Andrew Lloyd Webber: Now & Forever
Remastered, Cast Recording, Box Set
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This 5-CD showstopper not only brings you the best-loved songs from Webber's decades of Broadway blockbusters, but also many superstar interpretations and a CD of rare and unreleased material. You'll hear songs from Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Song and Dance, Starlight Express, Requiem, The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, By Jeeves, Sunset Boulevard, Whistle down the Wind and The Beautiful Game . Then, you'll hear wonderful Webber performances by Barbra Streisand ( As If We Never Said Goodbye ), Betty Buckley ( Memory ), Madonna ( You Must Love Me ), Boy George ( Try Not to Be Afraid ), Tom Jones ( The Vaults of Heaven ), Kiri Te Kanawa ( The Heart Is Slow to Learn ), Petula Clark ( With One Look ) and more including, just weeks before his death, Elvis Presley ( It's Easy for You )!
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It was worth the wait.
The concept is great. The packaging is great. The recording is great. Disc five is really cool for an ALW aficionado. There are a few real gems on it; my favorites are Petula Clark's "I Could Have Given You More" and "Benedicite."
I've always thought "Gus the Theatre Cat" made a great medley on the piano with "Unexpected Song" and "I DOn't Know How to Love Him," but wished there was an alternate lyric to match the other two songs. Now that I know there *is*, and it's a good lyric, it's a dream come true.
The melody of "Benedicite" is one of my favorites from _Sunset_ (the book mis-identifies it as "SUrrender"; it's actually "The Lady's Paying" and "Eternal Youth is Worth a Little Suffering"). The lyrics are the canticle from Daniel 3, which comes up every odd Sunday in the Divine Office, so it's nice to have cool music to sing it with.
I haven't bought _By Jeeves_ or _THe Beautiful Game_ yet, to it was great to sample them.
There are other parts of the CD taht aren't found in my collection. I like CD 4 "The Hits."
But the selections on CDs 1-3 don't make sense.
First, any self-respecting ALW fan has the Original London Cast of _Phantom_, so six tracks are totally useless. Why not draw from the Canadian cast with Colm Wilkinson? Or pull out some obscure recordings never published.
Why two different tracks with Michael Ball singing "Love Changes Everything", yet they're hardly any different?
On Disc 5 is "It's Only Your Lover Returning," sung by Julie Covington. It's an early draft of the song (Lloyd Webber and Rice went through several suggested titles) and quite nice. The very thing one expects on a Boxed Set.
So why have the Julie Covington "Don't Cry for Me" on disc 1?? The only difference is a few words, but it's otherwise identical. Why not Elaine Paige or Patti Lupone or Madonna?
The _Evita_ section is otherwise the best, choosing a sample from each major recording, though I'd have chosen slightly differently (as above).
There is a great selection of "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" from the Sydmonton festival, using the original music that was changed when _Cats_ went to Broadway_. It would have been nice if they'd included more recordings from Sydmonton, like the original lyric of "All I Ask of You" shown on the second DVD to the _Phantom_ movie.
With so many great actress-singers who've played Norma Desmond, why does the collection beat us over the head with Glenn Close?
Paul Miles Kingston must be set for life in royalties, for the number of albums the original recording of "Pie Jesu" has appeared on. "Amigos Para Siempre" is nice, but it reminds me of Shari Lewis's "The Song that Doesn't End," especially when it's been used on so many compilations.
In short, this is a great collection for the obscure material, if you can get it cheap. But for a boxed set, it's a poor sampling, drawn mostly from the most familiar recordings.
What's in this collection?
* Five CDs in total, packaged in a very nice box set format
* About 100 songs from every musical ever written by Webber on three CDs.
* The fourth CD includes different versions of some of the more popular songs (sung by different artists). It also includes Madonna's rendition of "You Must Love Me" (from the movie version of Evita).
* A bonus CD (so five CDs in total) with some never released stuff (very cool)
* A 64 page booklet with plenty of color photos, and information on the musicals and the songs in the collection.
Overall, a wonderful addition to any Webber fan's collection.
Disc 4 has many famous cover versions and singles, some of which you may already have, but you also get the bonuses on this disc of Kiri Te Kanawa's "The Heart is Slow to Learn" (which was originally going to be part of a sequel to Phantom) and the Metal Philharmonic Orchestra's breathtaking rendition of "A Kiss is A Terrible Thing To Waste" (featuring vocalist "Scarpia"). You will have chills for days after that one.
Finally, there is the famous disc 5! Tracks never before realeased on CD for many of us to enjoy for the first time. This CD takes us back to the roots of ALW's music and lets us taste a few of the early moments of his career. It includes many singles for several well-known artist that didn't quite work out. It even includes the song written by Lloyd-Webber for his 1992 wedding. This is the most treasured disc of the whole set, in my opinion. Of course, this whole set is a treasure (even the extravegant and informative booklet in the box) and I highly reccomend this to anyone with a passion for Lord Lloyd-Webber's music.