SHE CAN COOK, TOO: There is seldom any dispute that Barbara Cook possesses one of the greatest voices in American musical theatre history. After winning critical acclaim and a Tony for her work in such shows as The Music Man and She Loves Me, Cook left the theatre and began a career in large concert halls and on intimate cabaret stages. Her recent stint at New York's Cafe Carlyle was accompanied by the re-release of her dramatic concert debut at Carnegie Hall in 1975. Four bonus tracks have been added from this famous evening, including Hal David and Burt Bacharach's "A House Is Not a Home." Cook is in great voice on this Sony Classical recording, bringing beautiful vocal colors to such songs as "Time Heals Everything," "Who Are You Now?" and "Ice Cream." PETULA'S SUNSET: Like Betty Buckley, Petula Clark's Sunset Boulevard recording is a selection of songs preserving her take on the character of Norma Desmond. Clark's single has only three tracks"With One Look," a solo version of "The Perfect Year" and, of course, the show-stopping second act epiphany, "As If We Never Said Goodbye." Reports of Clark's performance have been mixed, so you may be surprised to find out how enjoyable this recording is. Admittedly, she doesn't possess the pipes she once had; however, the flaws in her voice add to the character's frustrations and longings. Clark puts her own trademark vocalisms into "With One Look" and "The Perfect Year," and her "As If We Never Said Goodbye" is quite wonderful. You can hear her desperation when she screams, "This time will be bigger and brighter than we knew it." Available on the Polydor label at import record stores.
SOUND BYTES: Be on the lookout for a plethora of B'way releases: Rent (Dreamworks/Geffen), State Fair (DRG), Big (Universal) and more. . .Leading Man from Broadway Angel features renowned American baritone Thomas Hampson singing such tunes as Les Miz's "Bring Him Home," Nine's "Unusual Way" and other B'way tunes.
-- By Andrew Gans