The Music Of Jesus Christ Superstar

Ghoul Mourning Maniacs!

Happy Easter! This time, I’d like to talk music. Specifically, Jesus Christ Superstar’s music.

The musical and movie were created by someone named Andrew Lloyd Weber. I doubt he’ll ever find work anywhere. Yeah, right! Ok, ok. Just kidding.

[Via] MovieClips Trailer Vault

I didn’t see Jesus Christ Superstar until well into the home video age, so this actually, has way more to do with the music. My sisters and I would gather around the piano and belt out the songs. Especially at Easter time, but not exclusively. The older two, Debbie and Kathy, would play the piano, maybe Liz or I, would get to turn the pages, and we’d just rock it out!
Jesus Christ Superstar

Now, this may sound goofy, but, we are a musical family. Our dad owned a music store, which my sister now owns. So, it was not uncommon for many, many jam sessions to spring up out of nowhere. If I called or sent a text , saying, “What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a happening.” They’d get it right away. I don’t know if we were more Von Trapp or Brady Bunch, but man what a racket!!

Thanks to the Leeds Music Corporation for producing the deluxe motion picture album, which included musical score selections, great color and black and white photos from the movie, lyrics, some dialogue, etc. The book was a real “all-in-one” affair.

Our copy of the book has been taped and retaped over the years, as we certainly used it a lot. From our house on the river, to the brick house in the town, to the house in the lumber city, that songbook got around! It was fun to thumb through it, even when we weren’t using it musically.

When I finally did see the film and soaked up the music, it was pretty cool and made any future jam session have more depth. I had a better understanding of where the performers were coming from, musically.

You might want to search this book out and try your own sibling jam session. I think you’ll find it to be funky and fun! Or, your neighbor will through shoes at you, for your awful caterwauling! Who’s to say?! Anyway, enjoy!!

Little Shop of Horrors at the 50th New York Film Festival

Ellen Greene

The first proper musical that I watched in my early years was Little Shop of Horrors and it will forever remain as my favourite filmed musical. For the younger me, Ellen Greene was glorious – sure, she had a very strange singing voice, and her love of dentists made her weak, but, WOW, she was really something.

Fast forward to my much older, married self and I’m still in awe of this lady and here’s why – singing after a viewing of the directors cut of the film at the 50th New York Film Festival in 2012, this is Ellen Greene singing emotionally to “Somewhere that’s Green”.

Thanks to Youtube, we can also see composer Alan Menken perform a medley of tracks, though he isn’t quite as alluring!

If you’re as much of a fan of the movie as I am, you’ll probably want to watch the full 37 minute Q&A session that has Frank Oz, Ellen Greene, Alan Menken and Kurt Galvoa talking about the film and its recent restoration. At the end of this video is a recording of Howard Ashman singing a song that wasn’t used in the final film.

Be sure to check out my previous post about the animated Little Shop series too!

Donald Pleasence – The 5th Beatle

 I sang this song, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes

I sang this song, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes

What leaps to mind when I mention the name Donald Pleasence my faithful fiends? Is it images of the erstwhile Dr. Sam Loomis hot on the trail of the personification of evil, Michael Myers? Or how about scenes of villainous Blofeld, plotting his next move to destroy 007? Or is it flashes of a beleaguered President, trapped within the confines of the world’s largest prison waiting for the arrival of Snake Plissken, and with him liberation? Well, whatever choice you make, I bet none of them involve him singing Beatles songs to The Brothers Gibb and Frampton…

Remember Rags to Riches?

This era does not have a lock on TV shows where people feel the need to burst into song. If you happened to watch TV in the late 1980s, you may have caught this bit of 1960s musical magic…

Rags to Riches was a hybrid musical comedy drama series that ran on NBC for two seasons staring in 1987. Nostalgia was big in the late 1980s, so the show was set in the 1960s and tells the story of Nick Foley, a millionaire who adopts five orphan girls. He actually adopts 6, but the sixth only appears in the pilot, by the next episode she had been found by here birth parents. What made the show interesting is that sach episode included music of hit songs from the 1960s, sung by the cast, with the lyrics changed make it work with the plot line. Here is “Yakety Yak” From the pilot episode (originally sung by “The Coasters”).

Interested? Well Rags to Riches: The Complete Series is available on DVD. Pick it up and you get 20 magical episodes of late 1980s television that will make you yearn for more retro shows with singing and/or dancing. Before you know it you wont remember a thing about “the Glee” and instead will be on the internet signing petitions and trying to get Cop Rock the decent home video release it deserves.

Rhapsody in Blue on DVD

Rhapsody in Blue is a story that is as enchanting as the music of its central character, the legendary George Gershwin. Robert Alda plays the talented composer in this moving tribute to one of America’s premier musical artists. Although it was intended that the Gershwins’ eldest son, Ira, take piano lessons, it was his younger brother George who displayed a real talent for music. Following years of practice and an assortment of jobs, George worked his way from a music hall pianist to a Tin Pin Alley “song plugger.” Gershwin experienced his first great success with “Swanee” (sung in the film by the man who made it famous, the inimitable Al Jolson). Despite his ensuing accomplishments with hit songs and stage successes, the musical genius yearned for something greater – to create unique American music, combining the European classics and popular songs. In addition to its inspirational story, Rhapsody in Blue is musically uplifting, featuring a two hour feast of classic Gershwin.

If you love the music of Gershwin, you are in for a real treat with Rhapsody in Blue. Which, while from what I understand not historically accurate, is chock full of wonderful musical numbers including: “Rhapsody in Blue,” “An American in Paris,” and “Swannee”. What makes it extra special is that the movie also has some amazing stars playing themselves. Which means in some instances you can see the legends who helped make the music a hit, actually performing it. So you get the likes of Al Jolson, Paul Whiteman, and Oscar Levant performing in well edited numbers (almost like music videos) that will make you want to rewind and re-watch.

If you like musicals (and who doesn’t nowadays), you will adore Rhapsody in Blue. I am happy to see that the Warner Archive is digging up some of these treasures and giving them a a new life on DVD, so I can stop fumbling around week after week looking for stuff to watch on my DVR and just own them finally.

Order Rhapsody in Blue on DVD [via] Amazon