(39 Jesus-based MP3s after the jump)
After several years of threats, I finally devoted most of a radio show to an alternative version of Jesus Christ Superstar, playing each track in order using various versions of Andrew Lloyd Weber's bombastic masterwork which I've collected over the years. Here's the entire MP3 of it, extracted from my December 13th show archive: download MP3 (78 megs).
If you're not up for 78 megs of download, follow the jump for the individual tracks contained in the mix, plus a whole lot more. If you have any other versions not listed here, please e-mail me about them at ken at wfmu dot org .
I had hoped that this show and blog post would finally get this out of my system for good. But it is not to be. As Peter said, "the more you try to get Jesus out of your system, the more Jesus you get into your system." Maybe it wasn't Peter who said that. No matter.
Jesus Christ Superstar was the first record I really fell in love with, back in the summer of 1971 when a bunk mate at summer camp played the JCS eight track non-stop. I then forgot all about it for the better part of 25 years. I rediscovered it 5 or 6 years ago, when I moved the turntable into my family's kitchen, pulled out the original 2 LP set starring Ian Gillan, and found that it was a great way to talk to my two young children about Judeo-Christian myth/theology and that funky western civilization.
My musical plan was smashed to bits when my daughter heard The Crucifixion, which promptly sent the normally joyful five year old into a two hour "I Don't Want To Die" crying and screaming jag. I filed the LP back in the wall for a few years. Until my ten year old son discovered it and started playing it even more relentlessly than my bunkmate had in 1971. Which led to my search for alternate versions, if only to preserve my sanity. Finally, I got the little bugger an iPod and locked him in a closet. But by then it was too late. The Jesus-based collection had begun and still shows no signs of abating.
For the record, the best version is the Dutch one. The Japanese version is the wackiest one, although that's due mostly to the Mishima-esque Japanese Judas. If the Japanese version had a better Pilate, it would rank up there with the Dutch one. Coming in a close third is the great Brazilian version, which is also marred by a sub-standard Pilate, and then the 1973 New York City Spanish language version by Camilo Sesto - gratuitous slithery synthesizers and disco beats abound. The funniest rendition of all is the filmstrip-like Superstar Medley by Jan Brenner, Ltd, below. For versions that rock, check out Pegboy, Cows, Rats of Unusual Size and the Afghan Whigs.
Everything's Alright: Russian Cast
This Jesus Must Die: German Cast
Hosanna: French Cast
Simon Zealots / Poor Jerusalem: The Pipelines (Italy)
Everything's Alright reprise: Dutch Cast (actually another full version of the song)
The Last Supper: Nick the Bard
Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say): Terry Wallace (moog)
The Arrest: Japanese Cast
King Herod's Song: Japanese Cast | NYC Spanish Version (attached to Pilate and Christ, above)
Can We Start Again Please? NYC Spanish Version
Judas' Death: Japanese Cast
Crucifixion: Four At Once
John Nineteen Forty One: Rebew Dyoll Werdna
Thanks to Vicki, John from Oslo, Monica, Dave the Spazz, Mike Lupica, Tony Coulter and Kenny G for the suggestions and submissions. Many of the best foreign versions are available through Footlights Records.