REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/07/2008
On April 29th, 1968, the line “When the moon is in the seventh house” from the song “Aquarius” was sung for the first time, starting Hair’s five plus year, 1,750 performance run on Broadway. The musical’s also signaled a change in American theatre; Broadway was no longer found in
Hair, and they would return.
It was the content, however, that set Hair apart from any Broadway play that had preceded it. While protest and anti-cultural values had entered the American consciousness, these values had never been expressed so forcefully or clearly or with such popularity as they were in Hair. With a plot revolving around anti-Vietnam and psychedelic drug themes, the show presented songs covering such topics as the desecration of the American flag, obscene language, air pollution, racial tension, hashish, and sodomy. Added to all this was Broadway’s first complete nude scene.
Many of Hair’s songs are still remembered as are the performers contained in this original 1968 cast album. “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In,” “Good Morning Starshine,” “Hair,” and “Easy To Be Hard” would all become pop hits by various artists, while cast members Diane Keaton, Ron Dyson, Melba Moore, Paul Jabara and Leata Galloway would go on to successful acting and singing careers.
Hair’s main and unsolvable problem today is that it is centered on a specific time period. Many of the cutting edge issues of 1968 are today forgotten or regulated to mere nostalgia. Because of that, Hair is rarely performed on the community theatre circuits, which mean two generations of people have not had the chance to actually see the play or hear the music.
This 1968 Original Broadway Cast album also suffers from production issues. The sound is somewhat tinny, even for 1968, and in some ways comes across as a lazy production.
It is difficult to access Hair forty years later. Important at the time and comprised of some memorable songs, it did make a significant mark upon the American music scene. On the other hand its legacy has long since been fulfilled and, as such, it has been regulated to the level of cultural artifact.
Despite all this, Hair is still worth a listen. There is some good music and it provides a clear look into an important time in this country’s history.
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