Home > Bargain > Various Artists – The Rocky Horror Show (Original London Cast 1973)

Various Artists – The Rocky Horror Show (Original London Cast 1973)

Rhino Records, 1991

You either saw the title of this review and got a little ill or got a little excited.  To all of you sweet transvestites out there, this here musical is legendary and reminds me of some of those really fun, eclectic people that still go out and see the movie version at midnight in full character.  For me, after years of listening to songs from “The Music Man”, “Phantom of the Opera” and “Guys N Dolls”, this showtune slapped me in the face when I first heard it.  Traditionally showtunes have been wholesome, family shows with the usual love, loss, dance, and ensemble number.  Simply looking at the cover shows you that there’s nothing typical about this production.  Given that this is a recording of the original cast before the show got to be a household name, I couldn’t pass up the chance to hear how it all started.

Since this is the original London cast, this recording came out two years before the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” movie in 1975.  Therefore, if you’re used to that polished sound then this version is going to sound seriously stripped down.  The classic opener of “Science Fiction-Double Feature” is still quite charming even if it’s a little less sensual.  Patricia Quinn, who played Magenta/Usherette in the cast, has a very quivery if not feeble voice, so when she sings this song it could come across as endearing, cute, or grating.  Given the quiet nature of the song, one is likely not going to get too critical of it with some of the more active numbers coming up.

“Dammit Janet”, one of my favorites from the show due to its geeky duet, lacks some of the more dramatic elements than what one may be used to.  There’s no breathy, overbearingly passionate Susan Sarandon (Janet) nor the amusingly stiff Barry Bostwick (Brad) as in the movie.  Instead, these parts are sung by two people who sound like an ordinary couple who are prone to wearing polo shirts and sweater vests.  Thankfully Richard O’Brien (Riff Raff) and Tim Curry (Frank-N-Furter) are noticeably and wonderfully in full, recognizable character.  Like the couple, however, Curry is not as pointedly erotic on “Sweet Transvestite” as he is in the movie, but remember that he had two years to get his black corset and fishnet stockings to fit right and tight.  These songs almost sound like a dress rehearsal than an in-your-face production.

This isn’t to say that the songs aren’t nearly as enjoyable.  “Time Warp” still has that rollicking party atmosphere while “Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch Me” effectively reveals the sexual restraint that Janet is now breaking free from.  “Rose Tint My World” features Rayner Bourton’s Rocky Horror who sounds a lot like an early Bob Dylan when reflecting on only being a couple of hours old.  I suppose the laid back choice that Bourton makes seems to fit given that Rocky Horror is already well aware of his Adonis-like features.  One of my favorite songs, “I’m Going Home”, doesn’t carry as much of the drama as on the movie version of the show, but I suppose that is just across the board at this point.

Two songs that are not featured on the original movie soundtrack but are included here are “Sword of Damocles” and “Once in a While”.  “Sword of Damocles” is a fun pop rock song involving the ‘birth’ of Rocky Horror while “Once in a While” is about Brad’s distress at losing a wayward Janet.  The song really doesn’t do very much amidst the crazy atmosphere of the rest of the album, so although it is included here to add completeness to the cast recordings, it likely won’t stand out as anyone’s favorite.  However, for Rocky Horror fans it may be a treat to hear a song that was completely left out of the movie but fits into the storyline of the show.

Why don’t you stay for the night, or, maybe a bite … :

If one can get used to some of the original voices, as well as the more restrained Curry, then this version of “The Rocky Horror Show” will still be a great listen.  Even though one has to look for it more than hear it deliberately from some of the actors, the sexual subject matter is still all over the place.  Given that it was the seventies and that this was truly an original musical of sex, space, and oddities, “The Rocky Horror Show” took off with immense cult popularity during 1973.  Though there are now more modern shows that have broached either serious or comical adult topics (“Rent”, “Avenue Q”, etc), having a copy of “The Rocky Horror Show” to grin during the more campier parts is always nice to have on one’s shelf or database.

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