I find concept albums hilarious to listen to, as long as I've heard a good version of the recording first (as is usually the case). The Original London Cast Recording of Les Mis, though not technically a concept album, shows Les Mis in a still very concept stage. It makes me wonder whether twenty or so years from now, we'll listen to the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Cinderella with little smiles on our faces and think of how old-fashioned/out-dated it sounds (not that I can actually visualize that happening, but it's definitely food for thought). So when I heard that there was a concept album of ATOTC (with songs that weren't included in later versions!) I had to listen to it.
Annnnd...it was kinda disappointing. Actually, scratch that. It was really disappointing. For one, they left out all my favorite songs. I guess they hadn't been written yet, but I still wanted to hear them. And Sydney sounded bored all the time (except for 'Let Her Be A Child' – oh my goodness, he poured so much emotion into that song I couldn't believe it. I like that version even better than James Barbour's), a lot of the lyrics were changed so it just didn't flow well and both 'No Honest Way' and 'Resurrection Man' were slowed down considerably, so both songs lost their appeal/atmosphere. Also, the only person I recognized on the cast was Natalie Toro as Mme. Defarge. All the other cast member were different, but none of them were really bad/good (except Sydney)...just sort of meh. I would only recommend this album to the most die-hard ATOTC fan.
Now, there are four 'new' songs in it that aren't in the concert/on the international recording, so I'll do a quick review of all four of them.
- Up In The Garret – If I remember correctly, this is the only solo Defarge has ever gotten. They lyrics are quite a lot like all the parts Mme. Defarge sings in 'The Tale', which is probably why they did it, with several tweaks here and there. I quite like this song, although I'm not sure who Defarge is singing it to...
- All In My Mind – Now this song is amazing. It's a love duet between Charles and Lucie and I wish it hadn't been replaced by 'Now At Last' (even though that's also a beautiful song). It's absolutely gorgeous. One of my top favorite musical theatre songs ever.
- Round and Round – Another drinking song? Really?
- No One Else – This song is sung by Jerry Cruncher about how he and his wife love each other despite their differences. Though it's sweet, it's also kind of boring and I really can't see it fitting into the musical anywhere :P