Monday, January 03, 2005

We'll all sing a song full of comfort and joy

Speaking of eBay, one of the things I managed to get over Christmas (not for Christmas - for Christmas, people strangely seem to keep giving me cookware) was the London Cast recording of Bat Boy. It only ended up being a few dollars cheaper than if I'd ordered straight from a UK site, but the importer was in BC, which meant relatively speedy shipping. I have to say, I'm disappointed. I've listened to the whole show a few times now, and it really isn't quite as good as the original Broadway cast recording. "Hey Freak" ("Whatcha Wanna Do," in the OBC) has been almost completely reorganized, with more genuine rhyming, but less of the syncopation that made the original sound threatening. Local teen punk jackass Rick Taylor is taunting the newly-christened Edgar (the Bat Boy of the title) with elaborate threats of violence and humiliation. In the original, the lyrics seem like half-hearted freestyling; he's just too engrossed in his revenge fantasies to rhyme more competently than "tonight" with "tonight": Come on, little coward, let's get it on I'm gonna make you wish you were never born When I'm done with you, I'll Show you how I spill your brains tonight I'll run you over like a train tonight I'll put you in a world of pain tonight So come on come on come on come on I should've brought my loaded gun tonight But stomping you will be more fun tonight You're gonna pay for what you've done tonight I'm takin' out my Bowie knife tonight I'm gonna end your worthless life tonight I'm making you my prison wife tonight [Crescendo accented on 'I' in "tonight," then fade out] Compare to the London version, where Rick seems more literate than Eminem-emulating white trash should: Come on, little coward, let's get it on I'm gonna make you wish you were never born I'm coming over there to spill your brains I'm gonna run you over like a train I'll put you in a world of pain And I'll snap your spine I should have brought my loaded gun But stomping you will be more fun You're gonna pay for what you've done Fool! You are mine! I'm takin' out my Bowie knife I'm gonna end your worthless life I'm makin' you my prison wife Freak! You are mine! [Fade out] I miss the "Come on, come on, come on," etc. And then, of course, there are changes for tactfulness, which seem mildly surprising for a musical based on the Weekly World News. One verse of "Comfort and Joy" concerns the townspeople and their hopes for the revival meeting in stopping the rash of mysterious cattle deaths: Boy, that preacher's a pro Gives a heckuva show Just like Siegfried and Roy He'll bring comfort and joy In the post-Roy-mauling reality, Bat Boy thus proves to be slightly more tasteful than Father of the Pride: Turn that frown upside down There's new hope for this town Two more dead (Shut up, Roy) We'll have comfort and joy "Comfort and Joy" also changes a metaphor I suspect might not be entirely understood in the British idiom, from: He will come out a champ It's just like summer camp They'll get used to the boy We'll have comfort and joy To: In a suit and a tie He's a regular guy They'll get used to the boy We'll have comfort and joy Those are the most substantive of changes to the existing songs. There are also two new ones, which replace "Inside Your Heart" (never one of my favourites from the original cast album) and add about a minute of expository filler. I collect multiple versions of cast recordings specifically to hear minor variations between them, and these are nothing special. What hasn't been changed somehow sounds subtly weaker. The tempo's been slowed down in nearly every piece, losing a lot of what was previously manic energy. Also, maybe it's just that I'm used to the original cast recording, which features slightly more authentic accents on the part of the West Virginian characters, but the accents in this version are terrible. Worse than Brad and Janet in the 1973 Original London Cast of The Rocky Horror Show, as bad American accents go...if by any slim chance anyone reading this, has heard that. Meh, as the saying goes; I'm still happy to have another version, just for variety.

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