Review of Song Bird from RRCA

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Song BirdSong Bird
Starring Kelli O’Hara, Shirley Jones, and Ed Asner
2 CDs – 2 Hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Radio Repertory Company of America
Published: 2011
Themes: / Audio Drama / Science Fiction / Music / Precognition / Private Investigator /

I know the Radio Repertory Company of America best for the Anne Manx series. I’m a fan of those entertaining comic book dramas (|SFFaudio Review|) so I’m always thrilled when they send me something.

Before they get back to Manx, Angelo Panetta and crew offer Song Bird, a standalone science fiction audio drama. The story opens with a singer named Maureen Barnett (Kelli O’Hara) singing in an out of the way lounge. This is odd because she’s famous and should be singing in front of huge crowds. Amelia Storm (Shirley Jones) is also a singer and she’s got something to give Maureen – the ability to see the future. The gift immediately becomes a burden as Maureen sees disturbing things about her teenage daughter. The story then shifts into a higher gear when the things that worry Maureen actually take place and she’s forced to hire a private investigator to help her find her daughter.

After listening to this production, and so many other audio dramas over the years, I continue to be impressed by RRCA. The quality of the actors is one of the things that set RRCA’s productions apart. The actors here are excellent. Ed Asner plays a retired police officer turned private investigator, and is hilarious. Asner and Shirley Jones together are a delight and I wanted to hear more of them when it was over. First rate performances all around.

The second mark of an RRCA production is the quality of the sound. Music plays a large role here, and Kelli O’Hara and Shirley Jones sound great. Great care is taken with sound effects and background music. I urge you to grab a nice pair of headphones and give this production your full attention! It’s well worth your time. Enjoy!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Sleeping Beauty by Ross MacDonald

Aural Noir: Review

Mystery Audiobook - Sleeping Beauty by Ross MacDonaldSFFaudio EssentialSleeping Beauty
By Ross MacDonald; Performed by a Full Cast
6 Cassettes – Approx. 7 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Partners
Published: 1978
ISBN: 1572700491
Themes: / Mystery / Private Investigator / Dysfunctional Family / Murder / Family Secrets / Missing Person /

When Lew Archer takes home a distressed woman and she disappears with a lethal dose of his sleeping pills, he feels obligated to find her. What he finds is a past of family secrets that has lead the family into a downward spiral. Archer will have to untangle the secrets if he hopes to get the lady back alive.

After an accident from a ruptured oil well off the coast of southern California, Archer finds a beautiful lady crying with an oil-soaked seagull grasped to her breast. He takes her home and finds her disagreeable. After she leaves he notices that she had taken his bottle of prescription sleeping pills with her. Her name is Laurel Lennox Russo, and she is the granddaughter of the man who owns the offshore oil well that has ruptured, literally, in the back of his lakefront house.

This wonderful production offers a rarity in audiobooks; an unabridged full-cast recording for adults all done with impeccable direction. The director of the production and voice of Lew Archer is by Harris Yulin. He offers the right amount of concerned yet disenchantment that Archer feels. The dialogue is snappy and you can feel Archer’s presence as he interviews/interrogates this small family community. The cast, which includes Ed Asner, Richard Masur, Stacy Keech, and Veronica Cartwright, does a great job. There are over 30 people lending their voices to this audiobook.

The direction was handled deftly. The novel is in first person, and Harris Yulin voiced Lew Archer’s inner monologue close to the mike and centered in the stereo field. When Archer was talking to another character, the ambience of the setting came through and the characters were separated in the stereo field. There was also added ambience of the external sounds flowing into the scene. Exterior scenes had traffic noises, seagulls, and jets. In interior scenes you get a sense of the size of the room.

Instead of just a great audiobook, I felt I was listening to an extended, seven-hour radio play. Whether you’re a fan of Ross MacDonald or are new to his writing, this audiobook comes highly recommended.

Posted by The Time Traveler of the Time Traveler Show

Review of Soundings by Jeff Green


Audio drama - Soundings by Jeff GreenSoundings
Radio drama by Jeff Green
1 MP3-CD – 7.75 hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
ISBN: 0788763334
Date Published: 1998
Themes: / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Radio drama / Private Investigator / Atlantis / Christmas / Vigilante / Psychiatry / Plague / Sound /

Jeff Green has really created something special here. Included in Soundings are eleven full cast radio dramas. The stories are very good, and the sound? Fantastic. Green really knows how to tell stories in this medium. Sound is used to excellent effect – it is not there to enhance the story in many cases, it is a vital part of the story itself. In “Somebody Talking To You”, voices heard through the media have effects on people. The sound of those voices stays with me. In “Spaxterback”, a computer creates an image of a person known only through the machine’s memory of past media (comic books, television, etc.). The conversations between computer and Spaxter sound both powerful and intimate. In “Vigilante”, a TV obsessed psychic kills people he’s sees on the news – the sound of him flipping through the channels in search of a victim is disturbing indeed. And in “Flash”, the sound of the characters being shown visions of what might be past lives is mesmerizing.

I enjoyed the stories as well. “Plague”, the story of the survivors of a plague that forces them to live under domes, was a particularly excellent example, though I would have preferred less exposition in the form of news stories (though they were riveting) and a longer drama to tell the story instead. I enjoyed “Spaxterback” which I mentioned earlier, for its dialogue between creator and created. “Psychotherapy” was a twisted pretzel of a horror story made even more enjoyable if you are a fan of Edgar Allen Poe. “Xmas is Coming to the District of Drudge” is an atypical Christmas story that reminds us all to live a little.

The actors did a great job at keeping everything believable, and the music was first-rate. This is some fine storytelling. I really enjoyed it.

Check out Jeff Green’s Stranger Media website for a rich multimedia experience.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson