In the old days, cutting the original Broadway cast recording of a new musical was always expected — even if the show closed immediately. Economics have made that less of a given (the Tony-nominated flop Cry-Baby closed without a CD of the score being made). But when your show is called Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and it gets reworked during nine months of previews, who even knows what the score will sound like by the time it opens?
On the other hand, you have something unique in the score by Bono and The Edge: A built-in audience of rockers who couldn’t give a shit about a B’way musical but who are addicted to U2’s music. Thus was born this CD, carefully titled Music from Spider-Man. The implication: These are some of the songs, but maybe not all of them. And some tracks are even demos performed not by the cast, but by Bono and The Edge himself. “For fun,” the liner notes claim. More like for economic necessity.
Musical purists may sniff, but the songs are undeniably the product of some rock gods who are trying to create their version of The Who’s Tommy. Not all of the numbers work; “Bouncing Off the Walls” is both too literal and too corny exposition, with a dull, repetitive riff, and “Pull the Trigger” tries too hard. But there are the bones of some hits. The show itself might be a disaster, but at least some of the music swings.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.