Jaya Live at the Araneta

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In 2001, Philippine female singer Jaya released Jaya Live at the Araneta on Viva Records. The album is a live recording of a concert performed at The Araneta Coliseum, located in Quezon City, near Manila. Viva Records and sister label Neo Records (both under Viva Music Group) have released a number of live recordings in 2000 and 2001, including live albums by Freestyle and Regine Velasquez, and two Love Concert volumes featuring Zsa Zsa Padilla, Lani Misalucha, and Freestyle. Usually, live albums are rare in the Philippines. As with many live albums released in the Philippines, Jaya Live at the Araneta is dominated by performances of American hits. For example, the album starts with a rousing performance of Aretha Franklin's great '60s hit "Respect," and also includes LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Roy Orbison's "Love Hurts." Many songs on Jaya Live at the Araneta are upbeat and modern, in contrast to her studio albums, which are dominated by easy listening and middle-of-the-road ballads by Philippine composers. She performs several of these ballads here, including her first hit in the Philippines, "Dahil Tanging Ikaw" (Because It's Only You). Several guest artists also have spots, including Regine Velasquez, who performs Abba's "Dancing Queen"; boy band Jeremiah, who accompanies Jaya on remakes of songs by American boy bands, including Westlife's "Swear It Again"; and male singers Wency Cornejo, KC Montero, and Rivermaya's vocalist and songwriter, Rico Blanco. Jaya has one of the best voices in the Philippines, and she is strong and vibrant throughout the album. She also has charisma, and her poise is impressive. Her soulful reading of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" is triumphant, as Jaya sings the melody a half-step down in a number of places and imbues a gospel-inflected tone toward the song's end. This is an excellent live album, although it's too bad Philippine albums rely so much on American tunes.

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