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Thread: Jesus Christ Superstar, The Original Album....

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    Jesus Christ Superstar, The Original Album....

    I find that I always listen to this record this time of year. I guess Ian Gillan got most of the publicity for his role as Jesus, but the real "superstar" (pun intended ) is Murray Head as Judas. Gillan reportedly did all of his vocals in one three hour session which is pretty amazing! I guess those were the days of come on in and roll tape! I also find the other performances and the overall writing to be exceptional.

    A few prog and rock luminaries are involved with this: Kark Jenkins, John Marshall, Chris Spedding, Henry McCulloch and of course, Gillan.

    Some great Good Friday listening!

  2. #2
    Member wideopenears's Avatar
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    Love this album, great stuff. I grew up with this in the house. Gillan's awesome, as is Murray Head.

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    The late Alan Spenner is also great on bass. He was in Joe Cocker's band at Woodstock and I think played briefly with Roxy Music.

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    Just listened to this last night, an amazing album! Gotta agree about the bass playing, stellar!

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    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    I guess Ian Gillan got most of the publicity for his role as Jesus, but the real "superstar" (pun intended ) is Murray Head as Judas.
    I don't remember the individual singers getting much buzz out of the album, with the possible exception of Yvonne Elliman, who got a nice career break out of her two showcase songs both being released as singles. Murray Head may have been technically credited as the artist on "Superstar," but it was presented more as a "From the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar" single than a Murray Head single. (Head's name was on the label, but not the picture sleeve.) It was Lloyd Webber and Rice who got the lion's share of the attention in the press.

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    I first heard it in 1971 when I was in the service. A neighbor in my barracks was playing it and when I was looking at the credits,as soon as I saw Gillan was on it I had to get me one. The remastered cd is phenomenally good.

  7. #7
    "Gesthemane" is Gillan's greatest performance, IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    "Gesthemane" is Gillan's greatest performance, IMO.
    Agreed.

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    I'm an atheist but that doesn't detract from the fact this is a desert island disc for me. Along with things already mentioned, I think Pilates Song is haunting and the tongue-in-cheek of Herod's Song still makes me laugh. The riff from 39 Lashes was once in Guitar For The Practicing Musician magazine as one of the 50 heaviest riffs of all time.
    "The woods would be very silent if the only birds that sang were those who sang best..." - Henry David Thoreau

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by gryphs also View Post
    I'm an atheist but that doesn't detract from the fact this is a desert island disc for me.
    Agreed. Once doesn't have to be religious to appreciate great music. I am totally non-religious, but a big fan of gospel. As much as I might disagree with their theology, I can certainly appreciate the passion behind the music. This applies to classical, as well.

  11. #11
    I still have my original double LP which came in a "box".

    Back in the early '90's, I was doing a lot of Pit Band work and I had the honor to play lead guitar for a production of this. Very challenging since it is an opera and the music never stops! Some GTR change-overs from electric to acoustic had to be done in the space of 1 or 2 measures!!!

    High-pressure but also highly rewarding too.

  12. #12
    Old man of prog
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    Be aware last year Universal UK put out a fabulous remaster that really upped the game. I strongly recommend it.

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    The song "Damned for All Time/Blood Money" is a fantastic vocal performance by Murray Head! The aforementioned "Trial Before Pilate (including the 39 lashes)" is pretty poignant, too, with that cool guitar riff punctuated by the sound of the lash whipping Christ. It really get's to you in that it highlights how long it really takes to get 39 lashes. Man!

    The voice of Pilate, Barry Dennen also seemed familiar. He's the guy that plays "Caligula" in "The Robe". I guess one of his other claims to fame is that he shacked up for a while with Barbara Streisand.

  14. #14
    Also involved were Peter Robinson and John Gustafson from Quatermass.
    "and what music unites, man should not take apart"-Helmut Koellen

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    I've loved this album since 1971 as well, the bass playing throughout is just stellar. Love these lyrics including the rhyme that's usually mocked:

    Tell me what you think
    About your friends at the top
    Who d'you think besides yourself
    The pick of the crop?
    Buddah was he where it's at?
    Is he where you are?
    Could Muhammmed move a mountain
    Or was that just PR?
    Did you mean to die like that?
    Was that a mistake or
    Did you know your messy death
    Would be a record breaker?


    Awesome.

    I've seen two staged productions of this, it really works as a theater piece, it's just that the pit bands didn't sound like this record. That hyperactive bass playing style had gone completely out of fashion, unfortunately.
    ...or you could love

  16. #16
    Wasn't the working title "Jesus H. Christ Superstar"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    Wasn't the working title "Jesus H. Christ Superstar"?
    Good one, but you forgot to add that the H is silent.

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    I'm spinning it in my truck and got as far as Hosanna. I really love this album. But I don't rate Murry Head as high as most of you. When I hear him sing Heaven On Their Minds,I'm left with only one impression. That he struggles to hit the high notes ala Roger Waters on The Wall,The Final Cut etc. Whereas Ian Gillan does this stuff effortlessly.

  19. #19
    JCS is tightly connected with the 1973 TV movie for me. The play is an audio/visual experience to me and I get the most out of it by watching it, actually.
    Check out my concert videos on my youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/broadaccent

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    "Gesthemane" is Gillan's greatest performance, IMO.
    Absolutely.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WntXfBFMRuE

  21. #21
    Profondo Giallo Crystal Plumage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JIF View Post
    Good one, but you forgot to add that the H is silent.
    Ofcourse you are also wrong, it's the "D" that's silent:
    HuGo
    ..:: Right, bring in the perverts! ::..
    "Very, very nice," said a man in the crowd,
    When the golden voice appeared.
    She was gold alright, but then so is rust.
    "Such a shame about the beard."

  22. #22
    Profondo Giallo Crystal Plumage's Avatar
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    I really love this album. The original CD sounds fine.
    HuGo
    ..:: Right, bring in the perverts! ::..
    "Very, very nice," said a man in the crowd,
    When the golden voice appeared.
    She was gold alright, but then so is rust.
    "Such a shame about the beard."

  23. #23
    Progdog ThomasKDye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smörgåsbord View Post
    JCS is tightly connected with the 1973 TV movie for me.
    For me, once you've gone Gillan, you can't go Neeley.

  24. #24
    I really like the original album but have little tolerance for the movie version. But ... the best version of Gethsemane is this live performance by Steve Balsamo (who some of you will know through the Kompendium album):


  25. #25
    I've seen that but still prefer Gillan's. Great voice, though.

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