Country: Vince Gill, Next Big Thing ( * * * * ) Gill kicks off this album with a bitingly funny song that simultaneously mocks and celebrates pop culture's impermanence, then spends the rest of it showing just why country music relishes its traditions. Gill honors those who came before on songs such as Real Mean Bottle and You Ain't Foolin' Nobody, and he gently chastises the ones who refuse to age gracefully on Young Man's Town. Throughout the album, Gill calls country back to its roots, with songs as personal as This Old Guitar and Me and as poignant as In These Last Few Days. -- Brian Mansfield
Pop/rock: Meredith Willson's The Music Man ( * 1/2) We all know how likable Matthew Broderick is and what great reviews he got in Broadway's The Producers. But is there an actor less suited to play Professor Harold Hill, a role demanding equal parts dazzling rhythm and dashing alpha-male brio? It's almost painful to listen to the famously passive leading man tackle tricky showstoppers such as Trouble and Seventy-Six Trombones on this soundtrack for Disney's TV version of Willson's classic, which airs Sunday. Sweet-voiced Kristin Chenoweth is a more natural fit for Marian the Librarian, but the fussy, overly cute arrangements flatter neither her fetching soprano nor Willson's sumptuous melodies. Hollywood may have gotten things right with Chicago, but this cast album suggests that, for musicals, the road from stage to screen can still be a bumpy one. -- Elysa Gardner
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