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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Jesus Christ Superstar (The Original Motion Picture Sound Track Album) CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

4.05 | 83 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is a fascinating work, and the Norman Jewison film soundtrack has a special meaning for me, since it was the first actual rock album I ever got to know (apart from an LP by French boys choir Les Poppys). I discovered it almost as soon as it was released, and I now know some people prefer Andrew Lloyd Webber's original studio version, which has Ian Gillan as Jesus, but I was raised on this soundtrack, and for me this will always be the One!

You may have noted that I called SUPERSTAR a "rock" album. I could have gone one step further and called it "crossover prog", because that's what it is. I don't care what horrors Lloyd Webber unleashed upon the world later in his career, starting with EVITA (many Progarchives reviewers still have some regard for his all-instrumental VARIATIONS) but in his younger years he rock'n'rolled (and he did psychedelic rock pastiche) like the very best of them.

To tell you the truth, with the help of Tim Rice as lyricist he was considerably more convincing at creating true rock opera than Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, Peter Gabriel or whoever else you want to view as master of the genre. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to belittle the Who (one of my favourite bands) or THE LAMB LIES DOWN (one of my favourite prog albums!) but just think about it... Surely a true opera will move the listener because the characters come alive through arias (i.e. elaborate songs these characters sing on their own), duets, trios and ensembles (i.e. with many characters participating in a song either consecutively and/or simultaneously). Only when all (or most of) those ingredients are present can you talk of true opera. SUPERSTAR has them in spades, THE LAMB and TOMMY don't; they contain many inspired moments, but they're lacking pure drama. ("A Quick One While He's Away" comes closer to the spirit of opera.)

And "rock opera" means your opera also rocks! Well, SUPERSTAR rocks sufficiently, and if Andrew Lloyd Webber had never lost his street cred by (among other things) releasing one tacky West End musical after another, he would probably be seen as one of rock's great innovators. So if you're even mildly interested in exploring the possibilities of rock opera as a genre (full of silly anachronisms and all), give this one a go.

My favourite tracks (ooh, there are so many): Heaven on their Minds / Everything's Alright / This Jesus Must Die / Pilate's Dream / The Last Supper / Gethsemane / Could We Start Again Please, and of course "Trial Before Pilate". A special tour de force, SUPERSTAR's overture is actually a 100% instrumental version of that same "Trial". Now that's a trick Mr. Townshend could never have pulled off...

fuxi | 4/5 |


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