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Savatage - Streets - A Rock Opera CD (album) cover

STREETS - A ROCK OPERA

Savatage

Progressive Metal


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phil_fetterma
5 stars This is simply one of the greatest, most underrated albums of all time. Whether you're into hard music or not, there is something here for everyone. Although the actual storyline itself is nothing more than a rehashed tale of a rock star gone bad in the city, the music makes it into a grand epic of novel proportions. This album truly deserves the name "rock opera" but not any stigma that might normally be attached to such a title. Themusic is wonderfully emotional, successfully transporting the listener through moments of joy and dispair. John and Chris Oliva were the heart and soul of Savatage and although later albums with different bandmembers were good in their own rights, this was the epitome of Savatage's brand of music.
Report this review (#27424)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars As you see from the name itself, this is Savatage's first real rock opera. It's also their first conceptual album (Dead Winter Dead, The Wake Of Magellan and Poets And Madmen are the other three). Again, they progressed with this album quite a lot, as they did with all the others from that era.

Coming off more progressive musical shift that was expressed in Gutter Ballet, Savatage takes the final step, and embraces in a full-on rock opera, entailing the tumultuous journey of a guitar prodigy named D.T Jesus. While the 80's power metal inclinations are still completely intact in several songs, the band clearly takes liberties with several "unmetal" tracks. Songwriting has always been a strong suit of the band, and this is Savatage at their best. The riffs are incisive, pounding the anger and vitriol of the mood in every chord. The solos are breathtaking as Criss Oliva skewers some of the most memorable and heart-wrenching ever put to record. Every song demands your absolute attention, and Jon Oliva gives a vocal performance of his life. This is the last featuring Jon Oliva on lead vocals (well, he sang Poets And Madmen, but that was 12 years later). He does a really great job. Every note, he sings from the bottom of his heart. J. Oliva isn't just vocalizing the part of D.T Jesus. He IS D.T Jesus. As always, his songwriting is also remarkable, as is Paul O'Neill's. Lyrics are a real poetry at times. As the standard is for Savatage, piano blends with guitars in song just perfectly. Doc and Johnny do their own job fine as the rhythm-machine.

This is brilliant stuff. Pure emotional and breath-taking metal all crammed into one awesome concept album. The album's concept is pure and simple, yet good: It's about a drug addict from the street's rise from dead-beat junkie to big time rock star.....and back again. Drugs get to him once again, people from his past come back to settle scores, all the while he's trying to fight some inner demons and find who he really is. Simple yes, but also genius.

Track-by-track guide:

Streets - Amazing. This song sort of sets up the tone, idea and setting for the story. Oh, that piece that the children's choir(which adds an extra level of haunting atmosphere) is singing at the beginning is an excerpt from "The Magic Flute", by the way . Good stuff.

Jesus Saves - This song gives you the background behind the main character, Downtown(or D.T.) Jesus. It has a cool voice acting part at the beginning, followed by a nice song with a catchy melody, courtesy of Jon Oliva's keyboards and Criss Oliva's awesome riffage.

Tonight He Grins Again - Sad stuff. Very sad. Nice piano playing by Jon Oliva, showing that Savatage can integrate the piano into a metal song like no other band. Good solo in here too. The lyrics are awesome as well!

Strange Reality comes in a pack with the previous song (oh, I forgot to say, that some versions have some songs glued together as one track, but that doesn't affect music much). It has a really catchy riff and a great verse part. A great heavy Savatage song.

A Little Too Far - A beautiful ballad that includes only piano and vocals, with some moving lyrics that can make any eye shed a tear.

You're Alive - This is up-tempo happy metal! Fits in with the with the story pretty well. No solo, but you can't have everything you want.

Sammy And Tex - This is a METAL song! Great speedy rocker that shows the anger and aggression that is within the part of the story this song represents. Kick ass riffage by Criss.

St. Patrick's - At first, I didn’t care for this song all that much , but after several listens, I can safely say that, although this is a great song, it is a grower. You might have to listen to it a few times to like it. At least I did. Great piano and excellent, thought-provoking lyrics about questioning the exsistance of God in this one.

Can You Hear Me Now - A nice power ballad, executed Savatage way. Great buildup, powerful verses and chorus, nice solo. What else could you want?

New York City Don't Mean Nothing - HERE WE ARE! A nice acoustic ballad-like opening, but man, once those drums and bass comes in, this song slowing mutates into a solid monster stomper of a song. Wow.

Ghost In The Ruins - Classic Savatage right here, folks. Here's another great, lean and mean Savatage rocker. This has some good bass lines by Johnny Lee Middleton, nice lyrics and this is also in a way, Criss Oliva's showcase song, because he's got a great extended solo where you can tell he's showing off!

If I Go Away - What a great ballad! Not only does this perfectly fit in with the album, but it's also a thought provoker: Why am I put on this planet, and what possible impact have I had on this world, the people in it and on myself? These things go through my head when I listen to this song. It's a powerful song, indeed.

Agony and Estcasy - Whoo! Another solid riff-driven rocker! This has a solid riff in it, and I just love it! Sorta reminds me of Savatage's old pure metal days.

Heal My Soul - The second of two piano and vocals only songs in this album. You can feel the pain of the old man dying on this song.

Somewhere In Time - It's so incredibly haunting. Very beautiful lyrics. It has almost a heavenly feel to it throughout. The song's messege is there are no easy answers, but there is always hope.

Believe - AMAZING! AMAZING! AMAZING!!! I can't express how great, brilliant, breath-taking and just moving this song is. This is the pinnacle of Savatage's ballads, it just doesn't get much better than this one, folks. The greatest lyrics the band has ever written are included here. The moral is to believe yourself and everything about yourself. Absolutely awesome climatic solo, great singing, and a guitar line that sounds almost like it belongs in a Christmas song. Incredible. Just Incredible. All the songs work much better within the context of the album, rather than individually, but it’s well worth it.

Very rarely do you come across an album so momentous, so emotional, so hard hitting, that it leaves you with an empty feeling after every listen. Streets is that type of album. It’s simply a masterpiece of grand proportions, and like wine, only gets finer with age. It will, without a doubt, always have a place in my heart. I couldn’t recommend this CD enough, so if you haven't already, go out and buy this album. If you don't, you'll be missing out on some of the most beautiful music ever created. It's your call. Check out "Streets: A Rock Opera", dive into it and hold the record to you for special musically moments in life!

album rating: 10/10 points = 99 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Report this review (#27426)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
Fishy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Like some other prog metal from the eighties, this isn't traditional progressive rock. When compared to the music scene of 2005, it sounds more like rock than metal but back in 1991 this music would still be described as metal. The reason for that was the style the band had been playing on all previous albums. The sound is a mixture of eighties metal and orchestral progressive rock. Although the progressive influence is undenieable, it's only a progressive touch. Although Streets is based on very melodious piano parts nevertheless the dominant instrument still is the guitar. Even more interesting are the orchestral arrangements, never dominant but especially on calm breaks you'll notice that these wonderful orchestrations are spread all over the album. Another excellent ingredient are the haunting vocals of John Olivia, he never should have resigned from the vocal duties of this band which he did later on in the history of the band unfortunately. He's got a voice which does sound raw and powerful but also quite gentle in many moments. Most of all the fabulous compositions are top notch for rock music in general. Although the song structures are pretty conventional, the melodies keep sounding on in your head after you played this album a dozen times. Streets is a hell of an album. The key element is emotion which many other progressive albums lack.

