Kicking the Dust Off America's "Standards"
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a joy to finally capture the energetic magic of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles on a live CD!The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles proved something quite astounding during this live performance of show tunes by Rodgers and Hammerstein: with absolute dignity and without changing a single lyric, they put a political spin on well-known material, kicking the dust off music every listener thinks they already know. Hearing 150 gay men sing "If I Loved You" causes you to re-examine the humanity of Hammerstein's lyrics, the universality of love as a potent emotion for gays and straights alike. "You've Got To Be Taught," written in the 1940s, seems to be ripped from this morning's headlines, as these courageous singers challenge the discrimination that gays face throughout the world today.There are plenty of laughs too, as the audience revels in a hilariously complex "Do-Re-Mi," and a buoyant medley from "Oklahoma." Star turns by Davis Gaines and Christine Ebersole are welcome contributions of pure confection, as are the clever arrangements of Ron Abel. There isn't a flaw to be found anywhere in this performance.The real winner, surprisingly, is Richard Rodgers. Many listeners in this hip-hop era perceive his music to be saccharine, or worse, musty. The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles hones the edge back onto his material, proving that these tunes are as topical now as when they were first composed. Richard Rodgers' songs have earned their place as American "standards." With this performance, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles proves to be one of America's greatest standards too!"