Posts Tagged ‘Murray Head’

‘Ho-Sanna, Hey-Sanna . . .’

January 23, 2018

Tracks from iTunes were running randomly the other evening as I puttered on one thing or another, and up popped the tune “Everything’s Alright” by Yvonne Elliman from the 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

The inclusion of that track and three others from the Andrew Lloyd Weber/Tim Rice creation – the Overture, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” by Elliman and “Superstar” by Murray Head (with The Trinidad Singers) – in iTunes and the iPod was a recent thing. During my most recent stocking of the iPod after the crash of my external hard drive, I idly saw the folder for Jesus Christ Superstar in the J folder and without much thought pulled into the iPod those four tracks.

They’d been on the digital shelves for a long time. I likely found the 1970 rock opera offered at one blog or another not long after my 2006 discovery of music blogs. Its acquisition was a small portion of my lengthy project of replicating digitally my record collection from the early 1970s, but once the JCS mp3s were safely tucked away on my digital shelves, I never purposely listened to them. I imagine that one time or another a track or two might have popped up while the RealPlayer was rolling on random, but I don’t recall. I think my view of the production – an album I played frequently back in the basement rec room during the early 1970s and on occasion during the years since I left St. Cloud in 1977 – was that it was nice to have on hand but no more than that.

And then came “Everything’s Alright” the other evening, except the track began with a clank or a clunk or a thunk, some kind of sound that did not belong there. Nor was the sound the result of poor splitting; the clunk or thunk did not belong to the end of the preceding track, “What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying.” But as I listened to that track, I noted other noise that marred it, too. Irritated, I deleted the entire album and decided that, once we’ve finished moving, I would buy the CD set online.

Then I wondered, do I really need it? Would I still enjoy it? Or was its attraction one of time and place, the era of Hippie Jesus and my first years of listening to rock and pop and all their relatives?

So I borrowed the set from the library and began listening to it in the car as I ran a lengthy set of errands Saturday and went to and from church on Sunday. I’m not quite finished – “Trial Before Pilate (Including The 39 Lashes)” was playing as I got home from church Sunday – but one thing is apparent: Even twenty or so years removed from my last listening and forty-some years removed from repeated listening, I still know every line and every instrumental turn of the album.

That in itself is not surprising; the album imprinted itself on my brain when I was seventeen. How, though, does it sound at sixty-four? As was pointed out by critics when the album came out, its grasp on theology and history is spotty, and Rice’s lyrics can still startle one with modern-day references and still sometimes land smack in the middle of hippie mysticism. I recognize without too much concern the historical and theological fuzziness, and I don’t mind the modern vernacular or the hippie mysticism one bit. As to the music, it’s better than I remembered, superb instrumentally and vocally.

So is it essential? Well, it’s been 48 hours since I last heard any of the album, and for most of my waking hours in that time, the album’s instrumental themes and motifs as well as bits and pieces of the lyrics have been tumbling through my brain:

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening . . .

I dreamed I met a Galilean, a most amazing man.
He had that look you very rarely find, the haunted, hunted kind . . .

Ho-sanna, hey-sanna, sanna-sanna-ho . . .

You have set them all on fire.
They think they’ve found the new Messiah
And they’ll hurt you when they find they’re wrong . . .

Will no one stay awake with me? Peter? James? John?

Listen to that howling mob of blockheads in the street!
A trick or two with lepers, and the whole town’s on its feet . . .

If you knew all that I knew, my poor Jerusalem . . .

Every time I look at you, I don’t understand
Why you let the things you did get so out of hand.
You’d have managed better if you’d had it planned.
Why’d you choose such a backward time and such a strange land?

So, yeah, when we get settled on the North Side, I think I’m going to add the CD set to the collection. (As it happens, the vinyl is still on the shelves; it survived last year’s sell-off.)

Back in the early 1970s, of course, Jesus Christ Superstar was a massive hit. The rock opera – the stage and screen versions came later – spent 101 weeks on the Billboard 200 starting in November 1970 and was No. 1 for three nonconsecutive weeks during the first half of 1971. The album was the source of three singles in the magazine’s Hot 100: Elliman’s “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” went to No. 28 in the spring of 1971; her follow-up, “Everything’s Alright,” stalled at No. 92 that autumn. And Head’s “Superstar” went to No. 14 in early 1971 as a reissue; it went only to No. 74 when first released in early 1970, before the album came out.