The main theme of this album is the story of DT Jesus a musician who find himself living on the street. In more than one way this album seems the perfect successor of Gutter ballet which the band issued 2 years earlier. The band uses similar lyrical idea's but the progressive elements are more apparent here. The guitars do sound more polished and fit better in the overall sound. And then there's also the excellent production work. Another difference comparing with GB is that several songs with different atmospheres form a tight union. After all this is a rock opera in the true sense of the word.

And now for the tracks. Amongst my favourites are the perfect title track which opens the album. it sounds as a perfect introduction to a horror movie. "Jesus saves" has nothing to do with religious issues, it's one of the most accessible tracks the band has ever released. Thanks to the memorable melody this is one of the all time favourites for the fans and believe me there's a reason for that. "A little too far" is another highlight. Unusual for Savatage, this is a short, calm song with the piano in the main role. This proofs the songs work out fine without big guitar riffs, keyboards or massive orchestrations and any rhythm section at all. In fact, it sounds even better. Tracks like this are perfect to be included on a rock opera and that's what Streets is. "New york city don't mean nothing to me" is another musical like track. It starts of with gentle acoustic guitar and a stunning vocal melody line followed by some excellent guitar riffs. The closing song "Believe" has another stunning melody which recaptures a melody line from "when the crowds are gone" of GB, the band would continue to do this on the next albums. Really, no weak tracks are present here but some may sound too heavy for the average prog lover.

From a reference point of view the music is reminiscent to the best stuff of Alice Cooper for the melodies and the voice especially on the ballads. When hearing the combination of a piano and the rock song the name of Jim Steiman comes to mind and Queen must have been an influence for the vocal outbursts even though I'm not exactly a fan of that band and I do like this album.

I must say I'm particular fond of this album. I don't think anyone could deny its quality. Still it comes as no surprise not much people had reviewed this album till now. This isn't a perfect example of progressive rock but maybe that's a good thing. The best music is often a mixture of several different musical styles and Streets is no exception. And off course, you must like the idea of a rock opera to enjoy this kind of music.

Report this review (#27428)
Posted Friday, March 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "Streets - A Rock Opera" is just my favourite metal album... I bought it eight years ago, and it made me instantaneously be a Savatage's fan!

And I'm still tinking that "Streets" is the best Savatage's album, and the best metal opera ever made. After Queensr˙che's "Operation Mindcrime", Savatage came up with this true masterpiece, clearly surpasing the Seattle's band precedent... This album was the first metal album recorded in 92 tracks tapes. The Paul O'Neill production is just outstanding, really perfect... This fact allows this album sound great seventeen years after its release.

The musicanship is also superb... Jon Oliva's took all the characters of the album with his personal and broken voice, but with a lot of feeling and good taste. His pianos and keys are not ultra fast or very technic, but they are a great part of the Savatage's personality. Like the six Criss Oliva's strings, who made his best guitar performance here... How stunning and influential this guitarist was! You have only to hear the synthethised guitar sound in Strange Reality, and you will discover where Jon Petrucci took some of the guitar tricks he used on "Images and Words"... Dr. Killdrums and Johnny Lee Middleton are just perfect and solid in their respective instruments.

The style of the album is the Savatage's trademark... Symphonic hard rock, with elaborated instrumental passages. But maybe even more variated than the usual Savatage's standars. The album opens with a gothic feeling, thanks to this children choir and the keyboards sounding like bells in the song Streets. After this, Jesus Saves attacks with its killer and intrincated riff... This way, we enter on this carousel of pain, love, suffering, hope... And just great music!

There is symphonic metal (Jesus Saves, Can You Hear me Now...), 80's heavy metal (Sammy & Tex, Agony & Ecstasy...), hard rock bullets (Strange Reality, You're Alive...), melodic hard rock (Ghost in the Ruins), marvellous symphonic ballads (St. Patrick's, If I go Away, Believe...), Elton John influences (A little Too Far)... Even some acoustic folk elements in New York City Don't Meant Nothing!

For all this, this album is the Savatage's most variated... And in my opinion, here we have their best balance between ballads and hard tracks, between melody and strenght... And their best lyrics and concept! Paul O'Neill wrote a touching history (was he indirectly speaking about Jon Oliva?), maybe only surpased by the "Dead Winter Dead"'s one. And the lyrics are an important part of the album too... They touch rock, drugs and religion themes. But religion not in the way Neal Morse's do, but in a metaphoric and subtle way. "So people take care when you're chasing a dream in the night!"

Best songs: seriously... Every song in this album is just great.

Conclusion: what a wonderful disc! This is just the best metal album from the 90's, in my humble opinion. Really touching, funny, diverse... And a demonstration of musical, performance and production virtuosity. If you have not hear it, give it a try... You'll maybe discover one of the most underrated, influential and marvellous bands in the world! Pure genious.

My rating: *****

Report this review (#40640)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars An interesting album, it deserves much more attention. Savatage was a straight US power metal band in the eighties, but after the release of the "Hall of the Mountain King" album, they started to change their style and with the helping hand of Paul O'Neill, it turned to a more melodic and musical-influented heavy/power/progressive metal band. Broadway-metal, if you wish. "Streets" is a conceptual album, it's even more ballad and non-metal orientated then its predecessor "Gutter Ballet". The ballads are very emotional and sometime slightly cheesy, but it's not so disturbing. The heavier songs are all excellent, the title track, 'Can You Hear Me Now' and 'Ghost In The Ruins' are very powerful songs whilst 'A Little Too Far', 'If I Go Away' and 'Believe' ( the most recognised Savatage song ) shows the melodic and emotional side of the band.

Recommended for fans of concept rock albums. You won't be disapointed.

