CD Review ‘The Sound of Music–50th Anniversary Edition’

February 28, 2015

sound of music 50th

What keeps a hit movie going strong after half a century? How about strong songs, story, cast, performances, settings and spirit?

Those are a few of my favorite things about 1965’s film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music, perhaps the most beloved movie musical in history.

For this anniversary year, its tale of an Austrian family finding a new mother in a nun-in-training governess (Julie Andrews) while singing their hearts out amid the Nazi takeover prior to World War II is getting a 50th Anniversary Edition on CD, as well as a two-disc vinyl set. Both are due March 10 from Legacy.

What’s new? That starts with a dozen extended tracks, largely via expanded orchestral cues. The disc also collects all of the film’s vocal performances on one CD for the first time, and it sports a new intro and liner notes involving Andrews, as well as rare illustrations and photos.

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Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episode 9 ‘Child Star': Busy Newbies

February 28, 2015

glee child star

One thing I’ve appreciated about Glee’s final season is how the show is still Glee. That is, it’s going on with another incarnation of the McKinley glee club while also wrapping up long-running storylines and rewarding long-standing characters and their fans.

Hey, the show must go on — or all over the place — or something. So be it.

Besides, since night one I’ve loved the newbies in New Directions. Heck, some might say they’re even more appealing than ND’s second incarnation with Season’s 4 and 5’s Marley, Ryder, Jake, Joe and Unique.

For Child Star, I was glad to see Spencer, Roderick, Mason, Madison and Jane get special focus, even if the show did feel overly weighted toward them considering Glee’s nearness to the end and the narrative burdens that presents.

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Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episode 8 ‘A Wedding': I Do

February 21, 2015

glee a wedding

Talk about timing. With same-sex marriage riding waves of publicity and public acceptance, and with Texas getting its first gay marriage this week, Glee gave us a double dose of such about-time nuptials in Episode 8’s A Wedding, the most fun show of Season 6 to date.

Not that it wasn’t also tearful like last week’s episode, but in a warm way, as friends and family united for Brittany and Santana — joined by cajoled couple Kurt and Blaine — to marry in the Indiana barn where Britt, it turns out, was born.

Among many Glee stalwarts returning was Kurt’s dad, Burt (lovable Mike O’Malley), who officiated the wedding with on-target observations about the universality of love and the shared belief with his son that it’s time for all of us to walk in the sunshine together.

This show was sunshiny, all right, even including Sue, whose rehabilitation continued as a woman who truly does care about others, as she showed by managing to reconcile Santana and her disapproving abuela, or grandmother (Ivonne Coll).

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Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episode 7 ‘Transitioning': Genre Bender

February 14, 2015

glee transitioning

The first five episodes of Glee’s final season were written by its original creators, who know the show best and take it to heart most. The last two have not been, and with last night’s Transitioning, it showed.

Episode 7 was well-meaning enough, but also uneven, preachy and riddled with more plot holes than usual for Glee’s musical fantasy.

Why is so much of the old glee club still in Lima? Why did Karofsky so quickly and easily bow out so Blaine could move on to Kurt? Why did Vocal Adrenaline fiercely value rehearsal time, then go to McKinley — twice — for idiotic pranks?

Transitioning also felt like one of Will’s old lessons-of-the-week, with its title signifying not just Beiste’s sex change to a man as Sheldon (with “she” in the name?), but also Rachel bidding goodbye to her childhood home and Will finally quitting his impossible job as VA’s coach, where his own lesson of “tolerance” fell on deaf ears.

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Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episode 6 ‘What the World Needs Now': Love, Sweet Love

February 7, 2015

glee arthurs theme

For anyone who felt Glee was light on music to this point in Season 6, then Episode 6, What the World Needs Now, should have satisfied your craving. An eight-song tribute to Burt Bacharach (neglecting to name lyricist Hal David) had me humming from the opening moments.

But storywise, it was a stall.

Yes, Brittany and Santana inched slowly toward the altar, but revisiting Santana’s intolerant grandma was nothing new — just a new chance to put rigid, anti-same-sex-marriage folks in their place. (I loved Brittany’s put-down, but also appreciated her later lament that she’d been mean.)

Yes, Rachel and Sam inched slowly toward a romance, and his “I’m there in a moment” former flame Mercedes encouraged it, returning to Lima to tell Sam that she and he were just friends.

But the only true big move this time was the other part of Mercedes’ conflicting mission: getting Rachel back to New York to audition for a Broadway show.

