Reviews

"The pen is truly mightier than the sword!"

from Gotham Knight

I must admit before going any further that I was very, and I do mean VERY skeptical when I came across this site. While I do enjoy musicals immensely, such as Chicago and Phantom of The Opera (pity how horrible the film translation was, Schumacher Strikes again!) I quite frankly scoffed at the idea of a musical version of my favorite fictional character. Picturing Batman blurting out rhyming lyrics in his darkened cowl made me cringe. And learning that Tim Burton was once attached to direct nearly sent me into a coma. However, once I prepared myself for the worst, and listened to the demos, I see why he was interested.

I was hooked.

Very rarely does the outcome of something completely take me by surprise, but Batman: The musical is unlike anything I've heard before...and I liked it!

The Review:

GOTHAM CITY / THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT

"Some things only happen in the dark."

They say that first impressions are very important. Like the main titles to BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS, this overture tells me everything I need to know about atmosphere, and the look of Gotham City, without ever having to see a picture. The banging piano paints a picture of chaos and destruction; the scarred faces of the angels still left crying up for a savior. Then there is only silence, and from the shadows The Batman reveals himself. I feel his anger and his pain. I have no pity for the criminals that met him that night.

IN THE LAND OF THE PIG, THE BUTCHER IS KING

"Listen to the amputees sing."

One of my favorites. In one powerful and menacing stroke, you know exactly what the Batman is up against. Not just the muggers and rapists, but those who wear a badge. The power these maniacs wield is a mighty one, and they are proud, fearless in the face of any enemy. I'd call this the theme song of legions, because they are many. It drives home the fact that Batman is the only hope. A very catchy tune.

NOT ALLOWED TO LOVE

My favorite song, all of its versions. At first it sounds a tad cheesy, but there is something about it that's just right. Has the best flow of any of the songs, remains catchy, and fun to sing (...don't judge me), yet remains powerful, and very sad. It builds the wall between Bruce and Selina and breaks it down in one song. Wonderful stuff.

WONDERFUL TOYS

The only song I don't like too much. I love most of the second half, but the song's attempts to be a catchy jingle just doesn't pan out. I don't think it should have been completely changed. A few elements like "Been there done that...seen all they can see...wait till they get a load of me....the songs zany conclusion" would HAVE to stay, but other than that the song needed some big changes. Random rhymes rarely make good songs, in my opinion.

CATWOMAN SONG

Great song, not my favorite, its probably the best one. It's that song that if the musical had been, would be on all those "Broadway Greats Compellation CDs." Definitely the flagship of the show, I wish I knew who the woman doing the vocals is. She's fantastic. Just with her voice, I bought that she was the Catwoman, without any questions.

WE'RE STILL THE CHILDREN WE ONCE WERE

Embodies the down note quality that Batman carries throughout his nightly pursuits. Like the conclusion of every good Batman story, the day is won, but there is something, big or small, that makes the victory seem hollow. There is always a price to pay. Well Done.

CRY BABY CRY

A bit short, I'd like to have seen more of a reprise to GOTHAM CITY, showing how Batman has affected the city, but for what it's worth, it's a great conclusion. It doesn't over do it, but gives you enough to wish to see the characters one more time.

CONCLUSION

It was a shame that this show never came to be, but at least, I know it existed. A few months ago, I had no idea these songs were ever made, and I think it's had a great impact on my fandom of the Dark Knight. That's what's great about it. It left a mark. One I don't want to conceal.

ED. Karine Hannah sang the vocals on "Catwoman Song"

Gotham Knight's Film Reviews Click Here


from yniehr

I'm so happy to have found this site and been able to listen to those rare demos. I've been listening to them a lot now lately, so I felt like writing a review myself...

Gotham City/Graveyard Shift

Is a little bit too positive sounding for me. The gothic tone and the Latin choir fit in here perfectly, but I think the music isn't appropriately dark enough yet for a Gotham City theme. Nonetheless a fitting opening, the "Angels Arise" interjections are beautifully done. Certainly one of my favourites. As for the following "Graveyard Shift" - didn't like the melody that much, but it works well as introductory song for the Caped Crusader.

In the Land of the Pig, the Butcher is King

I heard this song on BAT 3 first. It was weird yet fascinating. I think Meat's version is a lot better than the one to be heard here. The opening alone - the swelling strings followed by those heavy metal chords - set the tone perfectly. I could have imagined this moment as a perfect opening for the show itself, actually. Meat's version lets the corrupt bastards who run Gotham City come to life before my eyes, looking down on that rotten town from their towers (it actually reminds me of Max Schreck's tower in "Batman Returns" and Frank Grissom's in "Batman"!) The electric rhythm of the demo version just doesn't do it for me. I gotta admit, though, that the chorus and the bridge works a lot better here.

Not allowed to love

The weakest of the songs. Maybe this would work on stage with a decent setting and stuff, but the way it is presented here, I just can't imagine it in a Batman musical, sorry. It sounds way too positive and trivial. Haven't heard the Pop or Dance version yet, though.

Joker's Song

This song manages to really capture the Joker's prankster quality. Although the melody isn't all too catchy, it has definite showstopper potential. I can imagine this very well being sung by the Joker to his henchmen who dance to the song in a moronic fashion. Also, the ad-libbing part is hilarious. If the reckless viciousness of the Joker can be combined with his portrayal in this song, the character would work on stage really well.