8.5/10

Report this review (#45024)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Band: Savatage Album: Streets (1991) Genre: Power-Progressive Metal

Line-up: Jon Oliva (Vocals/Keyboards); Criss Oliva (Guitars); Steve Wacholz (Drums); Johnny Lee Middleton (Bass)

Grading Scale: 0 - F; 1-5 - D(+/-); 6-10 - C(+/-); 11-15 - B(+/-); 16-20 - A(+/-)

Most notable song: "Believe" - 20(A+) Other outstanding tracks: "If I go Away" - 20(A+); "St. Patrick's" - 20(A+); "Somewhere in Time" - 19(A); "Tonight he Grins Again" - 19(A); "Streets" - 18(A)

Songs Rating - 17.89(A-) Skill/Creativity Rating - 19.12(A) Overall Rating - 18.5(A)

Synopsis: Savatage's album, "Streets" is the bands very first rock opera, and what an impressive piece of work it is. The story is about DT Jesus, a guy who sold drugs in the streets of New York City. After a while he buys a guitar and starts playing shows in local clubs. DT was good, and soon got signed to a major record label. Things were going great for DT until he starts using the drugs that he sells. Before long, everything is falling apart; DT quits the band, and goes back to New York to hide away.

I wont tell the rest of the story here, you'll have to read the song-by-song breakdown, or better yet, get the album. I just want you to know, this album takes you on DT's journey to find himself and his faith, and the many trials faced along the way. It is just incredible as the band puts so much emotion into the music, you wouldn't think they could have done better if they themselves had been DT (Jon Oliva and DT's stories do have many parallel's, but it was unintended, Paul O'Neill wrote this story long before meeting Savatage and the Oliva brothers). In the end Savatage shows a very real view of God and religion, as well as an understanding of what this life is all about. The music is very diverse as the band is currently moving in a more progressive direction, with more symphonic/orchestral sounds, and heavier use of the piano/keyboards.

They also have a more polished and deeper sound overall, with more layers, especially on the guitars. Even on vintage Savatage songs like "Jesus Saves", the riff is heavier, and it cuts deeper, and there is also the welcome addition of keyboards playing the riff simultaneously with the guitars. I believe this is an album that can be enjoyed regardless of musical taste or preference, and a must have for anyone who believes that there is power in music, and likes to be moved emotionally and spiritually by it. This album will certainly do that, trust me, it does every time I listen. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

Song by Song Break Down:

1. Streets - 18(A) - This song is an intro to the story and does a good job of laying out the scenery and setting of the story: The streets of New York City. It also foreshadows very well. The song portrays the ideas of lost innocence that will difficult to find again. It does this a few ways, with the arrangements and the lyrics. The first thing we here is a children's choir (representing innocence) and then it quickly fades with a keyboard melody and some chimes playing and then Jon Oliva's sinister voice comes in, and then the guitars slam in as well (representing innocence lost). The first words form Jon are "Darkness falls - so hard, come and play" demonstrating the innocence being replaced by darkness. So, we are invited to come and play in the dark - well it's easy to get lost or confused in the dark, which is just what happens with DT, he gets lost playing in the dark and now must find his way back without a light. The line "Streets of illusion, soothe the shattered fate" show us that these streets have only illusions and false dreams (temporary solutions) to offer up to try and heal the broken soul. The 2nd verse again shows that innocence is lost, "Somewhere out there, gardens bloom and grow. Children awaken, to a world they know. Somewhere the sun shines, somewhere the light's kind, somewhere they seek the day." Somewhere sounds nice, but as they say at the end of the verse, "Somewhere's so far away". The same theme continues following the 2nd verse/chorus with an aggressive guitar solo that gives a feeling that the innocence is all gone. Then they follow that with and instrumental section with children's voices over the top, and they're begging like bums on the street, giving us the ultimate illusion that innocence is lost. After that, Jon beckons us near, to listen, as our story is about to begin. I can't think of a better song begin this album - perfect.

2. Jesus Saves - 15(B+) - This starts out with a bum telling us about DT Jesus, "One character who made it outta here" Then the sounds of the New York streets fade and we are hit with a great guitar riff. This is a great rocker, but I feel like they cram too much of the story in here, and really sounds like a narrative. But I believe there is good reason for that, so we wont fault them too much on that. This song starts with DT "sellin' nickel candies"(Drugs) 'til he had enough money to by a guitar. He puts a band together and they start playing in bars. Before long DT is huge and signed by a record label. But soon, DT started using the drugs he was selling, and then started to miss shows 'til he finally just quit altogether. He went back to New York, where he hid away from the world in bars and got lost in his addictions. So there it is, all of that crammed into one song. Like I said they cover a lot of ground, but that's because that's not where the focus is supposed to be. Overall, a pretty good song that helps move the story along, but not a spectacular musical phenomenon.

3. Tonight he Grins Again - 19(A) - This song covers DT's struggles with drug addiction and I find very few songs on drug addiction that have as much emotion as this one. Which is no surprise, Jon Oliva wrote this one. It's also no surprise that this is Jon's all time favorite Savatage song. None of this comes as a surprise because Jon Olvia had had his own personal struggles with drug addiction. For Jon this song is about his own life, and so he is able to put so much more emotion into this song, and also because he knows what it's like to be in this situation, he knew just how to write this song. This song shows what it's like to feel completely alone, "The lost is search of his own". In search of a friend, but unable to find one, DT sinks further into addiction. What I really like is the first part of the 2nd verse, we he sings "It's cold this pain, burning inside my veins", and there's the piano and guitar fades, it all paints a vivid picture in my mind of a person alone in a dark room, shaking just after a drug fix. The imagery of the lyrics is amazing. This song not only helps further the story, but can stand on it's own.

4. Strange Reality - 17(A-) - This is DT's wake up call. He sees an old blues guitarist who he once admired, "dressed in rages, soaked in gin' and realizes, "that could be me" if he doesn't turn his life around. I love the lyrics for this song, as DT is coming to all these realizations, they depict the picture very well. He's been waking up with no memory of the night before, and his excuses are wearing thin. Everything is just the same to him. "Another day, Another Night, Another drink, Another fight. Somehow it's all the same." And he is so lost in his addiction, he can't even think to the future, his mind is clouded with the here and now and satisfying the next drug craving. Overall, he created this "Strange Reality", and this realization sparks a desire to change.

5. A Little to Far - 18(A) - Short, and simple, but effective. Here we have DT speaking to his innocence. "Do you remember, look at me, and all the thing we said we'd be." He realizes that ".somehow reaching for that stars, I think we went a bit to Far." And now he's got to get back. Get back to what? Well, that is open for interpretation. It could be back to a reason (as a later Savatage song on another rock opera states), back to a meaning, back to life, back to innocence. It could be anyone of those, so take your pick. I personally believe that is all of them. In this song DT is reflecting on all the years wasted, given away to "gods who couldn't get enough." Which in this case means drugs, but doesn't have to. I believe that we have all gone "a bit to far" with something in life and need to get back to what we where before, so I feel that I can relate to this song as well as any former drug addict. I also think that this song is another one that Jon Olvia relates to well, and wrote straight from his heart, and his performance is very emotional. This song defiantly expresses the feeling of having wasted years with anything that has made you less of a person. Remarkable song.

