Search - Various Artists :: Chicago

Various Artists
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1

The movie version of Kander and Ebb's Chicago was long in the making, but it's well worth the wait. Director Rob Marshall's main change was to turn the classic musical numbers into fantasy sequences, but of course this isn...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Various Artists
Title: Chicago
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 1/24/2003
Re-Release Date: 7/15/2003
Album Type: Super Audio CD - DSD, Soundtrack
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Comedy & Spoken Word, Cabaret, Musicals
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
Other Editions: Chicago
UPC: 696998701861

The movie version of Kander and Ebb's Chicago was long in the making, but it's well worth the wait. Director Rob Marshall's main change was to turn the classic musical numbers into fantasy sequences, but of course this isn't obvious on CD. Most importantly, the arrangements are bursting with life while being true to the show's spirit, and the casting is simply inspired. Catherine Zeta-Jones actually started her career on the British boards (she was in The Pajama Game and 42nd Street), so her turn as slinky Velma Kelly isn't that surprising; Renée Zellweger as Roxie Hart is more of a leftfield choice, but she shows she can handle the singing demands with pizzazz. The real revelation may well be rapper Queen Latifah, who belts out "When You're Good to Mama" with a marvelous affinity for the material. OK, so the R&B reprise of "Cell Block Tango/He Had It Coming" by Queen Latifah, Macy Gray, and Lil' Kim fails to convince, while Anastacia's "Love Is a Crime" is just blah (rest easy, purists, it's over the end credits). On the other hand, the CD provides two bonuses: "Class," which was cut from the movie, and "I Move On," a great duet written by Kander and Ebb for the final cut. It's really easy to mess up film adaptations of Broadway shows. Happily, Chicago proves it can be done right. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

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CD Reviews

Hallelujah, they did it RIGHT!
R. Rigazzi | San Francisco | 01/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The arrangements are the best of this material on recording, in my humble opinion. As most movie musicals take a Broadway score and butcher it with bland pop sensibility and overblown orchestral arrangements, those behind this recording chose to keep it on the minimalistic side, as it should be. At the risk of sounding a bit cliche, the arrangements succeed in transporting the listener from his car or living room to a smokey cabaret.

Some of the strongest voices come from the most surprising cast members, noteably Renee Zellweger and John C. Reilly. For having never really sung before, her voice is surprisingly strong, expressive, and unique. Those familiar with Queen Latifah's performance in "Living Out Loud" were most certainly expecting "When You're Good to Mama" to be as absolutely fabulous as it indeed was (the woman should really do a jazz album and show off those pipes).Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere were really perfectly cast for the film and played the roles to the "t". Zeta-Jones' sexy, husky voice works well and Gere's adequate pipes, again, work well to drive home Flynn's smarmy charm.The bonus material, however, is fairly weak. Though I am an Anastacia fan, I am really not fond of the track "Love is a Crime" as it's simply a bland pop song trying to be an R&B track trying to have a showtune sensibility. The Queen Latifah, Li'l Kim, Macy Gray version of "Cell Block Tango" is a rather tepid attempt, as well. The only number from the film that I was dissapointed with was "Cell Block Tango". It's always been a favorite of mine and, in the film, it was staged and choreographed perfectly - beyond my wildest dreams, really. Unfortunately, it seems Rob Marshall felt the need to extract all humor from what should be a very darkly comic number by forcing the women to take themselves entirely too seriously. If you can get your hands on any of the cast recordings, you'll see what I mean.In the end, however, this recording is a sleek, intelligent, well-performed and well-executed soundtrack."
Not Quite As Good As Original 1975 Cast
Craig Cochrane | Los Angeles, CA USA | 01/18/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I own all four recordings of Chicago -- original, film version, B-way revival, and London. And I like them most to least in that order. The movie soundtrack is fantastic, but it falls just a little short of the original 1975 Broadway recording for several reasons. Gwen Verdon created a more quirky and genuinely funny Roxie, and that comes across in her interpretation of the songs (esp. the spoken part of "Roxie"). Although Renee gave Roxie more depth and substance, which was essential for the film, Gwen is a better interpreter of the songs.Chita Rivera created a splashier and more flamboyant Velma, whereas Catherine Z-J's Velma is more menacing and intimidating. Catherine is so impressive musically that I think it's a toss up. However, Chita (and Gwen, who died last year) were already 20 year veterans of Broadway by 1975, and all of that experience and skill comes across in the "seen it all, done it all" characters they play. Jerry Orbach (now on law & Order) is a far better musical performer than Richard Gere, and sings the songs with less kitsch and cheekiness. I found this really annoying in Gere's musical performance -- I think he was trying to cover up an average singing ability by adding in a bunch of odd ticks and mannerisms (...the flat Irish accent, the Al Jolson-ish delivery). The stage versions also have a fun twist: Mary Sunshine is played by a man in drag, and "she" squeaks out a ridiculously optimistic and high-pitched aria about goodness and kindness -- as all the conniving backstabbers that surround her roll their eyes. There's also "When Velma Takes The Stand" (dropped from the film), a great song about Velma's ideas for her courtroom dramatics, which Roxie eventually steals. I also prefer the Merry Murderesses of the original because they tell their stories in "Cell Block Tango" more naturally with humor and individual character.One plus for the movie version: the musical arrangements deliver more punch and complexity.I recommend buying both the original and the movie soundtracks."
Holy cow!
M J Heilbron Jr. | Long Beach, CA United States | 01/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"That seemed like the appropriate exclamation for this stellar soundtrack, taking place seventy or so years ago. Actually, it should be something more of a four-letter variety, but this is an all-ages website, no?
You will buy this CD if:
a) you love great movies
b) you love great Broadway
c) you love great musicals
You HAVE to. Here's why.
First, Richard Gere is great in the film, but better here, because he's really acting with his voice, and your preconceptions associated with his physical appearance disappear. His nasal smarminess fits.
Second, Catherine Zeta-Jones just leaps out of your speakers, brassy and bold.
Third, and I think most important, is Renee Zellweger's performance. Her range from a coquettish purr to a full-throated roar is staggering. You will be scratching your head, saying, "I had no idea..."
Furthermore, the other supporting a T...are perfection, and unexpectedly so. Queen Latifah and John C. Reilly nail their parts with assurance, and the ensemble piece "Cell Block Tango" literally raises the roof.
Lastly, the musicianship is impeccable. The arrangement are snappy and tight, and perfectly intertwined with the vocal performances. During musical interludes, you can almost hear voices singing along, and during vocal passages, it's hard not to "fill in" extra background music in your head...
So...if you've seen the movie, you need this.
If you haven't seen the movie, go right now. But if you get this FIRST, I guarantee that wild horses will not be able to keep you away from the theatre.
By the way, don't bother with the "extra" tunes. They're superfluous. Although I wish I could have heard Janet Jackson's take on this material, as it was rumored early on she would contribute an extra track..."