The success of Hair on Broadway in 1968 surprised many traditional musical theater fans, and its subsequent spread across the world, with productions in the U.K., Germany, France, Australia, and Austria between 1968 and 1970, also amazed those who supposed its distinctly American origins and references would limit its appeal. Yet another surprise was that the show went on to become a perennial theater favorite, despite the topical nature of its subject matter, which might have seemed to date it after the hippie trend subsided and the Vietnam War ended. But the clueless traditionalists who underestimated Hair may have had something in common with the real hippies and peace activists who disdained it when it first appeared because it seemed to trivialize and stereotype them. It was exactly by stereotyping and celebrating that Hair preserved the ethos of the hippie counterculture for future generations, and its topicality, instead of making it dated, turned it into a time capsule. Of course, none of that would have mattered without the real driving force of the show from the beginning, its endlessly tuneful score composed by Galt MacDermot, which threw off several hit singles and continued to please listeners as rock dominated pop music decade after decade. Thus, there was no reason why a 1992 Australian revival cast, even with only a small band to support it, couldn't turn in a perfectly enjoyable version of Hair. And they do, even if the occasional syllable or phrasing betrays their down under origins and they sometimes sound a bit self-mocking, as if they think they're performing The Rocky Horror Show. Whether the world really needs another recording of Hair is another question that this one attempts to answer by claiming to be "the most complete recording of the score on CD." That was true -- sort of -- as of 1992, in the sense that the longest recording to date, the soundtrack to the 1979 movie, originally a two-LP set, had been abridged slightly for the 1989 CD reissue by deleting two tracks and, while still longer than this CD, was less "complete." In any case, this is a spirited, enjoyable rendition of the familiar score, and so a worthy addition to the large library of Hair recordings.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann