Sunday, August 14, 2016

God Rock Sunday: Murray Head - "Superstar" (1969)

Murray Head with the Trinidad Singers - "Superstar" (Billboard #74, entered 1/31/70; Billboard #60, re-entered 1/2/71; Billboard #14, re-entered 4/10/71). Written and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. 45: "Superstar"/"John Nineteen Forty-One" (Decca 1969). LP: Jesus Christ Superstar (Decca 1970).

The 1969 leadoff single for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's ambitious rock opera starring the Son of God did its part in generating anticipation for an album that wouldn't hit shelves until late 1970. "There are some people who may be shocked by this record," says Martin Sullivan, Dean of St Paul's London, whose quote graces the top of the 45's back sleeve. "I ask them to listen to it and think again. It is a desperate cry. Who are you Jesus Christ?" The single sleeve also attributes the track as coming "from the Rock Opera 'Jesus Christ' now in preparation."

A promo clip featuring vocalist Murray Head, who'd recently starred in a London run of Hair, shows him, who is the voice of Judas (also made clear by the single sleeve), climbing around cathedral ruins and singing alongside a chorus of six women called the "Trinidad Singers" (the identities of these women seem to be lost). This team up shouldn't be overlooked as an early appeal-factor for the single, being a nod to both Aretha Franklin's "Respect" and the Edwin Hawkins Singers's influential "Oh Happy Day."

Murray Head with the Trinidad Singers - "Superstar" (promo clip)      

See also: The "Jesus Christ Superstar" hit parade

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