is to have this reprise released on an official soundtrack release, Jodi Benson cackling by herself is a bit jarring. One does wish Disney had edited in Pat Carroll's cackling, as that's a huge part of the number, signifying to a peeping Scuttle that "Vanessa" is really Ursula. As it is, it's great to finally have this piece released.

The final odd editing choice, and I may me in the minority in actually finding this interesting to listen to, is the one in the final score track, "Happy Ending," where at around 2:30 in the track, the normal music comes up...without the chorus, then segues into the chorus at around 2:42. (Don't worry, nothing is deleted, the full choral refrain is there - just with some extra music beforehand.) I'm not bothered by this, although I would like for this edit to not have happened, but on the bright side, it's not jarring in the sense that the edit is abrupt, but the non-choral version actually fades into the choral version. While I do wish Disney had been more careful with this edit, as it doesn't play in the film this way, I actually don't hate this edit at all. Your mileage may vary.

The last nitpick I have with this edition - there are missing demos and such that were released on various home video editions and The Music Behind The Magic box set that were not included here, including "Silence Is Golden" and some alternate demos, work tapes, etc., including the demo of the "Part Of Your World" reprise with darker lyrics, and an early vocal take by Pat Carroll of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" with the alternate lyrics from the demo found on here. Unlike the demos that weren't included on the Legacy Collection release of Sleeping Beauty, however, the Diamond Edition Blu-Ray of The Little Mermaid retained all of the Platinum Edition DVD's demos and deleted scenes, including ones not included on this CD. Also, and this is just the completist in me, I'd have loved the end credit music from the film included too, as there's definitely room for it on the CD.

That's not to say that this is a bad release at all. In fact, for the most part, this edition is what every fan of the film could ever want or ask for. The sound quality is superb, everything runs in the same order as it does in the film, many of the songs have pieces of score that ran before and/or after the song included for the first time ever, and instead of about 40 minutes of music, the soundtrack disc clocks in at 71 1/2 minutes. Add approx. 36 minutes of supplemental material, and you're looking at an hour and 47 1/2 minutes of listening pleasure. You couldn't ask for a much better presentation of this film's music.

If this had been packaged in a generic jewel case with generic artwork and generic liner notes, this package would still be worth the purchase, but, as with the previous five entries in the series, Disney went above and beyond, packaging this in a beautifully designed hardbook case with newly created artwork by Lorelay Bove, who's illustrations pepper nearly every page of the packaging, including the front and back covers, and includes some great concept and pre-production artwork. The case is sturdy and the discs are housed in sleeves in the back of the case. Unlike Sleeping Beauty, where one of the CD's in my package had some minor scratching, my discs in this package pretty much looked flawless, but your mileage may vary. (Sidenote: as in Sleeping Beauty, one sleeve swings freely like a page in the booklet, while the other is glued to the inside of the back cover. The free-swinging sleeve, which holds the soundtrack CD, is looser and the CD can actually tend to fall out if you hold the package upside down, but at least it's easier to get the disc out without worrying about scratching. The second one holds the disc better, but with that comes more potential for scratching.) If you're worried about the packaging ruining the discs or getting a good rip for your computer, I suggest ripping the CD's in FLAC with Exact Audio Copy on Windows or XLD on Mac, which can provide great backups for even scratched up discs. They'll take longer than your usual iTunes rips, but you can breathe more easily knowing they're more likely to be glitch-free and knowing you have a perfect lossless copy to listen to on your computer or burn to optical disc for using in optical disc players, without having to constantly pull the discs out of their packaging and risk scratching. There is no tracklisting on the back cover - instead, the tracklistings are printed on each disc's respective sleeve. The digital version includes a digital booklet in PDF form which, with slight reformatting for 4:3 dimensions, basically recreates the physical booklet. The good news is, if purchased directly from Amazon, you get the MP3 version through AutoRip, allowing you to download the digital booklet for viewing on your computer or loading to your mobile device.

