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Les Miserables best recordings February 12, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Music.
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This is a follow up to my last post.  My sister asked me which recording of Les Miserables I prefer.  Well, specifically she asked if any of them lived up to my high musical standards.  To answer your question Mindy, none of them are perfect.  I don’t have a favorite recording of Les Miserables – although I probably listen to the Original Broadway Cast Recording (1987) most often.

Instead of an overall favorite recording, I have favorite character performances from those who play each role.  Below are the ones I enjoy most with the song that’s the highlight of their performance for me.

Valjean – Original Broadway Cast Recording.  “Bring Him Home” Nobody beats Colm Wilkinson. Nobody.  He’s like the Chuck Norris of musicals.

Fantine – 10th Anniversary Concert Cast – “I Dreamed a Dream”

Javert – Les Miserables Live. The 2010 Cast.  The last minute of “Stars” is phenomenal.

Cosette – 10th Anniversary Concert Cast “Heart Full of Love”

Marius – 10th Anniversary Concert.  I know that Marius is supposed to be young, but I prefer a more mature voice especially for the emotion of “Empty Chairs.”

Revolutionaries – Original Broadway Cast Recording. “Red and Black”

Eponine – 10th Anniversary Concert Cast. Best rendition of “On My Own” ever.

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Les Miserables – the movie that tried to be a musical February 6, 2013

Posted by clintcarter in Movies, Music.
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You might think from the title that I’m hating on the movie, but you would only be partly right.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I’m glad I saw it.  I recommend it highly.  However it wasn’t what it could have been.

There are 2 schools of thought regarding musical productions with most people leaning toward one or the other.  One school says that the music is paramount.  You only give a role to a person who has the musical chops to pull it off.  If they can act, it’s a plus – but they’ve got to have the voice.

The other school believes that the drama is what carries the production.  The characters must be believable, therefore you need someone who can transform into that character and take the audience on the journey with them.  If they can sing on pitch and have a decent range, they’ll work out great.

Both schools agree that the best solution is to find an individual who can nail both aspects.  But such individuals are few and far between so we end up settling for something on either side of optimal.

If I was a proponent of the drama school, Les Mis the movie would have achieved greatness in my eyes.  The characters in the main roles are all phenomenal actors in their own right and were even transcendent at moments (I’m looking at you Anne).

However, I don’t belong to the drama club.  I’m a card carrying member of Musicians Will Rule the World.  And so I was inevitably disappointed by the overall quality of the voices.  Going back and listening to the soundtrack without the aid of visual distraction only amplifies my opinion.

Overall Hugh did an acceptable job in his singing.  Although I wanted to stand up and curse when he started singing “Bring Him Home.”  That’s my favorite song in the whole production.  Couldn’t some vocal coach have taught Hugh how to use his falsetto?  He completely butchered the piece.  It was painful to be a part of that.

Russell Crowe. Do I really even need to go here?  Let’s suffice it to say that you are an actor extraordinaire Mr. Crowe, but I would not have allowed you to sing at my wedding.  Javert is one of my favorite characters from the musical.  When we saw Les Mis in October at the Civic Center with Andrew Varela playing the character, I was blown away by his voice.  When he sang “Stars”, his voice filled the whole hall and there was a moment of silent awe before the audience burst into applause.  Russell’s musical performance was so bad that I almost forgot that magical moment.  They should have used a voice-over for his songs.

Marius and Cosette’s voices were nice when they sang in ensembles, but by themselves their vibrato was too distracting.  Amanda Seyfried’s vibrato was out of control – sounding like a bleating goat.  Eddie Redmayne has a decent voice but the way he moved his jaw to create vibrato made me want to reach up onto the screen and hold his head still.  I had to stare at the background during “Empty Chairs” to enjoy the song.

Samantha Barks, Anne Hathaway, and Aaron Tveit all turned in excellent musical performances.  I was especially pleased with the song “Red and Black”.

Musically I was underwhelmed.  Visually I thought the work was excellent.  The scenes they added enhanced the story and I wasn’t bothered by the parts they left out.  If you’re looking for a good movie and you don’t mind singing, you’ve found one.  If you’re looking for musical excellence, I’d recommend watching one of the anniversary concerts of Les Miserables on Netflix.

You’re Bothering Me April 4, 2012

Posted by clintcarter in Beets, Music.
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Carey and I went furniture shopping last night.  First we went to Factory Direct Furniture and then Direct Factory Furniture (I bet they get their shipping swapped all the time).  Both of those experience were pleasant.  The sales staff was helpful but not obtrusive.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we walked around looking at couches and bed frames.  We would sit on a couch for a while and talk and then move on to the next one.

