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Jesus Christ Superstar (Original London Concept Recording) Cast Recording, Original recording remastered
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The incredibly loud orchestra of the stage performance is toned down a bit, showcasing the excellent rock songs that made this album a #1 hit in 1971. I first heard this album when I was about 4 or 5 years old, and still, even today, there's a chill that runs down my back when Judas sings "Heaven on Their Minds" or when Jesus screams "just watch me die!" in "Gethsemane". Not one of the endless movie soundtrack, or broadway versions can hold a candle to this interpretation. It's the only Jesus Christ Superstar one needs to own.
First, there was the uproar that rock music was being used to tell a religious story; you have to remember that this was a time when having a folk mass or service was seen as being cutting-edge radicalism in Christianity. But Andrew Lloyd Webber's music involves much more than rock, although certainly the guitar that opens the "Overture" is a definitive statement. "I Don't Know How to Love Him" is a traditional pop ballad, as Helen Reddy proved with her cover that hit the charts, while "John Nineteen Forty-One" is a classical piece for strings. "King Herod's Song" stands out as one of those stylistic pastiches that Lloyd Webber loves (as we would later see in "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera"). More importantly, it seems to me that the rock music is used strategically. Certainly Judas has songs that are more rock oriented (e.g., "Heaven on Their Minds," "Damned for All Time") when compared to those for sung by Jesus (e.g., "Gethsemane"), which makes sense in terms of character dynamics.Read more ›
Murray Head as Judas steals the performance, to my mind. The rest of Deep Purple never got from Ian Gillian what Rice and Webber were able to, but maybe portraying Jesus will do that for a Brother. Hearing Yvonne Elliman's positively angellic voice as Mary singing "Everything's Alright" would tempt even a Saint. I cannot recall who portrayed Ciaphas, but the depth of his voice is awsome.
Aside from the great music, the story is much more multi-layered than I recall from Sunday School. The characters, including Jesus himself, seemed to be much more reachable. I remember listening to "I Only Want To Say", and marvelling about whether there was ever any doubt that came with being the Son of God. I saw Judas for the first time as a man who just had to do the things he did, and the disciples not as saints, but men with uncertainties too.
Even if you don't like the fabulous music (I'd bet against it), it is nothing if not thought provoking. One of those attributes alone would suffice. Both make it a great a couple of discs as one could want.
It is different than anything else you have ever heard, and anything else ever made. It's even different than anything else Andrew Loyd Webber or Tim Rice ever did again. While both of them went on to be famous and produce other respectable pieces, neither of them ever touched the heavans again. This was their moment of truth.
This album represents one of those rare times in history when talent, inspiration and magic clashed in a way that goes beyond music, into politics and into spirituality that affected the entire generation that listened to it.
The lyrics tell a story that we all know, and yet they tell it in such a human way that one cannot help but be drawn into the story on a more personal level. How jaded we become looking at that crucifix at the front of the church and that unknown unknowable God upon it. This album will remove all that, and confront you with a divinity that is reflected in humanity--our awfulness and the beauty we are capable of.
The performances are haunting and raw. Intense. Did I saw raw? So raw, primal and powerful that you will not be able to tolerate any other rendition. These people had to have known what they were doing--had to have known what they had stumbled over, because they give the performances of their lives. Voices that will stay in your head and figure into your thinking about God and mankind, even if you are an atheist.
You will cry at the whips. You will cry as the nails are driven in. You will cry when Judas hangs himself. You will identify with Pontius Pilate's unfathomable rage. You will find yourself laughing at Herod's song, and feeling guilty for it.
There has never been a time since I was a child that I have listened to this album and not been profoundly moved.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sweet and I hope Mr. Webber and Mr. Rice will see this rock opera as the seed for some people seeing Jesus starting something for them. The singing is clear and full of emotion. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Janell
It was here fast and very please with that and it made a wonderful Valenties gift for my sister Rose! Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Though the phrase is cliche, this was a blast from the past. My CD collection won't ever be complete, but this goes a long way toward completing it.Published 8 months ago by Tom
I owned this originally when it came out in the 70's on vinyl. I'm surprised at how much i still enjoy this album. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Robert W. Fish
It's a little confusing to distinguish between the various recordings that have been made of this material. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Pete Zolli
It was an excellent recording of one of the best performances on the Lpndon Stage. The vocals are not overwhelmed by the music and it flows beautifully together. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Steve M Hedrick