If you've been waiting for a more complete soundtrack to The Little Mermaid, and I imagine many of us have, this is definitely a no-brainer, even if you own one of the many previous editions. Despite a few odd but mostly inoffensive editing choices/blunders and a few demos and alternate takes not being included despite being released elsewhere, this is as close to perfect as we're ever likely to get. Most, if not all of the Oscar and Grammy-winning music from the film is finally presented here in the same order as they appear in the film and a nice supplemental disc of work tapes and demos allows for a look at the creative process in which these iconic award-winning songs were created. The passing of Howard Ashman only makes these tracks even more valuable, as one gets a peek at the theatricality he brought to these demos, many of which were later recreated by the voice actors based on Ashman's performance. Don't think too hard about buying this, just do it and experience the definitive release of one of Disney's most commercially and critically successful soundtracks ever.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 28, 2015 6:33 AM PST

Mary J. Blige - A Mary Christmas 'ZinePak Includes CD, 64 Page Magazine, Recipes and Stickers
Mary J. Blige - A Mary Christmas 'ZinePak Includes CD, 64 Page Magazine, Recipes and Stickers
Offered by MorningStar2
Price: $28.25
14 used & new from $0.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful edition of a beautiful Christmas album., January 2, 2015
This review is for the ZinePak edition of A Mary Christmas, which was released "exclusively" to WalMart stores and their website, but is also available here from third-party sellers.

I won't get too in-depth on the album, as many other reviews on here echo my sentiments about how this is one of the best holiday collections in recent times, how wonderful the arrangements are, how fantastic Mary's voice sounds on these songs, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed her take on When You Wish Upon A Star with the one and only Barbra Streisand, who's version of My Favorite Things from her first Christmas album gets vocally and lyrically referenced in Mary's superb version on this CD. I purchased this last year from Amazon MP3 as I had MP3 credit and the album was heavily discounted, so I got such a good deal that I had no problem buying it again, this time in physical format, and decided that this ZinePak version was the way to go.

This is my first ever ZinePak and I must say, I'm impressed. I've always loved unique packaging. While the music is always the most important thing when purchasing music, I always appreciate special packaging. The idea of a magazine-type package for a CD appeals to me, and this one was beautifully designed and full of nice fluff pieces that include interviews with Mary on making the CD and what she loves at Christmas time, recipes, information on Mary's career, and other nice tidbits. It even comes with two pages of beautifully designed holiday gift tag stickers. I, personally, won't be using them, as I prefer to keep them with the ZinePak, but your mileage may vary. The package is not extremely flimsy - the front and back cover are fairly thick to keep the ZinePak from being so easily bent. Open the front cover and you'll see the CD peeking out of a slot on the reverse side of the front cover plus the first page. This may cause some scratching, but if you're worried about that, download Exact Audio Copy on Windows or XLD on Mac and do a lossless rip of the CD so you'll always have a perfect backup. This is especially handy if the disc comes to you already with some scratches. Both programs tend to do perfect glitch-free rips of scratched CD's, and should be used for preserving all of your music, not just music in packaging that tends to scratch more than your regular jewel case or digipak. (I'm talking about the kind with the plastic tray, not the CD wallets that store your discs inside slots.)

This is currently $10 at WalMart's website, and if you can still find copies in the store, now that the holiday season is over, it'll be $10 in the store too. If not, don't buy it from their website unless store pickup is an option or it's part of a $50+ order to qualify for free shipping, as even their cheapest shipping rate is 98 cents higher than Amazon's shipping rates for non-Prime CD's. After S&H, I got mine from a seller on here for nearly $3 less than buying it in store at WalMart after sales tax and close to $8 less than if I'd bought it from their website and chosen the cheapest shipping option. There are plenty of copies, both new and used, that are being sold very cheaply on here, so unless store pickup or buying $50+ of stuff to get free shipping are options, it's better to not order this from WalMart's website and instead buy it here.

If you want a beautifully packaged version of this great holiday treat that's different from the usual jewel case, this is the version to get. Whether you buy it in this package, buy the regular jewel case CD, or buy the digital download version, I can't recommend this beautiful CD enough.

