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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The musical about lost love and bitter rivalries
There have been many incarnations of CHESS but this is the original concept album written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA with veteran Tim Rice. The score is an amazing amalgam of soaring classical orchestras, rock, pop and choral singing.
Benny and Björn have always had an ear for the dramatic and with the added bonus of some very witty and...
Published on 7 Jan 2003 by Bryan Anderson

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars cd
I ordered this believing it to be the stage version and that it was a dvd. it did not arrive on time, so had to reorder, the reorder then arrived on schedule, in suitable packaging, the music isn't as good as what I thought it would be
Published 3 months ago by sunsurfers


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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The musical about lost love and bitter rivalries, 7 Jan 2003
By 
Bryan Anderson (Hertforshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Chess (Audio CD)
There have been many incarnations of CHESS but this is the original concept album written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA with veteran Tim Rice. The score is an amazing amalgam of soaring classical orchestras, rock, pop and choral singing.
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.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful music, undeservedly failed in the theatres, 2 Dec 2003
By 
Jonathan Oakey (Brussels Belgium) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Chess (Audio CD)
The song "I Know Him So Well" was No. 1 for 4 weeks in the UK and prompted me to make my first ever musical purchase - Chess. In nearly 20 years I have never tired of it and am still moved when I listen to many of the songs. The emotional highlight for me is the song "Pity the Child", a heart-rending outpouring of raw emotion from the twisted American player (based on Bobby Fisscher) which ends with a superb guitar solo.
Reviews of the stage musical always seem to say something like "some good music, but deeply flawed", without explaining what the flaws were. I don't see it - I saw the show in London, loved it, and would love to see it again.
Anyway, whatever the merits or shortcomings of the show (sadly not available on DVD or Video), the music is exceptional. It is a mix of rock and orchestral music (contrast the two singles, "I Know Him So Well" and "One Night in Bangkok"); it has some beautiful duets (trios, quartets...) with lovely interleaved melodies and some very elegant and clever lyrics by Tim Rice.
If I could, I would give it a hundred stars. This is, I think, my favourite album bar none.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Majestic and Superb, 30 Dec 2004
By 
R. Mansfield (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Chess (Audio CD)
This CD stayed in my cabinet for many years without me giving it a second glance or thought. Then, one day with nothing much to do, I dug it out and played a few of the tracks. I was ASTOUNDED I hadn't listened to this CD before. This is a superb representation of Benny and Bjorn's composing abilities as well as Tim's incredibly moving lyrics. Each track is refreshing and full of life - as oppposed to some soundtracks where the first few songs are ok, and it snowballs downhill from there. lol!
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. :)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling rock musical from the people who brought you ABBA, 15 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Chess (Audio CD)
This CD is full of some of the best songs from the age of the rock musical, from the well-known 'I Know Him So Well' to the less popular but equally as good 'Arbiter's Song' or 'Anthem'. It owes something to the early Lloyd-Webber rock musicals (such as 'Jesus Christ Superstar') but at the same time becomes so much more than these under the skilful pen of Andersson/Ulvaeus and Tim Rice. If you're put off this by the subject material don't be, as the plot is as much about the influence of the Cold War on people's lives as it is about chess. I've seen and heard other recordings but this must be considered the definitive one. A must-have for any musical aficionado's CD shelf.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chess- a superb yet underrated musical, 5 May 2004
By 
Mr. T. Speller "tomtedspeller" (London, Uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Chess (Audio CD)
"Chess" is usually regarded by critics as being a somewhat patchy follow up to Abba's music- very good in places, yet too corny and cheesy for sophisticated theatre audiences as a whole.
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.
Without doubt, any musical which combines an intellectual board game, the Cold War and a complicated love story would be a massive gamble to take, given that chess and politics are not renowned for being sexy. Yet superb music and a mix of witty oneliners and powerful ballads combined to produce a musical of masterful genius. In my view, the 3 best bits on the OST album are:
1) "One Night in Bangkok"- okay, probably the corniest song in the musical, but the American's lyrics are incredibly acerbic, and the chorus sticks in the head!
2) "I Know Him So Well"- an absolutely beautiful, flawless song. Think Abba at their best combined with wonderfully elegant yet poignant lyrics by Rice. Elaine Paige and Barbra Dickson really could not have sung that song better, though.
3)"Opening Ceremony (Arbiter's Song)"- superb rock song, and incredibly catchy beat and lyrics. Plus Bjorn Skifs is a fantastic singer, if you've heard "Hooked On A feeling" by Blue Swede from "Reservoir Dogs" you will know what I mean.
Overall, this is a superb project, and one that showed that the guys from Abba were in fact accomplished musicians(indeed, working with Tim Rice would have boosted their credibility in any case). However, it needs to be said that this is very underrated by many. Okay, there are a few moments where the music "could" be considered to be cheesy pop, but for the most part this is sophisticated music that is wider ranging than what Abba achieved. It's just a pity I probably won't be able to see this musical!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, 27 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Chess (Audio CD)
From the uplifting, ironic beginning of Merano, through the authoritative The Arbiter (Opening Ceremony), to the lamenting Pity the Child, this CD delivers what I remember of Chess, and wonderfully. Well worth it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abba-dabbo-doo!, 1 Aug 2002
By 
Alpinefinland "mal" (stanley, durham United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chess (Audio CD)
This is exceptional. Love to have heard the Abba girls singing 'I Know him so well'. Would have suited them to a tee. If only they'd stayed together. Never mind, this is the next best thing. 'One Night In Bangkok' is a superb pop song. Tim's lyrics are breathtakingly beautiful. Bjorn and Benny's melodies second to none. Ballads, Pop, Opera, all combine to tremendous effect. Best musical soundtrack? Close. This and 'Les Miserables' . Go buy 'em.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Superb, 29 Sep 2000
By 
JBV "JBV^_^" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Chess (Audio CD)
I currently own the tape (my second copy!) and have the CD on order.
While the stage version is better, this version is execellent, and the sound quality cannot be faulted.
If you get a chance to see this, i would suggest that you do. In the meantime, buy this CD!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Modern Musicals... Ever, 25 Oct 2001
This review is from: Chess (Audio CD)
Tim, Benny, & Bjorn have really succeeded in bringing some of the best talent together to perform what I think is one of the greatest musicals of all time. The music is timeless, the story is timeless, the performances are priceless - which of course makes this timeless and priceless. Buy it! And then tell me where I can see it on stage! Or even better, tell me where the auditions are for the next cast, and I'll be there! Once again, buy it, I'll guarantee you'll not be board(!)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - but not the necessarily the best..., 13 Aug 2005
By 
Alistair McArthur "amcarn15" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Chess (Audio CD)
There's no doubt that the Original Studio Recording is excellent. I remember being bowled over by it's sheer theatricality and oomph quality when it was first released. And then, a few years later, after seeing the stage show 9 times - yep, 9 times - I realised I was destined to be disappointed by this recording. The stage show had so much additional material of great power that wasn't commercially available. And then the other versions started to appear; the Broadway cast - fairly well sung but disastrously rewritten so as not to offend American sensibilities. I haven't heard the Swedish cast (sung in Swedish) or the Live in Concert album, but a year or so ago I finally discovered the rare Danish Tour Cast. This album is the one to own if you love Chess. Granted, Florence isn't sung as well as by Paige, but the rest of the cast are great. More importantly it's about 97% of the entire show. If you can find a copy then buy it. And if you can locate the 3CD set of Benny & Bjorn's follow up, 'Kristina fran Duvemala' then get that as well. It leaves Chess standing.
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