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Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episode 5 ‘The Hurt Locker, Part 2′: Twisted Soul

January 31, 2015

glee hurt locker part 2

I swear, cramming one season into 13 episodes, and it being the final season at that, has made Glee like a show on steroids — but in a good way.

In The Hurt Locker, Part 2, Sue ups herself on the crazy meter, galvanizing a funny, eventful hour in which Kurt and Blaine resume their romance, whether they admit it or not, and the new New Directions steps up as a kick-butt ensemble in its own right.

While Sue’s sham “invitational” competition brought two more dazzling but hyper ’78 to ’84-era songs by ND’s rivals — this time the Warbler’s You Spin Me Round and My Sharona — Klaine were tricked and trapped in a faux elevator for forced togetherness, taking Sue’s mad mischief to a whole new level.

And if kidnapping wasn’t bad enough, her tiny horror-movie talking doll with the fright face on a tricycle ordering the boys to kiss (“really go at it”) was one of Glee’s most amusingly twisted moments since — well, last week. Before that, I’d have to go back to Season 5’s warped Christmas show.

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Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episode 4 ‘The Hurt Locker, Part 1′: Sue’s Slew

January 24, 2015

Glee Hurt Locker Image 2

If ever Glee had a season for referencing its past and coming full circle, this final stanza is it. And Episode 4, The Hurt Locker, Part 1 slung a slew of half-remembered chestnuts and touchstones at us, as Sue resumed being the hell-bent bitch troublemaker we’ve loved to hate since Day One.

Her revealed “hurt locker” (storage facility) filled with mementoes of gleeful offenses fueled her rage and drove her to inflict the kind of abuse which would get a principal fired in the real world, but here is par for Glee’s twisted course.

Her goal, of course, again is to rid McKinley of a glee club, now that it’s been partly reinstated by Rachel and Kurt. Her secondary mission to reunite Kurt and Blaine just so she can be in their wedding is unconvincing, but it plays well into fans’ desire to do the same. As I’ve said, you can count on this season to give fans what they want.

Besides, I can excuse Sue “shipping” Klaine the way I always forgive Glee: It’s a musical fantasy at heart, with the emphasis on fantasy. While such fantasies sometimes trample even artistic license into magical pixie dust, where’s the harm when it’s this much fun?

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Glee Season 5 DVD Review: Milestone Moments

January 17, 2015

Glee S5 DVD set

As we near Glee’s end, it’s comforting to know that the show’s six seasons will remain alive in TV syndication, via downloads and on DVD. The last format now includes Glee: The Complete Fifth Season, new this month from Fox. (Unlike Seasons 1-4, Season 5 is not available domestically on Blu-ray.)

The six-disc set features all 20 episodes, along with three special features: The customary and ever-helpful Glee Music Jukebox where you can access song-only scenes; Glee In the City; and GLEEful: Celebrating 100 Episodes of Glee.

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Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episode 3 ‘Jagged Little Tapestry': For the Fans

January 17, 2015


If its first three episodes of a shortened Season 6 are any indication, Glee won’t waste any time this year with ditzy holding-pattern shows or hand-wringing trifles like where Unique goes to potty.

Jagged Little Tapestry, while sometimes cloyingly sweet as a mash-up parade, was effectively Alanis Morissette-edgy and Carole King-soulful in its generous attention to oft-neglected Coach Beiste and Becky — not to mention its momentous showcase of Santana’s proposal to Brittany, one of the jewels in this season’s “give the fans what they want” crown.

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Glee Review/Recap Season 6 Episodes 1-2, ‘Loser Like Me,’ ‘Homecoming': Grand Finale

January 10, 2015


For Glee’s sixth and final season, Fox may have banished it to the Nielsen wasteland of Friday night, but the show’s cast, crew and creators aren’t phoning it in or just playing out the string. Based on the major time-jumping leap from last season’s stumbling finish to this season’s opening two episodes, Glee is going out with a bang — and a big one.

Ten sensational song performances. Lively new characters. And a plot which — dare I say it? — actually makes sense.

Look around you. People in their early 20s do make mistakes, they do lose their way and they do often return (or stay) home until they get their bearings. It’s fitting that Glee’s original core cast comes back to Lima — and not permanently, just for now — to reconnect and launch a mission to resurrect and reboot the glee club that Sue Sylvester trampled into the dust of pragmatic, all-business educational expedience.

That not only rings true from a story standpoint, but it allows Glee — like many great stories — to come full circle and end where it started, echoing the past via glorious touchstones but also reworking it with new elements and a new context.

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