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Let It Be Roberta - Roberta Flack Sings The Beatles
Let It Be Roberta - Roberta Flack Sings The Beatles
Price: $10.00
80 used & new from $3.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Original - Sheer Genius!, March 17, 2012
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This album has mesmerized me. I'm addicted to it. Who would have thought that anyone could improve on the Beatles? But the absurdly talented Ms. Flack has done just that. She has taken every song in this collection and made it her own. They now each have that Roberta Flack sound - a soft, seductive voice singing complex, multilayered songs adorned with those surprise hooks she works into her renditions. I can't call out a favorite: each one is stunning - a gift of creative genius. This album is sooooo worthy of a Grammy. I sincerely hope she will make a habit of this "cover" concept: next, I vote for a Simon&Garfunkel collection!


Matthew Morrison [Amazon.com Exclusive Version]
Matthew Morrison [Amazon.com Exclusive Version]
11 used & new from $1.37

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars BIG Letdown!, October 9, 2011
I wanted to love this CD; I really did, because I love Morrison's singing on Glee. But this? The "original" songs are so . . . well, bland is kind. Singing about a one night stand having sex on the rooftop in the rain is not going to make musical history. Good songs can make or break an album and I think this one broke because the songs simply aren't substantive or worthy of future cover. I'm beginning to fear Morrison has bad judgement about his musical choices - his appearance on the Capitol 4th of July PBS concert special was so off the mark as to be embarrassing. He chose a song totally inappropriate to the occasion (yes, one of those unmemorable originals). He left a jazzed, receptive audience bewildered. He couldn't figure out the occasion itself called for a strong show stopper? In contrast his duet with Kelli O'Hara doing "Tonight," was stellar. People started swaying. A recognizable song with 2 strong voices. You'd think he would choose wiser for his solo for such a momentous occasion and historic venue than a lightweight totally unknown love song. On this CD, the duets are far better than the solos. I still am not sure whether its the paltry material chosen for the solos, or whether Morrison's voice itself is more suited to duets than solos. I guess his second CD, whenever it comes out, will provide the answer. Morrison's talent is above average but this CD is merely average. If he can match his material with his talent, future CDs might get played more than once.


On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000
On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000
by Julian E. Zelizer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $53.20
63 used & new from $0.01

9 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Book only a Political Scientist could love!, September 5, 2004
The first problem with this book is evident at first glance: what on earth is Bill Clinton doing on the cover of a book on internal congressional reforms over a 50 year period? The two Members of Congress on the cover [some relevance there at least!] have their backs to the camera. It is an inexplicable, even bizarre choice, to illustrate the contents of the book. I can only imagine someone with a bad, and irrational, case of Clintonitis chose it.

The impenetrable style of this book goes out of its way to turn off all but the most committed reader - reading it is like an uphill slog. Why do political scientists write only for one another? No student without an already extensive background in the U.S. Congress and its history would be able to glean much from it: the dense writing presumes far too much knowledge in reducing complicated episodes to catch phrases without explanation, like "the subcommittee era". I had thought I might use this book in the classroom -- but far too much advance knowledge and prep work would be required to get students [even graduate students] ready to read this rambling work.

The author uses terms often that differ from their usual meaning - perhaps he builds on his earlier books in so doing - but that presumes a lot on the part of the reader and is guaranteed to sow confusion. For example, the phrase "the committee process" is used repeatedly when the inferred meaning is really the "seniority system." The committee process - a differentiation of legislative workload though panels and subpanels with distinct jurisdictions - is what most readers would understand that phrase to mean. Yet the author makes repeated statements such as that on p. 94 which says ". . . large numbers of Democrats [were elected] into Congress who did not feel loyal to the committee process." Tell that to the Freshmen scrambling for favorable committee assignments and the incumbents lobbying for switches to even more powerful panels!

Another significant problem is the lack of clear lines between the House and the Senate. The subject of reform should take into account the different nature of the rules of procedures and internal norms of behavior of two distinct institutions. Yet the author continually merges them within the same paragraph, as if the Congress were acting as a unit, trusting that the reader will know that the two institutions comprising that unit are not working in concert, but at different paces, with different players, different agendas, and different outcomes.

The author takes pride in explaining his approach to reform is different because it is chronological rather than topical. Sadly, it is chronological at the expense of the reader. For example, as one wag put it, the best reform Congress could undertake, is to "stop having scandals." Yet, scandals are covered unevenly because they occurred unevenly over time in the 50 year period studied. The author never does the work of drawing together for the reader the enormous impact the public's reaction to scandal had to the moment when the enactment of an actual reform became possible.

The result is an enormous unevenness in his narrative about what drove reform. He repeatedly emphasizes the contributions of an undefined "reform coalition," without noting how that coalition changed in composition over time. And, most importantly, he leaves out the role of the public - the constituents' response to headlines, which paved the way for reform faster than years of off and on collegial persuasion. While he spends plenty of text on all the juicy details of the sexual harassment charges against Senator Robert Packwood, he barely mentions the House Post Office, House Bank, and House patronage scandals which led directly to an enormous outcry that enabled the new Republican House majority to totally revamp the administrative structure of the House of Representatives.

Inexplicably, the author also omits signficant reforms of the Speaker Gingrich era - the creation of THOMAS to make legislative information accessible to the general public, and not just available to paid lobbyists and special interest groups in the know - and he barely mentions the new term limits on committee chairmanships and omits totally Gingrich's policy of appointment of freshmen to key committees like Ways and Means and Appropriations - committees that had only been earned by seniority before. These are significant omissions when discussing congressional reforms in the 1990's.

The author mischaracterizes some of the congressional media: the newspaper, Roll Call's coverage, he writes on p. 249, was expanded to cover the "social scene in Washington." And The Hill, its competitor, also expanded to cover the same. In truth, both publications expanded away from social news and gossip years ago to concentrate on the politics of legislative considerations and the leadership strategies behind them. In fact, "Roll Call" has broken some important stories about Congressional activities, and become the trough from which the New York Times and the Washington Post have fed. In addition, the reach of C-SPAN is attributed to millions of viewers when the number given is that of households at the time that subscribed to cable TV, and not households actually watching that network.

This, and other passages in the book, reveal the author's academic focus is just that - too isolated from the realities of life on Capitol Hill and its dynamics. The book has very little by way of real voices in it - a significant flaw which contributed to making it the lifeless and droning narrative that it is.


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