More must-have collections

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star

Looks like a lot of people do feel we can really use a little Christmas these days. Last year, I heard my first Christmas carol played on the radio in August. Along with that I found the malls beginning to spruce up their displays with Christmas decorations for early shoppers. This year I heard my first Christmas carol in July! It was on DZRJ with main man Ramon Jacinto himself playing We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

I actually dread the time when somebody enterprising would push for a year-round celebration of Christmas. That would take all the fun out of anticipating the holidays. But I also cannot dismiss the fact that Christmas songs do give our hearts a lift and we need that all the time. And admittedly, finding those great collections, compilations, greatest hits CDs or whatever you choose to call them, that arrive in the stores towards the end of the year, feels like getting a Christmas treat every day.

So I say let us restrict the Yuletide celebration to the last quarter of the year but keep the Christmas spirit alive in everything we do and then because the albums are already out and ready to be listened to, let us all enjoy the music.

Awake Live by Josh Groban (P475). This is basically the Awake album and the same concert Groban brought here last year. The only difference is that the early recordings, which he also performed live are not included. Not that it matters, the best reason to buy the two-disc set is the DVD. Filmed in Salt Lake City during Groban’s first arena show, it is of such excellent quality. It is not only about the music. It also captures how Groban interacts with his audience, the diversity of his market and how much confidence he has gained as a performer.

Then when not watching the concert, you can relive almost all its moments with the free CD. This one has Mai, February Song, In Her Eyes, So She Dances, Un Dia Llegara, Pearls duet with Angelique Kidjo, Weeping, Machine and Awake. The DVD has all those plus You Are Loved, Un Giorno Per Noi, Now or Never, Alla Luce Del Sole, Aurora and Kashmir with hip violinist Lucia Micarelli, Remember When It Rained, Lullaby, Canto Alla Vita and You Raise Me Up. There are two special features, The Making of Awake Live and Behind the Big Orange Curtain.

Nothing But the Best by Frank Sinatra (P500). Maybe one day in the distant future, there will be a set of several discs. But as of now, I do not see anything that can be billed as The Complete Recordings of Frank Sinatra coming out soon. The Voice has literally done hundreds and these songs are floating everywhere. Come to think of it, the collection, which was released to commemorate the 10th year of his death last May 14, 1998, does not even come close to the title boast. It is only made up of some of Sinatra’s best.

So why buy the CD when the true Sinatra fan already has these same songs on 78RPM’s, 45’s, LP’s, tapes, etc,? The magic word here is digitized. You have heard all these songs before but the new masters sound fantastic and there is really nobody who sings like Sinatra. Among the selections included are Come Fly with Me, The Way You Look Tonight, Bewitched, The Good Life, The Girl from Ipanema, Fly Me to the Moon, Strangers in the Night, Call Me Irresponsible, Something Stupid, Moonlight Serenade, All My Tomorrows, My Way, New York, New York and a previously unreleased version of Body and Soul.

Yanni Collections by Yanni (P285). It feels like ages since I last heard anything about Yanni. There was a time though when the Greek keyboard whiz seemed like the most exciting performer ever born. Even the Chinese thought so and made him the first music star from the West to ever perform in Beijing. Despite of or maybe because of his fame, the music of Yanni was also often described as merely sugared manipulative anthems. That is true but it is also a fact that Yanni made the mixture of pop and classical that came to be known as world music accessible to the masses.

Yanni Collections covers a lot of ground. It includes his early successes like After the Sunrise, Flight of Fantasy and Aria, plus later works like Reflections of Passion, Until the Last Moment, Before I Go, To the One Who Knows, Once Upon a Time, A Word in Private and Almost a Whisper. The CD should be a good introduction to those who are not familiar with Yanni and a chance for admirers to savor his music again.









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