I need all the Love I can get

Probably my favorite of the set. I can see it before my eyes: Catwoman strolling through a jewelry store grabbing everything she can (btw, I like how this portrayal of Catwoman would be closer to the comics, where she actually was a jewel thief - albeit the motives were different). The up-tempo interjections have cat-like dynamics, and melding with the softer chorus, this song defines the character of Catwoman beautifully.

We're still the Children we once were

I don't really like the idea of changing the Bat mythos by having Batman and Catwoman both spawned out of the same traumatic experience (namely the death of Bruce's parents). This gives me the feel they have more of a brother-sister-connection than being possible love interests for each other. The song, though, is wonderful for what it is. It's haunting, sad and touching if you imagine Bruce and Selina singing this arm in arm, their twisted alter egos forgotten for a moment. Reminds me of the climactic scene in "Batman Returns" - Batman reveals his true identity to the woman he loves, right before she dies. This song definitely delivers.

Cry to Heaven

Wonderful sad ballad/lullaby. Would definitely work with a very minimalistic arrangement, I guess. I think this should be kind of the core melody of this musical, a mournful sob, yearning for a glimpse of hope in this work of mad darkness. Perfect.

All in all I'm slightly disappointed by those demos. They lack the complexity and rich textures of the Batman characters. There'd have to be a lot more character development to make those characters work onstage, especially since the actors that played them in the movies gave such strong performances (especially Pfeiffer - her Catwoman remains one of the best comic book movie characters ever - takes a lot of work to recreate this on the stage!)

Also I'm not really fond of the book. The idea to have both Joker and Catwoman featured in the musical is perfect, but judging from the description of those demos it's done in a rather bland fashion that I, being a huge fan of Burton's Batman films - am not too fond of. I do sense LOTS of potential in those songs, though - after all, if there's someone who can capture the dark and gritty feel of Gotham City and its characters and turn it into a convincing musical experience, it's Steinman!

I wish he'd do a concept recording, recasting Karine Hannah and Rob Evan, composing some more material, doing it all with a real orchestra, band and choir. Would be a great nod to the fans since the musical doesn't seem to be happening anymore. But I'm also excited about all the other projects Jim is currently working with - maybe he'll think about the idea of a "Batman - Concept Recording" another day...?

Thanks for reading!


from Mr. Writer

... I've been living with these songs now for a week. I listened to them to and from work, and Copenhagen turned into Gotham City before my eyes. It was a feeling that everything I had wished to get when I bought the "Bat 3" album - and did not get - I found on this record. I wish that Jim would do it as a concept album, even if he never produced the musical (a la "Songs from Heathcliff" was made by Cliff Richard years before the musical came out.)

Gotham City/Graveyard shift:

Wow... the music is so amazing, and to me this was the very best part of the record. Especially the opening made me really see the buildings of Gotham for my inner eye. I love the blend of the soprano, and the chorus - it felt very grand and big. The second half was not so impressive as the first, but Batman's solo still gives him a feel of being lonely and working hard in a cruel world.

Joker's song:

A spectacular rant! This to me spells a lot about the Joker's madness. The way he jumps from topic to topic, and in the end how his laughter just takes over and breaks his song into fragments - is so very true to the character. The sound was fast paced and reminded me a lot of my old favorite "Dance in my pants". And of course the exit line is fantastic.

Catwoman's song:

I was a little disappointed by this, maybe because that "all the love I can get" mantra is a little too sweet to me, a little too much "wuthering heights" (where it was used a lot). It has been commented elsewhere on the site that it seems disjointed, and I agree with that - but it does have a good tune, on occasion. But probably my least favorite of the music.

Land of the pig:

I heard this one on the "Bat 3" and had no idea it was actually Jim's work until I read the inner cover. I thought it was weird and disjointed, and kind of odd. Then, I heard this version, and I heard what the hell it was supposed to be about - and now I am humming it constantly! In some ways, it gives me a little chills. I feel the chorus on this song works a lot better than Meat Loaf's louder version - it just seems more evil, somehow...

We're still the children...:

Wow - this song I actually had to stop and wipe my eyes over - I have this amazing picture in my head of Batman holding Catwoman in his arms, and pulling the masks off them both before singing, to show her his face and that they are the same children as before. And the last sigh, which to me is when she gives up the spirit... oh man, how powerful. To me, this is probably the most emotional of the pieces, and the one I have heard the most times.

Cry to heaven:

I guess I'm the only one that likes this one. When I heard that there were 2 songs from Batman on "Bat 3", I immediately thought this was the one of them. I saw it as a song by Alfred to a young Bruce Wayne, and see it repeated later by Bruce to Selina, maybe at her tomb. I like it a lot in every incarnation, and think it is a beautiful closing.

Let me by the way make a small note on the "Bat 3" thing - I had almost worked myself up to believing that "Carpe Noctem" was going to be reused in this musical - listen to the lyrics of that song - it fits surprisingly well to a Batman story.

ED. "Carpe Noctem/Seize The Night" was written for "Batman Forever" (1995).

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