Hit or Miss

I recently emailed David Levy and begged him to ask Bruce Kimmel to recording the upcoming Dreamgirls concert. David replied that he thought Dreamgirls would benefit more from a John Yap-style note-for-note complete studio recording.

I’m going to have to disagree — we already have one studio recording of Dreamgirls, and as exciting as the material is, the album comes of as being a little lifeless. One only has to listen to a live performance of Jennifer Holiday ripping through And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going and you realize how much an audience feeds into the performance and helps her to blow the roof off the theatre. And who wouldn’t want to hear Lillias White, Audra McDonald, and Heather Headley chew their way through the score, with a sold-out audience cheering them on?

The real problem with the original Dreamgirls recording, I believe, is that it was recorded like a regular rock album, mixing together different instrumental and vocal takes (instead of recording live with the pit). Other albums recorded this way that come off sounding just as lifeless to me include Rent and Pippin. It wasn’t until I finally saw and heard Rent onstage live that I warmed up to the material.

Besides, John Yap has an incredible backlog of recordings he’s still mixing for release on Jay Records — it would take him years to get around to recording something like Dreamgirls. Some enterprising record company (if not Fynsworth Alley) needs to jump on this concert, because something like this only comes around for One Night Only.

7 responses so far (Respond)

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I agree, agree, agree. But can anyone afford to record Audra AND Heather? Maybe if they donate it to charity….

Bill | 19 Apr 2001
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Mary, if you think that EVERY cast album isn’t mixed together from different takes, you’re living in a dream world.

And I think you misinterpreted my comments. I didn’t mean the show needs an antisceptic studio album, I meant it needs a complete treatment with the comfort a studio provides to go back and fix mistakes. Dreamgirls is a really, really hard show to sing, and I can’t imagine a “one night only” concert being perfect enough to want to relive it on disc.

That said, I’ll call the Actors’ Fund and see what’s up. 🙂

dlevy | 19 Apr 2001
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I know that recordings often mix different takes together — what I don’t like is when they record the instrumental and vocal tracks separately, which can lead to a loss of theatrical feeling and give and take between the performers and pit musicians.

Even though it’s only going to be a one-night performance, I think Lillias, Audra, and Heather seem like consumate performers who will undertake the perperations necessary to give the roles their all (and didn’t Lillias play the role before on tour?).

I definitely want a recording of this concert. And I’d much rather have a professional recorded and produced CD than a crappy bootleg on cassette.

Matt | 19 Apr 2001
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I’ve never been to any of these One Night Only concerts, but I treasure the ones that I have: Follies, Anyone Can Whistle, Elegies for Angels… 🙂 I’m actually excited enough about Dreamgirls to contemplate flying out to New York to see it. I’ve certainly never thought that about any of the Encores shows.

Bill | 20 Apr 2001
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Of course, the FOLLIES concert wasn’t only one night. We got two complete takes for Elegies (and still had to rerecord one number after the show). And Anyone Can Whistle? Well… that recording leaves MUCH to be desired…

dlevy | 20 Apr 2001
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regarding Jay Records/John Yap

Why does it take so long for John Yap to get out these Masterworks recordings.. ?

From what I understand, everyone of these recordings in his backlog is complete, mixed and ready to go.. You’d think he’d want to get them out to the paying public..

I have most of the Masterworks that are currently available.. my only gripe is that frequently the vocal volume level is mixed too low..and sometimes buried in the orchestra.. Musical theater is presentational.. and the vocal should be “out there”..

Anyone else know why
Mr. Yap sits on this backlog forever…

Peter | 13 Feb 2002
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Regarding the “Dreamgirls” concert recording, I do know that Billy Porter, (who plays James Thunder Early in the concert)Re-recorded some sections of his role in a studio with orchestra.. The night of the concert, he was not in top vocal shape..

I’m sure that some of the other cast members may have taken advantage of the clean-up studio session..

Another example of extra takes.. the famous “Follies in Concert” concert recording is made up of the best takes of all the concerts (the big follies numbers with applause) as well as the orchestra rehearsals without audience.. so they could get all of the songs without applause..

Unfortunately, The “Anyone Can Whistle” concert seems to have come from the live performance only… I can’t get over how under-rehearsed that performance seemed.. Madeline Kahn (rest her soul) was not really correct for Cora.. There is a major mistake where Bernadette jumped a bar ahead in the set-up verse to “There Won’t Be Trumpets” and you can hear the conductor scrambling to cover it… Oy..I can’t wait to have a Jay Record’s “cover to cover” recording of “Whistle.” I just hope he puts “Trumpets” in it’s intended place in the score.. and not as an “appendix” at the end (since it technically was cut before the opening)If he does that, I’ll have to re-burn the entire first disc…

Peter | 15 Feb 2002