Episode #79 – Jesus Christ Superstar (Part 3: The Album, Part 1)

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Show Updates:

  • Comments from social media.
  • Problems with Part 1 being banned from YouTube due to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  We played a 20 second clip from an album that is 53 years old.
  • Part 2 also banned from YouTube for “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” by Madeleine Belle.
  • Technical difficulties update.
  • The Jesus Christ Superstar DNA Playlist – Over 600 songs by the singers and musicians who contributed to Jesus Christ Superstar.
  • Tommy Bolin Memorial Statue Fundraiser

Lead up to the Album:

  • The story for Jesus Christ Superstar is based on The Synoptic Gospels (The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and “The Life of Christ” by Fulton J. Sheen.  The idea was to calibrate the gospels but to put more of a focus on the interpersonal relationships between Jesus, Judas, and Mary.
  • Tim Rice also said that the song “With God On Our Side” by Bob Dylan was an inspiration.
    • Bob Dylan – With God on Our Side (Audio)
    • The line: “Did Judas Iscariot have God on his side?
    • This was a fascinating subject for Rice to consider.
    • The premise of the musical is “Was Judas the rational disciple trying to preven tthe popular reaction to Jesus’s teaching from getting so out of hadn that the Romans would crush it?
    • Was Jesus beginning to believe what the people were saying, that he truly was the Messiah?
  • What if we dramatized the last days of Jesus’s life from Judas’s perspective?
  • By early 1969 there was an official 30 minute recording of the Joseph show giving them a sample of their work to try to get potential backers for their idea to turn JCSS into a broadway show.
  • Andrew had written to Sefton Myers with an idea of creating a museum of rock and roll memorabilia and slipped a copy of the Joseph 30 minute album.
  • Sefton got back to them and arranged a meeting where they presented a deal to Webber and Rice.  Webber was eager to jump at it but Rice was more hesitant as he wasn’t sure if it was safe to leave his job.  This lead to management being more aggressive and generous with their offers.
  • By summer of 1969 they were able to write and create and focus on their new project.
  • Their first attempt to create something was a musical based on King Richard the Lionheart.  It only had one performance.
  • One release “Come Back Richard, Your Country Needs You” by Tim Rice and The Webber Group.
  • They decided to try something “heavier, more serious.”
  • Tim went to visit Mike Leander who was head of A&R at MCA records. Leander was the person who had arranged the song “She’s Leaving Home” for The Beatles.  Mike asked Tim what became of his idea of making a musical about Jesus and Judas Iscariot.  This is something Tim had been thinking about for a while but had never mentioned to Webber.
  • The idea was to put themselves into the minds of Judas and Pilate and how they would have acted under the circumstances, not knowing what would become of Jesus.
  • Rice went back and told Webber and told him it would be the store of Christ’s last week on Earth from the perspective of Judas.
  • The idea was that they could put a lot of words into Judas’s mouth without betraying what was in the Gospels.
  • This was shortly after the backlash about John Lennon’s comments about The Beatles being bigger than Jesus.  So their backers were a little hesitant.
  • They wanted to write a stage production and thought that any recording would be a spinoff of that production.  It ended up being the opposite.

Production:

Additional Info:

  • This is The 1st UK release of Jesus Christ Superstar Recorded At Olympic Sound Studios, Barnes, Advision Studios, Island Studios And Spot Productions Studios On 16-Track Tape.
  • This is the rare, earliest first pressing, of which only a few hundred copies were made. It has the unique fold-out star cover and the late-sixties style MCA labels with the orange/yellow swirl design.
  • The album’s official release date was 16th October 1970 by which time MCA had introduced the new ‘bow-tie’ label design.
  • Later pressings followed with different label.
  • The booklet is slightly different from later copies – it is printed on shiny paper and has rounded corners.
  • Sleeve printed and made in England by E. J. Day.
  • Inner sleeve: Blue Decca poly-lined inners. The date codes on these sleeves are 6/70 and 7/70 which precedes the official release date by several months.
  • Booklet: This is the original first press booklet which has much shinier paper than later issues and rounded corners.

