Ahead of the national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar in which Melanie Chisholm will be tackling the role of Mary Magdalene, ‘Sporty Spice’ has released Stages, celebrating music and indeed musicals. The album opens with Cabaret’s Maybe This Time, a song made famous by Liza Minelli. A rather unpredictable choice for the opening song due to its epic and spectacular quality. It is a song that you normally need to build yourself up to and a subtler approach may have been more appropriate.
Rather interestingly Mel C duets with former band mate Emma Bunton on I Know Him So Well from the musical Chess. The combination of Bunton’s and Chisholm’s vocals complement each other, the song requiring an emotional connection, and it could be assumed that their former musical relationship helps to tell the story. In turn making this track one of the album highlights.
Chisholm’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now is sadly a low point of the record. Whilst you cannot protest Chisholm’s faultless vocal performance on the song, you do not feel the same emotional punch that you find in Mitchell’s version. It is almost too clean, too polished. With cover albums though an artist is allowed to indulge in the fact that they can perform songs they love from artists they admire, therefore I cannot argue with her song choice – just its delivery.
It should be with songs I Don’t Know How To Love Him and Tell Me It’s Not True that we see something spectacular from Chisholm, having due to her roles of both the characters on stage. Sadly with Tell Me It’s Not True the story just doesn’t transmute. Whilst Chisholm’s vocals are lovely you cannot help but feel the song is a little thin without the warmth provided by an ensemble cast and the ending of the song just seems overly tweaked, therefore losing most of its magic.
It’s fair to say the album feels like it has plenty of filler tracks. However, kudos has to be given for Chisholm’s sultry cover of I Only Have Eyes for You. Her vocals seamlessly lure you into a hypnotic lull and it is a perfect marriage between voice and content. Overall the album is good but would have benefitted from a different balance of tracks. By the end, you cannot get away from the fact that the album is a pop star singing musical tracks, and not an album of songs from musicals, whereby overall production would have played a greater part.