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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Jesus Christ Superstar CD (album) cover

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

 

Various Genres

4.21 | 120 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Everything's alright

It is fair to say that Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's ambitions were always to succeed in the stage musical arena. On their way to that success though, they created what is undoubtedly one of the finest rock opera albums of all time. Released in 1970, this studio recording of Jesus Christ Superstar formed the original version of the work, preceding the stage show by at least a couple of years.

A quick look at the list of musicians who perform here will demonstrate that this was a huge project, which captured the imagination of many of the stars of the day. The part of Jesus is undertaken by Deep Purple's Ian Gillan, who gives his finest performance outside the confines of that band. Among the many other notable singers are a young Yvonne Elliman, Mike D'Arbo, Murray Head and even Gary Glitter (before he became Gary Gilitter). On the musicians side, we have a plethora of distinguished artists including Henry McCulloch, Blue Weaver, Chris Spedding and Kenny Wheeler.

The album describes the events leading up to and including the crucifixion of Christ. The viewpoint is largely impartial; although this is a religiously themed album it is not Christian rock. Gillan's portrayal of Christ vividly describes his vulnerability and uncertainty about the path he is on. The Gethsemene soliloquy is particularly moving, with Gillan's characteristic screams seeming entirely appropriate as he cries Alright I'll die.. nail me to your cross and break me.

The real strength of this album though is in the quality of the music. While some themes are reverted to at various points, they are adapted and transformed to fit the mood required. The melodies are strong, the arrangements bringing out their power and emotion to the full. While there is a clear intent that the music will ultimately form the soundtrack to a stage show, that does not compromise the rock foundations on which the album is built. Although for obvious reasons this is primarily a vocal piece, the album includes some fine, if often overlooked guitar work and other instrumental passages.

Jesus Christ superstar was not the first rock opera. It may however just be the finest rock opera ever recorded. Even today, bands such as Ayreon are clearly influenced and inspired by the creativity and originality which was first seen with the release of this album.

A landmark recording, and a highly enjoyable album too.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |

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