Two album musical: RCA maps game plan for Chess. By Irv Lichtman

New York

Following on the heels of its sister companies in Europe, it’s RCA’s Records’ move here in a broad marketing program for Chess, a two-album musical penned by Tim Rice and ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

Before the digitally recorded package reaches U.S. retailers December 3rd, 1984 at least two singles cuts from the album will be marketed in both seven-and twelve-inch formats. They are Heaven Help My Heart and One Night In Bangkok, performed by Elaine Paige and Murray Head, respectively. Both are veterans of earlier efforts by lyricist Tim Rice in collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. For the Bangkok session, a video clip made in England will be submitted to music video channels.

The work, an allegory of East-West tensions as symbolized by two chess players with more than a passing resemblance to Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer, has just been performed in a concert version in Europe, an exposure approach to be used in the U.S. in five key cities, according to Don Wardell, RCA’s director of West Coast marketing in charge of label plans on behalf of the singles and album.

Wardell says he’s “interested to see if we can find a sponsor for the recital version, with a symphony and chorus, to play New York, Boston and Los Angeles.” In Europe, Saab-Scandia of Sweden sponsored a five-city tour in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Stockholm between October 27th and November 1st, 1984. The Chess album is due for European release Monday (19th).

According to Jack Davies RCA Records vice president for Europe stationed in London, the concept of Chess originated at a dinner party several years ago in London, where Rice and Peter Robinson, RCA’s U.K. a&r director, discussed the idea of a new “album musical.” Davies says RCA has an option to market an original cast album, which could develop if plans materialize to stage the work in London at the end of 1985.

Back in the U.S., RCA has devised a number of marketing ploys on behalf of both the singles and the album. They include an audio/visual presentation in New York, Toronto and Los Angeles with the principals present, an 11-song radio sampler, a giant 60-by 40-inch poster, six-sided black and white cube displays and Chess mugs.

In addition, a 50-minute video documentary produced in Sweden, The Making Of Chess, may be made available here. It contains concert footage from the Stockholm presentation. Transcribed for ABBA World

Billboard (USA) · 24 November 1984 (Page 4)

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