on November 15, 2015
I grew up listening to this on my parents vinyl. I wanted the same recording we had on vinyl and it took some careful research from the reviews that this gold on white cover is the same original group that did the original hold on brown covered vinyl. It is remastered and sounds great.
This classic rock opera was Webber and Rice's second hit after "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". Unlike "Joseph" which was originally made for children, "Jesus Chris Superstar" took the controversial subject matter of Jesus Christ, set it to music rich in electric guitars, drums and screeching vocals. But what made it even more daring was the treatment of Judas Iscariot. Considered a selfish traitor by millions, he is seen as a sympathetic character here.
Whatever one thinks of Rice's interpretation of the Gospels, it is Webber's fantastic score that has made this rock-opera such an enduring classic. There really isn't one bad song in the bunch. From the fantastic opening number "Heaven On Their Minds" to the relaxing melody of "Everything's Alright", to the glorious ballad sung by Mary Magdalene "I Don't Know How To Love Him" and the epic "Gethsemane". But the musical goodies don't end there. "What's The Buzz", "Hosanna", "The Last Supper", "Pilate's Dream", "King Herod's Song" and the title track are all catchy and exquisitely performed. Tim Rice's lyrics are also interesting and although sometimes it might seem too campy or on the verge of ridiculousness, it all comes together successfully. Interestingly enough, this album topped the Billboard Album Charts in the early 70's.
The performances on this CD are solid. Murray Head is good as Judas. There is a lot of emotion in his vocals although at times it appears he is straining a bit. Deep Purple's Ian Gillan turns in a great vocal performance as Jesus and possessed a voice that was perfectly suited for such an iconic role. Like Head, Gillan's voice is hard-core, screeching notes at the top of his range but tones it down for the more mellow moments of the score. One of the CD's highlights is the emotionally charged confrontation between Judas and Jesus during "The Last Supper". "Gethsemane" soon follows and it is one of the best renditions of this great song on record. Several of these songs, in typical Webber fashion, cover an enormous range. Both Gillan and Head are required to sing notes at the top of their vocal registers, and since "Jesus Chris Superstar" is not meant to be sung classically, we can forgive these unconventional styles and it set the tone for future recordings (and performances) to come.
The singer with the loveliest voice on this CD is Yvonne Elliman who plays the tormented Mary Magdalene; a part she would later play on film. Elliman's voice is soothing, soulful, extremely pleasing to the ear. Her poignant performance may tug at the heartstrings and is in sharp contrast to the 2 male leads.
Overall, this is a great musical. The entire cast is first-rate. Their impressive hard-as-nails voices are the perfect instruments to tackle Webber's glorious tunes and Rice's clever lyrics. There are many reason why this scandalous rock-opera about the last days of Christ has stood the test of time. Time to listen to it and try to figure this out for yourself. Get it.
on June 12, 2004
My daughter asked me for a CD of "Jesus Christ Superstar" for her birthday. I explained to her that there is one version that is in a class by itself; the original London Cast version. The elements of the orchestration as well as the quality of the singing add up to an unforgettable performance. The orchestra moves the musical story along with elements of feeling that really adds to the emotion of the "rock opera" and does so with the fullness that a mere stage orchestra cannot match. I have seen the Broadway version twice and I can sing its' praises. However, that was a visual experience and the recording is different. This is the best in the audial experience. The problem with most popular music is that we always seem to focus on a song as being best presented in the way we first heard it. I hope I'm not caught up in that trap with promoting this version. I really feel that there is a special quality to this version.
I guess, for those unfamiliar with the subject matter, a few words about the content would be in order. "Jesus Christ Superstar" is a sort of elongated passion play put to music with new "interpretations" on the original story. A modernized version, if you will,done poetically, thoughtfully and with often challenging results. In that sense, there was a degree of controversy when it came out. However, the "noteriety" was nothing compared to other works such as the play "The Deputy". What the authors seem to be trying to say is that the message of Jesus Christ was so important to the world. Therefore, why did He appear in such a backward place at such an obscure, otherwise-forgotten place in history. "Israel...had no mass communication" was one of the many puzzlements the authers bring out. Most characters go through at least some degree of revision although some of it was intentially done for comic relief. This is NOT "The Passion of Christ" nor is it necessarily an attempt at theological revisionism. Some people will recoil at perceived "heresy" but I suspect most mainstream Christians will find it enjoyable and complementary to their own faith.
on February 12, 2004
Overall I was happy with this recording of one of my favorite musicals. It's basically all there (fans of the movie may be surprised to find "Could We Star Again Please" left out), and the music/singers are pretty much on par with their characters.
I only have a few negative things to say: as for the cast, I had a problem with one of the Pharisees, who was fairly good except for some reason his first note in every line sounded scratchy. I got used to it after a while, but it caught me offguard at first and I kind of smirked at it. The guy's a good singer, I don't want to sound belittling to him at all, just that those first notes always seemed off...
My other problem was that the editor/tracker/whatever must have been poorly paid for this production. Some songs come too soon after the last one as if the cast were rushed. Also, some of the songs don't end before the next track, but rather after the next track begins (for example, "I Don't Know How to Love Him"). I think it was only for three or four songs, but surely some one should have picked up on that before this thing went into market. Tsk tsk!
