Jesus Christ Superstar


This is one rare album that became a personal favorite before I even heard the whole thing. I read much about it including the rumor that John Lennon was supposed to be JC in this rock opera, which he turned down because of conflict in schedule. Well, it was not true at all. But it added up to my anticipation. I finally got hold of a cassette tape copy of it in Ukraine, which was still part of the Soviet Union back in 1988, and true enough the album ranked immediately high in my all-time listing.

The album as everyone may know by now was written from the point of view of Judas, the political populist disciple, who was also jealous of the attention JC was giving Mary Magdalene. He thought JC may be ruining his career because of his association with MM partially insinuating the romantic relationship between the two. Or at least MM falling in love with JC. Listen to I Don’t Know How To Love Him. Judas’s suffering in the end is most touching. Interestingly, Peter did not figure quite well in the musical leaving the focus on the three main characters.

Could We Start Again Please is a plead to erase whatever happened and reboot the system. But the die is cast and there’s no turning back. Superstar has some intellectual what-ifs, which don’t irritate at all because you naturally flow with them.

It may not have started the rock opera concept, because the Who’s Tommy beat Andrew Lloyd Weber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics) to it, but it nevertheless catapulted rock opera in the consciousness of many more owing to its popularity. Rice’s lyrics are bravely provocative, while Weber’s music is a classic fusion of many things going in the music industry at that time. Rice was quoted in Wikipedia saying, “It happens that we don’t see Christ as God but simply the right man at the right time at the right place.”

Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan took on JC’s part in the original album. Ted Neely will reprise the role in the original film.

The whole thing exploded largely because of the two-pronged approach the material took – film and theater. It ran in Broadway for so long that until this decade the musical is often revisited elsewhere proving that classics never fade. New generations of young musical enthusiasts will continue to discover JCS and relate with or give it a new twist.

I’d like to see one new production soon.

Here’s the full album released in 1970. The comments in this youtube link say it all.

Here’s the film version –




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