Classification: Music For Pleasure
Year of release: 1972
Type: Studio cast
Mike Redway and Danny Street are credited on the covers of some editions of this recording, and a few trading lists down the years have reported that Redway plays the roles of both Jesus and Judas on it. Any other information is unknown.
Heaven On Their Minds
What’s The Buzz
I Don’t Know How To Love Him
Damned For All Time
I Only Want To Say
King Herod’s Song
Audio Production Information
Produced by Walter J. Ridley
Cover Design (Axis edition) by Naughton Alburg & Associates
Painting (Axis edition) by Hugh McLeod
Sleeve Design (Music for Pleasure edition) by Jack Wood
Sleeve Notes by Roger St. Pierre
Historical Notes from a Fan
When any show is a hit, a lot of people will be quick to capitalize on the show’s success. In this case, Jesus Christ Superstar was one of the first albums of its kind, and everyone wanted their slice of the pie where the Passion According to Tim and Andrew was concerned. At this time, many “budget” labels famous for releasing low-cost sound-alike albums (“knock-off” recordings capitalizing on shows, songs, or albums that became hits) jumped into the fray. The performers were usually never an actual ensemble that had performed JCS (indeed, in its early days, the number of actual casts performing the show was very few), but instead merely a group of vocalists who recorded songs from the show. Usually, these recordings were very cheaply put together and produced, and priced to own. (In the future, albums like these, now labeled “studio cast recordings,” could no longer be accurately described as simple cash grabs, but at the time, the use of the phrase “knock-off” is appropriate.) Though it may be a matter of opinion, this particular fan feels that since the performers on these studio recordings lack the experience of getting on a stage and performing the show in front of an audience, the performances are pleasant enough, but not always up to par with a real cast album.
Music For Pleasure was the king of budget-priced labels in its day, dealing in popular and classical music in equal shares; a major label group, EMI, provided the source material, and outside agents like publisher Paul Hamlyn, who was a partner with EMI in the initial MFP joint venture, set up distribution in so-called non-traditional outlets (e.g., W.H. Smith bookstores). Sometimes existing big-label recordings by such diverse artists as Adamo, The Animals, Shirley Bassey, The Beach Boys, The Beatles (both as a group and solo), Blondie, Nat King Cole, Jimi Hendrix, Marillion, Dean Martin, producer Mickie Most, Pink Floyd, Queen, Cliff Richard, Kenny Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan (a rare early track appeared on one of MFP’s many compilations), Roger Whitaker, and most memorably the St. Winifred’s School Choir which scored 1980’s much-coveted Christmas #1 with “There’s No One Quite Like Grandma,” were dumped into budget packaging by MFP; sometimes original material — including studio cast recordings of such musical theater chestnuts as Carousel, The Sound of Music, and South Pacific, and the obligatory attention-getting soundalike cover versions of current hits by anonymous vocalists — was cut on the cheap and released direct to the shops.
With that in mind, there is little surprise that JCS eventually met with the same treatment from this group. An unnamed bunch of top session players (fairly large orchestra in attendance, by the sound of the brass letting it rip and the drummer that has to go for it to be heard above everyone else) rattles off the tunes to great effect under the watchful eye of producer Walter Ridley. Aside from a screechy Mary who fortunately goes un-credited (she’d no doubt be tracked down and attacked by more rabid JCS fans if they knew who she was), the bloke who seems to be doing all of the parts himself does a fine job. The soppier tunes slightly over-egg the pudding with schmaltz, but overall it’s a fine effort.
Personal favourite versions of songs
Maybe because I’ve had this album since it came out, but these are my favourite versions of the songs. When you’re very used to a version every other version sounds slightly wrong!