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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
5 stars Although the original album is from 1970 my first experience with JCS came with the release of the movie in 1973, I was 7 years old and the insistence of my oldest sister who was then a teenage hippie eventually won over the reluctance from my grandmother who was a very traditional christian, and finally my father took us all to watch the movie. My grandma was quite upset by the unconventional interpretation of Jesus passion but we the kids got fascinated, my sister immediately bought the soundtrack album, books, posters, translations of the lyrics etc and this album became one of the most played at home on par if not more than the other classic albums of the period.

Musically it is one of the most accomplished attempts at mixing orchestral music with rock, with plenty of memorable melodies, recurring themes all over the place, elaborated arrangements and dramatic dynamics, by far the rockiest work I have have heard from Andrew Lloyd Webber and much better than other rock operas of the time like Hair or The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

This is a real rock opera musical so the vocal melodies and singing performances of the different characters are very important, and they are excellent in my opinion. Whether one prefers the original version with Ian Gillan and Murray Head or the movie soundtrack will probably depend on which one you heard first and the most, and for me this means that I prefer the soundtrack. Gillan may have been a great screamer but there is no doubt that Ted Neeley could scream too!

The lyrics by Tim Rice go through the last week of Jesus life with a modern twist and put quite some focus on reminding that the actual responsibles for Jesus execution were not Judas Iscariot or Pilate (who are depicted rather as victims for history) but the Jewish High Priests, Caiaphas in particular, an aspect which I believe is faithful to the biblical accounts but which seems overlooked in many traditional passion plays. This was emphasized in the movie by adding a new song which was not in the original album (Then We Are Decided) which represents the moment when Caiaphas and Annas decide to conspire against Jesus. The other main character is Mary Magdalene providing the contrast of a female voice and some of the most lyrical moments.

Jesus is mainly presented as just a man, without making reference to any divine qualities, no miracles, no resurrection, the only concession to any supernatural powers being his prediction during the last supper that Peter will deny him three times and Judas will betray him. So as in many good concepts the interpretation of his story is up to the listener and it doesn't matter whether you are a believer or not to appreciate the lyrics storyline.

The movie on top offered an original scenography combining the idea of filming on location at Middle East ruins mixed with modern atrezzo and it is drenched with a lovely hippie feel, watch it if you can.

This needs to be listened to from beginning to end, the first disc is very good but the most climactic moments are in the second disc with Gethsemane, Pilate and Christ, Trial Before Pilate or the moving closing adagio John 19:41.

Keeping in mind that this is not a traditional prog-rock album but rather a Broadway musical, this is a great musical work and should appeal to many open minded proggers, for myself it was also an important album in my childhood and will always remain a masterpiece.

Gerinski | 5/5 |


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