Composer: Paul Williams .
Personnel: Ray Kennedy (vocals); Art Munson (guitar); Craig Doerge, Dave Garland , Mike Melvoin (piano); Gary Mallabar (drums); Jim Haas, Jerry Whitman, Jon Joycen, Kerry Chator, Tom Bahlet (background vocals).
Audio Remixer: Tommy Vicari.
Recording information: Sound Labs.
Illustrator: Anthony Goldschmidt.
Arranger: Paul Williams .
This curio is the soundtrack to a 1974 Brian DePalma film that mixed horror film theatrics and rock opera bombast as it told the story of a disfigured composer who dons a mask and returns to haunt the evil record tycoon responsible for his troubles. The resulting film didn't catch on with audiences during its initial release but went on to enjoy a long life in repertory theaters as a midnight movie. A major part of the film's attraction for its fans is the clever song score penned by Paul Williams (who also plays the film's record mogul villain, Swan). Phantom of the Paradise was very critical of pop music and its star-making machinery, so Williams supported this aim by writing a catchy set of songs that lampoon rock clichés as their catchy melodies effectively re-created the feel of different rock subgenres. For instance, "Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye" creates a convincing doo wop feel as it sends up the "death songs" that were popular during the early days of rock, while "Upholstery" creates a note-perfect replica of the Beach Boys style as it skewers the lyrical clichés of surf and drag rock. Also noteworthy in this area are "Somebody Super Like You" and "Life at Last," which layer on the guitar-driven fireworks of glam rock as they send up the excesses of theatrical rockers like Alice Cooper and David Bowie. However, parody isn't the only thing on Phantom of the Paradise: there are also some lovely, straightforward ballads that are utilized during the film's more dramatic scenes. Good examples of this include "Special to Me," a lovely organ-driven tune with a rich, heartfelt vocal from Jessica Harper, and "Phantom's Theme (Beauty and the Beast)," a tragic piano ballad that chronicles the inner turmoil of the title character. The only song that doesn't really work is the full band version of "Faust," whose glossy production lacks the impact of the voice-and-piano version elsewhere on the album. Despite this minor flaw, Phantom of the Paradise works both as a catchy song soundtrack and an effective satire of rock music. ~ Donald A. Guarisco