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re: Ryan Takes Us Through The Tanz Album - One Of Jim's Greatest Works

Posted by:
rockfenris2005 07:39 pm UTC 05/07/21
In reply to: Ryan Takes Us Through The Tanz Album - One Of Jim's Greatest Works - steven_stuart 07:22 pm UTC 05/07/21

Thanks. I wrote that the night before I heard the news.

> This review originally appeared on the Ryan's Reviews
> site. It is Ryan's (rockfenris2005) review of the 1998
> Tanz Cast Recording. Please enjoy.
> In October 1986, "The Phantom of the Opera" opened at Her
> Majesty's Theatre in London and as of early 2020, nearly
> 35 years later, the same production was still running in
> both the West End and Broadway. The success of this
> musical was sort of like catching lightning in a bottle.
> First there was the score, with songs like "The Music of
> the Night", "All I Ask of You" and "Wishing You Were
> Somehow Here Again" and "Phantom", all of which were
> released as singles (the last one directed by Ken Russell
> who did the video for Pandora's Box "It's All Coming Back
> to me Now"). There was also the way that it was performed
> by Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman and Steve Barton
> (remember that name). It had been directed by musical
> theatre legend Harold Prince, the Prince of Broadway. The
> sets and costumes designed by Maria Bjornson were a
> masterpiece of design. At the end of the first act, when
> the Phantom drops the chandelier on the audience of the
> Opera Populaire, a chandelier comes sliding down over the
> heads of the audience and crashes onto the stage, which
> you probably already knew! There is very little I can
> fault about this production, which you've got to
> understand is difficult for a musical.
> In December 1996, Jim Steinman and Andrew Lloyd Webber the
> composer of "Phantom" and some of the biggest musicals of
> the twentieth century were in Washington D.C. for the
> world premiere of their musical "Whistle down the Wind".
> At the time, Andrew had just opened the London, Los
> Angeles and New York productions of "Sunset Boulevard",
> while Jim had released "Bat out of Hell II" with Meat Loaf
> and was about to have another hit with Celine Dion on a
> remake of "It's All Coming Back to me Now". On "Whistle",
> Andrew and Jim were working with Harold Prince, the third
> and final time Hal would direct one of Andrew's musicals,
> and the anticipation for audiences everywhere was high. If
> "Whistle" worked, it would open on Broadway the following
> April at the Martin Beck Theatre (posters advertising this
> production still show up sometimes online.) Ultimately,
> despite the success at the box office, Andrew and Jim were
> left feeling dissatisfied. They would put together a new
> production in 1998, which spawned the Boyzone Number #1
> "No Matter What" (when "Songs from Whistle down the Wind"
> is in the car, that is the most played song.)
> In October 1997, Jim composed the score for another
> musical which opened at the Raimund Theater in Vienna,
> based on the 1967 film "The Fearless Vampire Killers"
> called "Tanz der Vampire: Das Musical". Both the film and
> musical were directed by Roman Polanski, who also co-wrote
> the screenplay. The book and lyrics for the musical were
> written by Michael Kunze, who had translated musicals like
> "A Chorus Line", "Evita" and "Phantom" for their original
> German productions. He had recently written his own
> musical "Elisabeth" with score by longtime collaborator
> Sylvester Levay. The choreography was handled by Dennis
> Callahan, meanwhile sets and costumes were spectacularly
> brought to life by William Dudley and Sue Blane, who once
> upon a time had designed costumes for a little musical
> called "The Rocky Horror Show". Meanwhile a very talented
> man named Hugh Vanstone handled the lighting, with Michael
> Reed supervising the score and Steve Margoshes providing
> orchestrations. Steve Barton was cast in the leading role
> of Count Von Krolock opposite Cornelia Zenz as Sarah,
> Gernot Kranner as the Professor Abronsius and Aris Sas,
> his young apprentice Alfred. To top everything off,
> Dewynters who had also designed the advertising for
> "Cats", "Les Misérables", "Phantom" and "Miss Saigon",
> created the logo image of a set of vampire fangs
> underneath the show's bloody title.