6. You're Alive - 17(A-) - This is DT's turnaround. He quit his drug habits, and with help from his old friend and manager Tex, got a band together and started playing shows again. I love this song. Very upbeat and gets me real excited every time I listen to it. Definitely captures the feeling of having just turned things around, it really makes you feel like you're alive after having been dead for a while.

7. Sammy and Tex - 18(A) - This is a great rocker, and the lyrics really do a good job of telling the story. Like "Jesus Saves" this song is much like a narrative, and a lot happens here, but with this song, the arrangement helps some moments come alive. The song starts with some chopping guitars, and then goes into an awesome riff as Jon starts to tell us about Sammy. Sammy's a drug dealer who DT owes about $30,000 from his days of drug abuse. Sammy has come to collect his dues, when he and DT start to get into a fight. DT is really in trouble, but just then Tex walks in and sees that his friend needs some help. Tex grabs Sammy and slams him against the wall, and just as it seems he's got things well in hand, Sammy pulls out a knife. At this point in the song, there is an instrumental build up that creates the imagery of the two guys struggling, and the tension is building, then we have the solo, which is where Sammy goes on a rampage and stabs Tex. After this Sammy runs away, afraid of the rage he sees building up in DT as he sees the only friend he has die. DT is crushed and now has a flurry of emotions going through him, why is it that just after he got everything back together, it's fallen apart?

8. St. Patrick's - 20(A+) - DT, lost in confusion, goes to St. Patrick's cathedral, and begins to question God. This song is one the best on the album as we hear the arrangement help tell more of the story. The song starts with piano and clean vocals as DT begins to ponder and question. Then as he begins to unleash a little anger, the guitars and drums join in and Jon begins to growl a little. Then later, we have a bridge that creates a huge build up as the anger and frustration welds up inside of DT. He then lashes out on the next stanza of lyrics and Jon delivers this very well. Just following that, it fades into a very melodic and harmonious guitar solo as DT calms down. He then apologizes for the out rage, but asks for an answer and leaves. The song bring up important questions that need to be asked when you are searching yourself for what you believe, and are trying to find your faith. The rest of the album, DT is looking to have a faith finding experience, and does a lot of soul searching as he seeks the answers to his questions.

9. Can you Hear me Now? - 17(A-) - In this song, DT is again speaking to his innocence as he searches for the answers within himself. He searches deep inside to try and reach back to his faith and innocence, but can't seem to find it, but he still knows it's there somewhere. The lyrics are really good for this song, but the arrangement, though good, doesn't serve its purpose well. However it is still a very good song.

10. New York City Don't Mean Nothing - 16(A-) - DT, unable to find much of anything within himself, begins to questions others. But with no one to confide in, whom should he talk to? Well, he is out on the streets and just asking who ever he can find, the first person questioned is a bum (the same one who gave us the narrative earlier I believe) The bum explains that he once had it all, but now has nothing, then offers some good advice, but no concrete answers, so unsatisfied, DT moves on.

11. Ghost in the Ruins - 16(A-) - This is another great rocker, which fills its spot in the story well. DT now has asked a pimp for answers. But the pimp can only offer up temporary solutions, like sex, and DT had already wasted enough time with temporary answers, so the search continues.

12. If I go Away - 20(A+) - DT has gone on to question a prostitute and drug addict, but still no answers. He is now feeling defeated and begins to wonder if he even matters at all. He again speaks to his innocence, and finds himself soul searching within himself, but this time there seems to be some progress towards and answer. This song is amazing and every bit deserving of a perfect score. Amazing lyrics that paint a picture and music that really makes you feel lost and out of place, and it makes you wonder your own importance. This song also opens our eyes a little bit. It makes us see that we are all on this road of life, looking for the answers, but we all have different views on everything. We'll never find the answers unless we learn to see things from others points of view, then we'll begin to be able to put everything into context. We also see a great perspective of forever. "Forever is a long time they say, well maybe some day, I'll meet you there" In this, DT is referring to the answers he can't find. This is also true - some answers we won't find until we stand at the gates of forever (heaven). As I said, progress is clear, but the search is not over (in reality, it never is) so we continue.

13. Agony and Ecstasy - 17(A-) - As DT is wondering his worth, he feels the growing temptation to start using drugs again, and it hits him hard. This song is DT's addiction speaking in the back of his mind. This is very well written song with a great guitar assault of awesome riffs and blistering solos. Jon is sing in his true form with his signature growl, and we get the sense that DT is really having a hard time fighting this one back, but then he gets a little help from a higher power.

14. Heal my Soul - 18(A) - At this point some answers start to come. DT, struggling to stay away from his addiction, receives strength from the Lord, in form of a spiritual experience. DT sees a crowd of people around a homeless man as he is dying. No one will go near him because he smells so bad. DT, who always felt the worse thing was to die alone, goes to comfort the old man. The man looks gratefully into DT's eyes and then dies. Then DT sees the mans spirit climb out of the body, and follows it to the top of an old building. There the spirit asks the Lord permission to come home. That is what this song is, the spirits prayer. The song is based off a Welch traditional tune, and is very hymn like, and the background voices give it that spiritual experience type feel. A beautiful piece of work.

15. Somewhere in Time - 19(A) - So now our story is winding down. DT, after his spiritual experience is headed home, and on his way he is again pondering and searching within himself. At this point some answers have come, but that is not what is important. The important thing here is he comes to see that all the answers are not going to come all at once, but "somewhere in time". And they will come in Gods time, not our own. Another message of the song seems to be that when times are tough, and trials seem to be so hard and real, we need to cling to what ever hope and faith we can find, no matter how intangible it may seem. Just look at these lyrics and you'll see my point (or, should I say Savatage's point) "I've been grasping at rainbows, hanging on 'til the end. But the rain is so real lord, and the rainbows pretend." So you see, DT has been going through one of life's storms, and the trials seem to be to much as he clings to the only hope he has. Anyway, DT hasn't got all the answers, but he is satisfied and willing to wait, knowing the answers will come - somewhere in time.

