ARTIST: Original Studio Cast
TITLE: Jesus Christ Superstar
YEAR RELEASED: 1970
CHART ACTION: #1 US, #23 UK
SINGLES: Superstar (#14 US), I Don’t Know How to Love Him (#28 US, #47 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Casual fans don’t. Fans of the musical know the whole thing.
LINEUP: Ian Gillan, Murray Head, Yvonne Ellman, Victor Brox, Barry Dennan, Brian Keith, John Gustafson, Paul Davis, Mike d’Abo. Musicians were Neil Hubbard, Henry McCullough, Chris Mercer, Peter Robinson, Bruce Rowland, and Alan Spenner. Of course there were many more voices and an orchestra.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The original ‘concept’ studio album that Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice put together in preparation for the musical.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This technically isn’t an original cast recording, but it is the original recording of all of the music that would be in the various productions and movies. Still, though, without this blazing the way it probably wouldn’t have been big at all.
Murray Head is the ‘star’ as Judas, and while Head goes a bit bonkers at times he carries a lot of the songs with his manic voice. Ian Gillan is a pretty much perfect Jesus and Yvonne Ellman makes her career as Mary Magdalene. For me, the evil duo of Victor Brox (Calaphas) and Brian Keith (Annas) are scene stealers.
It’s really good through the first three sides, then the fourth side goes a bit…well…off the deep end, except for “Superstar”. I’m sure the psychedelic times had a lot to do with it, but it really runs out of steam for me at the end. It’s still a pretty remarkable piece of music, though.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Weber and Rice used a few songs and snippets from past productions here, repurposed for this.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE: B: That fourth side, with it scenery chewing performances and way too much psychedelic nonsense, brings it down.