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Benny and Björn have always had an ear for the dramatic and with the added bonus of some very witty and sensitive lyrics by Tim Rice, this album is a true classic. The story is that of East versus West as Chess champions square up for the world championships, only for the American's lover to fall in love with the Russian opponent.
There are many fantastic moments on this CD - the bitter exhillarating climax ('You can slink back to your pawns and to your tarts!'), the comical merchandisers (Maybe it's a bit confusing for a game - but Rubiks Cubes were much the same), diplomats (No one's way of life is threatened by a flop - but we're gonna smash their bastard!) and civil servants ('He will not see you - with respect it buggers up his very taxing schedule') and the tender and heart-rending love songs.
'One Night In Bangkok' and 'I Know Him So Well' were both international smash hits but belie a very intelligent and thrilling musical. It is a true original classic.
In a nutshell, I highly recommend this CD. Even if you have never seen the show on stage, it should not hinder your enjoyment. I never seen the show live (though I've always wanted to) and the plot is still very clear and understandable.
Songs like "One Night in Bangkok" and "The Arbiter" will have you tapping your feet (or even dancing round the room) and those like "Pity the Child" and "I Know Him So Well" may even reduce you to tears.
All in all, an excellent display of talent and as I said, one I'd recommend v.v.v.highly to anyone with a love of music. :)
However, I believe it is a very underrated musical, certainly on hearing it for myself(I have yet to see it on stage, for I'm only 20 and thereby too young to have been able to see it initially). I think part of the problem with critics is that they may have thought that because Andersson and Ulvaeus were from Abba, they expected "Chess" to be like Abba's music. And let's face it, if you don't like Abba's music in the first place, you're not going to take projects like this seriously, are you?
To counter the critics- it needs to be emphasised that this was intended to go beyond Abba, even if Andersson and Ulvaeus' roots obviously lay there. Sure, there are the classic pop songs- most notably "One Night in Bangkok" and "I Know Him So Well"- and both are very good songs. But there is SO much more to Ulvaeus and Andersson's composing than pop- within Chess there is some amazing orchestration(e.g. "Merano", "Chess", "Endgame") that shows their talents as composers. There is also a vast range of songs within the musical- solos, duets, trios, even quartets- which further highlight the versatility of the Swedish duo.
As for lyrics, Tim Rice is able to veer between the humourously sarcastic (Take "One Night in Bangkok", "Where I Want to Be") and the touchingly poignant ("I Know Him So Well", "Heaven Help My Heart"). That takes some skill to do that- and much as he had done before with "Cats", "Evita" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" Tim Rice manages to strike gold here with his creativity.Read more ›