The Combined Rock Operas


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Of course, that wasn't the case, as legions of Beatles fans later realized when they, you know, actually listened to the first Klaatu album. But they were a pretty good, if undervalued band. Haling from Toronto, these three studio musicians thought that "the music should speak for itself. And since they were signed to Capitol Records, some bonehead reporter for the Providence Journal thought it must be the fab four reunited.

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The Combined Rock Operas of by Salvatore Caesar Scordato, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

At any rate, when all these Beatles rumors surfaced , sales for their first album soared. And admittedly, there are a couple of Beatlest-esque tunes on the first album, notably "Subway Sub Rosa" and "Little Neutrino. And I've got to say, "Hope" is one helluva an album. Although it clocks in at just over 40 minutes, it is ambitious and grandiose musically and thematically. It tells the story of an ancient race or planet of space travelers and a lonely lighthouse keeper at the end of space or who the heck knows what.

There is a story here, which is why I think this qualifies as a rock opera more than just a concept album, but I wouldn't be able to explain it to you. It's that good an album. While the whole album is excellent, I view "Long Live Politzania" as the best cut. Ok, and some of the vocals on this album do sound a bit like George Harrison but I think it's just coincidental.

The guitar work on "Madman" is also excellent.

The music has a '70s extravagance that you will either love or hate. Unfortunately, at some point the truth behind the rumor "Klaatu is Klaatu! This was unfortunate because the band had nothing to do with these rumors. The band recorded three more albums before breaking up. The first three albums are excellent while I consider the last two a bit more hit-or-miss. There's also an excellent box set called "Sun Set" which includes all of Hope with all of the London Symphony Orchestra sections fully restored.

The albums are available on Amazon , iTunes and from the official Klaatu website. Since live footage of Klaatu is relatively hard to come by, here's a live performance on CBC Music Machine with a song from their first album. For good or for bad, for most people The Who's " Tommy " is the definitive rock opera. When I tell people I wrote a rock opera, the usual question is "You mean, like Tommy? There are some great moments for sure, and I love the theme that's repeated throughout.

It's particularly rockin' on the french horn.

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But as a double album, Tommy clocks in at a bloated and overdone 75 minutes. With a lot of editing this would have been a fantastic single album. Still, the story is pretty good, if a bit cryptic, but it's certainly withstood the test of time. People interpret Tommy in their own personal way, which is probably what Townshend intended. Still, we owe The Who a debt of gratitude for popularizing the rock opera form in a way that no one else has before or since.

If you ask most people to name a rock opera, they'll probably come up with "Tommy" and not much else. Until recently, I had assumed The Who's "Tommy" was not only the definitive rock opera but also the first. The music is not to everyone's taste, but if you like '60s garage rock sound, it's brilliant. By their fourth album they were stretching beyond the form and had the idea to create a collection of songs that told a story. Sorrow was recorded at famed Abbey Road studios in London, in where the Beatles and Pink Floyd were also recording.


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The music and production is definitely of an era; if you can get past the occasional sitar, woodwinds and backwards tape studio effects, it's a brilliant album that combines melody, lush vocal harmonies, and psychadelic garage rock full-gain Marshall stack guitar solos in ways that I'd never imagined before. It makes S. Sorrow a tremendous discovery. Many of the songs sound like they could be from some long lost Beatles bootleg session. Standout cuts include "S.

There are a few clunkers for sure, but overall these fit in with to the broader '60s context and make the best songs stand out even more. Alas, S. Tommy itself tells the story of a deaf, dumb, and blind boy who suffers neglect and abuse and struggles to recover his senses. Instrumentals like "Sparks" and "Underture" sit comfortably among favorites like "I'm Free" and "Pinball Wizard," and in it was adapted into a star-studded, trippy movie that featured Tina Turner killing it as The Acid Queen, Elton John performing on stilts and, perhaps most famously, Ann-Margaret writhing around in baked beans.

With that in mind it's easy to see why records like this could be deemed pretentious or overblown, but Tommy 's success established a format that's endured over half a century. Unlike a rock musical—apologies to Hair and RENT— rock operas stand on their own, serving as first and foremost an album and telling their stories exclusively through the music. Though many have been adapted for the stage or screen over the years. While what exactly separates a concept album from a rock opera remains up for debate—we're going with self-identification for the purposes of this list; if the artist calls it a rock opera, it's a rock opera— some of the best examples of the style are the ones that embrace the pomp and theatrics the format calls for.

Whether it's the tale of a deaf, dumb, and blind kid or the bombing of a lightbulb factory, rock operas are ambitious, which you almost have to commend an artist for simply attempting.

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So to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tommy , here are nine more highlights from the genre. Sorrow is generally recognized as one of the first rock operas. Though it never quite soared to the same critical and commercial heights as The Who's album, it is absolutely worth a listen. The story follows main character Sebastian F. Sorrow through birth, love, war, tireless work in the "Misery Factory" and ultimately, old age and loneliness. The psychedelic album's liner notes featured short chapters to accompany the songs' narrative, which were read out loud in between tracks by Arthur Brown during early performances of S.

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Sorrow was overshadowed by the Pinball Wizard. Tommy has more notoriety, but The Who's best rock opera is their second attempt. The only Who album composed entirely by Pete Townshend, Quadrophenia is a much more focused story, one that feels more relevant to British youth culture at the time as it follows Jimmy, a mod who struggles with his self-worth. But if you're looking for an onscreen story that gets to the heart of Quadrophenia , look no further than Freaks and Geeks ' "Dead Dogs And Gym Teachers" episode and its perfect use of "I'm One.


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Berlin is bleak, to say the least; Lou Reed's third solo album tells the story of Jim and Caroline, a couple plagued by drug addiction, domestic violence, depression and ultimately, suicide. Perhaps that's why it took critics and fans a while to warm up to it after it was initially released in Reed and producer Bob Ezrin originally planned for the album to be performed as a rock opera onstage, but that idea was scrapped after poor sales and mediocre reviews.

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Eventually people came around on Berlin 's understated, tragic beauty, and in , Reed finally got to perform the album in its entirety the way he had planned—backed by a piece band and 12 choir members. Ann's Warehouse the following year. A rock opera is theatrical by definition, and the best ones tend to be those that fully embrace that aspect and just go for it. There's perhaps no better example of this than Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell , a truly ridiculous tale of young love and teenage rebellion loosely based on songwriter Jim Steinman's Peter Pan-inspired musical, Neverland.

The Combined Rock Operas The Combined Rock Operas
The Combined Rock Operas The Combined Rock Operas
The Combined Rock Operas The Combined Rock Operas
The Combined Rock Operas The Combined Rock Operas
The Combined Rock Operas The Combined Rock Operas

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