Following the release of the box set Now and Forever, Andrew Lloyd Webber seems to have thought that the time had come to replace his one-disc compilation, The Premiere Collection, issued more than a decade earlier, with a new one. He has put out different versions of the set in different territories. In the U.K., what is called The Definitive Hit Singles Collection, released in December 2001, takes account of Lloyd Webber's status as a consistent producer of chart singles. In the U.S., he does not have that status; his first project, Jesus Christ Superstar, threw off a pair of Top 40 hits, "Superstar" and "I Don't Know How to Love Him," but since then only "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Memory," "You Must Love Me," and "No Matter What" have had any sort of singles chart success. On the other hand, the cast albums for Evita, Cats, and The Phantom of the Opera have all been million-sellers. This collection presents a few of those hit recordings, plus key tracks from some of the musicals and occasional superstar guest appearances, such as Barbra Streisand's rendition of "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Sunset Boulevard. The songs are all mixed up chronologically, sequenced for ease of listening, with, for example, the synth-drum driven "The Phantom of the Opera" followed by Madonna's performance of the Oscar-winning "You Must Love Me" from the movie version of Evita, which begins a cappella. The Lloyd Webber fan is likely to consider the album more of a sampler than something definitive and to complain about what's missing (e.g., "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," "Tell Me on a Sunday"), but more casual listeners will recognize most of the tunes. Meanwhile, this puts an almost up-to-date disc of Lloyd Webber career highlights into the American marketplace.
Andrew Lloyd Webber Gold: The Definitive Hits Collection Review
by William Ruhlmann