Since its debut in 1981, London's and the world's longest-running musical still secures bums on seats in a dozen theatres worldwide. Uncountable recastings and re-orchestrations later, Lloyd Webber's adaption of T. S. Eliot's Old Possums Book of Cats
strives to please the ears of ever new generations. This is the original cast recording, and it retains a freshness from the still recent opening, its novelty untarnished by decades of success. Also the abundance of "names"--both singers and musicians--makes this one of the high class musical recordings of all times. Elaine Paige rose to stardom as Grizabella with the hit "Memories"; at the time, though, bigger names were Wayne Sleep, Paul Nicholas and Brian Blessed. Sarah Brightman and Bonnie Langford are also on the cast list. Lloyd Webber himself plays keyboards and the impressive roster of session musicians includes Barbara Thompson and David Locke. Lloyd Webber, well versed in the practise of "auto-quotation", can always look back to this work for cat-chy material: the "Overture", "Old Gumbie Cat", "Rum Tum Tugger" and "Mr.Mistoffelees", the list of good tunes and themes goes on and on. This remains a fun listening experience, even for those few who still haven't caught the show. --Yngvil V.G.