Various Artists

Songs from Godspell

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Songs from Godspell, released on Jay Records' Curtain Call subsidiary, is an abridged version of a studio cast recording of the musical Godspell that was recorded in England in 1993 and originally issued on That's Entertainment Records (TER) in 1995, with a reissue on Jay in 1997. As compared to that full-length version, this one is about 12-and-a-half minutes shorter, having eliminated the unnecessary five-minute "Prologue" that had been added by composer Stephen Schwartz as well as "Bows," the end piece, which was actually a reprise of "Day by Day," along with two more substantial tracks, "Light of the World" and "Beautiful City" (the latter a song not heard in the original off-off-Broadway production that was added for the film version). Of course, by cutting these songs out, Curtain Call loses the major attribute of this recording, which is that it was the longest version of the score. The British cast is fine, though their performances seem more correct than spirited, and might have benefited from doing the show onstage. Their British accents are apparent, but given that many of the songs' lyrics are taken from Church of England hymns, that's not inappropriate. The album does not match the quality of the original off-off-Broadway cast album or the original soundtrack album (which remains the best recorded performance of the score), but it demonstrates that, after more than 20 years, a show that seemed rooted in its time sounds as good as ever. (As on the full-length Jay Records album, "Turn Back O Man" is mistakenly printed as "Turn Back Old Man.")

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