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


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

4.21 | 176 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
4 stars Good Lord, this rock opera is seriously good.

First of all, it's not some cold sermon or a wrathful warning. Jesus is actually quite the dude in this particular gospel, and man can that dude sing. Voiced by the amazing Ian Gillian, Jesus lets it rip during "The Temple" in grand fashion, and his singing in "Gethsemane" is almost as otherworldly as the Man himself. The album's storyline doesn't divulge in miracles and resurrections, giving the musical a more universal appeal that parallels and sympathizes with the sort of anti-authority vibes of the year this recording was released. Jesus wasn't a war-hungry, wealthy lad with a crewcut; he was quite the opposite, and this album displays that important aspect quite well.

Musically it's rock & pop music with a ton of orchestration in the mix, and a far different beast than the previous year's big rock opera offering, Tommy. Whereas The Who's album was very much a rock album with a storyline, Rice & Webber's creation here leans far more towards a more orchestral based musical while still retaining enough rock elements to separate it from the Thoroughly Modern Millie crowd. The production also pushes the vocals rather up front in the mix to emphasize the importance of the narrative, which is fine since the singing by all performers is generally superb, but consequently some of the rock pieces feel a bit neutered by not having the guitars or drums engineered with a bit more volume.

Song-wise, there's a number of showstoppers, in particular the title track, which initially had some fundamentalists more than a bit peeved, as well as the calculated AM Gold classic "I Don't Know How To Love Him", in which by not stating Jesus by name in the lyrics, the song becomes a sort of stand-alone love ballad that sits comfortably between Linda Ronstadt's early solo material and Carole King. My personal favorite tunes are "Heaven On Their Minds", boasting Murray's passionate delivery and elevating the character of Judas with a tragic and uncommonly sympathetic aura, and the ultra groovy & funky "Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem". The variety of musical styles is appreciative as well, from rockers to folk numbers to swingy jazzy tracks like "Everything's Alright", and I would like to give a shout out to Victor Brox, whose introduction in "This Jesus Must Die" scared the crap out of me as a young bugger when I first heard his super low octave & menacing pipes.

There will be those that avoid this because they believe it to be preachy. There will also be those who avoid this because they believe it to be blasphemy. It's really neither, so enjoy the grooves & great vocals and impassioned story-telling and chill.

Prog Sothoth | 4/5 |


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