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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This double CD is, in my opinion, the best interpretation of Jesus Christ Superstar - the vocalists are amazing, Steve Balsalmo is the best Jesus (the Gethsemane on this CD is amazing,) Zubin Varla provides an incredibly powerful voice as Judas, Joanna Ampil has a strong Mary Magdelene, David Burt provides a brilliant Pontious Pilate (the song Pilate & Christ on this CD...
Published on 19 Jan 2003 by mdchurchill

versus
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misses the targets all around...
What really annoys about this recording is the failure to match up to the material. The work is great - the performance and production is poor to say the least.

So what went wrong? My biggest single criticism is the cast. In the original recordings it sounded as if the singers wanted to be rock stars - now they sound like they want to be in a musical. Mary...
Published on 26 Jan 2007 by The Sheep


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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 19 Jan 2003
This double CD is, in my opinion, the best interpretation of Jesus Christ Superstar - the vocalists are amazing, Steve Balsalmo is the best Jesus (the Gethsemane on this CD is amazing,) Zubin Varla provides an incredibly powerful voice as Judas, Joanna Ampil has a strong Mary Magdelene, David Burt provides a brilliant Pontious Pilate (the song Pilate & Christ on this CD sounds amazing) and Alice Cooper portrays a pretty good Herod. (I also thought Annas was particularly good, though not as original as the interpretation provided in the 2000 version.) The instrumentation on this interpretation is very good - I particularly like the drum line which seems more imaginative than in other versions. The only slight snag is that I don't like the ending of Everything's Allright, I prefer the fade-out as with the 2000 version because it creates such a better fade in to This Jesus Must Die. Overall, very good: particularly Judas & Pilate.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misses the targets all around..., 26 Jan 2007
This review is from: Jesus Christ Superstar (Audio CD)
What really annoys about this recording is the failure to match up to the material. The work is great - the performance and production is poor to say the least.

So what went wrong? My biggest single criticism is the cast. In the original recordings it sounded as if the singers wanted to be rock stars - now they sound like they want to be in a musical. Mary is particualry poor in this version - she has lost the tenderness and naievety that made the 70s version so likeable. Alice Cooper at least gets the attitude right in his Herod, but I'm just not sure that Herod's Song suits him.

As for the remastered music - well it sounds clunky, and the mix has either faded down or lost some of the wonderful instrumental parts (what happened to the wandering guitar that thread its way through Jesus Must Die?).

I'm off to look for an earlier version. It may not be as digital, but hopefully it will have the soul of the piece.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST VERSION OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER'S CLASSIC, 12 Sep 2006
This review is from: Jesus Christ Superstar (Audio CD)
Jesus Christ Superstar was Andrew Lloyd Webber's first big success and the second musical he did with, in my opinion, his best lyricist, Tim Rice. The show evoked much controversy when it first appeared in 1970, since the story of the Christ's final days is mainly told from the Judas' point of view and not always according to the Gospels. Hence Mary Magdalene mentions that she is in love with Jesus and after the last supper the Apostles are a bit drunk.

Jesus Christ Superstar is considered as a turning point in modern musical-theatre. It presented something entirely different from past musicals: the plot was new and distinct, the lyrics did not sound shallow and the characters were precisely defined. Also, the piece was entirely sung-through so that the music and the plot became one. All the new musicals afterwards will use some of the new characteristics Superstar introduced leading to almost complete abandonment of the styles that the 50-is and the 60-is used in musicals.

Over the years there were quite a few recordings, however, this one can be considered definite. Both Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice overlooked its making acting as producers, Lloyd Webber making the orchestrations. The cast was mainly assembled from the revival production that run in London from 1996 until 1998, but this recording is known as the studio cast, since Alice Cooper was called in for the role of King Herod. The score is certainly one of the best Webber has ever written; the pure rock sound of the orchestra is simply amazing. When compared to the older recordings, this one has a more polished score and the sound, i.e., the use of the guitars, drums etc, sounds more modern and appropriate. Tim Rice's lyrics are suitable and witty, fitting perfectly with the score.

