Godspell
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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Just in case you don't know when this musical was written or this recording made, all you have to do is listen to it. It practically screams 70's folk music. Heck, except for the shofar on the opening number and a recorder a little later on, the only instruments are keyboard, guitars, and drums. But that's part of the charm.
The musical is based mostly accurately on the Gospel of Matthew from the Bible. There are only 10 in the cast, so it's not a full blown production. Instead, it's an interpretation with a modern (or at least 70's) setting.
There are lots of good songs here. Probably the most famous is "Day by Day." Personal favorites are Jesus' first appearance with "Save the People" and "We Beseech Thee." I also love the slow ballads "By My Side" and "On the Willows," the second being a lament taken from Jeremiah. Frankly, I've found I can no longer read the Sermon on the Mount without thinking of "Light of the World" or Jesus attacking the Pharisees without "Alas for You" running through my head.
Those looking for "Beautiful City" will want to look elsewhere since it was added for the movie, and this American original cast recording predates it by several years.
This musical is different and takes a few listens to appreciate. But I've loved it since I first saw it a number of years ago, and I pull out the soundtrack on a regular basis. It has an easily singable score, which just adds to the fun.
If you want a musical to encourage and inspire you, this lesser known gem is a wonderful place to start. And the original cast recording, while sounding a bit outdated, is still a wonderful way to experience it today.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
"Godspell" is such an endearing musical. The music is incredibly catchy and memorable, the message is of course positive, and the delivery is excellent -- most of the time. "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord" from its conch shell opening is an utter delight, a joyful statement of faithful expectation. "Day By Day" builds joyfully and is such an exquisite statement for trying to live spiritually in a material and sometimes unkind world. "Light of the World" rocks joyfully and makes you feel hopeful, "The tallest candlestick ain't much good without a wick!" Lamar Alford on "All Good Gifts" perhaps leaves a little to be desired vocally, but the song itself is truly wonderful. It's probably time for a remastered soundtrack to be re-released, but this one contains some of the greatest show music about God and faith. Enjoy!
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2000
Even after having this cd for about 8 years, having done the show and many others in the past 10 years or so, I still come back to this cd to sing through the whole thing. I love every song. I can actually sit and listen to this cd, knowing I won't have to forward some songs. The only thing I absolutely hate about this cd is that man trying to sing "All Good Gifts". Where, in the name of all that is good in musical theatre, did they find this man? Who did he know to get this job? "By My Side" is just beautiful. I read that it was the only song that Stephen Schwartz didn't write. It was written by some of the cast of the original production of Godspell before he came in to re-work the music. They decided to keep it in. Good move. Think about the idea behind the song...telling someone that you will always be there...by their side. This was the first musical that I ever fell in love with and it will always be the first point that I realized that this was what I wanted to do with my life. Thanks, Stephen Schwartz, for making "God" fun.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2005
I can remember it know, first the foghorn blows from the silence, it blows three times. Then David Haskell starts to sing "Prepare yee the way of the lord" then it goes into a big rock moment with the entire cast singing the song, then comes Lamar Alford with a big opera voice that is wonderfully out of place with everyones pop singing. Thats when I know I'm listening to Godspell. My all time favorite show. The whole alubm is full of vibrant songs, like Day By Day, All Good Gifts, All for the Best, Alas For You, Light of the World, Turn Back O Man, On The Willows, By My Side and Save the People are just an amazing mix of pop, rock, and(thanks to Lamar) oprea. This alubm is just a part of my life now as it was in my childhood.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2000
I have been a fan of this soundtrack just about my entire life, and I have yet to get sick of it. I was a young child when I first saw the movie (which by the way, I loved) and got the soundtrack as a gift a week later. I still have that original LP, with the cover all torn up and the vinyl scratched to bits. Now the CD I bought to replace it is in similar condition. When I go to church and we sing All Good Gifts during the Offertory, I wish I had brought my penny whistle so I could play along. This music is pure joy, and although some of the arrangements might seem dated, the lyrics are right out of the bible and therefore, timeless. It completely feeds my soul to sing along--harmonies on some, melodies on others. My goal in life is to hit Joann Jonas' High C in We Beseech Thee, but since that'll never happen, I'll just have to keep on listening and practicing. This soundtrack encompasses vast musical styles, and none of them sound Broadway show-tuney, like in Oklahoma or South Pacific. It's inspirational, fun music that appeals to a wide variety of people, even people who don't consider themselves religious. It'll never go out of style.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2006
This recording is vintage early 70s... Schwartz is compositionally at the top of his game... Day by Day is one of the best songs in my mind ever written.... it's a beautiful musical.... it's Jesus hippie, Jesus freak gospel.... can't top it!!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2005
You can now find nearly a half-dozen recordings of Godspell, including the 2000 off-Bway revival, and of course the film soundtrack. While this original recording lacks some of the polish and subsequent tweaks to the score itself (the addition of Beautiful City for the film; the addition of the original opening, Tower Of Babble, to the show recordings), it is the first recording to capture what has always made Godspell such a powerful piece of theatre -- its raw, musical joy, and its captivating sense of innocence. Buy it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2007
This is the genuine original, the only Godspell album that really ought to carry that distinction. It is _not_ a sophisticated stereo recording nor is the cast polished and experienced.

