Miss Saigon [Angel Original Broadway Cast Highlights] (Original Soundtrack) - Soundtrack
1 CD(s) - Show - Label: First Night - Distributor: Universal Music, ADA/Cinram Logistics - Released: 06/1997 - 5014636206021
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Review of "Miss Saigon [Angel Original Broadway Cast Highlights] (Original Soundtrack) - Soundtrack"
It would be impossible to do a review on this album without an introduction to the musical itself. The first performance of “Miss Saigon” opened at the Drury lane theatre in London in 1989 and continued with cast changes up until 1999. Seen by 21 million people in twelve different counties, it is still as popular as ever, ranking third in the most popular musicals after “Cats” and “Les Miserables”.
Cameron Mackintosh brought the performance to life as he also did with “Les Miserables”. Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil wrote the musical and lyrics.
I was fortunate to see the musical in 1990 when the entire original cast were still appearing in the show. I have seen it twice since but nothing compares to my first experience, I left the theatre clutching my sweatshirt and the LP dazzled by the show and in much need of the nearest pub to repair my make-up and to come back down to earth.
Kim is left to fend for herself; pregnant with Chris’s son she eventually flees to Bangkok with the “Engineer”, the pimp that introduced the lovers. Still she hopes that someday Chris will return to her.
Chris’s friend John is still haunted three years later by the plight of the children of mixed nationalities that are left behind, interred in camps by the new regime. He tries to reunite the children with their American fathers. Discovering that he has a son called Tam, Chris and Ellen, his wife, fly to Bangkok to take the boy back to America. Kim, realising there is no place left for her in Chris’s life sends Tam to his father and takes her own life.It is possible to follow some of the story through the song tracks, but for those who have never seen the musical they may find the skipping back and forth through time difficult to follow. My soundtrack is the original LP recording, I did buy a double cassette years later but it was destroyed in a house fire. So my review is of the original recording. It may sound out of date but you can now get many versions including those of the original cast on both cassettes and CD/ DVD.
My album contains the full soundtrack from the overture through thirty different tracks to the finale. As much as I would love to mention each once in detail, it would make a very long review and although the cassettes have the same tracks there may not be the full recording on other types of CD’s and DVD’s. So follow me through a journey back to the 1970’s and the tragic tale of star-crossed lovers.Side one contains the meeting and the blossoming love of Chris and Kim.
“The Heat is on in Saigon” is a raunchy number that will delight male fans; it introduces the sordid side of the war and the prostitutes that secretly hope they will find a marine to get them out of the country. It also introduces the plight of Kim, a virgin who has no family left alive.
“Why God Why” and “Sun and Moon” will delight us romantic women with two haunting love songs that restore faith in love at first sight.
“The Telephone song” and “The Deal” cover Chris’s absence from the embassy and leads into side two.
“The ceremony (Dju Vui Vai”) is sung mostly in the Vietnamese language when Chris joins Kim in a form of marriage. “What’s this I find” introduces Kim’s betrothed, a man who changes sides leading to complications later on.
“The Last Night of The World” is another sublime duet that is my personal favourite; the use of a saxophone solo sends shivers down the spine.
Now we jump to 1978 “The Morning of the Dragon “ is a martial track denoting the new regime lead by Thuy, Kim’s ex-fiancé. Despite the overtones of fear this is a stirring track and does full justice to the power of the Orchestration.
“I still believe” is a duet between Kim and Ellen, both longing for Chris in different ways. This went straight into the charts at the time both the voices of Claire Moore and Lea Salonga made this a song with perfect counterpoint that led many people to see the musical.
“This is the Hour” is a pivotal point in the story that leads into side three, and is the reason why Kim has to flee to Bangkok with the “Engineer”.
“Bui Doi” sang with the powerful voice of Peter Polycarpou as John, Chris’s friend is both tragic and uplifting, as he seeks to make people in America aware of the legacy the soldiers left behind. It deserves an extra mention because it sums up the futility of wars and the innocent victims of the American soldiers.“Theyre’s called Bui Doi, the dust of life, conceived in hell and born in strife,
They are the living reminder of all the things we failed to do, that’s why we must not forget they are all our children too. “
Back in Bangkok “What a waste” is another raunchy song by the “Engineer” striving to make a living as another type of pimp, mourning the American soldiers with fists full of “green”, US dollars. Yet again this is another comment on the exploitation of the refugees of war.
“Please” is a duet between John and Kim as he tries to tell her that Chris is arriving to take his son home. Kim is too overcome to listen to John’s warning that Chris is not returning to her.
“Her or me” and” The confrontation” explores Ellen’s side of the story, Chris had many nightmares after leaving Vietnam but never told Ellen the true story. On meeting Kim by accident she is exposed to the truth behind her husband’s nightmares but still will fight for him although she reluctantly feels sorry for Kim.
“The American Dream” is another song by Jonathon Pryce as the “Engineer”, disillusioned he still dreams of entry into the USA, in the musical a white Cadillac is driven onto the stage with the “Engineer” in a type of dream that is inspired by tales of the USA. Here he pokes fun at the stereotype images of a consumer society, listen to the words and you will know what I mean.
The finale is a mixture of songs, to the fading strains of The American Dream she shoots herself, dying in the arms of Chris she asks him to hold her one last time, her final words a haltering, breathless line from the song “Sun and Moon”, “how in one night did we come so far”
Our journey has reached its end and I hope by now you have been entertained and want to hear this for yourselves.
You don’t need to have seen the musical to love this album. My LP is a prized possession, but it’s available on Amazon in both CD’s and DVD’s. I would recommend you buy the original cast recording, Jonathon Pryce almost steals the show by his perfect performance as the “Engineer” “Claire Moore plays Ellen with spirit and style. Simon Bowman has a vocal range that brings the character of Chris to life. Peter Polycarpou plays John, a small but essential part in the role of “peacemaker” But the final accolade has to go to Lea Salonga as Kim, her stunning voice has to be heard to be believed.
I recommend this to all music fans, many may have been put off by the fact it is a musical, but it’s a modern musical with a message to be told. Buy a copy now whether it’s a full-priced CD/DVD currently selling at Amazon for £ 19.99, or a cheaper copy from E-Bay that has a lot of bargains on their site at this moment.
There is talk of making this into a video or a TV programme; commercialism will spoil one of the greatest musicals of all time.
Product Information : Miss Saigon [Angel Original Broadway Cast Highlights] (Original Soundtrack) - Soundtrack
Manufacturer's product description1 CD(s) - Show - Label: First Night - Distributor: Universal Music, ADA/Cinram Logistics - Released: 06/1997 - 5014636206021
Listed on Ciao since: 18/07/2011