Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|David Shire, Richard Maltby|
Closer Than Ever: Original Cast Recording
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Listen to Samples
Superb songs about contemporary living
burghtenor | Washington, DC | 03/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can I say? CLOSER THAN EVER is probably the best musical revue ever written. It's a collection of 25 songs about the complications, joys, and woes of everyday living in America. This is the only show I've ever produced and directed, since I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. Since I first heard the score, I always include at least one song from the show in every concert I give!THE HISTORY:
Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire have worked together for decades, although only two of their shows, BABY and BIG, have ever reached Broadway. During the creation of BABY, they wrote a song entitled "The Bear, the Tiger, the Hamster, and the Mole" to introduce the character of a female biology professor. As the song evolved, it not only introduced her character, it told her story and resolved it. Since the character had nowhere to go, both she and the song were dropped from the show. Maltby and Shire didn't want the song to die, so they slowly created a roster of "story songs" for use at a later time. In 1989 (at the same time Maltby was also working on the English lyrics to MISS SAIGON in London), these songs were combined with other songs Maltby and Shire had written over the past 30 years (with alterations) to make the new revue, CLOSER THAN EVER. THE LYRICS:
Let me allow some theater critics to speak first, all cited in the CD liner notes. Stephen Holden of THE NEW YORK TIMES said that the songs "communicate .... a rich sweeping sense of lives being lived and people changing over time." Howard Kissel of the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: "There is more genuine drama in each ... song than in the entirety of most ... musicals." David Patrick Stearns of USA TODAY: "the most satisfying and humanizing new musical."What are these songs about? I like to say that the songs cover the day-to-day aspects of everyday living: relationships, childcare, and Dan Quayle. A few examples:
"One of the Good Guys" explores a successful man's nagging feeling that he's missed the joys of life.
"Fandango" is the morning dance that a husband and wife do on the day that both of their careers are on the line and no one is available to babysit their infant child.
"The Sound of Muzak" gives a comically frightening scenario of how technology alters our lives.
"There's Nothing Like It" pokes fun at the platitudes of the fitness movement.
"Another Wedding Song" (written by Shire for his marriage to actress Didi Conn) explores the awkwardness of making eternal vows at a second wedding.
"There" starts out as a torchy ballad, but ends up examining how the selfishness of two people destroyed a relationship.Over the years, Maltby has been known to insert rather cheesy lyrics into otherwise good songs. Only two egregious examples are in this show. The opening number asks at one point, "What's in the skies from Boston to Florida? / High-rises rising, each being horrider." In "Miss Byrd," the character proclaims that she gets so excited, "that's when I start to go `La dah di dah.'"THE MUSIC:
Although the show is only scored for piano and bass, David Shire brings incredible variety of musical form to each piece. "Back on Base" is a nightclub jazz act; "Three Friends" is right out of the Las Vegas `show biz' style; "There's Nothing Like It" mimics a classical aria before taking off in a wildly different direction. Shire's musical abilities are just amazing. The chord progressions in parts of "The Sound of Muzak" and "I Wouldn't Go Back" are incredible.THE SONGS:
Six tracks deserve to become staples of the musical theater repertoire. A divorced woman tells her "Life Story" about the struggles and triumphs she's had as a single mother and freelance journalist. "Three Friends" from college hilariously chronicle how their relationship has changed over the ten years since graduation. A musician tells his father whose health is failing that "If I Sing," it's because you were my role model. Three men reflect how parenthood (being the "Fathers of Fathers") has defined their accomplishments in life. As a younger woman laments that "I've Been Here Before" in doomed relationships, an older woman tries to console her while warning "It's Never That Easy." A man resolves he'll succeed in a romantic relationship "Next Time" before being joined by the whole cast for a rousing anthem to making life-altering decisions, "I Wouldn't Go Back." This song has become a permanent fixture in my life's soundtrack.The weakest songs of the show come early in the first act. "Like a Baby," included on this recording, has since been replaced by the more humorous "I'll Get Up Tomorrow Morning," in which a man explains his attempts to deal with the stresses of work, children, and marriage. If I were to direct the show again, I would attempt to replace "What Am I Doin'?," the song of a man obsessed with a woman no longer interested in him, with "I Don't Remember Christmas" from Maltby and Shire's earlier revue, STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW.THE RECORDING:
In many ways, the recording is wonderful. Each cast member (plus the pianist, Patrick Scott Brady, who sings on a few of the numbers) has gone on to have a successful career. The score has been more heavily orchestrated. The liner notes give the histories of the show as a whole and of each song individually.There are two problems: first of all, some of the orchestration choices are poor. For example, a cheap synthesizer steals some of the tenderness from Lynne Wintersteller's "It's Never That Easy." Secondly, some of the numbers don't have the pizzazz that I would expect after seeing them performed live by amateurs. Perhaps some of the cast members were tired on the day of the recording? Only Sally Mayes seems to give all of her numbers the full intensity they deserve.Despite the problems with the recording, this is still a must-have for anyone who loves musical theater. You won't find another collection of songs - with such liberal doses of wit, intelligence, and creativity -- anywhere!"
You must buy this CD. I can't stop listening to it.
Eric Brook | Minnesota | 02/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was an off-Broadway revue that appeared in 1989; each song tells its own story and very effectively so. I love the music for its complex and varied but accessible and sometimes haunting melodies, vocal harmonies and instrumental arrangements, and its wide range of styles from jazz to folk to pop to traditional Broadway. There is an almost inexhaustible supply of simple/profound, witty/clever, wonderfully rhymed lyrics. It's hard to accept that all of it is sung by four very talented vocalists.I've been listening to this in the car for about a week and am still learning the words. While there is a "doors" metaphor running in and out of several songs, there is very little repetition; all of the choruses have variations and expansions; it never stands still, which is very much in tune with the theme of continual change. It's very hard to pick favorites, but "Like a Baby", "Patterns", "Life Story", "If I Sing" and "Next Time" are right up there.Something that is also striking is the dynamic range more typical of classical than of popular music.For this musical and (for Maltby's cryptic crossword puzzles in Harper's), I'm indebted to this amazing musical duo. If Maltby or Shire is reading this, thanks to you both."
NEVER BORING NO METTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU LISTEN TO IT
cindy | Escondido, CA | 03/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a lighting designer by trade and had the wonderful experience of working on this show. I must say that I was singing along night after night. I LOVED IT ! some of the songs are hard to follow the words (She loves me Not) and so I actually spent $ 50 and bought the entire SCORE.. I loved it that much.. Hearing a show night after night may get tiresome... but not this one. If you like shows that are about 98% music (these characters sing the show, they don't just break out into song) I highly suggest this CD for everyone the trunes are catchy and modern you'll be singing along in no time !"