Andrew Lloyd Webber
Jesus Christ Superstar: Original Cast


5.0
classic

Review

by Mr. Lean Mug USER (112 Reviews)
February 20th, 2006 | 13 replies | 5,090 views


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist


1 of 1 thought this review was well written

Rock opera. A good deal of people have no idea what that is. A good deal of that good deal, have already listened to one, Green Day’s 2004 smash American Idiot.

Rock opera’s have a long history as being story-oriented concept albums. From the Who’s legendary tale of Tommy, to Rush’s portrayal of Megalodon City, to the aforementioned story of the Jesus of Suburbia, several rock opera’s have embedded their names in pop culture, and have made their composers legendary.

However, one controversial album also stands above the masses when the term “rock opera" is mentioned. No, it isn’t a story about a teenage angst or a future straight out of a science fiction magazine.

No, it is the story of the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

England, 1968

Andrew Lloyd Webber was nineteen when he met Tim Rice. The pair came together to write the play Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, on commission from a high school. This musical was a hit; a slightly edited remake becoming produced by the Edinburgh Festival.

Upon being met with this success, the pair set to work again, to create what is, in my opinion, their greatest masterpiece.

Jesus Christ Superstar was written as a musical, but recorded as an album (Webber and Rice would follow this pattern for their next musical, Evita). It was introduced in 1970.

The title song, “Superstar" and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him," both became huge hits.

The opera was first portrayed onstage in June of 1971, by the students of Southfold High School, Southfold, New York.On October 12, 1971, Jesus Christ Superstar was released on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. It was met with mixed reviews, and harsh criticism (some from Webber himself). The show closed after eighteen months.

In the following years, Superstar has been re-released in many different forms, in many different mediums.

This review is based on my experiences with the 1996 release: Jesus Christ Superstar: Original London Concept Recording (Remastered).

This album contains all the original recordings. All twenty-three of them, remastered onto two compact discs. I have grown up with this album. My mother used to play it (primarily during Lent [a part of the Christian liturgical calendar]), and I used to be (more or less) forced to listen to it.However, as I’ve grown, and matured as a musician and as a person, I’ve began to see this masterpiece in a whole new light.

The entire album is incredible. Powerful, in-depth, and moving lyrics drive the motivation’s of the character’s individual view-points of Christ’s final hours.

Most of the action centers around Judas Iscariot’s growing discord with Christ. He allows his fear of death to overcome his trust in his companions.Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene, and the Apostle Peter, also have key main rolls.

The album begins with an overture of the reoccurring music featured in the rock opera. The overture is a good way to settle into the overall feel of this practically overwhelming album.

Heaven On Their Minds is the reflection of Peter on Jesus’ growing influence.

He sings:

Quote:
Listen Jesus I don’t like what I see. All that I ask is that you listen to me. And remember, I’ve been you’re right-hand man all along. You have set them all on fire. They think they’ve found the new Messiah. They’ll hurt you when they find they’re wrong.
He continues to outlay his fears and concerns about the Roman empire, the Jewish church, as well as the general populace, and how they might react to Jesus’ growing influence.

He says that it’s:

Quote:
All gone sour.
The next song, What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying, begins with the followers of Jesus asking what’s going on in the world, and when it will be to time to ride to the city of Jerusalem for the Jewish ceremony of Passover.

Jesus responds saying:

Quote:
Why should you want to know? Don’t you mind about the future…..Why should you want to know? Why are you obsessed with fighting…
Jesus is then comforted by Mary Magdalene, his debated “love interest."

This prompts Judas Iscariot to action. He allows his fear at what people may think of seeing Christ with a former prostitute.

He confronts them:

Quote:
It seems to me a strange thing mystifying, that a man like you, can waste his time, on women of her kind…It doesn’t help us if you’re inconsistent. They only need this one exscuse, to put us all away.
Jesus responds with anger asking “Who are you to criticize her?" He then reproaches his followers for being so slow on the uptake, to realize that he will not be with them much longer.

Everything’s Alright, is a short lullaby that Magdalene sings to Jesus.

The action then shifts to This Jesus Must Die, in which the high priests of Jerusalem reaching the consensus that Jesus is becoming a “threat" to their power, and that it is time for them to be rid of him.

