CHESS was Benny and Björn's first post-ABBA project; a musical collaboration with Tim Rice as lyricist. The book centers around a chess match between The American and The Russian. Written in part as a metaphor of The Cold War, Chess boasted hit singles and stage productions all over the world. Below you will find a track listing, principal singers and other interesting tidbits (well, I thought so) for three recordings of the musical CHESS.
There is a fourth recording available in England called CC Productions Presents CHESS. I saw the disc at the ABBA Day; it is not a complete recording, the cover was cheesy and the liner notes do not even list singers, producer, etc. I was not impressed and decided to buy an ABBA umbrella instead.
Lastly, I recently got e-mail from Ian Smith who let me know that a new production of CHESS will start in Melbourne, Australia in February, 1997. For those alternative rockers out there, Daryl Braithwaite (ex-Sherbet) will be starring.
The original studio version of CHESS is, IMO, the best. Principal singers include Elaine Paige as Florence, Murray Head as The American, Tommy Körberg as The Russian and Barbara Dickson as Svetlana. One Night In Bangkok was a worldwide Top Ten hit even making the mark in the United States - will wonders never cease! I Know Him So Well was another hit single; the song was also covered by Whitney Houston and Cissy Houston and, in a version that finally made it to her JUST FOR THE RECORD compilation, Barbra Streisand and some nameless fellow.
The original Broadway cast recording of CHESS is, not to be redundant, excellent. I am a big fan of Broadway, having started going in the early 70s. I unfortunately have never seen CHESS on stage although with this recording I can imagine it. Principal singers include Judy Kuhn (...a major Broadway songstress who, if memory serves, sang the role of Pocahontas on the eponymously-titled movie soundtrack...) as Florence, Philip Casnoff as Freddie, the American, David Carroll as Anatoly, the Russian and Marcia Mitzman as Svetlana. In keeping with the American media's perception of Benny and Björn, the reviews for this production were scathing and CHESS closed shortly after it opened. Benny and Björn were involved in the recording of the cast album with Benny playing synclavier, the album being mixed at Polar and coming up with first names for The Russian and The American. The Story of Chess, Somebody Else's Story and Lullaby were added for this production.
CHESS IN CONCERT is the first, all-Swedish recording of arguably the most successful Swedish musical of all time. Principal singers include Karin Glenmark as Florence, Anders Glenmark as The American, Tommy Körberg reprising his role as The Russian and Lena Ericsson as Svetlana. (The Glenmarks are the brother and sister team that make up Gemini, the Swedish pop group whose two albums were produced by Benny and Björn. They also sang backing vocals on the studio recording of CHESS.) Personally, Anders performance as The American is too histrionic for me but that aside, Benny did play on and produce the recording. FYI, they did play around with the character's songs in comparison to the latter recordings. For instance, Svetlana sings Heaven Help My Heart instead of Florence. Also, The Soviet Machine is a finally on a CHESS recording. It was included in the original London production but not on the original recording.
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