16. Believe - 20(A+) - I had always heard that this was the best Savatage song ever written. I already had three albums, and there was some really good music on those albums, so I had my doubts. But just to see, I looked up the lyrics to this song on their website. I was stunned, I hadn't even heard the song, but I knew it was the best, and I just had to hear it. So bought this album, and was delighted to here that every song on here is amazing, but this one still stands out, above the rest. Wow, it's amazing. In our story, DT has had the trial of his faith, and so now the Lord will answer him. In the 1st verse, the Lord tells about the dire situation DT is in. "So after all these one night stands, you've ended up with heart in hand." and the mistakes he made "Regretful for the things you're not, and all the things you haven't got." then to Lord explains why he needs him "For all the roads you followed, and all you didn't find, and for all the dreams you had to leave behind." Then the Lord answers the earlier questions DT had "I am the way, I am the light, I am the dark inside the night. I here your hopes, I feel your dreams, and in the dark I here your screams." This is the Lord saying 'Yes, I am real, and I know what you are going through.' Then the chorus continues "Don't turn away, just take my hand, and when you make you final stand. I'll be right there, I'll never leave, all I ask of you is believe." Here the Lord is saying 'Not only do I know what you are going through, but I care. And as long as you don't turn your back on me, I will help you through even your darkest hour.' In the 2nd verse we here about how DT gave up his innocence for "bits of string" which in this case is drugs (but doesn't have to be, apply it to your life). "But when you had too add them up, you found that they were not enough, to get you in, pay for sins, repeated." So true. After everything we do, when we have to add up our bits of string we will all find that it is not enough, and we need our Savior to make up the difference. After the 2nd verse/chorus we get DT's perspective as he realizes why he needs the Lord. For this part, they used a stanza of lyrics from the song "When the crowds are Gone" from the album "Gutter Ballet". That song is about some one who can't seem to let go of the past, and how he's just wasted his time holding on to unfinished dreams. I think it's perfect to tie DT to such a situation, since he has been struggling with a past life that he alone can't let go, and so he needs the Savior to pull it away from him. We then have the chorus a final time and the song ends. The musical arrangement is brilliant. It starts with Jon on the piano and vocals, and then builds as we start the 2nd verse the rest of the band joins in. As we get to DT's point of view we have an awesome guitar melody that really epitomizes the feeling of having been through so much and now, finally, getting an answer. Then following the emotional solo, we have the grand finale chorus! This song is pure brilliance and amazing as it sums up the trials of the story and brings hope to the future of DT. You'll never really know until you listen to it, so don't waste any more time - pick up this album!

Skills by Position Break Down:

Guitars - 20(A+) - What's not to like here? Criss Oliva has awesome riffs and amazing solos, and some truly magical moments as he pounds out every ounce of emotion from each chord and individual note. It is truly a shame that this man is not recognized for his brilliant talents. Drums - 16(A-) - The emphasis with Savatage has never been on the drums, but with the emotional performances of the Oliva brothers, but no doubt Steve Wacholz is a sufficient drummer who gets the job done. It is also important to note that Jon Oliva does play drums on a few tracks, and proves to be very good. Keyboards - 20(A+) - Jon Oliva is one of my favorite piano/keyboards players out there. And I'm not just talking about the heavy metal keyboard players - I mean at all, including individual piano players. He is just amazing, always has brilliant piano passage that evokes so much emotion. Much like his brother, it is sad he is never recognized for his great talents. Bass - 18(A) - Johnny Lee Middleton is a good bass player. Jon Oliva does the bass on a few tracks, but Johnny Lee Middleton does most of the work here. He truly is a great bass player, but was so unfortunate (if you really want to look at it this way) to be in a band with the Olvia brothers, because everyone else is overshadowed by their great performances, and much like the Oliva brothers, he goes unrecognized for his great talents. Vocals - 20(A+) - Jon Oliva, in his final album with full vocal responsibilities for the next ten years, pours out an incredibly emotional performance, unmatched by any other of his (or anyone else's for that matter) I know. Much of this is due to the similarities in the storyline and what he has been through personally. He relates well, and we could tell by his magical performance.

Creativity Break Down: Music - 20(A+) - No doubt this is some of the best music that has ever been written, and because of the diversity, likable by anyone. Savatage takes a huge step toward the more progressive direction they take for the next decade. The music shows a lot of maturity, thanks to Paul O'Neill's collaboration with Savatage's primary songwriters, the Oliva brothers. Lyrics - 20(A+) - The lyrics are amazing as they form a cohesive storyline, and also explore so many different emotions and experiences. Everyone can relate to at least one song here, if not all of them. They have such a fine way of taking an ordinary statement, and through brilliant and careful word selection, make it extraordinary. They always use just the right words are not afraid to be profound. A lot of this is thanks to Paul O'Neill and his profound view of life, and his musical ideas. Arrangements - 19(A) - Thanks in part to the great production of Paul O'Neill, the arrangements on "Streets" is much improved over previous Savatage releases. Each song is arranged so well, with more layers, and a deeper, more polished and mature sound, that emphasizes its role in the story, and the emotional performance of the Oliva's. A great job done here.

Report this review (#63812)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars One of prog-metal's leading concept albums, released shortly after Operation: Mindcrime yet years ahead of it. Savatage have not gained the respect and recognition deserving of a band of their talents in the prog or metal worlds. This album shows a quantum leap ahead in their career, incorporating orchestration and having the piano play a larger role in the songs. The guitar remains the dominant instrument here but if you pay attention to the album's nuances you'll see the genius of the lightly used textures and orchestrations placed within.

This is a bit more accessible than most prog-metal as it does not share the insane technicality usually associated with the genre, however the songs are still interesting and hold up sounding fresh a decade later. The more power ballad like songs on the album are generally much better and more moving than the more stereotypically metal ones. Luckily, the album favors more towards the orchestrated pieces than the metal tracks.

Jon Olivia gives his best vocal performance on this one. Delivering massive waves of emotion to wash over the listener. He's actually not technical one of the best singers in music, having many noticeable flaws with his voice. However, much like Roger Waters, this only adds to his appeal as a singer, and the imperfects accentuate the genuine vocal approach he takes. Still the standard metal of the album can't be denied. It lurks in the shadows and brings down the overall quality. It's not that I can't appreciate a strong metal song; it's just that Savatage do straightforward metal much better than they have here and after all this is a prog site.

Report this review (#80136)
Posted Friday, June 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is a well done, well thought out concept album about a character called D.T. Jesus. I must admit i'm not big on concept albums but SAVATAGE have kept the music at a high level and still tell a great story. For many this is SAVATAGE"s crowning glory and it's hard not to argue, especially with the Oliva brothers involved.

"Streets" featuers a children's choir to open only to be replaced by these haunting keys and a dark atmosphere. Jon comes in with his rough vocals almost speaking the words.The tempo starts to pick up and the choir returns backing him up. A good heavy mid-paced tune. "Jesus Saves" opens with this guy talking on the streets to people.The song kicks in powerfully with vocals. Gotta love Criss' guitar work on this one. Great chorus as Jon shouts "Jesus saves !". Check out the guitar 3 minutes in. "Tonight He Grins Again" opens with piano as Jon comes in sounding a lot smoother vocally, that does change as he gets passionate. "Strange Reality"" opens with these catchy riffs vocals join in. Check out Criss after 4 minutes. Just a killer track. "A Little Too Far" opens with reserved vocals sounding like Roger Waters with piano. "You're Alive" is an uptempo rocker. "Sammy And Tex" opens with fast paced riffs and vocals followed by some ripping guitar.

"St.Patrick's" opens with fragile vocals and piano before kicking in to a higher gear. "Can You Hear Me Now" opens with acoustic guitar, synths and drums. Nice sound as the vocals join in. It kicks in heavily before a minute. Contrasts continue. Incredible guitar before 3 minutes. "New York City Don't Mean Nothing" features strummed guitar and vocals. Cool sound. It kicks in after a minute. Nice heavy sound here. Criss lights it up 3 minutes in. "Ghost In The Ruins" opens with atmospheric guitar before kicking in heavily. Amazing tune right here. Jon is in fine form too. Check out Johnny Lee Middleton on bass 2 1/2 minutes in as Criss solos tastefully. Beautiful section. Jon returns spitting out the lyrics. "If I Go Away" opens with piano as vocals eventually join in. It gets fuller. "Agony And Ecstacy" sounds amazing to open with that guitar as Jon comes in theatrically.The tempo picks up and continues to shift. "Heal My Soul" is piano and fragile vocals. "Somewhere In Time" kicks in after a minute. This is emotional stuff. Great lyrics. It picks up after 2 minutes. "Believe" is the closing track and it has the most lyrics. And I have to be honest these lyrics bring tears to my eyes.

Rest in peace Criss. Bless you Jon and Criss' family. And thankyou for the music..

Report this review (#95706)
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars

I've been changing, redefining...

I first heard about Savatage at the time they released "Hall of the Mountain King". In Dutch magazine Aardschok they were announced as 'the heaviest of them all', which at the time was very interesting to a 15-year-old metalhead. Later on, I got wiser...

Streets is the first attempt at creating a concept album, a rock opera as they claim, and to a certain extend it is their best. The other three (Dead Winter Dead, Wake of Magellan, Poets & Madman) were also good, but Streets has a number of pieces that just get stuck in your head. The story of repentant, musical drug addict and dealer D.T. Jesus is on my mind forever...

It's hard to pick out individual songs for me, I usually put up this album when I feel like sitting down for over an hour just listening - from beginning to end. However, besides the magnificent , haunting, title track, there are three little gems in there that are always tempting me to 'skip forward'. First is 'A little too far', a great ballad which at first I couldn't believe was Savatage. Well actually, it's just Jon and his piano of course. Second is the combined track (on my CD at least) You're Alive/Sammy and Tex. This is really a show case of what Savatage could do already with respect to metal, but taken to a different level. Loud, heavy, melodic and a perfect sound setting for the murder of D.T's best friend Tex. The transition from You're Alive to the hacking riff in Sammy and Tex is great, as well as the turn to the soft piano in follow up St. Patrick's - when D.T. realizes what went wrong. The music just perfectly reflects the mood changes in the story again. And that takes me to gem #3, again a combined track, Somewhere in Time/Believe. This song combines some of the overall mood changes and the musical capabilities of the band, it's my favourite Savatage track. Despair, and hope are the main messages of the song, and the guitar and piano of the Oliva brothers seem to be just perfect to express this message.

Yes, I got wiser, and this album somehow indicates the start of my next move. I didn't abandon my metal albums, but this one, together with Rush 'Moving Pictures' definitely opened my mental door for other options than hacking metal.

Report this review (#104414)
Posted Monday, December 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars AMAZING! AMAZING! AMAZING!!! I can't express how great, brilliant, breath-taking and just moving this album is. I consider this the best Savatage album, and with Sieges Even - A sense of change among the best of the early '90. This is real a rock opera not just a simple album, they have complex pieces, warm ballads, everything that needs to be a good album, and in the end a masterpiece of prog. I'm a big Savatage fan since 1993, when they relesed Edge of thorns, and i was blown away by how strong composition are, how complex but not to complex to get bored, but in the same time very melodic and catchy. The warm voice of Jon Oliva give to the album a new dimension, thats why he is considered one of the most prolific and inteligent musician in the last 20 years. The years go by i add to my colection the whole albums, i listened and i get to conclusion that Streets is the best Savatage album, in fact the whole albums are above the albums from that period. They went shoulder to shoulder with Queensryche in the '80, but in the end they won in the '90, Queensryche became more and more comercial. So i rate this album 5 stars and without doubt one of the best in prog. I can't choose a track because the whole concept is brilliant, all are super, well played and above all not boring like other stuff from the early '90. Get it now Savatage at the highest level.
Report this review (#124042)
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars 5 stars for the album due to the outstanding music, lyrics and concept. personally, Savatage can always convey a sense of honesty and originality in their works and this album come on top. When I 1st listened to I was 18 and the lyrics back then was really inspiring.. Jon's vocal qualities in indeed unique and very special.. and I think unfortunately he reached his highest level of maturity by this album which happened to be his last for a period of 8 years.. Chris's performance on guitar is ultimately brilliant and genuine... from heavy riffs to speedy & gentle solos.. Ghost In The Ruins solo is indeed one of the best ever written and performed with a notable baseline and extraordinary multi-seasonal modes... i really cannot name my favorite songs of this album... and that's what makes it a leading concept album...
Report this review (#177077)
Posted Thursday, July 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Who is this I have found, lying on the streets?

This is Savatage's first true foray into the rock opera format, and they enter with a smash. Each song is memorable and melodic, symphonic and strong. Starting with the foreshadowing title track that leads into a (not so well) spoken word piece serving as the introduction for Jesus Saves, which is the first fiery rocker present in the album. Tonight he grins again has some emotional balladry being woven, before rocking it all over the place with Strange Reality.

The choruses are powerful, the lyrics aren't bad, and the solos are top notch. Excellent playing all around, and Jon executes some of his most emotional singing, yet. This compliments the softer style of the album in a great way. Sammy and Tex shoots with adrenaline driving metal where the story is relayed, and it truly feels like a battle in the streets. St Patrick's has to be one of the most emotional and stirring pieces, here. Screaming, asking for answers, and getting naught but silence, quite heartfelt.

Can You Hear Me Now mixes the dark and emotional ballad with crunching metal verses. And New York City begins as a soft track before it turns into a stunner. Ghost in The Ruins is next, and my word that solo is epochal. Quite possibly the greatest single moment on the entire album. No, the songs aren't the most complex, and the story isn't the greatest, but the sheer emotional and feeling this album produces is wondrous.

The last few songs are devoted to heartfelt ballads, excluding the psychotic and frantically biting Agony and Ecstasy. Heal My Soul is a lullaby re worked, and the final track Believe, has one of the prettiest solos imaginable, pure uplifting delight. I get shivers every time I hear that opening "So, after all those one night stands..."

The album isn't the most complex, but it is diverse, and emotional. The lyrics aren't terrible, everyone is in top form, and it can have a powerful effect on your feelings. Savatage at their peak.

Best Song - Ghost In The Ruins/Believe

Worst Song - Strange Reality, but it is still a great song.

***** Stars

Report this review (#178932)
Posted Wednesday, August 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Here, Savatage starts to clearly have some prog influence and to get really serious, but it still have some serious issues

Streets is yet another very important Savatage album. In fact, the albums Hall of the Mountain King, Gutter Ballet, Streets, Edge of Thorns and Handful of Rain are very important to the band's history and musical evolution, although these albums are definitely not Savatage's best, probably because in this phase the band was still consolidating its music and things were still a bit out of place, since Savatage was finally moving towards progressive metal, and Streets can easily be considered their first major step in the progressive metal world, though since Hall of the Mountain King some prog influence can be noticed.

Streets is so important because this album sets the pace for most of Savatage's releases after 93. Inspired by a Broadway play written by Paul O'Neill back in 1979 that Criss Oliva found stored in some forgotten drawer in O'Neill's home and suggested that it should be the next Savatage's album, Streets debuts Paul as one of Savatage's main composers and has the basic structure of all the band's next concept albums. Indeed, Dead Winter Dead, The Wake of Magellan, Poets and Madmen and Streets have the same basic skeleton, although not being incredibly alike.

One interesting note is that, besides this being a very good album, it had mediocre sales because this kind of music were widely regarded as out of fashion, mainly due to the raise of grunge in the early 90's.

The Concept

I only have have a vague idea about the concept, but it looks like that the main character (DT Jesus), was a low-life drug dealer from down-town New York, became a rock star, then he got in some serious trouble and had to disappear for a wile. He somehow managed to solve his problems and start his life again, but loses everything he had in the process.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

The music here doesn't differ very much from Savatage's two previous albums, except that here it is better worked and more diverse. I mean, here the production is a bit better, improving the album quality, and they explored more the different sides of their music, making the album sounds more diverse and complete.

However, here they have some issues. The biggest one, and the only i am really going to point out, are Jon Oliva's vocals. Sure they are nice for the songs that are more aggressive, but in the ballads and calm songs it sucks big time. His vocals are for heavy metal and not for metal ballads and because of that they completely ruin the normal ballads that he needs to sing gently, like A Little Too Far and St. Patrick's, among others, but his vocals are no problem in the power ballads, like Strange Reality and Can You Hear Me Now, also among others.

Th highlights go to: Streets, Jesus Saves, Tonight he Grins Again, Strange Reality, Can You Hear Me Now, Ghost In The Ruins, Somewhere In Time and Believe.

Grade and Final Thoughts

A very good release by Savatage that, besides some flaws, specially concerning Jon's Vocals, deserves a good grade. 4 stars seems fair for me.

Report this review (#187669)
Posted Sunday, November 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars 'Streets (A Rock Opera)' - Savatage (4/10)

For an album of sixteen tracks, you would think there would be at least one song that really stands out, and could be called a really great song. Especially in the case of a highly acclaimed and influential band like Savatage, on one of their most popular albums. While people might think of this as a high and mighty album, I personally cannot find a reason why this album would be a masterpiece in the slightest.

What attracted me to this in the first place was the fact that it's a rock opera. Rock/Metal operas in the past I've listened to include the works of Ayreon, Avantasia's 'Metal Opera Pt I & II,' and Dream Theater's 'Scenes From A Memory' among many, many others. For the most part, I've found them very enjoyable, and the addition of a storyline to the music to bind it together is always a plus in my books...

But what we have here is an album that sounds like a more hard-rock oriented version of Journey at their most commercial and mainstream. While Savatage is a band that certainly has used progressive elements in their music, theres nothing to be seen here that makes me think 'wow, that was creative and original!' The storyline is sort of lame and feels like a happy and bouncy version of 'Operation: Mindcrime' (by Queensryche) minus the complex, psychological factors.

It's not braindead by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm sorry I can't agree with everyone else and say this is some magnificent masterpiece, because it honestly isn't. There's alot better for Savatage, and there's certainly alot better for progressive metal in general.

Report this review (#206747)
Posted Thursday, March 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Isa
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars |B-| Probably one of the band's most cohesive works.

This is a somewhat strange album for me to rate since I have somewhat mixed feelings on many of the tracks themselves, as well as the album as a whole. There are some truly fantastic moments and some somewhat average moments, but overall the album is quite satisfactory, and is probably the band's most cohesive efforts in terms of having consistency in the album as a whole. I actually slightly prefer this so most worshiped rock operas such as The Wall and Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. I've never been a fan of rock operas overall because I find most of them have enough filler to drive me insane, and I usually can't sit through them and don't want to. There's a bit of filler here too, but only a couple tracks here and there, and the tracks that are the best really soar. As well, this is the result of the transition of sound from the previous album, Gutter Ballet, having much more piano usage and a more theatrical and melodic approach. There is more clean guitar work that reminds me of Fates Warning a bit. Jon Oliva's clean vocals are a tad better than on the previous album, but they've always been a bit pitchy, which really irritates me sometimes. The production has improved a bit since the last effort as well.

The album really starts with a bang; Streets and Jesus Saves are among the best tracks on the album, near masterpiece material as far as I'm concerned. The next three tracks are very enjoyable and highly polished work as well, reminding me much of Tran-Siberian Orchestra's sound, for obvious reasons. The middle of the album slumps slightly with the average but decent Sammy and Tex as well as St. Patrick's. The following two tracks are quite decent, leading into Ghost in the Ruins, another very powerful track on the album, one of my favorite tracks by the band. If I Go Away is great, followed by my least favorite track on the album Agony and Ecstasy, somewhat obnoxious but good in a strictly metal sense. Heal my Soul is a delightful song, leading into the last two songs, Somewhere in Time and the fan favorite Believe, bringing a fantastic close to the album. Believe has some of the vocal part to When the Crowds are Gone on the previous album, probably one of the best melodies to come out of the eighties as far as I'm concerned.

A very satisfactory album, though a bit spotty and not the most progressive thing out there. These factors almost pushed it down to a three, but what partially pushed it up was the great story of the album, as well as those amazing first two ans last two tracks and Ghost in the Ruins. Very melodic, sometimes very metal, sometimes a tad poppy, this is a diverse album that still maintains consistency in sound, while at the same time each track has much uniqueness, a combination something seldom found in even many great works of prog. While I do prefer other Savatage works to this, especially the two previous albums, this is still an album any prog metal fan should have in his collection at some point.