Canada release:

On Front Cover Label:

RECORDED IN ENGLAND

Performing in “SUPERSTAR” are members (past and present) of DEEP PURPLE, JOE COCKER’S GREASE BAND, LORD SUTCH, AYNSLEY DUNBAR RETALIATION, THE BIG THREE, JUICY LUCY, QUATERMASS, MERSEYBEATS, GRACIOUS, PLASTIC PENNY, SPOOKY TOOTH, MANFRED MANN and NUCLEUS.

Also performing is an 85 piece orchestra and the strings of the City of London

Released in a Box Cover including a 28 page Libretto and a 4 page statement in french, by Rèv. Jéan Malo M.A.

Lp’s housed in white paper sleeves

Records are set up for record changers

  • Ian Gillan of Deep Purple appears by courtesy of EMI Records and Warner Bros. Seven Arts Records Inc. (USA)
  • Victor Brox appears by courtesy of Bam Bam Records (UK) and “with love” from Blue Thumb Records (USA)
  • John Gustafson appears by courtesy of EMI Records and by permission of “Quatermass” AIR (London) Ltd
  • Paul Davies appears by kind permission of Philips Records Ltd
  • Pat Arnold appears by kind permission of Polydor Records Ltd
  • Tony Ashton appears through the courtesy of Capitol Records Inc
  • Peter Barnfeather appears by courtesy of Sunny Records Ltd
  • Madeline Bell appears by courtesy of Philips Records (Holland)
  • Brian Bennett appears by courtesy of B&C Records Ltd
  • Lesley Duncan appears by courtesy of CBS Records Ltd
  • Neil Hubbard and Chris Mercer appear by courtesy of Vertigo Records (UK) and the Atlantic Record Corporation (USA)
  • Peter Robinson appears by permission of AIR (London) Ltd
  • Carl Jenkins, John Marshall and Jeff Clyne appear by courtesy of Philips Records Ltd
  • Chris Spedding appears by courtesy of EMI Records Ltd

Album Art:

UK Release:

US Release:

  • Seems to be the same

Album Tracks:

LP 1

Side One:

  1. Overture
    • Leader [Choir] – Alan Doggett
    • The Theme Lloyd-Webber says he wrote on the back of a napkin at a restaurant called Carlo’s Place on Fulham Road
  2. Heaven On Their Minds
    • What’s The Buzz / Strange Thing Mystifying
      • Everything’s Alright
        • This Jesus Must Die

          Side Two:

          1. Hosanna
            • Simon Zealotes / Poor Jerusalem
              • Pilate’s Dream
                • The Temple
                  • Everything’s Alright
                    • I Don’t Know How To Love Him
                      • Webber said he’d seen Judy Garland in a movie called “I Could Go on Singing” which was also the title song.  He said there was a line about “When the cows come home.”  The director was Ronnie Neame, a friend of Webber’s Auntie Vi.  He decided to play a song to the director that he thought was better.  The music ended up becoming “I Don’t Know How To Love Him.”
                      • This melody had been used before from a 1968 song by Webber/Rice called “Kansas Morning.”  The song was never recorded.
                    • Damned For All Time / Blood Money

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                    Episode #78 – Jesus Christ Superstar (Part 2: The Singers)

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                    Show Updates:

                    • Amazon music just launched a podcast feature.  You can follow us here.
                    • Apple Podcasts Review:
                      • ElectricEye87, 09/10/2020 – FIVE STARS
                      • Let’s Go Space Talkin’
                      • I rate this podcast 5 Ritchie Blackmore floppy hats. Never thought I’d enjoy listening to a podcast where guys talk over songs I love, but here I am. Extremely informative, a solid blend of humor and content, and the guys are very easy to listen to. When listening to Whoosh! for the first time, I even found myself thinking about what they might have to say about it when their review dropped. It’s perfect aside from the occasional swear word. I would expect that kind of language at Denny’s, but NOT HERE! Other than that, all I hear is burn.
                    • Comments from social media.
                    • Tommy Bolin Memorial Statue Fundraiser

