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Monday, 17 September 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: 'The Quentin Dentin Show' Original Cast Recording

Musical Theatre concept albums are a powerful way of testing the interest and showing the potential of new works for the stage and were very successfully used by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber in the seventies to launch both Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. Of course there have been concept albums since that have failed to grab the listeners imagination. The challenge of reviewing an album like this without having seen the show or without a script or detailed narrative is to try and piece together the characters and story line from tunes alone. The question that poses is whether the music strong enough and the fragments of story enough for the listener to want more.

Writer Henry Carpenter and Originating Producer Hannah Elsy just about manage to tempt me to want to see the show in its next incarnation with their concept album which contains fifteen tracks running to around thirty five minutes of music. Carpenter's writing seems to delve back into a broad range of musical styles from the fifties to the nineties with simple orchestrations and clear vocals and borrows from many styles of that period. The idea seems to be that an alien has arrived on earth, presumably having absorbed these musical influences over the space airwaves and seeks to persuade the humans he meets that he can make them happy. It is a sort of Dr Faustus meets The Rocky Horror show, creating a bizarre, absurd world where Quentin Dentin seeks to offer happiness for their souls by reaching out to them through a radio show and then a TV game show. The overall feel is of a Richard O'Brien narrated clipped vocals with bursts of rock and roll, rock opera, Abba, pop, Conga and techno sounds, all with a strong drum rhythm. It starts to feel like a singalong party atmosphere. This style is what made The Rocky Horror Show the cult show it is today but it was the performances and outrageous characterisations that made that a success and we only get a sense of that from the album of two characters.
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