However, this is the copy I currently own, and its the copy I currently listen too. Its still a good musical.
on August 13, 2011
My brother had an 8 track version of Jesus Christ Superstar that I listened to incessantly. I had forgotten just how much I loved it until making the decision to purchase it as part of my 'turning 50' package. I have been listening to it over and over in my car for the last month, appreciating it anew on a whole new level. What a great piece of storytelling! This is the definitive version, no doubt about it.
on April 28, 2004
If I could give this 10 stars, it still would not be able to describe how amazing, moving and powerful this recording is. Ian Gillan is the ONLY Jesus; do not even attempt to put Ted Neeley in the same galaxy as Ian. As everyone before me has agreed, noone has EVER equaled his performance in Gethsemane. Murray Head's Judas is a complex and tragic character; a victim of God and of fate. I realise that this will rub some of you the wrong way, so I will bring up something in this review that has really stayed with me since I was able to comprehend the sick idea of fate and "God's will". The last words of Judas and Pilate's dream.
Judas' last words:
"My mind is in darkness now! My God... I am sick, I've been used... and you knew all the time!!! My God, I'll never, ever know why you chose me for your crime?! Your foul, bloody crime! You have murdered me! You have murdered me, murdered me, murdered me, murdered me, murdered me, murdered me, murdered me!!!"
In his last moments on Earth, Judas realises that his sole reason for existance, the reason he was born was to betray a man whom he really did love. The same fate with Barry Dennen's Pontius Pilate. If you listen to the last verse of "Pilate's Dream" it sends a chill down your spine:
"Then I saw thousands of millions crying for this man; and then I heard them mentioning my name and leaving me the blame..."
Pilate DID NOT WANT to have Jesus die. He saw that He was innocent; but, God intended Pilate to sentence Jesus to death and even a dream could not change God's will and so, now and forever, Pontius Pilate will be considered the man who killed Jesus. Pretty disturbing if you ask me. I realise that I have probably ruffled alot of feathers or gotten a few proverbial goats. If any one would like to discuss this with me, I would be happy to talk and philosophise with you. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and I welcome all people for a friendly discussion. Thank you.
on April 16, 2003
There are musicals, there are operas, and then there is Jesus Christ Superstar.
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.
on October 25, 2001
This album is a masterpiece.As a musical, based in the Jesus Christ story, written by Andrew LLoyd Webber and Tim Rice is a classic. As a new whole point of view about a man that, during the first decades of our era, spoke about love and peace, that was misunderstood, claimed as a God, punished, humillated and executed, it's almost perfect.
The album, in fact, is the story of Jesus Christ as a human being, with fears and doubts and his relationship with the apostles and specifically with his most sensitive and valuable friend, Judas Iscariot. Judas, tells the story of the savior, the rabi, that generated a social revolution during the first years of our era, but, afterwards, is misunderstood, at the same time Judas, began to realize that the people see Jesus as a Mesiah, not as a leader, as the son of God, and is this situation that provoque the conflict between the two main characters of the story, Jesus and Judas.
Musically, it's simply great. The songs, one by one, capture the shape of the story, the atmosphere, between a normal man, frightened, confused about his situation as Judas, and Jesus, the peaceful and good master, that, despite his doubts and fears, realize that his destiny is written and he must accept it.The lyrics, are also really really great.
The Cast, it's probably the most remarkable point to talk about in this album. Ian Gillan, in the title role, did a perfect job, with a beautiful voice plenty full of agony and fear. Murray Head, it's the best Judas Iscariot ever. He captured as no-one else, the doubtful, frightened, confused personality of the most hated apostle, of the traitor.Mary Magdalene, in this album, it's presented as a woman, as a follower of Jesus, who fall in love with the master, who calm him in the moments of doubt and fear. Ivonne Elliman, with her beautiful voice, suceed as no one else in this role. Barry Dennen, in the role of Pilate, create a charismatic character, with a voice full of evil. Mike D'abo, it's and exceptional Herod. With a tiny, little voice, do a really great job in the funniest song of the album, in that charleston-kind of, that sounds as no other in the recording. The cast in the other roles (Caiphas, Peter, Simon) is also in a great level. So, if you want to buy, the best recording of Jesus Christ Superstar, choose this album. I have ten different versions of Superstar, and I'm sure that you'll not be disapointed.
on May 26, 2001
Ignore the absolutely horrible film based on this record, forget that Christ is sung by the lead singer from Deep Purple and Mary Magdelane sung by a woman who's next American hit came off SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, and forget the mountain of tripe Andrew Lloyd Webber has forced on the human race in the last 20 years: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is a great LP.
It is dramatic in a way Webber never again touched. Of course, working with a story most of the western world knows backwards and forwards, it's easy enough to inject forshadowing, but the ominous feeling hanging over so much of this LP gives every tune an edge that you feel to your bones.
Yvonne Elliman is angelic on "Everything's Alright" and "I Don't Know How To Love Him," Victor Brox and Barry Dennen demonic on "This Jesus Must Die," Mide D'Abo is downright McCartney-esque on "Try It And See," and Ian Gillan rocks in a way Broadway has never seen.
And the tunes are really good. Even the instrumental portions--many of which were swiped by advertisers (the intro to "Simon Zealotes," for instance) for years--are unforgettable.
Will this LP open spiritual doors? I dunno. Buy it for the music. Leave the rest to...well, whoever you leave that sort of thing to.
on May 20, 2001
This particular recording was the first and still shines today. The main reason I think it's so great is because of Murray Head as Judas Iscariot. Of all the actors who have portrayed Judas throughout JCS's history, none captures the part quite as well as Head does. His Judas is passionate, sensitive, and uncertain. "Heaven on Their Minds" is just as great as the newer versions, even without the ending that was added when Zubin Varla played the part. His "Damned For All Time" shines also, but nothing is as great as Head in "Judas' Death." Head really puts forth all he has in this song, and you really get a feeling for the character. Unlike other versions, Head doesn't sound like a robot just singing the words of the song, you can actually forget that it's just a role Head portrays, it's that good. Another good aspect of this recording is Ian Gillian, who makes a very good Jesus. But still, the main reason to buy this recording is to hear Head as Judas. You won't be disappointed.