Somewhat infamous for appearing on Broadway in numerous revisions without ever really clicking, Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton's Scarlet Pimpernel is represented in its earliest form in this 1991 concept album. The story, borrowed from the classic Baroness Orczy novel, follows Sir Percy Blakeney, an Englishman who uses his foppish image as a cover for his undercover adventures rescuing people from the guillotine during the French Revolution. He must, however, be careful around his new wife, the French actress Marguerite, whom he doesn't entirely trust. This is the first of three recordings of this score, and it's the most uneven, using its "concept album" status as an opportunity to rather awkwardly mix a variety of styles, from harpsichord-driven "period" pieces to power-pop ballads to a flamenco (?) number. Even with that caveat, it might be the most enjoyable of the three simply because of the presence of pop diva Linda Eder. Wildhorn's wife was along for the many stages of Jekyll & Hyde but sang Pimpernel only on this recording, and her tracks can stand alone as a pretty satisfying pop album: "Home Again," "When I Look at You," "Now When the Rain Falls," "I'll Forget You," "You Are My Home" (with Peabo Bryson), "The Riddle" and "Our Separate Ways" (both with Dave Clemmons), and "There Never Was a Time" (with Chuck Wagner). In addition, listening to Eder wrap her golden vocal cords around that favorite tune of cabaret singers, "Storybook," may itself be worth the price of the CD. --David Horiuchi
NR (Not Rated)
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