“With a score by Gerome Ragni, James Rado and composer Galt Macdermot” (Cd Universe c), Hair was “the first and best musical of the hippie peace and love generation” (Cd Universe c). “The show and the album were quite different to the usual Broadway fare” (Cd Universe c). “Hair was both celebratory and anticlimactic at the same time. Heralded by many at the time as being a rejuvenation for musical theater, it was also supposed to ‘speak’ for the youth. The problem with that is that any time you attempt to allow a piece of written work to speak for a generation, it invariably fails. It is undoubtedly impossible for one musical to classify every attitude held by a person under 30 at that time. Given this fact, Hair was destined to be considered a disappointment” (Erlewine).
“However, if you take the score out of this context and listen to it simply as a snippet of some prevalent beliefs of the time, or simply as a fictional work, it is really quite wonderful. As Claude’s best friend is expelled from high school and the love of Claude’s life loves someone else, Claude must struggle with the decision to submit to government regulations in which he doesn't believe. A youthful exuberance covers the proceedings, with the first act ending with the infamous nude sequence” (Erlewine).
“The music is heartening and invigorating, including the classics Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine, Let the Sunshine In, Frank Mills (which was covered by the Lemonheads on their 1992 album It’s a Shame About Ray), and Easy to Be Hard. The joy that has been instilled in this original Broadway cast recording shines through, capturing…exactly what [its creators] were aiming for – not to speak for their generation, but to speak for themselves” (Erlewine).
The cast album was recorded in RCA Studio B in New York, New York on May 6, 1968 (Cd Universe c). The “principal cast includes: Ronald Dyson (Ron); James Rado (Claude); Gerome Ragni (Berger); Steve Curry (Woof); Lamont Washington (Hud); Lynn Kellogg (Sheila); Sally Eaton (Jeanie); Melba Moore (Dionne); Shelley Plimpton (Crissy); Diane Keaton (Waitress); Jonathan Kramer (Young Recruit); Paul Jabara (General Grant); Lorrie Davis (Abraham Lincoln); Donnie Burks (Sergeant)” (Cd Universe c). The album won a Grammy for best score from an Original Cast album (Cd Universe c).
More than ten years later, Milos Forman directed the “cinematic version…As with most adaptations from the stage, the results can be either hit or miss. While the film did not generate much in the way of critical or viewer acclaim, this album contains some noteworthy variations on the 1968 play. At the center is music from Galt MacDermot and James Rado, which likewise has remained as a sort of late-1960s aural time capsule” (Planer).
“In more than a few cases, the movie’s luminous cast take the tunes to a new level. In particular, Treat Williams’ portrayal of Berger shines throughout, especially on secondary numbers such I Got Life, which he turns into one of the best on-screen performances” (Planer).
“John Savage turns in a stellar rendering of the central figure, Claude, whose middle American roots and values are challenged by the freedom offered in the burgeoning counterculture. His substance-induced Where Do I Go becomes not only a pivotal point in the movie, but one of the best cuts on this disc” (Planer).
“The support is of equal value with Beverly d’Angelo’s ‘Good Morning Starshine’ and Cheryl Barnes’ reading of ‘Easy to Be Hard’ being among the strongest versions available. Nell Carter’s big screen debut could not have been more perfectly cast. She captures the essence of Abie Baby and White Boys with a perfect blend of soul and drama. Additionally, Carter plays a significant role in ensemble pieces such as I Got No. The contributions of Melba Moore are not only worth mentioning due to her exceptional rendering of 3-5-0-0, but she is the only member of both the motion picture as well as the original Broadway company. Rock vocalist/ actress Ellen Foley’s solo on Black Boys should be mentioned as a cameo appearance highlight” (Planer).