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Mixed bag of tricks and treats from Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson

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WINEHOUSE. Spur-of-the-moment style.

Amy Winehouse’s 12-track posthumous recording, “Lioness: Hidden Treasures,” is a mixed bag of tricks and treats that interweaves retrofitted soul and jazz standards with the songstress’ bluesy, self-penned numbers.

The rough-around-the-edges feel of the album, which debuted at No. 1 on UK’s album chart, probably won’t sit well with listeners who like their tunes polished and seamlessly phrased, but Winehouse’s idiosyncratic renditions take the tedium out of overused (or dated) melodies, as she headily and “groggily” demonstrates in “A Song for You.”

Luscious cover

There’s more straightforward singing (and less slurring) in the reggae-fied “Our Day Will Come,” and Amy’s spur-of-the-moment style beautifully complements Tony Bennett’s knack for improvisation in their cover of “Body and Soul.” Another treat is the luscious cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Girl From Ipanema,” which benefits from percussion-fueled hooks.

JACKSON. Gets the Cirque du Soleil treatment.

Winehouse channels an edgier Sade in the jazzy “Half Time,” and smolders in the moody, stripped-down version of “Wake Up Alone.” Another “Back to Black” track that gets a slowed-down rendering is “Tears Dry,” which will remind you of the Delfonics’ 1968 classic, “La-La (Means I Love You).” Then, hip-hop meets the blues in “Like Smoke,” the British singer’s collaboration with rapper, Nas.

If you’re looking for a healthy serving of Winehouse’s distinctive vocal swagger, you’ll find it in “Between the Cheats,” which proves the troubled songstress’ “devotion” to her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil: “I would die before I divorce you/I’d take a thousand thumps for my love/‘Cause you kissed a lucky horseshoe/Stuck it in my boxing glove…”

Alternate versions

The season’s other notable posthumous compilation, Michael Jackson’s “Immortal,” has a more celebratory lineup, powered by groove-heavy mashups, embellished remixes, outtakes and alternate versions of the King of Pop’s biggest hits.

The hefty repertoire – whose standard and deluxe editions feature 20 and 27 cuts, respectively – serves as the soundtrack of Cirque du Soleil’s lavish, Vegas-style production, “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour.” The collection doesn’t really add much to the singer’s rich discography, but it’s hard to resist the magical hooks its arrangers conjure up in the album’s mix-and-match charmers.

Notable tracks: “The Immortal Megamix” is a vibrant fusion of his dance hits, like “Can You Feel It?,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Billy Jean” and “Black or White.” Then, “The Jackson 5 Suite” will remind you of Michael’s impeccable artistry and the diversity of his music, while the rousing “Dancing Machine/Blame It On The Boogie Medley” retraces the singer’s Motown roots.

Devised by 10 topnotch choreographers, Cirque du Soleil’s latest arena show features more than 20 theme-driven production numbers that feature hip-hop and dance, acrobatics, martial arts, sports, mime and contortion acts, all strung together around Jackson’s immortal tunes!


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