Various Artists - Ultimate Broadway 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Jason Karsh   
Tuesday, 30 June 1998

Ultimate Broadway,
Arista Records
| Performance 9.5 | Sound 9 |

This is simply the best double CD we've received in a long time. We were a little harsh on Clive Davis for the executive producing job he turned in on Aretha Franklin's latest offering, but now we know why he was losing sleep. He was off selecting forty, that's right, forty of the greatest showtunes ever. Arranged in chronological order of show opening, from 1943's 'Oklahoma!' to 1996's 'Rent,' it's all here--and we do mean everything. But what is most impressive about this collection isn't that nearly every showstopper ever made is included, but that these songs could be included in the first place. Virtually all of these songs rightfully belong to other record labels, which is why this album and its contents are so unprecedented.

It is also why this album grants the wishes of so many people who've longed for one, end-all-be-all Broadway album. As is pointed out in the liner notes (with a prologue by Davis himself) musical theater is often forgotten for the overwhelming impact it has had on the American tapestry. It is good to see that not only is there finally coverage of a great portion of this heritage, but coverage of an outstanding class. If you have even a passing interest in the theater, you cannot afford to be without this CD set.

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