a clash of titans and a surprising jewel

The 3 Tenors In Concert 1994 (Atlantic)
Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti with Mehta

10 On Broadway (Atlantic)

Denis DeYoung

By Allen Howie

If you think, by glancing at those titles, that you can guess which of these is a solid record and which one barks, you may have to guess again.

First, the howler. The 3 Tenors Live_ is actually one half of a pretty good live recording. The selections on which each tenor takes his turn are routinely thrilling, finding each of the three in fine (if nearly identical) voice. Where the album stumbles badly is in its selection of popular music, particularly an ill-conceived "Tribute to Hollywood." If you can listen to these giants stumble through "My Way" and "Singin' in the Rain" with a straight face, you're a bigger fan than I am. And those mercifully brief moments when all three tenors sing in unison is a little like watching three Sumo wrestlers squeeze into a phone booth.

That the whole project seems so blatantly commercial is a little nettlesome, too. This concert took place in Dodgers Stadium (the site of so many fine moments in opera) in mid-July, and was in stores a few weeks later. With liner notes in five languages, it's hard not to see this as a way to turn a quick buck, and little else.

So God bless Dennis DeYoung. In the liner notes for 10 On Broadway, the former lead singer for Styx confides that his wife, upon hearing of his plans for this record, responded with, "That's nice, Dennis, but don't forget today is garbage day." Undaunted, DeYoung recorded a batch of well-known show tunes in acoustic arrangements. And darned if the thing doesn't fly, especially an a cappella version of "On The Street Where You Live" that sounds great if you really crank it, and "Someone Else's Story," which the singer astutely handles with a deft touch.

DeYoung brings just the right amount of drama to moody pieces like "Where I Want To Be," "Bring Him Home" and "Pilate's Dream," reprising in the latter the role he played in the touring company of Jesus Christ Superstar. He even manages a convincing take on Gershwin's "Summertime," due in part to a shrewdly spare arrangement, with a nicely muted trumpet solo courtesy of Orbert Davis and Ed Tossing's work on piano.

My advice? Skip the three tenors and pick up Dennis DeYoung. It's a question of quality over quantity.