Picks and Pans Review: The Envelope Please...academy Award-Winning Songs (1934-1993)
At 3 hours plus, this 5-CD collection of Best Original Songs is about as long as the Academy Awards telecast itself, but for pure fun, it deserves an Oscar. The 60 cuts cover six decades, from Fred Astaire's version of "The Continental" (The Gay Divorcee, 1934) to Bruce Springsteen's 1993 winner, "Streets of Philadelphia" (sung for this set by Richie Havens). Where else will you find the works of Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern and Henry Mancini side by side with Doris Day's chirpy "High Hopes" and Isaac Hayes's husky "Theme from Shaft"? Licensing restrictions have resulted in some dubious substitutions like Paul Williams for Barbra Streisand on their cowritten "Evergreen" and Vikki Carr's schlocky "For All We Know" in lieu of the Carpenters. But these are minor quibbles about a package that is loaded with charm. (A fact-and-photo-filled companion book is included.) So, this year, if "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" leaves you crying out for a commercial break, you can crank up "Over the Rainbow" and be thankful for the memories. (Rhino)
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