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Where did ALW go wrong?

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jasonf
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Where did ALW go wrong?#0
Posted: 11/23/05 at 7:29pm
Just got The Likes of Us and I have to say I really enjoy it. If he had written it now much of it would have sounded derivative of his other work, but seeing as this came first, it's surprising that it didn't see the light of day back when it was written. It's very melodic, and the lyrics, while nothing great by Tim Rice, are certainly serviceable. The two songs that were recycled into other shows (what became Travel Hopefully from By Jeeves and Too Much In Love To Care from Sunset Boulevard) are two of my favorite melodies from their respective shows, so it's nice seeing them put to good use. The narration that accompanies the songs is just enough to give you an idea of what's happening, and pretty funny to boot.

So, considering how enjoyable this disc is, how great I think Joseph, Evita, and JCS are, the answer to my question, for me, is now indisputably when ALW and Rice parted ways. (Though, to ALW's credit, I do like a COUPLE of songs in each of his subsequent shows, and I think WDTW and WIW have potential - though it's just based on recordings as I haven't seen either in production). Opinions?

NOTE - this is NOT meant to be an ALW bashing thread - more of an analysis...
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#1
Posted: 11/23/05 at 7:35pm
I don't think he ever did go wrong. I think it just became trendy to slate his shows, in my opinion there's not an awful lot wrong with shows like Sunset, Whistle and WIW. Also The Beautiful Game had some wonderful numbers in it.

Steve
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#2
Posted: 11/23/05 at 7:37pm
I think he may have gone wrong with CATS. What a bad show...otherwise, he's...meh, okay.
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#3
Posted: 11/23/05 at 7:42pm
Yeah i'll give you Cats is dreadful!! I think that's more down to the stupid idea rather than ALW's music.

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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#4
Posted: 11/23/05 at 7:52pm
And Starlight Express?

Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard have perhaps the most repetitious scores of any musical I think I've ever seen/heard.

Beautiful Game, like Phantom, Aspects, and SB have about 5 or 6 great songs -- but that's it...
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#5
Posted: 11/23/05 at 8:36pm
He got a hairball stuck in his throat
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#6
Posted: 11/24/05 at 1:17am
I think he really got carried away with using motifs. Like, he thought, "Oh, I need to use motifs to unify the score," and then he just got carried away with them. Woman in White beats you over the head with the motifs. There are really only 5 or 7 melodies in that musical, which, considering it's almost completely sung... well... really.

Cats was flawed because it didn't know whether it wanted to be a book show or a revue. It made a weak stab at a plot, separating it from revues, but the plot wasn't strong enough for a book musical. This leaves the audience confused over not only what's going on, but why a lot of songs are included.

For me, personally, I just don't like his style. I love it when he's writing more classical pieces (Phantom, Requiem), but for the most part, it doesn't appeal to me whatsoever. I also feel that many of his musicals were made to sell and not made for art (not that all musicals have to be artsy and abstract, but musicals I connect with are made to be good musicals and further the artform rather than to sell tickets).
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#7
Posted: 11/24/05 at 1:29am
I personally think Sunset is his best score. I don't usually listen to scores all the way through, but I love this score. Even though it is repetitive, I think it works. I love the melodies, esp the Sunset Blvd. melody that he brings up a lot. I think the show is wonderful and everytime I listen I find more and more things I like about it. I wish I could have seen the stunning Broadway production.
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#8
Posted: 11/24/05 at 3:24am

The thing that really gets me is all these smartasses who come in here and make out as if Cats was some big Carrie. I've said it for the umpteen time, and no one seems to listen, and I won't say it again: you go out there and make the achievements he has made: and then you wouldn't be so happy if everyone around you was copping you out every chance you got. None of those critics, and none of those naysayers, ever achieved what he did: and probably never will. If the shows ran for such a long time he must have gotten something right!

I still haven't heard Likes of Us btw. But I've been meaning to go out and get it

I had some of the demos from the original '68 recording

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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#9
Posted: 11/24/05 at 5:13am
The problem with Cats is that it ran so long - if it had put in a decent five year run I think it would be remembered much more fondly we all know what familiarity breeds. Remember that at the time, it was something new and innovative.

As for the Likes of Us, put me down as a fan (though whether it could stand up to a full production is debatable)

More than a couple of melodies have been recycled:

"A Very Busy Man" - "I Hope You Like It Here" ('The Woman in White')

"You Won't Care About Her Any More" - "Never Fear" ('By Jeeves' - Broadway)

"Love is Here" - "Travel Hopefully" ('By Jeeves')

"The Likes of Us" - "Variation 18" ('Variations')

"Will This Last Forever" - "If This Is What We're Fighting For" ('The Beautiful Game')

"A Man on His Own" - "Make Believe Love" (a little known ALW song)

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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#10
Posted: 11/24/05 at 9:57am
You know, I listened to it again and I did catch some of those other melodies that I had written off as just SOUNDING like they were familiar to recognizing where I actually had heard them before. Regardless of that, this is a much more DIVERSE score than a lot of his later stuff -- and I think Nokros hit it with the motifs issue.

Rockfenris - I don't begrudge ALW one ounce of his success (ok, maybe a little for Cats), and I can see why people like a lot of his stuff. I like most of his SONGS. What bothers me is when I listen to full SCORES and it's like I'm just listening to the same 5 musical phrases in alternating patters over and over (Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard especially). I also think he's NEVER had a lyricist that matched his music like Tim Rice - though I like WDTW (I like Steinman's work on Confidence Man and with Meatloaf). Beautiful Game is hit or miss for me in terms of the songs anyway (though I LOVE the overture). David Zippel wrote some of my all time favorite lyrics (City of Angels)-- I think much of the music in WIW is great, so I wouldn't write that show off either, despite the use of motifs. It was that post-Rice, pre-WDTW era that I don't really like as a whole.

