The Lord Lloyd Webber marked his birthday last March 22. He is now 70 years old. And he is celebrating in a big way, with the release of his book of memoirs Unmasked and at the same time with The Platinum Collection, also titled Unmasked, made up of the music he has created these past 50 years or so.
The Lord Lloyd Webber is one of the most prolific and most successful composers of all time. He was born Andrew Lloyd Webber. Then he got a Knighthood in 1992 and became Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Then a few years ago the Queen of England gave him a Peerage for services to music and that made him The Lloyd Lord Webber.
Unmasked comes from Phantom Of The Opera, probably Webber’s most famous musical. The lead character wears a mask and that mask is popularly famous as the Phantom logo. Everybody wants to unmask the Phantom and also the man who turned him into one of the longest-running and biggest-grossing musicals in the history of the theater. And so here he is, The Lord Lloyd Webber Unmasked.
Webber was born in London to a family of musicians. His father William Lloyd Webber was a composer and organist. His mother Jean Hermione was a pianist and violinist. His brother Julian Lloyd is a renowned cellist.
Webber started writing music as a kid and later studied at the Royal College of Music. He was 17 when he met a young songwriter named Tim Rice. They would soon write the musical Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which would get them started on their careers.
Webber has since then won seven Tony awards, three Grammys, one Oscar, 14 Ivor Novellos, seven Oliviers, one Golden Globe, one Brit, one Classic Brit, the Kennedy Center Honor, Songwriters Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Aside from Phantom and Joseph, he also composed the music for Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Sunset Boulevard, Cats, Starlight Express, Whistle Down The Wind and School Of Rock, among others. The songs from these musicals make up the album Unmasked.
Thanks to the wonder of digital technology, music label MCA simply uploaded the nearly 80 cuts from Unmasked and made all those songs available for everybody at the same time anywhere where the Internet exists. Of course, in important commemorative releases like this one, I would still prefer the physical CD or LP, which comes with a nice booklet with info about the artist and the music.
Like now, I am very curious about the tracks It’s Easy For You by Elvis Presley and Cold by The Everly Brothers. When did these recordings happen? Are those songs also from musicals? On the other hand, I can now fill my head with Lord Lloyd Webber tunes all I want and just do research on those songs later.
The highlights of the collection are the new recordings, proving how timeless Webber’s compositions are. These are You Must Love Me from Evita done here by Lana Del Ray; Memory from Cats by Nicole Scherzinger; Light At The End Of The Tunnel from Starlight Express by Gregory Porter; and the never-before-released Learn To Be Lonely from Phantom Of The Opera, a live recording by Beyoncé at the 2005 Academy Awards with Webber himself playing the piano.
I am sure that like me you will also consider as highlights The Vaults Of Heaven by Tom Jones and The Sounds of Blackness;Hosanna by Placido Domingo, Sarah Brightman and the Choir of Winchester Cathedral; Pie Jesu from Requiem by Anna Netrebko; Alice Cooper performing King Herod’s Song and one of my personal favorites, Any Dream Will Do by Donny Osmond from Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Among the cuts included are Superstar by Murray Head and The Trinidad Singers; Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say) by Ian Gillian; I Don’t Know How To Love Him by Yvonne Elliman, from Jesus Christ Superstar; The Phantom Of The Opera by Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman; The Music Of The Night by Crawford; All I Ask Of You by Brightman; and Cliff Richard from The Phantom Of The Opera.
Don’t Cry For Me Argentina by Julie Covington; Buenos Aires by the Glee cast; Another Suitcase In Another Hall by Madonna from Evita; With One Look by Barbra Streisand; Sunset Boulevard by Kevin Anderson; As If We Never Said Goodbye by Glenn Close from Sunset Boulevard; Love Changes Everything from Aspects Of Love by Michael Ball; No Matter What from Whistle Down The Wind by Boyzone; and Unexpected Song by Brightman.
The memoir, which is juicy with inside bits about the making of Webber’s great musicals, also comes at just the right winding down time of the year. One more thing, please don’t forget to check out Jesus Christ Superstar again. What was once perceived to be just a good rock musical is actually one of the most involving takes on the Passion of Christ. Through their words and music, Webber and Rice presented Jesus Christ as both God and man. Even theologians often fail at that.