Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jesus Christ Superstar + A Resurrection

Proceeds from the sale of this cd will be used to help gun violence. Some of the musicians on this album do not support handgun control but have nevertheless donated their time and talents.

Published in 1994 on the Daemon Records label (Amy Ray of Indigo Girls), Jesus Christ Superstar + A Resurrection is a recreation of the classic rock opera with local Atlanta artists. From what I remember reading, this was thrown together without much preparation or rehearsal on anyone's part. This isn't apparent as the work is overflowing with energy and freshness. Songs are divided among different artists with their own sound, yet this doesn't contribute to disjointed transitions. Overall a joyful album that sounds like it was fun for everyone involved. If you enjoy Jesus Christ Superstar I highly recommend this. It's available at the above link, Amazon, and iTunes.
I am on the afflicted. I admit this now. Yes, I danced around in my one-piece pajama suit at the age of six to "What's the Buzz". I hosted many impromptu performances of the rock opera in my living room which co-starred my brother and sister and sometimes featured guest appearances by the next door neighbors. We bucked up to see who got to play Judas. I can admit this all now because of the strength and encouragement I have received from other victims.

At first, when I approached my Atlanta comrades about participating in this project, my tones were low and without vigor. but as I talked to different people (guitarists who had been plagiarizing licks off J.C.S. for years, drummers whose first exposure to the 5/4 meter came from "Everything's Alright") I began to put away my self-loathing and questioning. The original J.C.S. did contain moments of genius. It was the unlikely rock feast that offered singers and musicians of my generation a variety of elegant dishes from which to choose. It did rock. I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy.
-- Michael Lorant, 1994 A. D. (Producer)

There are 25 tracks over two CDs and I've chosen just six as a sample. Not necessarily the best six or even my favorite six. I could have picked a completely different six, and as I'm listening while I type I really should have included Simon Zealotes, but these work. enjoy.

  1. Heaven On Their Minds; Judas
    Acoustic guitar, drums, piano: Michael Lorant; electric guitars, bass: Rob Gal; Strings: Sheila Doyle; double bass: Dave Domizi

  2. What's the Buzz; Jesus, Mary, Apostles
    music performed by Lay Quiet Awhile
    Guitars: dave Cook; Bass: Dan Cook; Drums: David Wright; Additional musicians -- Tambourine: Michael Lorant; sound montage: Rob Gal

  3. Everything's Alright; Mary, Judas, Jesus, Apostles' Women
    music performed by Cicada Sings
    Guitar: Pam Howe; String bass: Chris Burt; Drums, congas: The Beam; Flute: Rob Mallard; Additional musicians -- Electric piano: Michael Lorant; Guitars at fade: Cooper Seay, Dave Clair; vocals at fade: Cooper Seay, Dave Clair, Michael Lorant

  4. Gethsemane (I only want to say); Jesus
    Music performed by engine
    Guitars: Peter Williams, Albert Gresens; Bass: Garrick; Drums: Dan Anoff; Additional musicians -- Piano: Michael Lorant

  5. King Herod's Song; Herod
    Music performed by Big Fish Ensemble
    Guitars: Paul Schwartz, Dave Clair; Bass, Baritone horns, Bass clarinets: Leigh Finlayson; Drums: Michael Lorant; Electric violin: Sheila Doyle

  6. Superstar
    Music performed by Social Insanity
    Guitars, Keys, Drum programming: omi; Additional keys: Wizard; Vocals (Voice of Judas, Choir): Tomi Martin, Trina Mead, BMAC, Dee

The Cast, in order of their appearance:
Judas Iscariot: Michael Lorant
Jesus Christ: Amy Ray
Mary Magdalene: Emily Saliers
Priests (1&3): Paul Schwartz
Calaphas, High Priest: Benjamin
Anna: Mike Mantione
Priest 2: John Bigay
Simon Zealotes: Kelly Hogan
Pontius Pilate: Gerard McHugh
Choir, Maid by the fire: Anne Richmond Boston
Peter: Matt Brown
Soldier 1: Jeff Jensen
Old Man: Bill Decker
Soldier 2: Rob Gal
King Herod: Dave Clair
Voice of Judas: Social Insanity


justkim said...

Hm. This was interesting. I love Jesus CHrist Superstar. Andrew Lllyd Webber before he got pompous and Tim Rice before his bitterness turned to venom and well before the venom turned to goo (This Tim Rice would never have written "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", but he totally would have written "Be Prepared".) It's the first movie I ever remember being taken to see (at a drive-in!).

I thought that, on a strictly musical basis, these versions were good. It seemed there was some thought given to the orchestrations and style. I liked the flute in "Everything's Alright", but I was very surprised by how much I liked the total re-imagining of "Superstar". It was really good.

I had issues with some of the vocal performances. (As a former wanna-be singer, I pay most attention to singers and lyrics.) I missed Murray Head's vocal acrobatics, and Lorant just sounded too nice for Rice's Judas. I don't think there was enough anger or desperation in his performance. I'm mixed on Amy Ryan's Jesus. I didn't care for her performance at all in "Everything's Alright" (I thought she sounded evil.), but I really liked "Gethsemane". It's never a song I paid much attention to previously. I thought Saliers was just sloppy on "Everything's Alright"; too many slides and drops and not enough singing straight notes; she sounded like she was trying to be seductive, but she just sounded drunk. "What's the Buzz" was fun. Did I mention I really liked "Superstar"?

Was "Could We Start Again, Please?" (from the movie) included?

Bill_45 said...

Sorry, that song isn't included. This version is just a lot of fun and considering how little time was spent putting it together, there's an apparent affection for this music.

Probably my favorite version of JCS was a Broadway touring version from around 1985. Jesus and the apostles were dressed out in the Miami Vice wardrobe. Most of the music was played maybe a little lighter in spirit without being campy. In contrast with a touring version I saw about a decade ago. I think this included the original Jesus and was total bombast and over-staging. King Herod's song was way overplayed.