Our last stop of the evening was Mathis Brothers Furniture.  I do not like the way MB salespeople stalk you.  We were greeted at the door and then followed.  The salesperson stayed literally 2 steps behind us and felt the need to comment on everything I said to Carey.  The shopping experience was no longer fun and I was getting frustrated.  But I pushed through it because we wanted to compare prices with the other stores.

At that moment “In the Still of the Night” by Boyz II Men came on the overhead speakers.  This has always been one of my favorite songs to sing along with – the bass line is a lot of fun.  So I started humming along but the salesperson wouldn’t stop talking.  That was the final straw.  I stopped humming and kindly told the employee that they were making me uncomfortable and I wished that they would stop following us.  After a moment of awkwardness they left and I was able to finish the song and our shopping experience in peace.

The King and I January 9, 2012

Posted by clintcarter in Life, Music.
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Time flies when you’re having fun and I’ve been having fun now for 35 years.  Yesterday was a busy day to have a birthday – didn’t really have much time to stop and enjoy the moment.  However, that is the beauty of celebrating a birthweek.  You don’t have to feel pressure to enjoy your actual birthday, because you can spread out the celebration over the entire week.

I used some birthday money to celebrate with a new pair of shoes today.  I feel like a new man.  The King who was kind enough to share his birthday with me also enjoyed a good pair of shoes.  He had one pair in particular that he was especially fond of.  It’s probably an unhealthy attachment, but it makes for good music.

My Favorite Christmas Album December 16, 2011

Posted by clintcarter in Music.
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There are 4-5 Christmas albums that get the most playtime at the Carter house.  But the best one – the one that kicks off the season for us each year – the one that we play as we start pulling out the decorations: Harry Connick Jr. “When My Heart Finds Christmas”.

Harry has written some great Christmas songs – something that’s not easy to do.  Songs like the title track, Santa Claus, and I Pray on Christmas are ones I look forward to as much as his great arrangements of the classics.

If you like big band, Sinatra, or sweet jazz – this is a must have for your Christmas collection.

Limbs and Branches November 9, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in Music.
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I’ve been listening a lot lately to Jon Foreman’s CD “Limbs and Branches”.  I’ve been a Switchfoot fan since college so I was curious to see what his solo project would be like.  I have been loving this CD.  It’s mostly an acoustic mix and Jon has some pretty good guitar licks.

Jon is one of my favorite song writers.  He knows how to develop a melody and his lyrics open themselves to you over time.  There are several songs on this album where I find myself regularly hitting the repeat button.  I was going to describe the songs I like, but realized that I like them all except for one.  I highly recommend this CD.  It’s easy to listen to and deep enough to keep coming back to.

Southbound Train, House of God Forever, Instead of a Show are some of his best.  Here’s a taste:

Bad Romance November 4, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in Music.
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I know I put this link on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, but it’s so good that I wanted to post it on my blog also.

Unlike some people I know (yes, you Megan), I really don’t care for Lady Gaga.  This is something different entirely though.  Even though I don’t like this song when LG sings it – I can’t get it out of my head after listening to this version.

Being in a Glee Club in college, this video takes me back.  Every couple of years we would put on a Spring Spectacular, made up of pop songs – although, our choreography was never this polished 🙂

These guys do a great job with the background singing – if you want to hear the back up parts better check out this link for a real recording.

You Were On My Mind October 18, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in Music.
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This has always been one of my favorite oldies.  Came across the video today and started singing along.

I don’t know anything about the group – this is the first time I’ve seen the video – but they seemed to enjoy themselves.

Biebl’s finest October 4, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in Music.
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This is one of my favorite songs all time – especially the TTB/TTBB version.  I’ve sung the mixed chorus version and it just doesn’t work as well.

This is a breath-taking rendition.  Chanticleer’s blending and dynamics are unparalleled.

Every time I hear it, it takes me back 12 years to singing in Europe’s cathedrals with some of my best friends.

Really? August 21, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in Music.
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First of all let me apologize for my ignorance to everyone over the age of 50.

I was working with my Dad last week.  He had some music on.  It sounded like a cross between the British Invasion and Folk Rock.  But I couldn’t place the group.  Which surprised me because I thought I had a pretty good handle on that era of pop music.

As I kept listening, I was more and more confused.  How in the world could I have missed this group?

I finally asked my Dad “Who is this?”  My mouth fell open when he told me it was the Bee Gees.  Really?  No, surely not.  The only thing I’d ever heard from them was their disco stuff.  I was amazed to find out that they were a successful group in the late 60’s and early 70’s with a totally different sound.

Now I’ve found that the world is round. . .