Album Reviews: Elena Roger – Vientos del Sur + A Spoonful of Stiles and Drewe

Now for something a little different. Whilst on holiday, I listened to a lot of music whilst lying by the pool, and I’ve been raving about much of it since my return so I thought I’d pop a couple of brief cd reviews on here, mainly musical theatre records or at least cds by musical theatre people. And if it’s well received, I’ll work my way through my cd collection!

 

Elena Roger – Vientos del Sur

Vientos del Sur, or Winds from the South, is not necessarily the best way to start this little series as it is not really a musical theatre album but Elena Roger is such an amazing musical theatre actress that I had to start off with this album. It is a collection of rock and pop covers suffused with the rhythms and flavours of Roger’s native Argentina. So we get a tango-inflected version of the Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’ here, a chacarera (Argentinean folk) take on The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’ there. And perhaps surprisingly, they really do come off successfully.

Reflecting where she was personally and professionally at the time, caught between longing for her South American home but taking advantage of fantastic opportunities in London, this album brings together her two worlds. There’s a mix of English- and Spanish- language songs on here so there’s unfamiliar music mixed right in with the more famous covers (John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ also makes an appearance) but it makes for a satisfying whole. Roger’s slightly accented English lends the covers a real sense of authenticity and her singing is just so comfortable and relaxed that it makes ever song a joy to listen to, whether you understand the words or not: ‘Las Ciudades’ is probably my favourite of the Spanish songs.

For the real musical theatre fans, there is a version of Lloyd-Webber’s ‘Buenos Aires’ from Evita, but it is quite something that this comes off as one of the weaker tracks on this album. So treat yourself to something a bit different and revel in the amazing swirls of Elena Roger’s voice.

CD available from Dress Circle, and Elena Roger will soon be appearing in Sondheim’s Passion at the Donmar Warehouse.

Various Artists – A Spoonful of Stiles and Drewe

A selection of recorded highlights from a concert at Her Majesty’s Theatre celebrating 25 years of collaboration between George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, A Spoonful of Stiles & Drewe was another cd which I listened to repeatedly.

Featuring music from their shows Honk!, Just So, Peter Pan and the new songs in Mary Poppins, it is performed by an impressive roster of West End stars and Stiles & Drewe themselves. I have to admit to never having seen any of their shows, and was given this CD as a present, so it is all the more impressive that this is such a listenable collection of songs. It also features some songs from their next show, Soho Cinders, a gay retelling of Cinderella, featuring what could be a new-career-making turn from Gareth Gates, if his rendition of ‘They Don’t Make Glass Slippers’ is anything to go by.

Highlights for me alongside ‘Glass Slippers’ are Julie Atherton’s ‘Wait a Bit’ from Just So, a passionate ‘Never Land’ from James Gillan and Helena Blackman, a witty version of Mary Poppins’ ‘Practically Perfect’ and Stiles & Drewe’s own performance of the moving ‘Does the Moment Ever Come?’

Produced by Speckulation, the cd is available from their website, and fans of Stiles & Drewe might be interesting in catching them at a charity gala at Wilton’s Music Hall later in September.

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