A new production of Hair was recorded on October 1, 2004, at the Hit Factory in New York City to benefit the Actors' Fund of America in 2005. And while a number of versions of Hair have been recorded since its introduction in 1968, it never hurts to have a new take on a classic rock opera. The singers here -- Lillias White, Lea DeLaria, Jai Rodriguez, Chuck Cooper, and many others -- are uniformly excellent, embodying the spirit that imbued the original production. On a purely aesthetic level, Hair is musically bombastic and in one's face, paving the way for musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar. While the play certainly conjures up the '60s (or at least one version of it), the lyrics -- raw and occasionally offensive -- of songs like "Colored Spade" and "Sodomy" will still probably shock some listeners or at least be taken as politically incorrect. Of course, for everyone else these songs and others like "Black Boys" are also very funny challenges to societal prejudice and prudery. On the non-button-pushing side, however, Hair is inspirational, bequeathing hippie anthems like "Aquarius," "Good Morning Starshine," and the title track. Gerome Ragni and James Rado's lyrics and Galt MacDermot's music are incredibly eclectic, encompassing everything from far-out rock to gentle ballads to joyous pop with odds and ends (old show tunes and funk) thrown into the mix. For those unfamiliar with the soundtrack, this 2005 release is fine place to start.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.