I’m certain I’ve listened to this album at least annually since its release in 1970: Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar”.
The year it was released I was in religious confirmation classes preparing to be accepted as a man in the church. Being the good little Lutheran kids we were, we were suitably appalled by Tim Rice’s depiction of Christ as a fallible human being filled with doubt and fear as well as his unconventional portrayal of Judas as a tragic hero visionary trying to save the infant Christian movement from its own self destruction. Fortunately, our hip young minister used this Rock Opera as a platform to look critically at classical religious teaching and in doing so taught us not to be afraid to question conventional wisdom and to think for ourselves. It’s a gift for which I will always be grateful…..
Undoubtedly, the merits of Rice’s view of the last week of Christ’s life will be debated forever, but what’s undeniable in my mind is the sleek perfection of Lloyd Weber’s music. Amazingly well-written Rock Music performed by highly trained musicians with vocals sung by some of the finest talents of the day. Though many versions of the musical are available on disc (and believe me, I’ve listened to a good many) for my money the best is still the original 1970 London Production. Ian Gillan, as I suspect some of you are asking is the singer from Deep Purple and voices Jesus Christ. While Murray Head who sang that strange little ditty from the 1980’s “One night in Bankock” kills it as the long tortured Judas. That’s just for starters. Everyone from the High Priests to Mary Magdalene from the guitarists and amazing rhythm section to the horns and strings will blow you away. Guaranteed! Alice Cooper even joins the mix for a turn on “King Herod’s Song.” This kind of perfection is what happens when you have fantastically written Rock music performed by some seriously gifted musicians. So before there’s a ‘second coming’ pick this one up…..Until next month…..The Doctor is in…..
Below are two selections BOMS digs from “Jesus Christ Superstar” – The first is from the 1970 release entitled “Overture” and the second is called “The Temple” and comes from the 1974 Norman Jewison film.