Mary J. Blige - A Mary Christmas 'ZinePak Includes CD, 64 Page Magazine, Recipes and Stickers

Holiday Wishes
Holiday Wishes
Price: $11.88
102 used & new from $0.01

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The next perennial classic Holiday album., November 5, 2014
This review is from: Holiday Wishes (Audio CD)
After a great year with the unexpected blockbuster success of Disney's Frozen, its 3X platinum soundtrack, and her sleeper top 5 3X platinum hit "Let It Go" from the film, a return to Broadway in "If/Then" whose cast album debuted at #19 on the Billboard 200, and an Oscar performance that was well-remembered, not even for an unfortunate bad note at the end but a hilarious blunder when John Travolta introduced her, Idina Menzel caps her year with her first holiday album, which became her highest-peaking album as a solo artist on the Billboard 200 when it debuted at #13 on the Billboard 200 charts, and hopefully will climb even higher when those holiday season sales kick in and hopefully promotion starts.

The album, produced by Walter Afansieff, who co-produced Barbra Streisand's latest hit album (and several others in the past) and many of Celine Dion and Mariah Carey's 1990's hits, features a nice mix of secular holiday songs, a couple of religious ones, and a few covers of songs that aren't necessarily holiday-themed but fit in nicely. The arrangements are quite good in general. A few, as is typical of anything Afansieff is involved with, can get overly produced and saccharine, but Idina's amazing iconic voice is fortunately never fighting to be heard over them. (A testament not only to her talent, but also the sound mixers on this CD, who didn't allow her to be drowned out by the production.) Arrangements range from contemporary pop ballad styles such as "The Christmas Song" that would feel at home on Celine Dion's Christmas album from 1998 to more classic and timeless arrangements such as "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and "December Prayer," the album's sole original, co-written by Idina. Idina's cover of "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is a definite highlight, giving the song a jazzy arrangement with the help of Kenny G and sounds like it'd fit on any great jazzy-pop holiday album from the 1960's. "December Prayer" gets a gorgeous classic orchestral arrangement. And "Baby It's Cold Outside" with Michael Buble is another definite highlight, as is her gorgeous rendition of "River" by Joni Mitchell.

Target sells a version of the album that includes two bonus tracks - a slightly gospel-flavored reading of Laura Nyro's "Mother's Spiritual" and an uplifting rendition of "Let It Snow." Whether or not you go there for your copy depends on whether you feel these two tracks are essential. You can preview them by searching for them on YouTube. I happen to think more Idina can't possibly be a bad thing, so I chose to purchase my copy at Target. Your mileage may vary.

If I had one real criticism to make about this CD, and it's more of an observation than a criticism, it's that her voice isn't quite as flexible as it is on her two most popular Broadway cast albums. And frankly, so what? She still sounds gorgeous and is a 43-year-old woman who's been singing professionally for more than 20 years. She's not going to have the same voice as she did 10 years ago in Wicked or 20 years ago in Rent. There's occasionally some strain and rasp on high notes and belts, but that just tells me that I'm listening to a human being sing and not a computer. I'd much rather hear an occasional imperfection in her vocal performances and have it sound like Idina Menzel than have them polished digitally within an inch of their life until they're perfect but have had all the emotion and character digitized out of them. Even with the occasional strain, her belts still beat so many singers' attempts at them. And Idina doesn't get belt-happy like some singers tend to do. She knows when to stay restrained and when to, no pun intended, let it go.

I definitely can see myself playing this album all season long. You can't go wrong with the iconic Idina Menzel singing holiday classics.

Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: Sleeping Beauty [2 CD]
Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: Sleeping Beauty [2 CD]
Price: $13.88
39 used & new from $8.09

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleeping Beauty Gets The Royal Treatment On CD, October 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been keeping an eye on these new Legacy Collection 2-CD releases for a while now, and I have to say they look rather nice. So with Sleeping Beauty coming out on Diamond Edition Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo, I figured I'd jump in the pool and get this release.

