Battle of the Band Winners from the September 15th Contest
In the Battle of the Bands round presented on September 15, 2013 the theme of the co-hosts was songs from the Broadway musical Hair. The candidates on my blog were the original cast of the musical Hair pitted against Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity with their version of Ain't Got No/I Got Life.
I confused my contest for some voters by using a medley of two different songs from the musical in the Trinity version and using separate clips (as was necessary) for the two songs as used in the musical. I hope I have counted the votes correctly to have a proper outcome. One thing is certain though: Julie Driscoll did not have many fans among you.
This is somewhat surprising to me as Julie Driscoll--or Julie Tippets as she is now known--has been a respected jazz vocalist for some 50 years now. Her dead pan delivery and singing style puts me in mind of Keely Smith or Cher in her days singing with Sonny Bono.
The voters decided heavily in favor of the original tracks from Hair with Driscoll's vocals as the biggest factor that detracted from that version.
It looks like I am going to gain the reputation as the contrarian in these battle picks. My choice in this matchup is strongly in favor of Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity. I enjoy Driscoll's vocal style and have been a long time fan of Brian Auger and his jazzy bands. I also prefer the slicker studio production over the stagey sound of the theatrical cast.
The cast recording wins by a landslide vote of 11 to 3. Poor Julie.
Is Hair a Good Musical?
|Hair (musical) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The cast album is okay as an artifact of its times, but I'll admit that I'm not a very big fan of the musical Hair. It's outdated and for the most part rather trite and useless. There were some good songs that came out of the musical in the recordings that others made, but the Hair soundtrack album is not one that bears many repeated listenings with me. Oh maybe, once every two or three years, but if I never heard the album again I wouldn't miss it.
This past weekend I watched the 1979 film version of Hair. I was not impressed. It had been at least three years since I last watched this film. I liked it okay then, but not so much this time. In all fairness I was watching the film in a critical state of mind after reading Stephen T. McCarthy's fine review from a while back. The film has some strong sequences that Stephen points out in his review, but overall I found the characters mostly to be annoying. While I am in agreement with most of what Stephen says in his review, I lean on the negative side regarding the film version of Hair.
Why? Firstly I see the film as a relic of a past that is probably not very interesting to most who were born after that era and an embarrassment to many of us who are a part of that generation. For this same reason I don't think that the musical itself will be of much interest to the potential audiences of future staged revivals that might occur if they ever do occur. The drivel in this show is no longer groundbreaking or shocking to audiences in our era. The show was among those cultural contributions that opened doors that would have probably been better left closed. I don't think a lot of the movements introduced by the hippies or whoever is to attributed to them have made our world a better place.
Likewise the music doesn't have the staying power of the more classic musicals that were written by artists who have proven track records and left a legacy of fine music. Just look at the guys who wrote Hair. Music composer Galt McDermot was already established in his field and being an accomplished composer he has had a successful career since doing the music for Hair. And I don't have any complaints about the music in Hair for the most part. I think that aspect is a highlight of the musical.
It's the book and song lyrics that leave me unimpressed. I understand they were going for some shock value and trying to capture the hippie spirit and that's my problem. The message is for the most part empty and unproductive. Hair authors James Rado and Gerome Ragni put together a bunch of sloppy songs that don't connect well with the other songs or with lead-in dialogue. Their success with Hair was a fluke. They managed to capitalize on something topical and got attention by doing it. They never came up with anything successful to follow their musical debut. They were one-hit wonders for a good reason: They weren't that good.
I agree that there are some decent songs from Hair that have been covered by other artists. I wouldn't go so far as to call them standards that we'll see oft recorded in the future. Hair is not a musical soundtrack that I cared for very much when it first entered my life in 1969 and even though I own a CD copy of it, the soundtrack will not be something I'll probably be playing much in the future. The Hair soundtrack is merely part of a CD collection--an exhibit from my personal museum of stuff from my past.
The next time I watch a musical off my DVD shelves it won't be Hair. Maybe Carousel, 42nd Street, Evita, or something else with quality entertainment value. But probably not the mediocre musical Hair.
What's your opinion on the musical Hair? Did you like the movie version? What are some of the good points about Hair--the musical or film? If you like musicals, what are some of your favorites? If you don't like musicals, why not?
For the winners of other BOTB participants visit:
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