> I say all of this, because in my humble view from
> everything I've been able to experience with these
> musicals, this is one of those times a productions catches
> lightning in a bottle. Look at all of these things from
> both musicals. If there's a weak link in either of them,
> it would probably be the book, but how many times have I
> even noticed this? Everything just works, and it not only
> works, it works beautifully, and so it becomes easier to
> see why both "Phantom" and "Tanz" have been running all of
> this time. Originally by the way, Jim was going to write
> lyrics for "Phantom", but he was too committed to the
> Bonnie Tyler album ("Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire"),
> however he then composes "Tanz". If it had been produced
> successfully in the English language, I think more people
> out there would agree with me on this. I'm not even sure
> how many audiences in London or New York, much less
> Australia, are aware of this musical, compared to
> something like "Wicked" or "The Lion King" and obviously
> "Phantom".
> Since the release of the 1970 concept album of "Jesus
> Christ Superstar", which launched the careers of Tim Rice
> and Andrew Lloyd Webber, listeners have always had the
> ability to listen to the complete scores of Andrew's
> shows. What you hear on the "Superstar" album is more or
> less what is played in the theatre. It's the same with
> "Evita", "Cats", "Phantom", "Sunset Boulevard", and then
> Boublil and Schonberg with "Les Mis" and "Miss Saigon".
> This was not something that really happened in, say, the
> Golden Age of Musicals when Rodgers and Hammerstein were
> writing "The King and I". Musicals like "Evita" and "Les
> Mis" on the other hand are predominantly through sung,
> meaning there is little to no dialogue and everything can
> be recorded onto an album, so long as you can get it to
> fit. This is what happened with both the albums for
> "Phantom" and "Tanz", and this is what I first heard. I
> also experienced it from the point of view of a Steinman
> fan, having heard the "Bat" albums, suddenly putting this
> in and treating it as an album produced by Jim.
> What I heard that first time, firstly in a highlights
> version and then a complete, only underlines what I've
> been saying, that "Tanz" like "Phantom" before it caught
> lightning in a bottle. The album itself not only
> compliments a truly extraordinary production that as of
> early 2020 was still being performed somewhere in the
> world, but it is one of the greatest cast recordings I've
> ever heard. It is a monster! And it's also, for this
> listener, the ultimate showdown as a Jim Steinman fan.
> It's like a movie, like "Star Wars" perhaps, where
> everything is building towards that last battle with Darth
> Vader and Luke Skywalker facing off against the Emperor,
> who's been pulling the strings ever since "The Phantom
> Menace". The sabres are flashing. Tempers are flying.
> Palpatine's laughing in the background and he's about to
> zap you with Sith lightning. This is it. Hold onto your
> hats. The next three hours are going to blow your mind.
> You've listened to "Bat", you've listened to "Bat II",
> "Bad for Good", "Dead Ringer", "Original Sin", and the
> Bonnie Tyler albums, the soundtracks, all of that, you've
> cringed at some of the accents from "Whistle down the
> Wind" while gushing in awe over Batman and Superman
> writing songs together, and now this. This is just fucking
> it!
> The story takes place in late nineteenth century
> Transylvania, as vampire hunter Professor Abronsius and
> his assistant Alfred travel from Konigsberg to
> Transylvania in the search of vampires. The scene rises on
> a blizzard and Alfred is helplessly searching for the
> Professor, who is frozen solid in the snow. Alfred finds
> him and takes him to a village which seems to fear
> vampires. There, Alfred meets the Innkeeper's daughter
> Sarah who loves taking baths, and they begin to get
> romantic about one another, only Sarah is being serenaded
> and seduced by the mysterious Count Von Krolock who
> invites her to his ball. Abronsius is suspicious, and when
> Sarah runs away to the castle, they all find themselves
> drawn into the world of the vampires, where everybody's
> dreams and nightmares come true. In Krolock's Soliloquy in
> the second act, he turns directly to the audience and
> warns them that in the next millennium the world will be
> filled with an insatiable greed. Meanwhile everything is
> set to the musical rollercoaster that is Jim's score.
