The cast album for Glee's upcoming version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is now available. Aficionados of the original may well wonder why anyone would want one; after all why mess with a classic. On the other hand messing with classics has always the possibility of making it live again for new generations.
In the context of the TV show, a high school musical production of the show about a transvestite and his muscle flexing creation and the problems such subject matter might cause would make for an interesting if not controversial episode. In the context of a cast album, considerations of that sort are less compelling. You want a cast album because you want to hear the music again, and if that is the measure of this album, I have to say that my own reaction is mixed.
There is no question that the young Glee voices are for the most part far better than those of the original cast. Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick were not exactly noted for their singing voices. But it really wasn't their voices that made the film a cult hit; it was the campy way they dealt with the material. Take for example Tim Curry's "Sweet Transvestite" compared with the Glee version sung by Mercedes. Mercedes is a singer and she sings like a soul diva. Her version of the song could well got to the top of the charts.
Curry is an actor, and he acts like a diva. His performance is over the top camp because he is playing a transvestite. It is a performance in which style and content mesh in a perfect whole. There is no question that musically Curry can't hold a candle to Mercedes, but for those of us old enough to have seen the film at the Waverly Theatre in Greenwich Village musical superiority isn't what it's all about. I can't speak for younger audiences. For the elders among us, Mercedes at least antici. . . . . . . . .pates.
The album, presumably like the episode, doesn't include all the songs from the film. The most notable omissions are "I'm Going Home" and "I Can Make You a Man." Probably the one song from the original that can compete vocally with the Glee version is Meatloaf's "Whatever Happened to Saturday Night" ("Hot Patootie-Bless My Soul" on the original). This is Meatloaf at his best, and Meatloaf at his best is hard to top.