RICHARD ECKFORD & PETER STIMPSON
Jesus Christ Superstar: The Authorised Version
Pan, London, 1972
The blurb on the back:
Watch Jesus Christ become a Superstar as you follow His progress from single record through best selling album, international rock opera and film stardom. All the words of the original work by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber plus a fascinating collection of interviews, comment and criticism strikingly illustrated throughout in colour and black and white.
I know that I'm riding off into the sunset on my own personal hobby-horse here, but really this is fantastic. I love Jesus Christ Superstar. It manages to be both genuinely brilliant theatre and yet complete trash, and to be both at exactly the same time. The tunes are Lloyd Webber's best ever (they're all different, apart from anything else, which is unusual for one of his shows), while Tim Rice's lyrics veer joyfully between the awful ('The Apostles Song') and the really rather good ('Could We Start Again'). And the interpretation of the Gospel story is coherent and intelligent - not the only one available, of course, but a perfectly sensible and decent one.
This book - which never got a reprint, as far as I know - does full justice to the show, but has ambitions beyond that. It's a collection of cuttings, photos, interviews and correspondence, effectively a scrapbook, covering both Superstar and the position of Jesus in early-1970s youth culture more generally. Much of this makes for fascinating period pieces, particularly the Green Lantern and other comics featuring depictions of Christ.
The creation of Superstar is covered by lengthy interviews with Rice & Lloyd Webber, but even more interesting is the story of its reception. There are reviews, adverts, parodies and magazine covers from the likes of Time and Life. Best of all there are letters from Christians promising boycotts and protests, and explaining just why the writers and their record company are going to go to Hell.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 5/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 3/5
who's this unexpected fan of Jesus Christ Superstar?