                    Lead up to the Album:

                    • They decided a good move would be to get a leading clergyman to endorse the single.  They found Martin Sullivan at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  He wrote, “There are some people who may be shocked by this record. I ask them to listen to it and think again.  It is a desperate cry.  Who are you, Jesus Christ? Is the urgent enquiry and a very proper one at that.”
                    • Sullivan also offered up St. Paul’s Cathedral for the premiere if and when Jesus Christ Superstar was finished.
                    • The single was released and they did a late night show, David Frost’s Saturday ITV.
                    • The Daily Express had gotten quotes that they were looking to cast John Lennon as Jesus.  This was untrue as they hadn’t even gotten a complete script to cast anyone yet.
                    • The budget to record the album was £20,000/$25,580 (£318,000/$406,726 in today’s money).
                    • Most of the melodies and themes were completed in January.  Side 1 is dated February 21 with side four dated March 4.
                    • In December of ‘69 there was a note that Mary Magdelne’s first song should be in 5/4.
                    • They began to seek out vocalists.  They wanted a well known name as Jesus.
                    • Their first pick for Jesus was Colin Blunstone, the lead singer of the Zombies.  Rod Argent, a member of the Zombies would be involved in the recording.
                    • Andrew Lloyd-Webber had been invited to Royal Albert Hall to see Jon Lord’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra.  Malcolm Arnold had been a friend of Lloyd-Webber’s father.
                    • Lloyd-Webber says in his biography, after meeting Tony Edwards: “I found the music bland, so I droned on about how daring it was to fuse a rock group with an orchestra.”  He found out that Deep Purple was taking a heavier direction moving forward and he mentioned something about Jesus Christ Superstar to Tony Edwards.
                    • Lloyd-Webber says a few months later that he got a call saying Deep Purple had a new singer and asked if he and Tim would like to go listen to him.  We know this is inaccurate as Gillan would have been the singer at the Concerto.
                    • They played Gillan’s rough tapes and he heard Gilaln’s scream and thought that he had found his Jesus.  He said after hearing Gillan he went back and rewrote the moment Jesus confronts the moneylenders.
                    • When Murray and Gillan were cast Webber began working on solidifying the band.  Since Joe Cocker was on a break he was able to get Alan Spenner an dBruce Rowland for bass and drums.  He spoke to Clapton’s manager to get try to get Eric Clapton on lead guitar but was unable to secure him.  Therefore he reverted to Henry McCulloguh from the Grease Band.  Chris Mercer of Juicy Lucy as the sax and another guitarist, Neil Hubbard, also from Juicy Lucy.
                    • Someone played Quatermass for Webber and he was keen to get Peter Robinson into the band as well.  They also took John Gustafson from Quatermass in the role of Simon.
                    • Most of the songs came about the first time around except “I Don’t Know How To Love Him.”  Originally they’d had Annabel Leventon to play Mary.  She had been in Hair with Murray Head.  They recorded with her and said it was good but wasn’t quite what they were looking for.
                    • There was a jazz singer performing at the Pheasantry in Chelsea who Don Norman, who was working as their manager, wanted to pitch as Pilate.  While they weren’t sold on the singer there was another performer that night that caught their eye: Yvonne Elliman.
                    • They wanted someone very theatrical to be Pilate and pitched it to Barry Dennen.  Barry’s agent arranged a meeting and he agreed to record the album.
                    • Tim was friends with Mike d’Abo who had recently become singer of Manred Mann.  And with that, filling in with some MCA employed artists their casting was complete.

