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Music Review

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Once in a Lifetime
The 25th Anniversary Collection


Artist: Dave Willetts
Stage Door
RRP: £13.99
Stage 9030
5 055122 190301
Available 28 May 2012

Dave Willetts has always been the 'Asda' of musical theatre performers. Dependable, decent quality, and very much 'you know what you get'. This is mainly because Willetts, and his female equivalent Claire Moore, have been delivering quality performances and recordings for so long, and quite prolifically so. Indeed, the Cast Album database (the bible to all musical theatre recording collectors and enthusiasts) records 60 recordings that feature Willetts as a performer, despite him only recording 3 solo albums.

So it's quite apt that Stage Door Records should release a collection of his work to celebrate his 25 years in the business. The recording features many live recordings, a few tracks from his 1995 album Timeless and some new tracks recorded especially for this release. Willetts is joined on one track by Petula Clark (who he has worked with extensively) and one with Carol Woods.

Overall, I enjoyed this album. The mix of music is excellent, and there are some unknown gems on there that are worth several listens - 'Stay Awhile' being one standout track. However, I stress the word 'unknown'. The inlay booklet is less than informative on a lot of tracks. Whilst we get details of composers surnames, and names of musicals for some tracks, we don't get anything else. I would have loved performance dates, locations for the live tracks, and details of the origins of some of the lesser known tracks, with perhaps Dave's comments as to why they have been included.

The live tracks are especially pleasing, and the sound quality is remarkably good - so good in fact, I could have easily listened to a full concert's worth. It makes a change for the live tracks not to be 'fillers'. Dave's voice is pretty unique, and I can only echo Don Black's comments that he has a pretty unmistakable tone. He excels on the Phantom tracks (which he should, having played the part on so many occasions) and the other musical tracks (from Clark's J'Accuse, and Jekyll as well as more well known outings such as Oklahoma! and Follies) are also a delight.

Production on the album is fair - obviously taking tracks from many different sources does mean battling with different levels and tone, and whilst it's not the perfect listen, nothing is detrimental to the overall album. A very pleasant and enjoyable listen that any fan of musical theatre, or just good music, will enjoy.


Ian Gude

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