Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson - Original Cast Recording
Record Label: Ghostlight Records
Release Date: Sept. 21, 2010
After a sold-out run at the Public Theater, Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman's Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson has now made its way to the Great White Way. More importantly, its star Benjamin Walker rebuffed a chance to star in the next X Man movie and chose instead to play the titular role in this much-raved Broadway musical.
That Walker stuck around is paramount because he is the essence of the musical. Laden with bravado, gusto and moxie, Walker as Jackson offers an exuberance and sexuality that's transcendent, hypnotizing and powerful. In this, the original cast recording, all those traits are on display. The musical, a farcical look at the controversial president, is self-described as an emo musical, and wears that sentiment well through all of the 13 tracks.
There's lots of self-loathing, whining and woe-is-me sobbing in "I'm Not That Guy," and "I'm So That Guy." Similarly, the chorus on "Crisis Averted," sounds eerily akin to something All Time Low or Mayday Parade might have written. The disc's bombastic offerings, "Populism Yea Yea," "Rock Star," and "The Saddest Song," are spiky, fist-pumping and full of swagger. "Public Life," the soaring and inspiring march song is the disc's true apex and the banner-waving impetus for the script's denouement.
The piano-laden and humorous "Ten Little Indians," is definitely one of the finest of the baker's dozen, as is the equally comical "The Corrupt Bargain." That both of these songs draw on the talents of the ensemble is no coincidence. While Walker is the energy and exuberance of the piece, he is nothing without his support cast, and their light-hearted contributions help keep this musical afloat. Never once does it stumble. That much of the script is culled straight from the history books makes the work that much more powerful.
Timbers, who has made a career of satirizing historical events, has certainly reached his zenith with this work. But credit to Timbers alone is selling short the music and lyrics of Michael Friedman, whose vision helps co-anchor this work. Even if Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson falters, it will not be without armfuls of critical praise. Making a polarizing and controversial figure like Andrew Jackson into something sexy, pulsating and visceral is not easy. Timbers and Friedman have done that and this recording is proof of that.