scifiman5 | San Mateo, Ca United States | 06/08/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is such a pleasure to finally hear a more complete version of Follies. The instrumental dance sequences are extremely enjoyable, as are the cut songs (for the most part).Donna McKechnie is actually quite good. True, I don't think she's as good as Dorothy Collins (from the Original Broadway Cast) or Barbara Cook (from the 1985 Concert Cast), but she is still quite good--especially on "Losing My Mind". On the other hand, the male leads leave a little to be desired; the opening notes of "Waiting Around for the Girls Upstairs" is painfully out of tune. Roberts is pretty bad on "The Right Girl", and merely mediocre on "Buddy's Blues". Guittard is actually quite good in "The Road You Didn't Take" (which is refreshing, since it is one of the best songs in the musical), but he sounds unpleasantly nasally on held notes, particularly on "Live, Laugh, Love." However, all this is made up for by Dee Hoty, who is a sublime Phyllis. Her version of "Could I Leave You?" is simply delightful, and I cannot imagine anyone performing "Ah, But Underneath" with as much personality. She simply embodies that character. This is further made clear in the cut songs such as "Uptown and Downtown" and "Lucy and Jessie". Ann Miller is OK on her songs--not as good as some reviewers claim, but she is still good. Her version definitely pales when compared with DeCarlo from the Original Broadway Cast, or even Burnett from the Concert Cast. Phyllis Newman is awesome in "Who's That Woman?", and is easily the best of any of the performers of this song. She is helped by an extremely enjoyable dance interlude that had previously been cut from recordings.The cut songs are mostly very good--except for "All Things Bright and Beautiful", "That Old Piano Roll," and "Bring on the Girls". "All Things" is a little nauseating--too much lame expressions of love a la "Too Many Mornings" can be tiring. And the other two are just not as strong as the rest of Sondheim's excellent songs in this show. A particular surprise to me was "Who Could Be Blue?/Little White House", which was very impressive, as were all of Hoty's songs (particularly "Ah But Underneath") and of course "Can That Boy Foxtrot."The Original Cast is still superior, but don't shy away from this one just because it doesn't say 'Broadway' on it, or because it doesn't have any of the stars of the Concert Cast. Any recording of what I consider to be Sondheim's greatest musical is worth buying. And this one isn't half bad. It is a testament to the ingenuity and amazing talent of Stephen Sondheim that this two disc recording was made, even from an off-Broadway revival of a show that was a financial flop when it was first created. Follies is a musical theatre masterpiece, and one that should not be missed."
Finally a full recording
mrgreen711 | 02/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The biggest plus to this recording is that it really is a complete recording - which is so rare these days in recordings of musicals - there is perhaps 30 measures total which are cut from this recording (having followed along with the vocal score)- but they are not for space sake, only because the director felt they were unnecessary. This is also VERY useful for any directors of the show who wish to have full recordings to choreograph to.I also found most of the renditions (especially of the solos) in this recording to be much more soulful and emotional than those on the original cast recording. One has only to listen to "Would I Leave You?" and "Too Many Mornings" to understand what I'm talking about.The added material is a great assett as well, to anybody who is interested in the development of the show. Among others are included all three songs written for Phyllis to be sung during the loveland sequence "The Story of Jessie and Lucy" "Ah, but Underneath" and "Uptown/Downtown".Some purists believe that the original cast recording is the only recording that needs to be in your collection - but trust me - cutting the instrumental breaks from these pieces is murder to the songs that Sondheim wrote. I HIGHLY recommend you buy this recording - it is well worth it."
The mother-of-all-Follies recordings!
scifiman5 | 01/25/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Every day I grow to love FOLLIES more and more, and this recording indeed helped my love for this wonderful show grow. The performances are fabulous. Kaye Ballard's singing voice has certainly improved with age, and her rendition of "Broadway Baby" is proof of that. Ann Miller-WOW-the fact that she really has "been there, done that" certainly adds a lot to her performance of this great song. Great "God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues" from Tony Robert's Buddy. Laurence Guittard is back in another complex male Sondheim role (though un-doubtably more like-able than the pompous dragoon in Carl-Magnus). "Losing My Mind" is one of the best renditions ever, not getting pretentious as Julia MacKenzie tended to do in the London cast (though I admit it was freer than her rendition in SIDE BY SIDE). And though I love the appendix, my one reserve with the album lies there . . . where are the LONDON SONGS? I love "Make the Most of Your Music", I've never heard "Social Dancing", and "Country House" is one of my number one favorite Sondheim songs (right after "Every Day a Little Death"). Though all of that is hardly enough to detract from the granduer of this mother-of-all-FOLLIES-recordings. Ending with my catch phrase "SONDHEIM ROCKS!""
As Changeable as a Chameleon, with All That Entails
Jay Dickson | Portland, OR | 04/01/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The cult musical of all cult musicals, FOLLIES has had several cast recordings and all of them (except perhaps the London recording from the 80s) have their champions. This is one of my very favorites, in that it is the most complete: it not only has all the songs used for the 1998 Paper Mill production but every song that Sondheim used in other productions, including "The Story of Lucy and Jesse" and the songs he originally wrote for the show but later replaced during its evolution. The orchestra here is terrific, and this has by far my two favorite cast members ever in the parts of the elder Stones. Laurence Guittard is genuinely moving in "Live, Love, Laugh" without stooping for pathos, while Dee Hoty to my mind owns the part of Phyllis more than even Alexis Smith and Lee Remick did (she's a stunner during her striptease number, "Ah! But Underneath," the wordplay of which shows Sondheim both at his most florid and his catchiest). Ann Miller takes some getting used to as Carlotta, as does Tony Roberts as the elder Buddy; Donna MacKechnie is a surprisingly effective Sally, and is in beautiful voice."
The Best Recording of Follies
Tom George | Wash. DC | 07/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maybe not the best production of Follies, nothing will ever beat the original. But still a competent production, beautifully done...and the magnificent music performed to perfection. What's great about this CD is the completeness of it. Everything is on it, plus a lot of extra Sondheim associated with Follies at one time or other.
The cast is first rate, almost as dazzling as the original, Donna McKechnie, Tony Roberts, Dee Hoty, Kaye Ballard, Lilliane Montevechi, and it's the late Ann Millers last performance, and she sounds great on I'm Still Here."