> Let's have a look at what I call the complete album, that
> is the full double cast recording containing the vast
> majority of the show. Note: so I don't embarrass myself
> with any poor German here, I'm going to list these titles
> in English.
> Disc 1:
> "Overture"---Bang! "The Storm" from Jim's album "Bad for
> Good" is transformed into a thunderous Overture which
> drags you into the world of this blizzard, howling in the
> middle of a wilderness in Transylvania. This Overture
> alone is bloodcurdling, in a great way.
> "Hey Ho Professor"---Alfred searches for the Professor.
> Listen to the underscore and the sound effects that are
> happening here. When it gets to the bit where all the
> music swells, when Alfred finds the Professor, it's
> mental.
> "Garlic"---firstly, I love the burps!!! Alfred and
> Professor arrive at the village Inn, which is filled with
> garlic hanging in all directions. We meet Chagal the
> Innkeeper, Rebecca his wife and Magda the maid who Chagal
> is having an affair with. Professor asks Chagal about the
> garlic, but he just tries to fob him off. This song is an
> earworm.
> "Please, Gentlemen"---Chagal escorts Abronsius and Alfred
> to their rooms, when they start hearing voices, singing
> voices, which turns out to be Chagal's daughter Sarah in
> the middle of taking a bath. Alfred is smitten with her
> and as it turns out, the feeling is pretty much mutual,
> but Chagal isn't happy.
> "A Pretty Daughter is a Blessing"---Chagal comes back with
> a hammer and nails and boards up the door to Sarah's room,
> while singing about it. While he's hammering at the door,
> it's all happening in time with the music. The mix of
> humour and drama in this score is just fantastic.
> "Never Ever Seen"---everyone goes to bed, but Alfred and
> Sarah are still wide awake, "dreaming" about one another,
> meanwhile Chagal's trying to continue his affair with
> Magda, Rebecca wakes up irate, and Professor thinks he
> sees someone on the stairs, but outside the Inn the
> Vampires are gathering, singing the music for, wait for
> it, "Turn around..." It gives me the chills.
> "God is Dead"---Alfred and Sarah are still awake, when
> Count Von Krolock appears outside the inn and begins
> serenading Sarah with his song. It's the music for all of
> the choruses from "Original Sin", when then morph into the
> chorus of "Total Eclipse of the Heart", only it breaks off
> toward the end. The music, orchestrations and Steve
> Barton's performance are phenomenal.
> "Everything's Fine"---it's the next day at the Inn, and
> Chagal, Magda and Rebecca are doing their chores outside
> when suddenly the local hunchback, Koukol, appears asking
> for candles. Listen to the underscoring here. It goes from
> happy and chirpy to nervous and suspenseful. Again, I just
> love it.
> "Truth"---Professor appears, asking about Koukol, but
> Chagal just tries to fob him off again. Professor launches
> into his patter song, which is like something out of a
> Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera. Perfect for the
> Professor, meanwhile Jim goes "Pirates of Penzance", wow.
> "You're Really Very Nice"---Alfred is about to take a
> bath, but Sarah shows up. She wants to use the bathroom
> and gives him her special sponge. The music underneath
> here, turning into snatches of song, is a neat tune. Of
> course, it's all leading up to the next bit. That part
> where she starts humming is gorgeous.
> "Invitation to the Ball"---Count Von Krolock appears in
> the skylight, gazing down on Sarah, and inviting her to
> his ball. Now he's standing in front of the tub singing to
> the music from "Original Sin". Only Alfred hears voices,
> Krolock vanishes and everything turns into a big
> shemozzle. The ending of this scene is the orchestra
> quoting "Total Eclipse", not the first time that music's
> going to give me the shivers here.
> "Out There is Freedom"---Alfred is serenading Sarah
> outside her window, only she's outside looking for the
> package which Koukol has just delivered to her. They sing
> a song together, which is some of the most breathtaking,
> heartbreaking, haunting music I have ever heard from Jim.
> This song will become the basis for "Going all the Way is
> Just the Start" on 2016's "Braver Than We Are" and you can
> see why Meat and Jim would want to record this together.
> The chorus of this song is quite literally breathtaking.
> "The Red Boots"---the original version of this sequence is
> a dance scene, which means we get treated to a five minute
> medley from this score, and it's just mental. Chagal and
> Alfred come out at the end, realizing Sarah is gone, and
> Chagal races off to look for her as the music turns into
> the second half of "The Storm".
> "Mourning for Chagal"---Chagal's body has been recovered,
> Rebecca's world is shattered and this is actually the last
> time we see her in the play. I always wonder what happens
> to her. You assume she's still down there in the Inn
> while... more later. Her little moment at the end of this
> is devastating, quoting the music from Chagal's song
> earlier.
> "Death is Such an Odd Thing"---now Magda the maid steps
> forward. She finds it odd that Chagal is now dead, only he
> isn't because he wakes up, having turned into a vampire.
> Magda wards him off with a crucifix, but it doesn't work
> because he isn't that kind of vampire. This song is just
> cool, an underrated theatre classic.
> "Through the Wilderness to the Castle"---Alfred and
> Abronsius catch Chagal, after they find out he's a
> vampire, and they get him to lead them straight to the
> castle. The music starts quoting "Midnight Serenade" from
> Jim's 1977 workshop of "Neverland" and it's so thrilling.
> "At the Castle"---they arrive at the castle, to be greeted
> by verses of "Turn around" and Count Von Krolock singing
> to music from "Neverland". The first time I heard this
> scene on the complete album, I felt like I was in my
> musical happy place, and not just because of the
> recycling. It's just precious. The "Come with me" music at
> the end is everything. And so, Krolock leads them into the
> castle, and the audience is left wondering what is going
> to happen next. It's time for an intermission, or in this
> case we have to change the CD.
> Disc 2:
> "Total Eclipse of the Heart"---Disc 2 begins with another
> bang, as the orchestra recites the music from "The Storm",
> and finally *that* song. In a way, the 1983 Bonnie Tyler
> song almost seems to sum up my idea of the 80s, where sky
> was the limit. Cynics wonder why this is here, and why Jim
> couldn't have come up with something new. I think it was
> destined for "Tanz". In the original song, Bonnie Tyler
> sings "Once upon a time there was light in my life/But now
> there's only love in the dark/There's nothing I can do/A
> total eclipse of the heart". To me, that could be a
> vampire singing. I also noticed the acronym for this song
> which is TEOTH which could be TEETH, as in vampire fangs.
> This version is a knock out. It equals Bonnie and Rory's
> original for me.
> "Carpe Noctem"---while Sarah is wandering the castle,
> singing with Krolock in the portrait gallery, Alfred is in
> the middle of a nightmare where Sarah is being turned into
> a vampire. This is a new song, but it features sections of
> older songs, music you'll recognize from "Come with me",
> "The future ain't what it used to be" and "Back into
> Hell". It does not surprise me that someone would want to
> record it for "Bat III". I just love this. It goes from
> metal to a choir singing at the end.
> "A perfect day"---Alfred and the Professor wake, preparing
> to go down into the crypt to kill Von Krolock and his son,
> Herbert... The quote from "Out There is Freedom" on piano
> is practically worth the album alone for me.
> "In the Crypt"---they make their way into the crypt,
> singing to the music from "Who Needs the Young?" from
> "Neverland" and "The Dream Engine", which eventually
> appears in both "Braver Than We Are" and the "Bat"
> musical. It has another section here. Listen to that
> piano. I just love it. It feels like an old silent movie.
> Meanwhile Alfred is too scared to kill the Count and
> Abronsius who's caught on the railings by his suspenders
> is furious. They have to leave, which is when we see
> Chagal and Magda as vampires singing together.