Hosanna is the crowds of Jerusalem welcoming Jesus and his followers to their city, singing:

Quote:
Hosanna, heysanna, heyhosanna, hosanna, heysanna! Hey J.C., J.C.! Won’t you smile at me? Hosanna-sanna-hey superstar!
This track adds a little bit of levity to the overall mood of the album.

Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem, is a song in which Peter attempts to interpret the Biblical prophecy “for Thine is the kingdom, the gower, and the glory, forever."Peter believes this to mean that Jesus is to become militant, inciting his many followers to rebel against Roman occupancy.

Jesus responds by saying that they “do not know what that power is."

He sings:

Quote:
To conquer death, you only have to die…
Pontius Pilate is introduced in the next song, Pilate’s Dream. This song is a premonition of what will happen when Jesus is brought before Pilate.

Pilate sings:

Quote:
…And then the room was full of wild and angry men. They seemed to hate this man. They fell on him, and then, the disappeared again. Then I saw thousands of millions, crying for this man. And then I heard them mentioning my name, and leaving me the blame…
Jesus and his followers venture to the high temple of Jerusalem in the song The Temple. When they arrive, Jesus is appalled to find it full of merchants and traders.

He screams:

Quote:
A temple should be a house of prayer! But you have made it a den of thieves!
He then tells them to get out. After this, Jesus is mobbed by a crowd seeking his advice and healing.

He retires for the night, and the lullaby, Everything’s All Right plays again.

This breaks into I Don’t Know How to Love Him, a story in which Mary Magdalene confesses to herself that she is deeply in love with Christ. However, she is intimidated by him, though she can’t understand why.

Judas Iscariot comes back onto the scene in Damned for All Time. Judas goes to the high priests.He states that he “hasn’t thought at all about his own reward (in coming to them)."He only wishes, in exchange for giving up Jesus, to not be considered damned for all time.

The priests, Annas and Caiaphas offer him forty pieces of silver and “cash on the name."

Judas refuses singing:

Quote:
I don’t want you’re blood money…I don’t need you’re blood money.
However, Caiaphas tells him he can simply donate the money to the poor.

This convinces Judas as he croons:

Quote:
On Thursday night, you’ll find him where you want him. Far from the crowds, in the garden of Gethsemane.

This ends the first disc of Jesus Christ Superstar

Disc two begins with the song The Last Supper. This is the legendary Cedar that quite possibly changed the world forever. Jesus breaks the bread, and laments that no one at the table can understand what he means.He announces that one of them will deny him (he later names Peter) and one will betray him.

To this, Judas screams out:

Quote:
Cut out the dramatics! You know very well who!
He then leaves, and Jesus and company depart for Gethsemane.

The next song, I Only Want to Say, is Jesus’ passion. He asks that the task of dying be taken away from him, but admits that, if it’s the only way, he willingly excepts it singing:

Quote:
God, Thine will is hard. But You hold every card. I will drink Your cup of poison. Nail me to the cross and break me, beat me, kill me, take me, now before I change my mind….
The Arrest is the song in which Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. The mob quickly turns against him and forces him to the “High Priest House."

They taunt:

Quote:
Come with us to the High Priest House! You’ll just love seeing Caiaphas! You’ll just die in the High Priest House! Now we have him! Now we’ve got him!
Caiaphas tells them to take him to Pilate, the Roman governor of that territory.

In-between this, Peter is asked (and denies) knowing Jesus three times, as predicted.

In Pilate and Christ, Pilate comes face-to-face with the man of his dreams for the first time. He cannot believe that such a crestfallen man can be the “King of the Jews."

He taunts:

Quote:
Since you come from Galilee, then you need not come to me. You’re Herod’s race! You’re Herod’s case.
And so, Jesus is sent off to meet with Kind Herod.

Herod belittles Jesus singing:

Quote:
If you are the Christ, Mr. Great Jesus Christ, prove to me that you’re no fool walk across my swimming pool.
He calls him a “joke" and a “fraud," and has him sent back to Pilate.

Upon Jesus’ return to Jerusalem, Judas sees him, and the song Judas’ Death begins.

A despairing Judas wails:

Quote:
My God! I saw him. He looked three-quarters dead! And he was so bad I had to turn my head. You beat him so hard that he was bent and lame, And I know who everybody's going to blame. I don't believe he knows I acted for our good. I'd save him all this suffering if I could. Don't believe...our good... And I'd save him if I could...
He then commits suicide by hanging himself from a tree.

