In 1970, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice produced a studio-cast "concept" album of their intended stage musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Twenty years later, Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse took the same path with Jekyll & Hyde, beginning their journey to the stage with a "highlights" disc on which songs from the score were sung by Les Miserables star Colm Wilkinson in the title roles and Linda Eder playing two female leads. Little of Robert Louis Stevenson's original plot was retained by lyricist Bricusse (not that that's unusual in the many other versions), but more difficult was that very little story was apparent among these highlights. Only a few plot points were pursued in short numbers, while the bulk of the album was given over to power ballads and the kind of slow-building anthems of romantic devotion that littered adult contemporary charts in the '80s. All resembled songs from a romantic movie, rather than a science-fiction/horror story; even Jekyll's big ballad before turning into Hyde, "This Is the Moment," sounded more like something from a self-help tape. Wilkinson gamely used his high, slightly phlegmy tenor to express outsized emotion, while Eder employed many of the oversinging vocal effects common to Barbra Streisand's work, while making no noticeable distinction between her roles of ingenue and whore (not that the lyrics did, either). On the whole, it was hard to find a show in this recording. A month after this album was released, Jekyll & Hyde was staged at the Alley Theatre in Houston with Eder, but not Wilkinson. In 1994, a second studio-cast album, a two-CD "complete work" version of Jekyll & Hyde, was released; there was then a national tour of the show, and in 1997, Jekyll & Hyde finally came to Broadway. The original Broadway cast album revealed that seven songs from the first version were in use onstage, sometimes in altered form.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann