© RCA Victor
"Hair-The Original Broadway Cast Recording"
April 04 - 10, 2021
Year of Release: 1968
Ain't Got No
I Believe In Love
Ain't Got No (Reprise)
I Got Life
Easy To Be Hard
Don't Put It Down
Where Do I Go
Manchester England (Reprise)
Walking In Space
What A Piece Of Work Is Man
Good Morning Starshine
The Flesh Failures
(Let The Sunshine In)
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This week, we go back over 50 years, for an album and play that would achieve greatness for the young youths. The year was 1968, and that play was Hair,
a Broadway play that would become a movie. However, it's not the actual movie soundtrack that made it big, it was the Original Broadway Cast Recording soundtrack
album. Not only that, for many who remember Hair, the main song "Hair" was popular by The Cowsills. Other popular songs from the play were
"Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" by The Fifth Dimension, "Easy To Be Hard" Three Dog Night, and "Good Morning Starshine" by Oliver. Also to
mention, my memories of this play was the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater's (off-broadway) version of Hair (which I thought was better than the
Original Broadway Cast). Why? I had the New York vinyl album, and I always played it, back in my youth. And, although this New York edition has it's own
Wikipedia page, it has yet to be reissued on CD. Luckily, I
was able to convert the vinyl to CD, to relive the memories of the New York vinyl version, a truly impressive version of the Hair musical. [Note: According
to the Off-Broadway Wikipedia page mentioned earlier, it was released on CD as a bonus disc to the Broadway album. It also included an interview with composer
Galt McDermot (he wrote the Hair musical), and three previously unreleased tracks.
This was the DELUXE version, now out-of-print.]
As much as to compare to the New York version, let's start with the songs that were NOT from the New York version:
"Donna," "Hashish," "Sodomy," "Colored Spade" (tracks 2,3,4,5) has the Broadway atmosphere, and sounding so late-1960'ish. "I'm Black" is very short
(27 seconds), leading into "Ain't Got No" (which was on the New York version, and one many, best songs). There is a Reprise of "Ain't Got No," which
was not on the New York version. "I Believe In Love" is an unreleased track (one of six tracks unreleased, from the Original Broadway Cast Recording).
"Initials" is about the initials LBJ, which was President Lyndon Baines Johnson. "My Conviction" tells of how to be free, as many of the young youths
from this time were expressing their lives for being free -- the peace and love movement. "Don't Put It Down" is just an "ok tune"; just wondering if the
New York version had it, would it have been better? There is a reprise of another song that was from the New York version, "Manchester England," not on the
New York version. "Abie Baby" is a jumpy little tune; it fits. (Abbie Hoffman?) This jumpy little tune turns into a somewhat doowop bluesy style towards its
end. Very impressive. "Three-Five-Zero-Zero" has a Jimi Hendrix psychedelic guitar start, then moves into a 60'ish style, well, kinda lamish 60'ish style.
Yet, it fits with the other tracks. And, it does get more upbeat towards its end. "What A Piece Of Work Is Man' is... well, another lamish 60'ish style tune.
Yet, like some of the other tunes, it's ending gets better. "The Bed" is another unreleased track from the original Broadway version, and maybe it just
should of stayed as unreleased.
Now for the songs that were on the New York version, and these songs make the album. However, since being so used to the New York version, some of the tracks
from the NY version were better, and for others, just as good...
"Aquarius" both versions (Broadway Cast/NY) are pretty good here, and they both do not have the ending that the Fifth Dimension used - "Let The Sunshine
In." "Manchester England" is a jumpy little tune, and just as good from NY. "Ain't Got No" was the starting track of the NY version, and, as here on
the Broadway cast, a great tune. Air" is another great tune, yet I'd have to choose the NY version as better.
"I Got Life" and "Going Down" -- both great songs, both Broadway and NY. "Going Down" was an unreleased track, here on the Broadway release.
The main song "Hair," no doubt, the Cowsills version way better (and best remembered), and the NY version too. However, this version is just as good, but the
others mentioned are more in our memory banks than the Broadway version. The other well-known song, "Easy To Be Hard" is best remembered by Three Dog Night.
And to say which was better, of course, Three Dog Night, and the NY version. "Frank Mills" just like on the NY version, is kind of lame, but it has that
"Be-In" -- The Hare Krishna song! Oh, my, god... this song just brings a chuckle, as we picture those many Hare Krisha's dancing around...
"Where Do I Go" is kind of lame, but it is quite good, for the nature of the 1960s hippie movement. These next tunes are just as good as the NY versions -
"Electric Blues" (unreleased), and the medley of "Black Boys/White Boys." "Walking In Space" is a very good song, as you just picture yourself drifting
into space, mellowing... far out, man... (Note: In the Off-Broadway version of Hair, the lead role of Claude had been written as a space alien who aspires to
be a cinematic director. This was changed for the Broadway production.)
"Good Morning Starshine" is another song that is most remembered by Oliver. The New York version is good, and so is the Broadway Cast Recording version.
The lead vocals are by a female (both here on the Broadway version, and NY). And quite honestly, it works better. The horns on the Broadway version could have
been omitted, though. Maybe they were having a Beatles "Penny Lane" encounter here.
Ending the Broadway Cast Recording is Of course, this is best remembered on the ending of the Fifth
Dimension's "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In." It is it's own song. It's the lines "Let the sunshine/Let the sunshine in/The sunshine in" that everyone
remembers. However, this its own song, and was the closing song of the Hair Broadway play.
The New York version just may have been better; it's just that way that I remembered it. I have yet to see the movie. The Original Broadway Cast Recording has
its great moments as well. The Original Broadway Cast Recording reached #1 on the Billboard Albums chart.
I'm sure for some, the movie and the Original Broadway Cast Recording are remembered. It's the well-known songs from The Cowsills, Three Dog Night and Oliver
that are remembered. For me, it was the New York Shakespeare Festival Music Theatre version of Hair. Two songs from the New York version were NOT included
on the Original Broadway Cast Recording: "Exanaplanetooch" and "Climax." Whether you remember either one of these "soundtracks," Hair is
part of Rock history. It was part of the late 1960's hippie movement -- The Peace and Love Generation. Hair, Woodstock, flower power. And the mention of
the band Grateful Dead in the "Hair" song always personified the music of that era. Where people just wanted to be free, and doing their own thing, as
mentioned in "My Conviction":
You know kids, I wish every mom and dad would make a speech to their teenagers and say kids,
be free, be whatever you are, do whatever you want to do,
just so long as you don't hurt anybody. And remember kids,
I am your friend.
I would just like to say that it is my conviction
That longer hair and other flamboyant affectations
Of appearance are nothing more
Than the male's emergence from his drab camoflage
Into the gaudy plumage
Which is the birthright of his sex
There is a peculiar notion that elegant plumage
And fine feathers are not proper for the male
That is the way things are
In most species
That was then, this is now, 50 plus years later. Our appearances from the long hair and hippies maybe a thing of the past, but for one thing, we are still trying
to be free. Hair
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