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BuySoundtrax Records's Scrooge is a new recording of the soundtrack from the 1970 film version of A Christmas Carol, featuring original music by Academy Award-winner Leslie Bricusse. Robert Picardo performs the role of Scrooge on this recording, which was produced and arranged by Dominik Hauser...
I have to admit that I wasn't really looking forward to listening to this recording of Scrooge. It's not that I have any particular bad memories of the film - in fact quite the opposite - it's just that I was a little put off by a couple of odd factors. Firstly, it isn't even the original recording, but a new reworking of the musical and instrumental numbers, so having "Music from the 1970 Motion Picture" plastered on the cover is a little misleading. But even more bizarre was that Robert Picardo (better known to most as the holographic doctor from Star Trek: Voyager and Richard Woolsey in the Stargate TV franchise) was playing the part of Ebenezer Scrooge. I wasn't aware that he could sing, but he can, and the results are impressive. In fact, even knowing it was him, I still had a hard time believing it was - his voice sounds so different. To be honest if another movie were to be made I can't think of a better actor to replace Albert Finney.
The musical numbers are a mix of fluffy nonsense and comedy. Most people will know 'Thank You Very Much' and 'I Like Life', but there are other interesting tracks including 'I'll Begin Again', 'Christmas Children', 'The Beautiful Day' and 'I Hate People'. Sadly all, with the exception of 'I'll Begin Again', aren't overly strong songs. Personally, I like my musicals to stir some sort of emotion - sadly most of the tracks here are emotionless.
'I'll Begin Again' is this album's standout track which sees Picardo delivering a wonderfully passionate monologue which slowly turns into a wonderful musical number - the only time I thought I was listening to a musical with some merit. Also I couldn't help wondering if Picardo accidentally sang the wrong lyrics. He's supposed to sing: "I will take the time, that I have left to live", but he certainly doesn't sing: "live". It sounds more like he accidentally sings: "give". To illustrate how good Picardo's version is, visit YouTube and do a search for 'I'll Begin Again'. There are quite a few covers, including the original, all of which all sound a little... well, naff. The music and vocals always seem to be off key with one another. Picardo's version is spot on.
Another surprise is the appearance of Chase Masterson (who Deep Space Nine fans will know better as Leeta the dabo girl). She turns in a very believable cockney accent in 'December the 25th'. Less impressive is Jim Tonkins really poor accent on 'Thank You Very Much' - he makes Dick Van Dyke's delivery in Mary Poppins sound like a master class.
While I did enjoy this album, I couldn't really work out why it had been rerecorded. Fans of the movie can still purchase the original soundtrack. If you're a fan of the music of Scrooge (or Christmas based musicals for that matter) then this is a must buy as it's interesting to hear a different take on your favourite numbers.
It's certainly an album you'll dig out around the festive period to get you in the Christmas mood. It's just a shame that the arrangements weren't a little more powerful - the use of instruments is a little sparse but then I suppose that the cost of hiring a full orchestra is too pricey for a project like this. 'I'll Begin Again' would have been a lot more powerful if a full orchestra had been employed instead of a band.
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