Here’s Head and The Trinidad Singers with “Superstar.”

Heartsfield, Bruce & Murray

March 21, 2012

Originally posted March 19, 2009

Hi, all. It’s Video Thursday!

First of all, here are two performances by Heartsfield from the band’s reunion concert in 2004. The first has the band performing “Shine On,” and the second has the band closing the concert with “I’m Coming Home.” (The DVD then has the studio version of “The Wonder of It All” play over the closing credits. The person who posted the video at YouTube notes that the credits include some footage of the band from 1975.)

And the second:

Here’s Bruce Springsteen performing “You’re Missing” in Barcelona, Spain in 2002.

Last, I found a live performance of “Superstar” from Jesus Christ Superstar with Murray Head backed by a full orchestra and choir. The performance took place in France in 2007 during something called the Night of the Proms, a series of concerts that Wikipedia indicates is the largest annually organized indoor event in Europe.

Tomorrow, I think I’m going to offer a Six-Pack of single tracks from six albums – yet to be chosen – that have been in my stacks for years without ever being played. That means we could have some great music, we could have some odd music, and we could have some music that’s both.

The Turntable In My Head

March 21, 2012

Originally posted March 16, 2009

Something reminded me today of the 1970 rock opera – as it was called – Jesus Christ Superstar. I bought my copy soon after it was released and listened to it frequently. It was one of those albums, in fact, that I listened to enough that I in effect memorized it.

That came in handy a summer later, when I spend a brief part of 1971 mowing lawns at St. Cloud State. We weren’t allowed to bring our transistor radios and earphones to work with us, for safety reasons, I assume. So there we were, those five or six of us on the mowing crew, spending our days on riding mowers or following behind the riding mowers with push mowers to trim around buildings.

The roar of the mowers made conversation impossible. I’m not sure what the other guys did to occupy their minds while riding in the roar, but I “listened” to albums. I’d mentally drop the needle at the start of a record and run through the album in my head, a side at a time.

Among the records I “listened” to as I rode the lawnmower were the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Hey Jude; Blood, Sweat & Tears’ second, self-titled album; Janis Joplin’s Pearl; the second side of Chicago’s second album, the side with the long suite titled “Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon” and Jesus Christ Superstar. As long as I kept the mower moving and didn’t run into any trees or buildings, my supervisors didn’t seem to care that I was riding along in my own musical world.

As I’ve never posted anything from Jesus Christ Superstar, I thought I’d start a selection of stuff from 1970 with the title track, performed by Murray Head with the Trinidad Singers.

A Six-Pack From 1970
“Superstar” by Murray Head with the Trinidad Singers, Decca 32603
“(You’ve Got Me) Dangling On A String” by the Chairmen of the Board, Invictus 9078
“Tarkio Road” by Brewer & Shipley from Tarkio
“MacArthur Park” by Maynard Ferguson from M.F. Horn
“The Road” by Chicago from Chicago
“I Can Hear You Calling” by Three Dog Night from Naturally

“Superstar” went to No. 14 in the late spring and summer of 1971. Fourteen years later, Head removed his name from the list of One-Hit Wonders when “One Night In Bangkok,” from the musical Chess went to No. 3.

“(You’ve Got Me) Dangling On A String” was a minor hit for the Chairmen of the Board, going to No. 38 in the summer of 1970. The group’s bigger hit was, of course, the chirping and warbling and absolutely wonderful “Give Me Just A Little More Time,” which went to No. 3 in early 1970.

Brewer and Shipley – and I may have said something like this before – are often regarded lightly because of the less-serious nature of their hit, “One Toke Over The Line.” But the duo put together a series of pretty good country rock albums. The best is likely Tarkio, from which the hit single was pulled, and “Tarkio Road” is a great song and was itself released as a single, though it did not reach the Top 40.

The other three songs are album tracks, although the Chicago and Three Dog Night tracks could easily have been singles and, I think, could have done pretty well. There was, to me, a little bit of filler on Chicago (now generally called Chicago II), but that didn’t include “The Road.” And Three Dog Night’s album tracks generally hold up pretty well against the singles; the singles from Naturally were “One Man Band,” “Liar” and “Joy to the World.”

Man, could Maynard Ferguson blow!

Note
Zshare has become increasingly unfriendly as a host, so I’m now hosting all files on Mediafire. That means, unfortunately, that visitors can no longer hear singles before downloading.