                    Personnel

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                    Episode #77 – Jesus Christ Superstar (Part 1: The Musicians)

                    Disclaimer: The video used on YouTube is a byproduct of producing our audio podcast. We post it merely as a convenience to those who prefer the YouTube format. Please subscribe using one of the links below if you’d prefer a superior audio experience.

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                      • Michael Vader

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                    Show Updates:

                    Lead up to the Album:

                    • Andrew Lloyd Webber met Tim Rice in 1965.  Webber was 17 and trying to write for musical theater.  Rice was 20 and trying to make it as a writer of pop songs.
                    • On April 21, 1965 wrote a letter to Lloyd-Webber.  He said that he’d heard through a Mr. Desmond Elliott of Arlington Books, that Webber had been looking for a “with it” writer of lyrics for his songs.  Lloyd-Webber contacted him and they arranged a meeting.
                    • In Lloyd-Webber’s autobiography he describes Tim Rice as a “six foot something, thin as a rake, blond bombshell of an adonis.”  He also states that he learned Rice’s real ambition was to be a heartthrob rock star.
                    • He also states that Rice was working on a lot of stuff and that he imagined that one day it “would be nice to say I had met him before he was world famous . . . “
                    • The first collaborated on “The Likes of Us”  a musical which was never able to get a backer and  didn’t end up getting live production until 2005.
                    • Alan Doggett, a family friend of the Lloyd Webbers who had worked with them on “The Likes of Us” commissioned them to write a “pop cantata” based on the Old Testament. Two previous “pop cantatas” existed.  The first was “The Daniel Jazz” written by Herbert Chapell in 1963.  The second was Jonah-Man Jazz written by Michael Hurd in 1966.  Both had been published by Novello, a music publisher who would be producing this.
                    • The result was NOT Jesus Christ Superstar, but Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  It got some recognition as a humorous retelling of the story of Joseph.
                    • In 1969 they paired up again and wrote the song “Try it And See” for the Eurovision Song Contest for the artist Lulu.  It did not make it as the UK entry for 1969 though Lulu did sing the song “Boom Bang-a-Bang.”
                    • Superstar was the first song they recorded and released as a single written by Judas, questioning Jesus and his legacy from a 20th century perspective, the eventual follow up to “Heaven on Their Minds” which is the opening song by Judas questioning Jesus in his own time.
                    • They wanted to get a successful single on the charts so they’d be given the green light to record the entire album that hadn’t yet been written.  This would get them the ability to finally perform the sive show.  They intentionally made this single radio friendly.  It got a ton of release internationally and sold well.
                    • They were given the budget for a full symphony orchestra by MCA and were allowed to produce it themselves.  The catch was that MCA wanted to own the worldwide rights to future recordings.
                    • They got a terrible deal for the royalties behind the “Superstar” single but they were in no position to turn it down.
                    • Murray head recommended the Grease band and other musicians and they got to work recording.
                    • The recordings took place at Olympic Studios in the Southwest suburb of Barnes. It was considered to be a top rock studio.  It also had a large room that could fit an entire orchestra so that’s what they used to record the Superstar single.
                    • The engineers suggested the band record with a metronome in their headphones.  Lloyd-Webber and the band did not want to do this as they were afraid it would come across too mechanically.  Keith Grant who was engineering was very worried about how they’d be able to overdub a symphony orchestra with no click track.  Webber wanted to take the gamble so that they could have a great rhythm track.
                    • The band and the soul singers were recorded first then the orchestra after under the direction of Alan O’Duffy.
                    • Apparently the timekeeping issue did become extremely difficult for the orchestra.
                    • The first day with the band on the studio was coming and Webber got the band together and had them jam for a half an hour then they’d record a short segment with the band.  That’s how “What’s the Buzz” came together along with the moneylenders sequence.

                    Personnel

                    • The musicians for Jesus Christ Superstar, the principle rock band at least,  were largely recruited from UK rock bands at the time including The Grease Band, Juicy Lucy, and Wynder K Frog.

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                    Past Resources: