Rock Operas

Forget about Carmen or Madame Butterfly. Sound Opinions' own divas, Jim and Greg, share their favorite Rock Operas.

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Music News

Some interesting chart news this week: Despite being music vets, Tom Petty and Weird Al Yankovic, both just achieved their first #1 in the past month. Over on the Jazz charts, Tony Bennett, who himself took 54 years to produce #1, has reached another hight, this time with strange bedfellow Lady Gaga. Comic book fans are showing their support for Marvel's most recent super-powered adventure, Guardians of The Galaxy. The soundtrack for the flick, an eclectic mix of '70s rock, soul, and pop staples, is the current chart topper, beating out the prolific Now series, Volume 51. Over on the vinyl end of things, Jack White's most recent release, Lazaretto, is making history with its soaring sales. The LP has already sold over 60,000 copies, the most since Pearl Jam's 1994 album Vitalogy.


Rock Operas

For many music fans, when you hear "Rock Opera," you probably think of The Who's 1969 album Tommy. But, Jim and Greg assert that Tommy is neither the first, nor the best, Rock Opera. Credit for the first goes to S.F. Sorrow by The Pretty Things in 1968. Credit for the best? Well, there's a long list throughout music history, including those listed below. But whatever your favorite, just don't call it a concept album!

  • The Who's Quadrophenia
  • Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  • Green Day's American Idiot
  • Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger
  • Janelle Monae's The Archandroid
  • The Pretty Things's S.F. Sorrow
  • The Kinks' Arthur
  • Lou Reed's Berlin
  • David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust
  • Frank Zappa's Joe's Garage
  • Pink Floyd's The Wall
  • The Decemberists' Crane Wife
  • Neil Young and Crazy Horse's Greendale
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar

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“Up Front”Poison Idea,Poison Idea

Inspired by a recent trip to Portland, OR for a special taping of the show with Broken Bells (stay tuned to hear it!), Jim spends his latest trip to the Desert Island remembering The City of Roses's 1980's hardcore punk scene. Jim tells us that trailblazers like Greg Sage and his Wire-esque band The Wipers never quite get the credit they deserve for laying the groundwork for Seattle's grunge music explosion in the ‘90’s. (Nirvana actually covered a couple Wipers tunes.) Another prominent Portland-area hardcore band, Poison Idea, was also influenced by Sage. Specifically the band's guitarist, Tom Roberts, better known as Pig Champion. Jim recalls that what Roberts may have lacked in showmanship (he mostly sat on a folding chair while on stage), he made up for in sheer metal guitar prowess. Sadly, Roberts passed away in 2006 at the age of only 47. So this week, Jim pays tribute to both the Portland hardcore scene and Robert's indelible mark on it, by playing a live recording of Poison Idea's Wipers cover "Up Front," which features more than 12-minutes of Robert's virtuoso guitar.

Featured Songs

  1. Jack White, Lazaretto, Lazaretto, XL, 2014
  2. Weird Al, Word Crimes, Mandatory Fun, RCA, 2014
  3. Tony Bennett, The Lady Is A Tramp, Duets II, Columbia/RPM Records/Sony Music Entertainment, 2011
  4. 10cc, I'm Not in Love, The Original Soundtrack, Mercury, 1975
  5. The Pretty Things, S.F. Sorrow is Born, S.F. Sorrow, Repertoire, 1968
  6. The Who, Tommy Can You Hear Me?, Tommy, MCA, 1969
  7. The Who, The Real Me, Quadrophenia, MCA, 1973
  8. The Who, The Punk Meets The Godfather, Quadrophenia, MCA, 1973
  9. The Who, Love, Reign O'er Me, Quadrophenia, MCA, 1973
  10. The Who, The Punk Meets the Godfather, Quadrophenia, MCA, 1973
  11. Drive-by Truckers, Let There Be Rock, Southern Rock Opera, Universal Music, 2001
  12. Genesis, Carpet Crawlers, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, EMI, 1974
  13. Gensis, Lillywhite Lillith, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, EMI, 1974
  14. Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, EMI, 1974
  15. Genesis, It, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, EMI, 1974
  16. Willie Nelson, Red Headed Stranger, Red Headed Stranger, Columbia/Legacy, 1975
  17. Willie Nelson, Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, Red Headed Stranger, Columbia/Legacy, 1975
  18. Willie Nelson, Time of the Preacher, Red Headed Stranger, Columbia/Legacy, 2014
  19. The Kinks, Victoria, Arthur(Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., 1969
  20. Frank Zappa, Joe's Garage, Joe's Garage: Act 1, Rykodisc, 1979
  21. The Decemberists, The Crane Wife pts. 1&2, The Crane Wife, Capitol, 2006
  22. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Double E, Greendale, Reprise, 2003
  23. Green Day, American Idiot, American Idiot, Reprise, 2004
  24. Green Day, Extraordinary Girl, American Idiot, Reprise, 2004
  25. Green Day, Jesus of Suburbia, American Idiot, Reprise, 2004
  26. Green Day, She's a Rebel, American Idiot, Reprise, 2004
  27. Janelle Monae, Many Moons, Metropolis, Suite 1, Bad Boy, 2007
  28. Janelle Monae, Wondaland, ArchAndroid, Atlantic, 2010
  29. Janelle Monae, BaBopByeYa, ArchAndroid, Atlantic, 2010
  30. Styx, Mr. Roboto, Kilroy Was Here, A&M/IMS/Interscope, 1983
  31. Poison Idea, Up Front (Wipers), 14 Songs For Greg Sage, Tim/Ker, 1993
  32. Merle Haggard, Call Me, Big City, Sony Music Distribution, 1981
  33. The Ramones, I Don't Wanna Grow Up, ¡Adios Amigos!, Captain Oil! Records, 1995
  34. Jethro Tull, Cup of Wonder, Songs From the Wood, Chrysalis Records/EMI/Parlophone, 1977
  35. Miles Davis, All Blues, Milestones, Hallmark, 1958
  36. Ghetto Twinz, Responsibility, In That Water, Rap-A-Lot, 1997

Footnotes Guardians of the Galaxy News Bennett and Gaga on top Jack White Vinyl Success Jack White on Sound Opinions Tom Petty at Number 1 Tom Petty Reviewed The Pretty Things's SF Sorrow The Who's Quadrophenia Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Green Day's American Idiot Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger Janelle Monae's The Archandroid Lou Reed's Berlin The Decemberist's Crane Wife Neal Young and Crazy Horse's Greendale Styx's Kilroy Was Here Poison Idea The Wipers