Jesus Christ Superstar [1996 Studio Cast]
This recording of Jesus Christ Superstar is based on the 1996 London stage revival, but it is not billed as a revival cast album because it does not feature all the members of the stage cast; the primary difference is that Alice Cooper has been brought in to sing "King Herod's Song." This is, therefore, technically a "studio cast" recording. It benefits, however, from the stage experience of principals Steve Balsamo (Jesus Christ), Zubin Varla (Judas Iscariot), and Joanna Ampil (Mary Magdalene). Also, it was made under the personal supervision of the authors: composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice are listed as co-producers (along with Nigel Wright), and it was released by Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Records. As such, it is basically a re-creation of the original version with a new cast. Balsamo and Varla bring the appropriate heavy metal-style vocal bravado to their roles, and the music holds up well. (Like the 1992 studio cast album released on RCA Victor, this version contains the added song "Could We Start Again Please?") But there have been so many versions of Jesus Christ Superstar since its original 1970 recording that there's not much a new one can offer, especially one as faithful as this. Of course, it may hold a special interest to people who saw the 1996 London production, which is probably why it was recorded in the first place, and why it was not released at the time in the U.S. In the spring of 2000, with a Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar on the boards, it was suddenly put out stateside with no indication of what it was, which might have fooled potential buyers into thinking it was taken from the new Broadway production.