First thing you'll notice is how striking the front and back covers are. Artist Lorelay Bove, who's been doing the artwork for all releases in the series, has truly captured the essence of these films and their characters, while adapting them to her own unique style. It's refreshing to see such care taken right off the bat. You'll also notice that the book case is fairly sturdy. Open it up and the booklet contains several essays by historians about the making of the film and technical engineers on the history of the soundtrack album for this film, along with several more gorgeous illustrations from Bove and several backgrounds and concept pieces from production designer Eyvind Earle. Behind the booklet are the two sleeves that hold the discs from this set. The design for those is a simple solid purple background with white text on it, and the discs are similarly designed. It's a slight shame that with all the beautiful artwork on this release, there couldn't have been artwork made for the sleeves and discs, but it's still a classy presentation. In my case, the first disc is very easy to remove without scratching - in fact, if I'm not careful, the disc can actually just slide right out of there. Disc 2, who's sleeve is attached to the inside of the back of the book, is more secure, but also more easily scratched getting it out. I suggest ripping a FLAC copy of both discs with Exact Audio Copy (if you're on a Windows machine - if you're on Mac, the equivalent is XLD) and archiving that copy on your hard drive, as well as backups in cloud services, optical disc, thumb drive, or what have you, that way you can burn a backup copy to use in your optical disc players and never have to take the CD's out of the case again. (Which, at present time, you're still very much entitled to do as long as it's for your own personal use.)

As for the musical content, it's Sleeping Beauty, so it's bound to be sublime. Unlike The Lion King's Legacy Collection issue, which got a brand new soundtrack disc with a remix and additional score not included on the original album, Sleeping Beauty's entry in this series uses the same master as the 1996 and 2008 CD releases, and that's not a bad thing. Unlike The Lion King, which presented an embarassingly short program of underscore on its original album, the 1996 Sleeping Beauty soundtrack is pretty much complete and the sound quality is still superb, even by 2014 standards. They may have been able to tweak it slightly more, but why?

Disc 2 contains a program of The Lost Chords, a series of Disney releases that presents old discarded songs and demos along with newly recorded versions to approximate what they may have sounded like in the finished film had they not been discarded. This program is why I took a star off of the review - with the recent Diamond Edition Blu-Ray dropping numerous supplements from the Platinum Edition, including all of the deleted songs, this would have been a great opportunity to present those. "Go To Sleep," which was included on the audio commentary on the film's 2003 Special Edition, as well as in a collection of deleted songs on the 2008 Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-Ray, would have made a nice inclusion on here, as it also exists as a demo recording. (A note - the "demo" for "It Happens I Have A Picture" isn't even the song demo, which apparently was never recorded. It was simply a vocal speaking test for the actors being considered for the roles of Hubert and Stefan, with dialogue that would have led up to the song. Not complaining, it's still a nice historical artifact to include on here.) Not sure if other discarded songs such as "Holiday," which was included on the Platinum Edition releases, has a demo, but the recording from that still would have been appreciated. However, they did include a demo that I don't recall being on the Platinum Edition - a song called "Evil, Evil" by Maleficent's goons. I could be wrong and it could be on there, but either way, it's a nice inclusion. And I'm glad "Riddle, Diddle, One, Two, Three" was included as it's a most adorable song. That demo was also included on the 2003 DVD audio commentary and in the deleted songs program on the Platinum Edition.

Rounding out disc 2 are four bonus tracks. The first and last of those are new arrangements of Sleeping Beauty material that Tutti Camarata and his orchestra recorded for Disney's Parent Trap soundtrack album, which featured music from the film on one side and Camarata's reinterpretation of music from other films on the other. These are beautiful reinterpretations and Disney's decision to include them on here should be applauded, as this album has never been released to CD to my knowledge, although it is available on iTunes. The other two bonus tracks are original 1959 soundtrack album versions of "I Wonder" and "Once Upon A Dream" by Mary Costa. The tracks, as they were in the film, were not a good fit for the original album, so Camarata, who was producing the soundtrack album, rearranged and rerecorded both tracks. Mary Costa reprised her role of Aurora from the film, but Bill Shirley did not reprise the role of Prince Phillip in "Once Upon A Dream." According to research, it is thought that singer Bill Lee of the Mello Men recorded the vocals for the album version. (For trivia junkies: Bill Lee not only had an accomplished career with the Mello Men, but also as a singing double for many live-action and animated films. Among other credits, he was the vocal double for Christopher Plummer in The Sound Of Music, John Kerr in South Pacific, John Gavin in Thoroughly Modern Millie, sang Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians, and sang Shere Khan's line in "That's What Friends Are For" in The Jungle Book.) The inclusion of these original album versions should also be praised. While I believe the original 1959 album was released on CD in Europe at some point, it's hard to find now, but it has been released digitally on iTunes and, unlike The Parent Trap album, can even be purchased here on Amazon.