The cast on this recording made a fantastic job. Steve Balsamo as Jesus is a perfect match in both physical and vocal sense. His voice range is amazing and ranges from smooth and soft to extremely high. The way he holds his voice and hits the notes in "Gethsemane" left me with my mouth opened. One can feel the pain, sadness and unwillingness to finish his task and be crucified. His performance is absolutely amazing. The same thing can be said for Zubin Varla, who plays Judas. His voice is appropriately husky and his solos bring the house down. A clear distinction can be seen between his and Balsamo's voice. Joanna Ampil as Mary Magdalene is reasonable, although she sounds a bit too pathetic for my taste. Alice Cooper is hilarious in his "King Herod's Song", exactly as it is meant to be. The supportive cast was also wisely chosen, David Burt is strong and yet uncertain Pilate, the malice felt in Peter Gallagher's Caiaphas is just perfect. The orchestral performance is spotless. The score ranges from rock numbers to wonderful and touching ballads. The full libretto with cast photographs is included in the booklet.

In the end, I would recommend this recording of Jesus Christ Superstar not only to anyone interested in the very best that the modern musical-theatre has to offer, but also to fans who are looking for the definite recording.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT, 20 Aug 2008
By 
This review is from: Jesus Christ Superstar (Audio CD)
The main reason for this recording to my mind was for the sensational performance from Steve Balsamo. Not really sure why they didn't record the complete revival cast as they sang better than most of the stunt casting here. David Burt (as in everything he has ever done) was brilliant on stage. Joanna Ampil looked good on stage but was too lightweight vocally for me. The stars were Varla and Balsamo and for them alone this is more than worth the purchase price. I doubt as complete performance Balsamo could be bettered!!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best version, 13 April 2004
By A Customer
This is the best recording of JCS yet! Balsamo has the most amazing voice and you can actually feel the suffering during "Gethsemane." Both of the characters playing Mary Magdalene and Judas truly shine. Particularly enjoyable was the Alice Cooper cameo as "Herod." I saw this version in London in '96 and it was more powerful than the early hippie versions. The production was performed in more period type costumes and had a very dark tone. When they brought it to B'Way a few years ago they modernized it and made it look horrible.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Massive disappointment for me, 26 Sep 2012
By 
Dr. J. J. Green "Joe" (N Yorks) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Jesus Christ Superstar (Audio CD)
I had high hopes for this after reading the other reviews but I'm sorry it just doesn't do it for me. My first introduction to JCS was the film, with Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson. I heard the original cast with Ian Gillan and Murray Head at a later date. I can't decide which is the best between the original cast and the film - both have their pros and cons, but both are ultimately fantastic.
Now we come to this shoddy 1996 performance. I really can't warm to it. The singers are good, but they just don't do the roles justice. Maybe in other musicals they suit the parts but not here. To be fair Judas is reasonable at times, but both Judas and Jesus sound plummy, and too refined. There is an absence of emotion throughout as they strive for enunciation. You can't do this when you are trying to portray emotion whether it be anger, sadness etc. Nobody enunciates to perfection when angry - words should be spat out.
As other reviewers have said the music leaves a lot to be desired. It sounds like a kids pantomime. I don't like musicals, full stop, but the music in JCS is fantastic so how have they managed to get it so wrong? I think at times the music has been sped up slightly, which gives it a rushed quality, but its also quite spartan at times - sounds like a bontempi organ playing on repeat at times. Maybe its because JCS wasn't originally a musical that it just sounds wrong.
I'll stick to Gillan/Head, or Neeley/Anderson in the future...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This soundtrack is truly amazing, 20 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This cd is a truly amazing experience and is worth buying if only for 'Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say)' which is stunning. Herod's song, as always, is done really well and adds to the torment and climax of the final few songs and the chilling 39 lashes. I haven't stopped playing it since I bought it and can always hear something new in the lyrics and music each time I do. Buy It!.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet but stunning..., 2 Aug 2004
By 
