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Cats: Original Cast Recording (1981 Original London Cast) Cast Recording, Original recording remastered

4.3 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Cast Recording, Original recording remastered, May 23, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Original London Cast Recording. This famous original recording has never before been widely available in the United States. Featuring a stirring performance by musical theater legend Elaine Paige as Grizzabella and the hilarious character actor Brian Blessed. A must-have recording for collectors and musical theater aficionados.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 23, 2006)
  • Ger Rmst ed. edition
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Cast Recording, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B000BSM28Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,375 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 21, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Are you unsure about which recording to buy? Please, let my track-by-track analysis assist you in making the right decision for you.
1. Overture: TIE. There isn't a whole lot of difference between the two overtures, at least none that I can tell. They're both fine recordings.
2. Prologue: Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats: LONDON. Unquestionably, the London recording is the better of the two. The Broadway recording is weak and not as precise as the London recording.
3. The Naming of Cats: TIE. This track is completely spoken. If, other than accents, there is any noticeable difference between the two recordings, it has eluded me.
4. The Invitation to the Jellicle Ball: LONDON. Both casts are fine during the chorus efforts. However, the London Munkstrap sounds much more keen in his solos, as opposed to the Broadway Munkstrap who just sounds indifferent.
5. The Old Gumbie Cat: LONDON. This is no contest. The London version contains lines that were deleted from the Broadway version. To me, the Broadway recording always seems incomplete.
6. The Rum Tug Tugger: LONDON. The London Tugger is much more subdued. While it is understood that this is supposed to be a fun piece, and the Broadway Tugger is certainly fun, his constant squealing and weird timing are something I still haven't gotten used to.
7. Grizabella: LONDON. I don't know how else to say this. The Broadway version is puny. The London version isn't.
8. Bustopher Jones: BROADWAY. While the British recording is fine, and probably more technically precise, I find the voice of the Broadway Bustopher to be absolutely charming.
9. Mungojerrie and Rumpletezer: LONDON. The London and Broadway recordings of this track differ immensely.
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Format: Audio CD
In many ways Cats was a turning point for Andrew Lloyd Webber. At the beginning of the 80-is he was already a hugely successful musical theatre composer, thanks to his work with the lyricist Tim Rice on "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Evita". In the early 1980-is he decided to part ways with Rice and many people predicted him a quick downfall, even more so when he decided to use T. S. Eliot's book of children's poetry called "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" as a basis for his next musical. He used then a relatively unknown musical director Trevor Nunn and Gillian Lynne as a choreographer. Cats was imagined as a mixture of pop songs and ballet; by that time an unseen combination for a musical, so it is no wonder that Webber and his producer Cameron Mackintosh had trouble finding financial backup. The show opened in London and became a phenomenon in its own right. It closed in London after exactly 21 years of running in May 2001. The same thing happened when the show came to Broadway in 1982; it closed after 18 years of running, in 2000. Cats thus became the longest running musical in the history of both West End and Broadway.

So you may wonder what it's all about. It's quite simple really. Many people say that Cats hasn't got a story. It's certainly true that the plot is very simple and that's part of the appeal for the audiences. We are presented with a group of special cats, known as Jellicle cats. They meet once a year to decide who among them is worthy to get a chance to be reborn and start a new life. Since we meet them at that precise night, each of them tells us about their lives and habits through the musical numbers.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording of CATS features the original London cast, headed by Elaine Paige and Brian Blessed. Because it is the first official full-length recording of CATS, this does not always mean that the world-premiere rendition is always the best. The London cast gives a fairly adequate performance of the score, and perform it with a softer-grained approach as compared to their Broadway counterparts. And the lean-textured recording has sounded even better than before with this recent digital remastering.
Elaine Paige may be acknowledged as a foremost interpreter of Grizabella, but here her performance shows that she neds some time to get into the spirit of the role. She does give a fine rentition of Memory that, despite competition from Betty Buckley, allows her to hold her own. Brian Blessed gives a firm, commanding and sonorous portrayal of Old Deuteronomy. He has a convicting voice that he demonstrates to great effect in his solos, even in his powerful Ad-Dressing of Cats. The lower-level principals don't seem to fare that well. Wayne Sleep as Mr. Mistoffelees and Paul Nicholas as Rum Tum Tugger cope adequately with the demands of the score, but they don't sing their parts with character and hence sound rather stilted. But nevertheless, most of the supporting cast members make up for these disappointments with crisp choral diction, even if their singing is a little laid back. The minor cats feature Myra Sands as a sprightly and no-nonsense Jennyanydots and Susan Jane Tanner as a soothing Jellylorum. Not to mention Bonnie Langford's lively portrayal of Rumpelteazer, and young Sarah Brightman's sweet, innocent and pure Jemima. Perhaps Jeff Shankley could be weak as Munkastrap here. And Stephen Tate makes a cameo appearance as a somewhat weak-voiced Gus: the Theatre Cat and Growltiger.
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