Originally published on

067551.jpgThis week’s release of Lena Hall Obsessed: Chris Cornell brought the conclusion of one of the most ambitious recording programs to emerge from our small corner of the music industry in recent memory: Lena Hall‘s yearlong series of Obsessed EPs. Each month since January, Hall has put out a four-to-six song collection of stripped down covers, with each release focused on a different band or musician drawn from Hall’s favorites.

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CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: Jessica Vosk – Wild and Free

Originally published on

069540.jpgYou might not yet be familiar with the name Jessica Vosk. As a performer whose most significant credits are Fruma-Sarah in the Fiddler revival and the 20th Broadway Elphaba, she hasn’t yet had the opportunity to breakout and ascend to true Broadway stardom. If we live in a just universe, her debut album, Wild and Free, would be that opportunity. Continue reading

CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: How We React and How We Recover – Jason Robert Brown

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069449Many of us first fell in love with Jason Robert Brown‘s music through the cast recording of his first show, the revue Songs for a New World. His ability to create entire worlds through words and music, telling complete stories in three-minute chunks, lent itself extraordinarily well to cast recordings and concerts — as the concert revival of the show now playing at New York City Center is demonstrating to a new generation. Continue reading

Keshet: Life After Love: Cher & Jewish Mourning Rituals

Originally published on Keshet’s blog on

David & his parents, marching with Keshet at Boston Pride in 2009.In October 2013, when I bought my tickets to see Cher’s Dressed to Kill tour, which would be playing down the street from my house in the then-distant future of May 2014, my mother asked with mock hurt in her voice why I hadn’t invited her to see the show with me.

At the time, I thought it was a bit of a ridiculous request. Although my mother had taken me to my earliest concerts in my pre-teen days, I couldn’t really envision her enjoying a stadium show at age 67. I imagined the show would be unbearably loud for her, and over the last couple of years, her health had slipped, and she just seemed too frail for that kind of environment. Plus, what interest did my mom have in the electronic dance diva that Cher has become in the most recent evolution of her career?  Continue reading

Fuck Yeah Stephen Sondheim: Don’t fucking download this album.

Originally published on Fuck Yeah Stephen Sondheim.

Asker ms872 Asks:
So I was just wondering if you had a download link for Follies. I can’t seem to find one. Thanks for making this awesome page, btw!! I love it!
fuckyeahstephensondheim fuckyeahstephensondheim Said:

This post might make me sound like a dick, but well, sometimes I am a dick. So let me start by saying thanks, I’m really glad you enjoy this page.


Don’t fucking download this album. Buy this album. There is no reason this album should exist. There are already too many other versions of Follies on the market. With a cast and orchestra this size, it had to have cost between $200,000 and $300,000 to produce, which means it is highly unlikely to recoup its costs in any reasonable amount of time, particularly given that the show is closing soon so there won’t be lobby sales.

If you want to illegally download an album that was produced twenty years ago, I’m not going to judge you so harshly. That’s already made its money. But this one isn’t even in stores yet.

The bottom line is that if you want albums like this to exist, you need to support them financially. That’s why I bought Follies directly from the label, so they’d get my full $16 (as opposed to the $6 or so they’d end up with after the store and distributor took a cut had I bought it through Amazon or a brick-and-mortar store). My $16 is a pledge to Tommy Krasker and the rest of PS Classics that I support the work they’re doing and want to see more of it. They are not a huge multinational corporation like Sony-BMG or Universal. Your $16 actually matters to them and will help determine whether they record more albums like this and, really, whether they continue to exist or not.

If you don’t have $16 to put towards the album right now — save up for it. We don’t all have to own everything the minute it becomes available.

If saving $16 for a leisure purchase still feels unobtainable to you — and it might, for perfectly good reasons — buddy up with your local librarian. If they don’t have the album, and you can’t get it through interlibrary loan? Most libraries have at least a small collection development budget. Tell them you’d like them to add this album to their collection.

Okay, I think that’s the end of this rant. It’s not really aimed at you, ms872. (Or may I call you Mark?) I don’t know you or anything about you. But the way cast albums — new cast albums, recorded by tiny companies on the verge of bankruptcy in tight economic times — are traded on Tumblr concerns me. From Brookline to the Big Time: Eli “Paperboy” Reed Makes Major Label Debut

Originally published on

created at: 2010-08-25A number of years ago, I received an excited phone call from a friend. “You’ve got to hear this guy I just met,” she enthused. “He’s a little Jewish kid from Brookline who sings soul like the best of Motown.” She was talking about Eli “Paperboy” Reed, the baby-faced Bostonian who’s been one of Massachusetts’s best-kept musical secrets for years.

That’s finally starting to change, with the release of his first major-label album, Come and Get It!, which debuted from Capitol Records a couple of weeks ago. If you’re already a fan, you’ll be delighted to find exactly what you’ve come to expect from Eli and his band, the True Loves: exciting rhythm & blues music that bounces from explosive excitement to palpable yearning, backed by the best horn section this side of Blood, Sweat & Tears.  Continue reading

The Jewish Advocate: Old B&B record striking a chord with young Jews

Originally published in The Jewish Advocate.

Bagels and BongosA record cut more than 40 years ago in Boston is at the center of a new nonprofit organization’s efforts to grab the attention of young Jewish adults. “Bagels and Bongos” was a hit for the Irving Fields Trio in 1959; now, a group of community-minded individuals are hoping “Bagels and Bongos” will strike a chord with unaffiliated Jews in their 20s and 30s.

The folks behind the record launch are Reboot Stereophonics, a division of Reboot, a nonprofit described by Jules Shell, one of its founders, as “starting an open space for conversation … about identity, about who we are.”

Fields is still active at age 90, playing six nights a week at Nino’s Tuscany in midtown Manhattan. Last week, he spoke with The Jewish Advocate by phone to reminisce about the Boston roots of “Bagels and Bongos.”  Continue reading

Fynsworth Alley: Musiography – Jason Graae

Musiography - Jason GraaeWe receive dozens of customer e-mails each week asking about the origins of songs on our albums, so we thought it would be fun to occasionally devote a column to analyzing the selections on our albums. This week, we’re kicking off the series with Jason Graae’s Evening of Self-Indulgence

But Alive / I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You
Since most everyone knows each of these songs (the former from Strouse and Adams’ Applause, the latter from Lloyd Webber and Rice’s Evita), we decided to ask Jason how he decided to combine the two into an unlikely medley. “Well, I already knew the words to ‘But Alive’, but it was too short, so I figured I ought to add something else,” says Graae, “But actually, it was [director] Heather Lee’s idea to put in ‘I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You’. That was her only contribution to my act.” Continue reading