With all the kerfuffle about the Superstar search and the forthcoming arena tour, the news about the digitally remastered reissue of the original Jesus Christ Superstar concept album has been a little lost.
I'm here to tell you that it's completely unfair that the focus has been on what's been a rather disappointing TV series so far rather than on what is a fantastic recording, a fantastic reissue, and a worthwhile investment whether you're a JCS devotee or not.
Ian Gillan, vocalist in Deep Purple, is captured here in prime vocal form - his performance is surely the reason for Andrew Lloyd Webber insisting on a "rock singer" for his productions ever since (his approval of the more pop/musical theatre stylings of Paul Nicholas seems to be an exception). It's both exhilarating and saddening to think, though, that it's possible that nobody will ever come close to matching Gillan's performance - this truly is the definition of acting through song, injecting emotion into a role he never played on stage, and wannabes would do well to learn from him.
Murray Head duels with him beautifully as Judas, and Yvonne Elliman sings the role of Mary Magdalene with such simplicity that it's almost odd to hear, used as we are to nonsensical vocal pyrotechnics from our leading ladies.
Obviously a 40-year-old concept album can't match the sumptuous orchestrations or sound quality we have with the 1996 Lyceum Theatre recording, but even so, this is the sound of Jesus Christ Superstar as originally intended.
Jesus Christ Superstar will be reissued on Monday, July 16.