Mr. RCS Young "rcsy" (Camberley, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is, by a very long way, the best recording of JC that I've heard. The reason that I've titled this review as bittersweet is that it has set such a high standard for any production of one of my favourite musicals that I find it very difficult to truly enjoy most productions of the show now. The main reason for this that is the recording of Gethsemane and also of Heaven on Their Minds. They are such key songs and this recording 'nails' them.
I defy anyone to listen to Gethsemane and not have absolute shivers go down their spine. It's the most awe inspiring piece of singing of what was already a fabulous song. It absolutely makes this CD. But (other than that amazing guitar solo to open the Overture) Heaven on Their Minds is a close second. How anyone can sing that number the way he does -without- using falsetto is beyond me. Quite astounding.
The chorus is superb and bearing in mind how much they have to do that is not a small factor. Alice Cooper does a fabulous job as Herrod - smirking and sneering his way through a number that is too often camped up just for laughs.
But you have to keep coming back to Judas and Jesus and they power this whole soundtrack. Do yourself a favour and buy it - it's essential listening. I'd pay the money for just two of the songs.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST VERSION OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER�S CLASSIC, 21 Nov 2004
Jesus Christ Superstar was Andrew Lloyd Webber's first big success and the second musical he did with, in my opinion, his best lyricist, Tim Rice. The show evoked much controversy when it first appeared in 1970, since the story of the Christ's final days is mainly told from the Judas' point of view and not always according to the Gospels. Hence Mary Magdalene mentions that she is in love with Jesus and after the last supper the Apostles are a bit drunk.
Jesus Christ Superstar is considered as a turning point in modern musical-theatre. It presented something entirely different from past musicals: the plot was new and distinct, the lyrics did not sound shallow and the characters were precisely defined. Also, the piece was entirely sung-through so that the music and the plot became one. All the new musicals afterwards will use some of the new characteristics Superstar introduced leading to almost complete abandonment of the styles that the 50-is and the 60-is used in musicals.
Over the years there were quite a few recordings, however, this one can be considered definite. Both Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice overlooked its making acting as producers, Lloyd Webber making the orchestrations. The cast was mainly assembled from the revival production that run in London from 1996 until 1998, but this recording is known as the studio cast, since Alice Cooper was called in for the role of King Herod. The score is certainly one of the best Webber has ever written; the pure rock sound of the orchestra is simply amazing. When compared to the older recordings, this one has a more polished score and the sound, i.e., the use of the guitars, drums etc, sounds more modern and appropriate. Tim Rice's lyrics are suitable and witty, fitting perfectly with the score.
The cast on this recording made a fantastic job. Steve Balsamo as Jesus is a perfect match in both physical and vocal sense. His voice range is amazing and ranges from smooth and soft to extremely high. The way he holds his voice and hits the notes in "Gethsemane" left me with my mouth opened. One can feel the pain, sadness and unwillingness to finish his task and be crucified. His performance is absolutely amazing. The same thing can be said for Zubin Varla, who plays Judas. His voice is appropriately husky and his solos bring the house down. A clear distinction can be seen between his and Balsamo's voice. Joanna Ampil as Mary Magdalene is reasonable, although she sounds a bit too pathetic for my taste. Alice Cooper is hilarious in his "King Herod's Song", exactly as it is meant to be. The supportive cast was also wisely chosen, David Burt is strong and yet uncertain Pilate, the malice felt in Peter Gallagher's Caiaphas is just perfect. The orchestral performance is spotless. The score ranges from rock numbers to wonderful and touching ballads. The full libretto with cast photographs is included in the booklet.
In the end, I would recommend this recording of Jesus Christ Superstar not only to anyone interested in the very best that the modern musical-theatre has to offer, but also to fans who are looking for the definite recording.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, 28 Mar 2005
By 
Glenn Chapman "Glug-Meister" (Frieth, Oxfordshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This musical depicts so well those events preceding Christ's brutal death. All voices are fitting and suitable for the characters, I espically enjoyed King Herod's Song, "So you are the Christ.." it is a real facet to this album - superbly sung by Alice Cooper. Whoever chose Mary Magdelene's character was a true genius; her voice is like the Seraph, most angelic. This is a real, punchy rock-opera, adorned with the best voices for the most disperate of characters!
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