I would love to see Rice and Webber get together again to write another show, though that's about as likely as Bock and Harnick getting back together, isn't it?
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#11
Posted: 11/24/05 at 1:10pm
rockfenris2005:

First of all, if you're as big a name as Andrew Lloyd Webber, you should be used to people have widely varying opinions on your work. It's really the nature of the beast. I've heard just as many people say that Sondheim's work is too intellectual, not melodic enough, boring, or not catchy enough, as I've heard people say that Lloyd Webber's work is flimsy, recycled, or repetitive. I think he's used to his critics by now.

Second, the critics and naysayers probably have different goals than ALW. Sure, there are always the jealous ones, but I'd say that most people who criticize him don't necessarily want to be the big "longest running Broadway musicals" (pural because of Phantom) superstar composer. For me, personally, I would want to write a musical that is innovative, meaningful, edgy and artistic. If it ran for a really long time, all the better, but that wouldn't be my goal. Whatever ALW's original goal was, he's become the superstar composer, which I don't think everyone who criticizes him's goal is. Overall, what I'm saying is a response to "None of those critics, and none of those naysayers, ever achieved what he did: and probably never will." I'm saying that not everyone wants to.



I'm saddened over Woman in White. It could be so much better. There's so much potential, there, and it could turn out to be a fantasic show, but since it's already on Broadway, it won't be worked on more. The very beginning of the opening is one of the best things he's written. It's very eerie, creates a wonderful atmosphere which sets up for the entire musicals. But a lot of the rest of the musical just doesn't measure up. It frustrates me, because with more tweaking, it could... sigh.
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#12
Posted: 11/24/05 at 2:25pm
He went wrong when he started stealing other peoples music, and dropping Tim Rice...
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#13
Posted: 11/24/05 at 2:39pm
I def. don't know how to write a hit musical, so its hard for me to bash something and say it sucks. Granted, I know good music when I hear it, but i don't think its possible to have a "perfect" score. Everything is going to have problems. although, I don't see why ppl attack Sunset Blvd. for having weak lyrics. The only part that I find kind of "bad" is right before Joe gets shot norma yells "no one leaves a star" that's a little cheesy to me.
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#14
Posted: 11/24/05 at 3:15pm
"The only part that I find kind of "bad" is right before Joe gets shot norma yells "no one leaves a star" that's a little cheesy to me."

The line is a direct quote from the original 1950 movie.

edit: In the movie the complete line is "No one ever leaves a star. That's what makes one a star."
Updated On: 11/24/05 at 03:15 PM
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#15
Posted: 11/24/05 at 4:39pm
Am I the only one who loathes Joseph with a passion? I was in it and the music makes my skin crawl.
Am I cut out to spend my time this way?
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#16
Posted: 11/24/05 at 6:58pm
"No one ever leaves a star is cheesy?"

To me that line is the epidemy of the character Norma. It is dramatic and a nessecity.
I HATE Joseph so much it is not even funny. And I love ALW! IT is simplistic and pointless, which are two things that I think ALW has rebelled against as a Composer.

I don't think Webber ever went wrong, but I think his music most definately changed when he stopped working with Rice. He began to use more motifs and develop less themes in his musicals. I think he did this after the success of musicals like Cats and POTO. I don't mind this, in fact I think he uses motifs to great effectiveness. People exaggerate the motifs as well. There are more than 5-7 melodies in Woman in White for example.
The only thing that I think has hampered ALW post-Rice is his inability to find a great lyricist. None of his musicals, except for Sunset, have the kind of lyrics that JCS has or Evita has. Don Black and Charles Hart are OK, but nothing special. And David Zippell? Mediocre at best. I can't stand the line " I must disregard his charms, and his manly rugged arms." It ruins the entire moment for me.
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#17
Posted: 11/24/05 at 7:03pm
epidemy isn't a word.

Epitome is....
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#18
Posted: 11/24/05 at 8:11pm
I really like JC Superstar, and to a certain extent Evita, and I think I don't like many of the others because once ALW tries to write more classical-sounding pieces, all of the music just seems to blend together, and ALW doesn't use enough specificity and variety in his music to sustain my attention for an entire score especially since he writes at least to my knowledge mostly operettas, and he doesn't really ever seem to push any sort of musical envelope anymore. And then of course, you have the lyricist problem that others here have discussed.
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#19
Posted: 11/24/05 at 9:36pm

I WOULD say that Steinman was his best lyricist since Rice. I love his work (and I never stop raving about it). The Confidence Man had lyrics by Ray Errol Fox (a veteran in the Broadway community) and music by Steinman. It should be making a return to the Great White Way in a matter of years. Also Dance of the Vampires, in Steinman's script, was tear-jerking. I hated what become of it

And I know he could have done some cool stuff with Batman

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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#20
Posted: 11/24/05 at 9:54pm
I would LOVE to hear what he would do with Batman. Honestly, can you imagine if Steinman wrote a musical and then Tim Burton directed it?
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re: Where did ALW go wrong?#21
Posted: 11/24/05 at 10:50pm

Jason, send me an email. I'll tell you there

Re: Tim Burton. It was never reported on the Steinman site. I asked around at the Burton boards and it appears he knew nothing about it... another internet "story" unfortunately re: Where did ALW go wrong?