> "Books, Books"---Alfred and Abronsius discover the
> library, and we hear this reprise of "Truth". This is a
> list song, and it's a very good one. I love when Sarah's
> humming comes in.
> "For Sarah"---Alfred finds Sarah, in the middle of having
> her bath, but she doesn't want to be saved. Alfred is
> resolute, and that's when he sings his big song, which was
> once the music for "Milady", a song Barry Manilow recorded
> but never released in the 80s, from Ray Errol Fox and
> Jim's musical "The Confidence Man". This song is a wonder
> in all its manifestations, including Jim's film score for
> "A Small Circle of Friends". By the way, the chorus music
> from "Out There is Freedom" is also from "Confidence
> Man".
> "More Books"---the Professor is still in that library!
> Alfred ends up finding a book called "When Love is Inside
> You" which is how he meets the Count's sequel.
> "When Love is Inside You"---this is such a fun song!
> Alfred learns that Herbert the son is gay and has a thing
> for him, and Herbert tries to bite him, but Alfred escapes
> with the help of the Professor. The reprise is mental!
> "You're Mistaken, Professor"---Abronsius confronts the
> Count on the battlements of the Castle. This whole
> sequence is riveting. I love all the quotes from "The
> Storm"/Overture music. Imagine hearing a calm quiet
> version of "The Storm". Well, it's on this track!
> "Eternity"---the "Bat out of Hell" tour in the 70s would
> begin with a drummer bashing out a rock version of the
> Bolero, while Jim starts removing his gloves and pounding
> the piano onstage, before they all launch into "Great
> Boleros of Fire", and Meat comes out to sing "Bat". In
> "Tanz", this is now an introduction for the vampires with
> full orchestra behind them. Terrific!!!
> "The Insatiable Greed"---Alfred and the Professor watch
> from behind one of the graves as Krolock delivers his
> haunting soliloquy, talking about his victims from the
> past. The music here is "Objects in the rear view mirror
> may appear closer than they are" from "Bat II", one of the
> great highpoints of that album. This stands in its own
> right as one of the most powerful performances in Jim's
> career. I'd love to know what Meat Loaf thought of it.
> "The Ball"---the ball has officially begun, and as the
> Vampires gather together and Abronsius and Alfred watch in
> their disguises, the scene completely goes off. The
> "Original Sin" music gives way to the chorus of "Total
> Eclipse", a truly awesome moment for this Steinfan, as
> Krolock bites Sarah. The Minuet based on "Turn around
> bright eyes" and what happens next, by the way? OMFG!!!!
> "Out There is Freedom (Reprise)"---Alfred and the good
> Professor manage to escape all right, but then Sarah bites
> Alfred and turns him into a vampire. The reprise of the
> chorus only underlines what a killer piece of music this
> is, and so well matched to the drama.
> "The Dance of the Vampires"---Abronsius is oblivious to
> everything and the Vampires take over the world. The music
> here is none other than the song I’ve been raving about
> for like how many reviews now? Yeah, "Tonight is What it
> Means to be Young" from "Streets of Fire" has been made
> over into the song of triumph for the vampires, their
> global dance as they take over the world, which this
> production also might have done.
> And so we come to an end. It's over now, the vampire music
> of the night.
> In the 2004 edition of "Musicals: The Complete Illustrated
> Story of the World's Most Popular Entertainment", this is
> what the author Kurt Gänzl had to say: "Tanz der Vampire's
> tale, its fun, its music and its spectacle all came
> together in what was undoubtedly the most complete and
> effective musical to have come out of central Europe." I
> can't say I'm surprised? Lightning in a bottle!
> Thank you,
> Ryan.

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Previous: re: Ryan Takes Us Through The Tanz Album - One Of Jim's Greatest Works - neverlandfan 10:48 pm UTC 05/07/21
Next: re: Ryan Takes Us Through The Tanz Album - One Of Jim's Greatest Works - steven_stuart 09:54 pm UTC 05/08/21