While there are a few little nitpicks one can make about this release, for all intents and purposes, this is the definitive soundtrack that fans of this movie have waited for. While one might wish for a sonic upgrade from the 1996/2008 soundtrack CD, I don't think it's particularly necessary, as that disc still sounds superb even by 2014 standards. And one might wish the Lost Chords program was longer, but what's here is still charming and the bonus tracks were a thoughtful inclusion. If you already own the 1996/2008 CD, whether or not you pick this up really depends on how much you love the film or how much good thoughtful CD packaging and the bonus tracks mean to you. If you don't already own the soundtrack on CD, this is definitely the version to pick up. I'll definitely be picking up more from the Legacy Collection in the future for their beautiful presentations and expanded listening experiences.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2015 11:06 AM PST

Ella Fitzgerald -  Song Book Volume Three
Ella Fitzgerald - Song Book Volume Three
Offered by IMS Distribution
Price: $11.29
39 used & new from $5.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but still a terrific value., August 23, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is my third purchase of one of these classic albums collections from UK budget label Real Gone Jazz, and I continue to be impressed and pleased with these sets, despite the no-frills packaging. (At the very least, I'd appreciate full-sized versions of the covers in the booklets instead of just a catalogue of other RGJ titles.) My previous purchases were 8 Classic Albums - Billie Holiday and 7 Classic Albums Vol. 2 - Billie Holiday, and I was pleased not only with the value, but the sound quality. They all sound like they were taken from existing digital copies or very good needledrops.

My positive and negative comments about those sets apply here as well. There's a bigger con with this set than the Billie sets. Whereas those Billie Holiday albums on Verve tended to have bonus tracks that were simply lifted from other Verve albums for their CD releases, this release of Ella's Gershwin and Arlen Songbooks is missing a substantial collection of bonus tracks from their Verve CD issues. For the Gershwin Songbook, the original 5-LP set was spread across three CD's, with a fourth CD devoted to bonus tracks lifted from other albums and singles as well as some unreleased recordings and alternates. The Arlen Songbook's Verve CD has the 2-LP set spread onto two CD's with two unreleased recordings and two alternates. None of those bonus tracks are to be found here. This set ONLY contains the original albums. Well..."ONLY" is harsh. The 55 tracks that make up the original release of the Gershwin Songbook takes up two entire CD's of this collection and about half of the third disc. The rest of the collection is taken up by the Harold Arlen Songbook, which originally contained 24 tracks. That's 79 songs on four CD's.

Despite the lack of bonus tracks, only a few of which I miss, this is still an incredible value. Alone, the official CD of Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Gershwin Songbook is, as of this writing, about $25 at its cheapest in the Marketplace and over $40 if purchased direct from Amazon, and I'm absolutely certain it's worth twice that much for the beautiful packaging, pristine digital restoration, and bonus tracks. This collection was $13.99 for four superb discs of The First Lady Of Song at her vocal and artistic peak, singing some of the most wonderful songs ever written. If you have money to burn, definitely go for the official Verve CD's. But if you're budget-minded like me and want to enjoy five glorious hours of Lady Ella, this is a great buy. The sound quality is great and the music is sublime.

8 Classic Albums - Billie Holiday
8 Classic Albums - Billie Holiday
Offered by megahitrecords
Price: $13.78
35 used & new from $7.59

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great collection for a great value, but not perfect., August 23, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
First off, let me get the cons out of the way - this is pretty no-frills. The booklet is mostly a catalogue of other Real Gone Jazz titles, with some musician credits on the back. No full-sized covers, no in-depth information about the sessions, nothing. Bonus tracks from the official CD's aren't here, but most of those were simply lifted from other albums, and since between this and the 7 Classic Albums set, you have all of her Verve albums plus Lady In Satin, you won't miss them.

