Picks and Pans Review: The Songs of West Side Story

updated 02/19/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

Various Artists

This pop-star update of the West Side Story score begins promisingly: All-4-One puts jazzy pizzazz in their barbershop harmony on "Something's Coming," and the late Selena, in her final recording, explores the depths of her lower range for a voluptuous "A Boy Like That." But by including two versions of "Somewhere," the project both goes too far (Aretha Franklin's boisterous histrionics and largo pace fail to capture the song's lovestruck wonder) and not far enough (Phil Collins's anemic reprise seems but an afterthought). And as relevant as West Side Story remains—with its tale of puppy love in the proto-gangsta jungle of '50s Manhattan—with the exception of a rapped-up "Gee, Officer Krupke" (featuring Salt-N-Pepa, among other hip-hoppers), the wide-eyed sentiment of many of these Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim tunes don't translate well to the jaded and craven '90s. Perhaps the producers should have gone the campy fun route instead and put a country-and-western spin on the retro-hip disco of Saturday Night Fever. (RCA Victor)

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