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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 22, 2006

Songs from 'Dreamgirls' pack punch

 •  Dazzlin' 'Dreamgirls'

By Daryl H. Miller
Los Angeles Times


Sure, it'll be known for propelling Jennifer Hudson to stardom, surprising everyone about Eddie Murphy and further glamming Beyoncé Knowles' career. But what makes this movie musical (see film review on Page 16) — and the 1981 stage version before it — such a knockout is its re-creation of the '60s-era black music that has had such influence on American popular culture.

The goose-bump-generating power of this score by Henry Krieger and the late Tom Eyen (he died in 1991) continues unabated — especially in "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," sung by Hudson's character after a whopper of a bad day with a Supremes-like girl group. From a hurt, vulnerable hush of a start, Hudson — whose resonant voice originates from deep, deep inside — builds to a gospel-soul roar.

In the movie, Knowles' Diana Ross-like character is given a matching power anthem, "Listen," which allows the singer to punch high notes into the stratosphere and growl with intensity.

In his turn as a fading star, Murphy seems to channel James Brown, with a touch of Little Richard. Jamie Foxx, as a Berry Gordy Jr.-like record executive, puts a smooth, R&B polish on his big song, "When I First Saw You."

Overall, the sound is hotter and more filled in than on the original Broadway cast album — no surprise, but the slickness can be emotionally distancing.

A 20-song, single-CD highlights album contains three of the four songs Krieger and new partners wrote for the movie: "Listen"; "Love You I Do," an up-tempo, horn-happy solo for Hudson; and "Patience," a Marvin Gaye-like social-consciousness number led by Murphy. That will satisfy most tastes, but for the can't-get-enough-fan, there's a two-CD set with 36 cuts, including the remaining new song, a Jackson 5 sound-alike called "Perfect World."