CD Review: Alan Cumming “The Head that Wears a Crown”

alancummingcdAlan Cumming
“The Head that Wears a Crown”
Publisher: GPR Records
Spoken Word
Release Date: April 30, 2013

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I have been a huge fan of Alan Cumming for as long as I can remember. I can still recall the day I saw him (and met him) on Broadway for the first time dating back to “Design for Living” in 2001. He has such a wonderful presence about himself. When he speaks his lines, they come with such delivery and purpose. It does help that he also has a bitchin’ Scottish accent. So what is better than having the internationally acclaimed actor and Tony Award Winner to do a spoken word CD of the “best of” works of Shakespeare. These monologues include 22 of Shakespeare’s most well-known and loved moments. Alan is no stranger to Shakespeare having starred in Julie Taymor’s film version of “Titus Andronicus” and also his one-man show of “Macbeth”, which he currently stars on Broadway. He delivers Shakespeare’s words so flawlessly and with such force that he knocks it out of the park track after track.

“The Head that Wears a Crown” is subtitled as “Speeches For Royal Men By William Shakespeare”. Some of the classic Royal speeches included are, “To be or not to be” from “Hamlet”; “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” from “Macbeth” and “Now is the winter of our discontent ” from “Richard III” and many more. The speech were specifically chosen by Alan Cumming himself. The only main issue I had with the album is that there is no announcement between tracks. I mean that unless you are watching the track list very carefully or have every single one of these speeches memorized, they kind of spill all together. I think this would have been a perfect release if there was a title card before each track began so you can get a better grasp. Obviously this is not the kind of album that you will blast going down the highway, if you are looking for that check out Cumming’s last album “I Bought A Blue Car Today”, but it would be a must listen for any lover of Shakespeare, the fine arts or ”Glee” fan. “Shine, I’ll stand by you”…Mr. Cumming.

Track Listing:
1. “O for a Muse of fire” (HENRY V)
2. “Now is the winter of our discontent” (RICHARD III)
3. “You common cry of curs!” (CORIOLANUS)
4. “I have been studying how I may compare This prison” (RICHARD II)
5. “Look here, upon this picture” (HAMLET)
6. “Mad world! mad kings! mad composition!” (KING JOHN)
7. “If it were done when ’tis done” (MACBETH)
8. “Go call the Earls of Surrey and of Warwick;” (HENRY IV Part 2)
9. “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;” (HENRY V)
10. “To be, or not to be: that is the question;” (HAMLET)
11. “What must the king do now?” (RICHARD II)
12. “Methinks I am a prophet new inspired” (RICHARD II)
13. “Why, lords, what wrongs are these!” (TITUS ANDRONICUS)
14. “O that this too too sullied flesh would melt,” (HAMLET)
15. “Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,” (AS YOU LIKE IT)
16. “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,” (MACBETH)
17. “What’s he that wishes so?” (HENRY V)
18. “Hear, Nature, hear!” (KING LEAR)
19. “How all occasions do inform against me,” (HAMLET)
20. “Let me speak, sir,” (HENRY VIII)
21. “If music be the food of love, play on;” (TWELFTH NIGHT)
22. “Now my charms are all o’erthrown,” (THE TEMPEST)

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