My top ten favorite cast albums. The ones with the * I have seen the origianl Broadway production (live, not on tv), some of which made me rediscover the cast album. I have only seen one show without being familiar with the cd first and that was Rent- great music, but heavy topics. Feel free to add your two cents...
10. (Already, it's a tie.) Jekyll and Hyde*- my remixed version & Big River. Jekyll and Hyde went through many studio versions before moving to Broadway in the late 1990's. I know of three cast albums including the original B-way cast. When you combine all three albums following the correct plot structure subbing certain numbers for other numbers, you get an amazing story arch with sweeping melodies supporting the foundation of the emotion. Ask me if you want a copy. Big River- I'm not really into that banjo clangy- clang- clag sound, but this show (written by the late Roger Miller) is a perfect example of how a story, when put to music, should be represented the style of show/ story it is. Very catchy and fun songs that support the fun loving free spirit of Huck Finn and the emotional heaviness of the slave, Jim.
9. Disney's Tarzan- It only lasted a little over a year on Broadway (perhaps from the direction or design), but Tarzan has the fun and frolic and drum beats that make you want to go swinging on a vine of your own. Combined with the songs from the movie, this is a great soundtrack for driving long distances. It makes you go fast. The last track sung by Tarzan, "Everything That I Am" is excellent.
8. Jane Eyre- Huge dramatic score, some critics claimed this was the show's downfall- the score was too big. It didn't last very long on Broadway either. Purchasing the cd is worth the end of Act One and the finale number "Brave Enough for Love".
7. Beauty and the Beast* (four times)- Just because. How can you not love it. Especially with the addition of "A Change in Me" which was written for Toni Braxton when she was playing Belle. My most favorite song EVER!!!
6. The Secret Garden- I've had this one so long I had to buy it on cassette tape because cds weren't invented. Of course, I have it on cd now, but I wore that tape out. "Lily's Eyes" is amazing.
5. Urinetown*- The funniest show ever written (believe it or not, hardly any potty humor- just plain clever) and the music is good too. There is not one sinlge number on that cd that I skip when listening. I especially love "The Cop Song" and "Run, Freedom, Run". I think this one is calling out to be performed one day soon.
4. Side Show- Another short-lived production on Broadway. The subject matter is weird: conjoined twins performing in circus side shows in the early 1900's until they are discovered by a talent agent and taken to national stardom. I know, you are saying, "what?" Great music for anyone who has ever felt like the odd ball. Big power ballads for women and based on a true story too!
3. Les Miserables*, the Complete Symphonic Recording- There are several versions of this show on cd as well- you have to get the complete symphonic- all three hours of music! Gary Morris sings the role of Jean Val Jean- no one can compare to his voice on "Bring Him Home". There is a lot of smaller in between the big numbers music that isn't included on other cds- these are the real treaures. Especially when Eponine takes the letter to from Maurius to Cosette- beautiful and so simple compared to the rest of the score.
2. Ragtime*- I love the way that this story takes real life charaters such as Houdini, JP Morgan and Booker T. Washington and combines them with fictional characters. The most amazing score written by Stephen Flahtery and Lynn Ahrens- I don't feel worthy to listen to it- yes, it is that great. So many times you can see a show done by a group that is terrible. Don't hold it against that show, but the group. Check out the original cast album and you will see it is wonderful. "Our Children" is a beautiful piece of work.
Drum Roll please for the greatest of all time...
1. Aida* (the Elton John and Tim Rice version)- What a surprise! Good beats, dramatic love songs, driving rock and roll that actually promotes character development, a story that gets you from the beginning and holds on tight and if you saw the original Broadway production, a visual masterpiece!!! I saw this show on a Saturday and liked it so much that I bought tickets to see it again on Sunday. My favorite probably for forever. I don't see how anything will ever compare! Of course, as time goes along and the more show I see and are written, the list is going to change and albums will change position, but Aida I'm sure, will always be the best.