Thursday, February 5, 2009

Beginnings

My first exposure to music came from the sounds of my parent's stereo.

For the most part the records in their collection (which was predominantly my father's records) were classical....so my earliest years were spent with the basics: Mozart, Beethoven, Bach (a little bit), Chopin, Prokofiev...and lots of opera which I never really liked or developed a taste for.

The first pieces of classical music I really remember liking & wanting to hear over and over again was the Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz and - especially - Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky (better known among prog-rockers for writing Pictures at an Exhibition which ELP did an interesting version of).

My mother's tastes leaned more towards the pop & folk side of things....Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, and Pete Seeger being prominent.

The first records that came out of their collection that I really remember loving was the Beatles "Rubber Soul" (the Americanized 12-song version) and the "1967-70" compilation....and....more than anything else....

The Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack...and of course I'm talking about the ORIGINAL album version....the one with Ian Gillan as Jesus, Murray Head as Judas, Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene, and so forth.

This record was the first record I ever heard that really got under my skin. The first record that I was COMPELLED to listen to. To this day - I love it. The songs on it are great....the performances - both vocally & instrumentally - are tremendous....the story is interesting. It's got it all. Gillan's voice on the record is absolutely ridiculous and all you have to do is hear the song "Gethsemane" to hear all of the potential of a human voice....from the softest of soft to pure banshee like wails that he would become known for with Deep Purple....the song itself is an unbelievable vocal performance....but really, the album as a whole is just so well written.

I promise you - this will be the only time in this blog that I even mention Andrew Lloyd Webber. I can already hear you laughing at me. Truth is - my parents were Webber & Rice fans - and I was exposed to a lot of their stuff - both on record & stage (looking through the Webber discography, it's amazing how many of his musicals I've seen live (Jesus Christ Superstar not being one of them)...but I have seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita, Cats, Song & Dance, Starlight Express, and Phantom of the Opera). I'm sure the snooty music critics thumb their noses down at Webber's stuff - but the truth is - there are some good moments in his music....and in his earlier days....he could write some pretty heavy shit if he wanted to.

But yeah....I think if I had to choose the starting point for my OWN adventure into music (rather than leeching off my parents' tastes) - it would definitely be the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack.

A quick current day going on: bought a ticket to see Throbbing Gristle in Brooklyn on April 16th....the forefathers of industrial music & first time they've ever played NYC. Easy listening it most certainly will not be....but I can't pass up the experience to see them.

Until later.

4 comments:

  1. I'm your first follower!! Hooray!! And I am psyched that you brought up Murray Head (a favorite of mine from the musical "Chess") and Starlight Express ( ashow not TOO many people admit to seeing besides you and me). Good job Jeff.

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  2. Thanks Laurie....my first (and only?) follower! Woo! I think my folks had the Chess soundtrack as well - but never really got into it. I think that was only Tim Rice - no Webber..."One Night in Bangkok"....not a great song. But Head's voice on JCS is insanely good.

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