Today, London’s Dominion Theatre is home to We Will Rock You, a tongue-in-cheek “jukebox musical” featuring the music of Queen. That show is currently celebrating its 10th year at the Dominion, but even before the “Bohemian Rhapsody” chaps came to town, the Dominion was no stranger to mega-musicals from rock stars. In 1986, Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five put his name above the title of a lavish spectacle called Time. Clark collaborated on the musical’s book and lyrics with David Soames; the music was provided by Jeff Daniels (not the actor of the same name). Clark was also credited with “creating and devising” the elaborate stage production. The April 1986 debut of the musical starred Cliff Richard as The Rock Star, and Sir Laurence Olivier, the latter appearing as a pre-filmed holographic giant head (!) named Akash. Arlene Phillips (Starlight Express) contributed choreography along with director Larry Fuller (Evita, Merrily We Roll Along), and John Napier (Sunset Boulevard, Les Miserables) designed the massive production.
Time never received an original London Cast Recording, however, with Clark opting instead to release the show’s score as a star-filled, two-LP concept album prior to the London opening. Cliff Richard, of course, was enlisted to perform on the album, along with a “Who’s Who” of pop, rock and soul including Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Leo Sayer, Julian Lennon and the recently-reunited team of Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach. Olivier appeared on the Time album, as well. Close your eyes and picture the great actor intoning dialogue such as this:
Stand before me on the Sign of Infinity, all you of the Earth. With the granting of “The Law of Probenation” comes the application of change. I will give you the key. And with this knowledge, please realize, comes the responsibility of sharing it. I will show you the way: (It’s very simple). Throughout the Universe there is order: in the movement of the plane, in nature, and in the functioning of the human mind. A mind at is in its natural state of order is in harmony with the Universe, and such a mind is timeless. Your life is an expression of your mind. You are a creator of your own Universe, for as a human being you are “free to will” whatever state of being you desire through the use of your thoughts and words. There is great Power there. It can be a blessing or a curse…
Dave Clark has apparently never been comfortable with the compact disc, having refused nearly every offer to bring his storied DC5 catalogue to the format over the years. A mere handful of official releases have materialized including Hollywood Records’ 1993 double-CD anthology The History of the Dave Clark Five, EMI U.K.’s shorter counterpart Glad All Over Again, and Universal’s 2010 The Hits. He’s been more forthcoming with releases on iTunes, and now, the starry studio cast recording of Time is once more available. For its belated 25th anniversary, Time has joined the DC5 catalogue as available from that digital music provider.
There’s more in Time after the jump!
Dave Clark’s newly-launched official website for Time describes the musical’s plot as follows: “The album opens at a rock concert somewhere on Earth, where the ‘Rock Star’ – the biggest star on the planet – is performing. During his performance of ‘TIME’, the song is dramatically and mysteriously ‘interrupted’ and the ‘Rock Star’ is transported to The High Court Of The Universe to answer the charge that Earth has become a threat to Universal Peace and as such cannot be allowed to continue its existence. As with the stage musical, the album takes the form of a trial set in space with the ‘Rock Star’ forced to defend the Earth.”
Though Cliff Richard played The Rock Star onstage (he would be succeeded in the show by David Cassidy!), the character’s songs were split on the recording between Richard, Queen’s Freddie Mercury, Julian Lennon, Leo Sayer and Ashford and Simpson. The album’s star power clearly worked, with Time: The Album selling over 12 million copies worldwide according to Clark. Richard took two of his songs to the British chart, “She’s So Beautiful” (No. 17) and “It’s In Every One of Us” (No. 45). Mercury, too, made the chart with the musical’s title song (No. 32) and Julian Lennon hit No. 40 with “Because.” Yes, this latter song was a reprise of the Dave Clark Five’s 1964 hit, and Julian’s vocal similarity to his famous father lends a decidedly Beatle-esque air to the British Invasion tune. “Because,” however, didn’t make the West End stage, and songs were cut, added and reshuffled between the concept album and the actual production. Olivier’s spoken-word “Theme from Time” even made the charts in some territories where it was released as a single!
Murray Head was no stranger to concept album territory, having performed on the original recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar; his rendition of the rock opera’s title song made the U.S. pop Top 20. Head performed “We’re the UFO” on Time. Dionne Warwick handled two songs, “What on Earth” and “Within My World.” For the latter, she was joined by Burt Bacharach, who arranged and conducted the track. Freddie Mercury and Cliff Richard each performed on three tracks, and Ashford and Simpson and Leo Sayer each sang two. Julian Lennon offered “Time Will Teach Us All” with Stevie Wonder and “If You Only Knew” in addition to “Because.” Richard’s “It’s In Every One of Us” was one of the additional songs written for Time by composer/lyricist David Pomeranz (Barry Manilow’s “Tryin’ to Get the Feeling,” “The Old Songs”).
Dave Clark has remastered the album for iTunes, and created one 20-page digital booklet available with the purchase of either Act I or Act II. (Each act is sold separately.) Though we have not yet verified this, the Wikipedia entry for Time indicates that the iTunes reissue “contains new edits and several alternate mixes” not on the original vinyl release. Time never made it to the Broadway stage, but its galactic pop/rock can be yours to hear now, exclusively on iTunes.
Studio Cast Recording, Dave Clark’s Time: The Album (EMI AMPM-1/EQ 5003, 1985 – reissued 2012)
- Born to Rock ‘n’ Roll” (4:05) – Cliff Richard
- “Time Talkin'” (4:55) – Ashford & Simpson
- “Time” (2:57) – Freddie Mercury
- “Music of the Spheres/Law of the Universe” (5:47) – Chris Thompson/Miriam Stockley/Michael Mullins
- “The Time Lord theme” (4:08) – John Christie
- “The Charge” (1:59) – John Christie
- “One Human Family” (3:28) – Leo Sayer
- “What On Earth” (4:09) – Dionne Warwick
- “I Know I Know” (2:59) – Leo Sayer
- “Your Brother in Soul” (3:54) – Jimmy Helms
- “Case for the Prosecution” (4:21) – John Christie
- “Starmaker” (4:14) – Ashford & Simpson
- “Time Will Teach Us All” (4:36) – Julian Lennon and Stevie Wonder
- “I Object (Lord Melchisedic – The Time Lord)” (0:49) – John Christie
- “In My Defence” (4:16) – Freddie Mercury
- “Within My World” (5:00) – Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach
- “Because” (3:55) – Julian Lennon
- “Move the Judge” (4:48) – Jimmy Helms
- “She’s So Beautiful” (3:56) – Cliff Richard
- “Beauty, Truth, Love, Freedom, Peace” (2:45) – Laurence Olivier
- “If You Only Knew” (5:47) – Julian Lennon
- “We’re the UFO” (3:41) – Murray Head
- “The Theme from Time” (4:03) – Laurence Olivier
- “Harmony” (3:43) – John Christie
- “The Return (Instrumental)” (2:08) – Dave Clark, John Christie
- “Time (Reprise) – The Rock Star” (1:02) – Freddie Mercury
- “It’s in Every One of Us” (4:45) – Cliff Richard