The pros? Eight great original albums from Lady Day on 4 CD's for a bargain bin price. The albums sound pretty good, likely jacked from existing digital versions or great needledrops. Some of these albums seem fairly difficult to find on CD for an affordable price these days, so this collection is especially great if you're on a budget and don't wish to buy expensive imports or expensive copies of long-out-of-print CD's. The price is due to these recordings being in the public domain in the UK, which is where these sets were produced and released.

Fortunately, the back cover of this and all other RGJ collections tells you which tracks come from which album, which is a great help should you want to import them into your MP3 library and put them on your MP3 player.

Unlike the 7 album collection, which has two of its albums split between two CD's, there's none of that here. Each disc contains two complete albums.

After purchasing this and the 7 album collection, I was so tickled I immediately had to order Ella Fitzgerald - Song Books Vol. 3, and as I currently listen to that collection, I'm once again pleased with the sound quality and the price. I'll be buying more RGJ collections in the future - so far I've been incredibly pleased with the value of these collections, which contain some of the most priceless music ever recorded. The only reason I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5 is because of the no-frills packaging. At the very least, the full-size covers could have been included in the pages of the booklets. But they're pretty easy to find online if you need them for your MP3 player/library.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 21, 2014 11:06 AM PDT

7 Classic Albums 2 - Billie Holiday
7 Classic Albums 2 - Billie Holiday
Offered by Siren Disc
Price: $13.99
45 used & new from $7.23

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great collection for a great value, but not perfect., July 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
First off, let me get out of the way why this and other similar packages are so cheap - until 2013, when it was changed to 70 years without retroactively applying it to recordings already in the public domain, recordings in the UK automatically went into the public domain once they were 50 years old, unless copyright extensions were filed. Most classic American artists' estates have not particularly been interested in renewing copyright in the UK, for whatever reason, and so a great deal of our classic jazz, pop, and country music can be taken by any small budget label, packaged up cheaply, and sold cheaply. Sometimes the result is good, sometimes the result is terrible.

Fortunately, with this set, the result is quite good. I'm not sure what source Real Gone Jazz used, and so far I'm only halfway through listening to the sets, but these sound like fantastic transfers - likely jacked from other digital masters, with the exception of Billie Holiday At Jazz At The Philharmonic, which sounds like a fairly clean vinyl transfer. That album contains a couple of tiny glitches - one digital, one sounds like maybe a 1/4-second long skip on the record it was transferred from. Neither one really ruins anything. So far that's the only glitching I've found, but as I said, I'm just finishing up disc 2. Nothing here, except for JATP, suggests that any of these transfers are needledrops. If they are, whoever transferred them had pretty good equipment and pretty good condition vinyl.

One note - the cover shows that the album "Ella Fitzgerald & Billie Holiday At Newport" is included - only Billie's side of the album is included, which only makes sense since RGJ's Ella set "Six Classic Albums 3" also shows the album as one that's included - I can only assume that her side is the only one included in that set. Other than that, the albums look to be complete, albeit without the bonus tracks from their official CD releases. (However, with the exception of "Lady In Satin," many of the bonus tracks on the CD releases of her studio albums are simply tracks taken from other Clef/Verve albums, meaning you should have almost all of them when you own both RGJ Billie Holiday sets.)

I'm currently awaiting the arrival of RGJ's "8 Classic Albums" set from Billie as well, which contains the rest of Billie's albums from her years at Clef/Verve Records. If everything's as well-done as it is in this set, I'm going to be a pretty happy camper.

The set is packaged in a 4-CD double-thick jewel case. The booklet is mostly just a catalogue for other RGJ classic albums sets, with a bit of recording info on the back cover.

If the rest of this set and the other Billie Holiday set from RGJ are as good as the two discs I've heard from this set so far, there's a very good chance I'll be buying more of these in the future, as it's a great way for the budget-conscious consumer to build up a nice library of classic American jazz, pop, and country for not a lot of money.

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