Saturday, November 01, 2008

Earth Opera


I clearly remember when I was 12 years old and my brother coming home for his Christmas break from the college he was attending in Missouri. This was 1967 and he was living away from home with other kids from all over the country that decided to attend this college.

Sure, Missouri wasn’t cool like the big hippy city college towns like San Francisco, Boston or Chicago, but the 60s were the 60s. Where ever you went there were like minded kids seeking out the new realities that the psychedelic generation distributed freely to one another.

I remember my brother and I talking late one night after my parents had gone to bed. He went to his room and came back down stairs with some records and prepared me for what was the start of the Renaissance of the psychedelic music period. We listened to The Electric Prunes Mass in F-Minor which was a haunting experience having grown up in the Catholic Church during the pre-Vatican II, pre-folk mass era.

The next record he brought out was the first Earth Opera album, and this was the experience that took me down a long path of which I am still on today and I have no idea where it will end up other than death, of course.

I just revisited this rather unknown group and album. Earth Opera was started in 1967 by Peter Rowan and David Grisman. Rowan and Grisman were well know in Boston for their folk and bluegrass but this venture was unlike anything they had ever done previously or since.

For 1967 the production and the lyrics were spotless, interesting and clever. Rowan’s singing was shaky at best sounding like a cross between the Hindi sounding guy in Fairport Convention and Stewie from The Family Guy with that Boston/Rhode Island accent; really hard to describe.

This album was before it time, and I’m not even sure it’s time has yet arrived. In it, one can see glimpses of Rowan’s and Grisman’s musical future, though there is no bluegrass, per-se on this collection, just a whiff of bluegrass texture. Mandolins are mixed with vibraphone, harpsichords and Gothic sounding church organs.

If you are the least bit curious about this recording and have a source to sample it, (Yeah, you know what I’m talking about) make sure it is their first album. Some services bundle it as The Great American Eagle Tragedy part one. The Great American Eagle Tragedy (Part 2)was their second album and “disaster” doesn’t even begin to describe that stink pot which broke up the group in 1969.

Most important was the fluidity of their lyrics, such as :
And the carrion crows are arriving in droves as the sun sets to pick the bones clean…Or, If I could speak my self tonight I might be silent once again…

From songs such as: The Red Sox are Winning and Death By Fire
I can see I’m going to wear this one out, again.

5 Comments:

Blogger darev2005 said...

I am intrigued. New music to try! To the Revmobile!

4:15 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

...and I’m not even sure it’s time has yet arrived

compelling, Guy, compelling. ; )

7:03 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I think it's funny that you watch Family Guy!

7:29 PM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Mrs. gearhead and I were SO relieved to read this post!
After all of the lamentations of Mayrln Manson; what were we to think?
We sure didn't want to believe that Guy Smiley was mixed up in the wrong crowd.
Peter Rowan, Commonwealth, and Newgrass Revival are some of the artists we would not part with for any measure of gold.
And of course, you listened to McKendree Spring??

10:01 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev, some pretty cool sounds there, and I have yet to meet anyone else that has ever heard this album.

Lori, I speak the truth with that statement.

Jeff, Though my hair is gray I'm still 14 years old inside. Besides, Family guy is so well written, I can relate to nearly every character.

Gearhead, You've known me long enough to know that my musical tastes are all over the place. I'll be listening to the Chemical Brothers and Hank III this week. My best to the Missus.

5:31 AM  

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