Sunday, February 10, 2008

Album Droppings: Unexcused Absences

I deserve a pink slip for some of the gross oversights in my CD collection.

I have finally reached a resting point in my mammoth undertaking: the transfer of my vinyl record collection to digital format.

It's taken over three months, but I have now completed the bulk of my task. But there is still plenty of work to do. I have about a hundred records which are not cast albums or soundtracks. Believe it or not, I actually purchased many "regular" albums, by "regular" musical artists.

But before I launch into that chasm, I have to confess that there were some very serious oversights regarding my theatrical collection.

I transferred well over a hundred albums, but I skipped about a hundred others. These were albums which fell into one of two categories: they were either pieces which I had already purchased on CD, or they are shows which I have decided I really don't need on home-made CD. Among those in the latter category are such items as the original Guys and Dolls (don't need it, I've got the Nathan Lane revival on CD. So sue me.), or the soundtrack to Flashdance (what was I doing with that, I wonder?).

But I have run across a handful of albums which I never re-purchased on CD, and should have. These items are imperative to have in digital form, and it is incomprehensible to me that I overlooked purchasing them, when they became available at the CD store.

The most egregious example of my neglect is certainly the original cast recording of Sweeney Todd. Yes, I have the recent Patty LuPone revival, which is terrific, but why the hell I don't have the original Angela Lansbury / Len Cariou / Victor Garber recording on CD is just incomprehensible. The vinyl release is a double album set, and includes the controversial sequence which is almost always cut these days, the judge's self-flagellation scene. God, that's good!

I'm also surprised that I never purchased the original cast album of Chicago, considering I saw the production live. Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, Jerry Orbach, supported by Mary McCarty and Barney Martin, all sharing the theatre with me, and I never bothered to pick up the CD? Whatever happened to class?

Oh, and while I'm thinking about Kander and Ebb musicals, I'm stunned that I never purchased the CD release of an album I listened to hundreds of times in high school, the film soundtrack of Cabaret. This film may be the perfect example of how to translate a stage show to film, without alienating a modern audience.

Of course, I didn't recognize that at the time, all I knew was, I wanted to play the Emcee.

(and in 1989, I did.)

There are a couple of other film soundtracks which I have on vinyl, and should have purchased on CD. Hard to believe, but I never tracked down the soudtrack to Funny Girl, which is surely Barbra Streisand's finest film musical. I almost wore out my vinyl copy. I have the Broadway cast album, but Streisand really came into her own in the film, and the soundtrack is testimony to that. Everyone says it contains the finest recording of "People" she ever sang, but I'm not so sure (I think she always sang it better live, in concert). But it definitely contains the most exciting rendition of "Don't Rain on My Parade" ever recorded.

What did I have that I don't have? The soundtrack to On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, though again, I have the Broadway album. The movie was not all that effective, due to the unfortunate miscasting of Yves Montand as the male lead, but our Babs is a quirky hoot, and sings the score much better than Barbara Harris, who played it on Broadway.

And what am I doing without a single CD of Sweet Charity? I don't know. I've transferred my album of Gwen Verdon's original cast recording, but I can't really understand how the years went by without my ever having purchased any digital recording of this classic show. There's gotta be something better than this...

If my friends could see me now...

In a day or two, it's time to start on the next section of my project. It's time to tranfer all my other music to CD. I'm hoping this goes a bit faster. I know I purchased a great many of these albums just to get a single song. I have the ability to transfer just one track from a full-length album, and I have a hunch I'll be doing that a lot.

It will be an eclectic group. I have everything from Gloria Gaynor to Joan Rivers to Billy Idol to Flip Wilson to Melanie to Dionne Warwick to Glen Campbell to Lily Tomlin to...well, you get the picture.

As before, the best place to start is at the beginning.: