Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Original Cast, 2010 (Ghostlight) 1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5) Before Hamilton took the world by storm in 2016 with a musical style previously underrepresented on Broadway and a story featuring American historical figures, composer-lyricist Michael Friedman and book writer Alex Timbers utilized similar elements to create Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson in 2010. The cast album was released following the musical’s successful engagement at The Public Theater and before its disappointing run of 120 performances on Broadway. If the show is certainly no Hamilton, its punk rock score still offers some genuine moments to savor. Take the opening number, “Populism Yea Yea.” Only the most hardened critics could resist banging their heads along to the catchy lyrics. And give a listen to the recording’s final track, “The Hunters of Kentucky,” for another prime example of Friedman’s ability to excite the listener. You won’t have long to wait between those two highlights; the recording is a slight 28 minutes long, making it one of the shortest cast albums ever. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson attempts to satirize its title character, played by Benjamin Walker, by portraying him as a foulmouthed, angsty, emo rock star. The idea is to lampoon Jackson’s most controversial decisions and actions by attributing them to his immature, reactive personality, a device that may not register when one is listening to the songs out of context. The score also makes the mistake of glamorizing Jackson’s emotionality as the show goes on, depriving the satire of its bite. Additionally, it should be noted that the original production was widely criticized by Native American activist groups, and subsequent productions have been protested, due to the material’s perceived insensitivity in its depiction of historical events. Comparisons to Hamilton only go so far, given Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson‘s lack of nuance and the disparity in quality between the two scores. — Forrest Hutchinson