_If you want glossy and can't stand lack of polish this album isn't for you._

Most of the performers are first and second year drama school students so voices are occasionally thin, untrained or for one person, WAY overbearing. Listening with headphones reveals thumps often picked up from the piano microphone and other audio aspects such as pops, foot shuffles and creaks. It is _not_ a problem however and adds to the charm and realism of the performance.

Instrumentation is basic with piano, Hammond M3, acoustic, electric and bass guitar, recorder, Vibra-slap, drums and other percussion.

As for where to peg it music wise I can't say its Christian Rock, I find most Christian Rock, certainly the type produced in the last 20 years is way overly produced, slick and corporate and lacks soul and emotion. Godspell has a closer similarity to a good old Rock Opera with good doses of pomp and folk mixed in. Lest one forget that we were freshly out of the 60's so it has a great many musical earmarks of that era.

This recording of Godspell has vibrancy, soul, sparkle and energy that the later recordings of the musical seems to lack. Compare for example `All For The Best' on the 71' verses downright flat and lifeless London 93' version.

Granted, I am biased a bit; I grew up with this version. Not to mention have seen it performed at my childhood Presbyterian Church many times and I know the melodies, instrumentation and lyrics almost by heart.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2002
I've listened to many musical soundtracks recently and this is probably my favorite as of yet. It is absolutely a product of its time, yet the songs still sounds amazing! The lyrics are really often fun ("Learn Your Lessons Well", "All for the Best", and "Light of the World") while others are sad and moving ("By My Side", "On the Willows").

Frequently, many of the songs move me into tears even if the singing on some of the songs is sub-par ("Save the People" in particular). Even with some less than fantastic singing, the songs shine through and stand the test of time.

This soundtrack sucked me in to Godspell and also got me interested in Jesus Christ Superstar. Don't be afraid to give this one a listen, it is a grower, it may not grab you instantly. I have found I enjoy it more and more with each listen.

God Bless ~Amy
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2001
I loved this growing up and it still appeals. Out children have loved it since babyhood too. Lovely singing and melodies. I think our very favorite is "all Good Gifts" and the version on this (vs the film) by the guy named Lamar is stunning-- I noticed that a few reviewers complained about it, which seems really odd. Whatever the "correct" way to describe his voice-- someone said operatic, someone said baritone-- it also sounds like something you might hear in a church choir. Call it whatever, it works beautifully against the folk rock/theatrical style everyone else is using-- it's gorgeous. It was a great creative decision to use a more formal voice mixed in with the more casual 70s style singing and against the folk rock music. Although "All GOod GIfts" is the only song where he leads, but he adds a lot when he chimes in on the other songs. Several reviewers compared Godspell unfavorably to "Jesus Christ Superstar," which really surprised me--- that album seems so repetitive and sing songy next to this one.And it does appeal to the non religious because the songs are so lovely and heartfelt
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