The use of a chess match as an analogy of the Cold War may sound like one of the worst ideas for a musical ever. However, Tim Rice, Bjorn Ulaveus, and Benny Andersson take the idea and make it into pure theatre. The problem: The book made this show seem cheap and incomprehensible.
This album records the show at its best. The original London show moved some of the songs (Pity the Child to the first act, a horrendous move). The Broadway show, which changed the plot, thereby ruining it, has a better cast in my opinion. (Listen to Judy Kuhn sing anything, and you will melt. Philip Casnoff is also a more vocal and less screaming Freddie. I like him better) This show is very eighties, but it has heart and melody in abundance without being cheesy and sentimental. "Nobody's Side" will make you swear off relationships forever, while "Mountain Duet" will make you want to fall in love (especially in the Alps) My favorite songs include "Nobody's Side", "Anthem", "The American" (the rock interlude in "Merano") "Florence Quits/A Taste of Pity" and "The Deal (No Deal)" "Pity the Child" is brilliant... Ok, so I love the whole show. Serious Chess fans will also buy the Danish cast (in English) and the 2002 Swedish cast (in Swedish... you'll swear it was first written in Swedish! The orchestrations are great) As well as the Broadway version. There is also a 1994 Swedish cast that is basically a second-hand re-hash of this album.