Pilate and Christ meet again, and after being pressured by the crowd, Pilate flogs and then sentences Jesus to death.

He screams:

Quote:
Don't let me stop your great self-destruction. Die if you want to, you misguided martyr. I wash my hands of your demolition. Die if you want to you innocent puppet!
Superstar is a song with excellent lyrics. It is sung by the ghost of Judas and the choir.

The Crucifixion is the song in which Jesus dies saying:

Quote:
Father forgive them. They don't know what they're doing. My God, my God, why have you forgotten me? Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.
The final song is John 19:41, which is a disturbing soundscape that accurately depicts the general feeling of those who witnessed Jesus’ final moments.


Conclusion:

I put a good deal of work into this review, of what I believe to be a musical masterpiece. This album is simply incredible. I believe that this tale, in one form or another, should be experienced by everyone, regardless of religious belief or musical taste.


Cast list
Jesus of Nazareth - Ian Gillan
Judas Iscariot - Murray Head
Mary Magdalene - Yvonne Elliman
Pontius Pilate - Barry Dennen
King Herod - Mike d'Abo
Caiaphas - Victor Brox
Annas - Brian Keith
Simon Zealotes - John Gustafson
Peter - Paul Davis
Priest - Paul Raven
Maid by the fire - Annette Brox

Album credits
Produced by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Orchestration and Musical direction by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Bruce Rowland - Drums, Percussion
Alan Spenner - Bass Guitar
Henry McCulloch - Guitars (Electric and Acoustic)
Neil Hubbard - Guitar (Electric)
Peter Robinson - Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Positive Organ
Chris Mercer - Tenor Sax



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user ratings (33)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 20th 2006



15724 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

God I hate Andrew Lloyd Webber. Doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat twice might have done it. It's a good review, but I think you should combine some paragraphs, it makes the reading disjointed.

Digging: A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent

pulseczar
February 20th 2006



2385 Comments


I love the music in the movie, despite my atheism. The review didn't really tell me anything, it's more of a movie description than anything. It'd be better if you didn't rely on the movie at all and just described the music, because this review isn't very helpful.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
February 20th 2006



3995 Comments


American Idiot is not a rock opera any more than R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet is a hip hopera. I don't understand where Green Day and other bands trying to make genre contemporary "operas" get the idea that they are intelligent enough to produce a work of substance that lasts longer than 2.5 minutes. Green Day used to be good when they played catchy pop punk and now they're playing crappy radio rock under the guise of it being some lofty political statement. It's not. It's just dumb.

Storm In A Teacup
February 20th 2006



12687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this a lot.

IvortheEngineDriver
February 20th 2006



164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I grew up on this...

To me, the best song is "Heaven is On Their Minds"...amazing lyrcis and vocals.

I forget how amazing this opera is...the movie sucks ass, but its due to the fact that director (can't remember his name) was out of his mind on drugs...he was the one who also directed Tommy

Speaking of which, Tommy is much more of a platform for this album than anything else...still, its amazing, a classic in my book!!!

morrissey
Moderator
February 20th 2006



1688 Comments


Awesome review, I learnt a lot. Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat is by and large my favourite musical of all time but I'm not much a fan of anything else Lloyd Webber has done. That being said I haven't checked this out, so I will.

Very detailed review, voted.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2006



15724 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

How can you like Joseph and not love Phantom Of The Opera? That's the only one with any credibility. Lets not get into Cats...This Message Edited On 02.27.06

morrissey
Moderator
February 27th 2006



1688 Comments


Joseph is just amazing both lyrically and musically
And it doesn't get any better than the Donny Osmond version
Pop at its perfection

masada
May 18th 2006



2733 Comments


I have the original on vinyl. :cool:

Haven't listened to it, either.

Honeymoon_Croon
May 18th 2006



297 Comments


Yeah, I grew up on this movie, I still love Phantom more, though. I need to go pick up this album because it has some amazing music in it.

XMII
June 1st 2007



176 Comments


I love this album and movie.



Carl Anderson's voice is excellent.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
February 27th 2011



9033 Comments


Jesus Christ this is long

jefflebowski
December 8th 2012



7300 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

just finished playing bass in a production of this, was pretty much the most fun music i've ever played, gesthemane and this jesus must die are awesome songs

Digging: The Fall - Hex Enduction Hour



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