Saturday, 5 August 2017

Album Review: Fame (1995 Original London Cast Recording)

"These are my emotions 
Mine alone to keep"

Some things age well. Music produced in the 90s is not often one of them, and so it is true of the Original London Cast Recording of Fame The Musical. The musical was actually written in the 80s, premiering in Miami before getting its first major production in the West End at the Cambridge Theatre in 1995. Following the hopes and dreams of a scrappy group of drama school brats at the New York High School of Performing Arts, and between the film and TV show, it's a well-worn story but one told well.

The main problem is that Steve Margoshes' score really isn't that strong, failing to come up with anything that is polished and assured as the Michael Gore-penned title song which, to be fair, is a solid-gold pop banger. The Paula Abdul-tinged 'Let's Play A Love Scene' comes closest for me and elsewhere, there's not much in the way of memorable music, plus Jaques Levy's lyrics have dated badly, always a problem when trying to be au courant, and David Beer's musical direction also can't help but show its age in aiming for a contemporary rock sound.

So one to avoid unless you're a particularly big fan of the show (which I've never actually seen onstage, I wonder if that might sway my opinion any). I was disappointed that a couple of the names I know didn't get more time in the spotlight - Richard Dempsey pops up for a couple of minutes as Nick in 'I Want To Make Magic' and the exceptionally talented Josefina Gabrielle doesn't get a solo number at all as Iris. Accents are all over the show, the rapping is cringe-worthy and in all honesty, the sound on the album isn't that great either - what would Meryl Streep think?!

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