Report this review (#222978)
Posted Wednesday, June 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
5 stars I've been mentally preparing this review for quite some time now because it feels like I owe it to this album.

Streets was my introduction to Savatage and what a marvelous start it was. I remember that I had a tough time during my high school years and this was basically one of the few real highlights at the time that kept me going strong. The album tells a story which could be understood for the Rock Opera-part of the album's title and it's really one of the most ambitious recordings ever conceived by any rock band. Of course the original ambition was even grander and I recall reading that Streets was originally written as a 2-CD album with many more compositions and story narrations added between the tracks. Whether or not I would have found the album as exciting is difficult to say but one of these narration sections still exists in the opening of Jesus Saves and I find that particular part very enjoyable. Unfortunately Savatage had many battles with their record company and this whole ordeal became a huge issue which finally resulted in a half way agreement between the two parties. Many of the songs that didn't make it on the final album were later re-written and featured on the band's later releases. The only one complete outtake that I know of that remains in its original demo version is the track Desiree and is a bonus track on The Wake of Magellan. It's an excellent power ballad on the same level as many of this album's peaks and shows just how much creativity they had during this period.

The conceptual theme of the album has still managed to maintain most of its essential elements although it has been cut to a single CD format. The overall message of this rock opera is all about keeping the faith, never giving up and most of all believing in oneself. It might seen simplistic and maybe even pretentious to anyone who seeks something deeper but it's that brutal honesty of the story that touched me and many others who consider Streets to be Savatage's finest hour!

Besides the whole conceptual aspect of this album there are quite a few memorable songwriting moments featured here as well. There is just not a single weak moment and it's clear that the band's transition from a straight forward Heavy Metal sound, that was still apparent on Gutter Ballet, was now complete. There are still a few heavier moments here but they don't have that raw energy and terrible recording quality. Instead all of the elements have now been fused properly with the individual performances.

I could easily do a track-by-track walk-through but at the end of the day what most of us remember the most from Streets are those breathtaking ballads. I'm not talking about one or two spectacular moments but instead a total of seven top-notch power ballads all on one single release. There is just no reason to release a best-of album since all you need is on this CD!

In my preparation for this review I was chocked to realize that I haven't actually heard this album in its entirety for at least two years and it was truly a blast revisiting it. I've really got carried away with this album for the last few days. I'm still listening to it even now while writing this review and it's my 5th time over the course of these past two days! Many of these compositions are so powerful and dramatic that I can't help but sing along to many of the songs. Let's just say that if a Karaoke version of Streets was ever released then I would be the first in line.

Although this albums limited prog rock credentials I have to give Savatage credit for branching out their Heavy Metal music in a direction that most bands would have considered suicidal for their career. After all, isn't being progressive all about taking risks by pushing the music forward and always being on the lookout of new possibilities? Well, that's at least how I see it and therefore award Streets the highest possible praise. It's an amazing roller-coaster ride that I recommend with all my heart!

***** star songs: Jesus Saves (5:13) A Little Too Far (3:25) St. Patrick's (4:17) Can You Hear Me Now (5:11) If I Go Away (5:17) Heal My Soul (2:35) Somewhere In Time (3:17) Believe (5:42)

**** star songs: Streets (6:50) Tonight He Grins Again (3:28) Strange Reality (4:56) You're Alive (1:51) Sammy And Tex (3:07) New York City Don't Mean Nothing (4:01) Ghost In The Ruins (5:32) Agony And Ecstasy (3:33)

Report this review (#271164)
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Jesus Saves

What a superb album! Savatage, one of my favorite power metal bands, has released many good albums, but this, by far, is one of the best. To add to the great guitar and keyboard work, it is a concept album. I tend to like concept albums more, since they have a story and you can follow the movements and different parts of it which adds to the overall enjoyment of the album. This is also one of Savatage's more progressive albums, and I like prog metal more than any other.

The album takes us through DT (Downtown) Jesus's life as a low life. He is hit by hard times, and then gets thrown onto the streets where he becomes a drug dealer. He rises out of the trash heaps of New York City as a guitarist for a band he forms. He soon gets into a quarrel with the other band members and leaves. His life, though sad, is frighteningly similar to that of lead singer Jon Oliva's at the time.

Since it is a concept album, it is hard to pick out specific "best songs", since they all blend so well together. Also, almost every song is absolutely superb, so picking a best one would be near impossible. But, one song that stood out to me is "Jesus Saves". I like the opening skit, with a homeless guy stopping a passerby to tell him about DT Jesus, because it leads nicely into the main theme. The nice heavy guitar riffs give it that power metal feel, but it's not that cheesy sound that most power metal bands offer up. This sound is very unique and good. Jon Oliva's grainy voice, while by itself I might not like it, fits in very well in this song. Steve Wacholz does a great job drumming on this track and guitarist Chris Oliva does a good job, too. Another reason why I like this song is because it sums up the whole theme of the album into one song. It quickly hints at both DT Jesus's rise and fall.

One other song of mention is "Believe" which is the softest song on this album. It is a very uplifting and joyful song, which really rounds out the whole album. I like the beginning of the song when Jon Oliva's voice is very soft because he has a very nice voice that blends in very well with his piano playing. The song eventually gets more metal, but this song might be one of my favorite because it is softer. It is also more catchy then the other, except maybe "Jesus Saves" which has a relatively simple chorus.

The simplicity of this album makes it what it is. While some parts are more complex like "New York Don't Mean Nothing", but most of it is simple metal. But, Savatage does it in such a way that it seems complex. I can easily remember most of the songs on this album and it sticks in my mind, which is one of the reasons I keep playing it over, and over. For a great progressive power metal album Savatage gets 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#386214)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With vocalist Jon Oliva's Alice Cooper-inspired delivery honed to perfection and the band in good form, Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera is an enjoyable listen which may get a little cheesy here and there (especially on concluding track Believe) but is entertaining enough to let me just about accept the cheese. From the opening skit, which manages to pitch itself perfectly between theatrical flair and realistic grit, the band manage an impressive tightrope act which ensures that no aspect of their sound from the progressive to the cheesy to the balls-out heavy goes wanting for attention, making this a well-rounded album which should have wide appeal to a broad range of listeners.
Report this review (#984838)
Posted Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Streets: A Rock Opera" is the 6th full-length studio album by US, Florida based heavy/power metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in October 1991. There's been one lineup change since the release of "Gutter Ballet (1989)" as second guitarist Chris Caffery has left, making Savatage a four-piece again. "Streets: A Rock Opera" is a concept album telling the story of troubled rock star DT Jesus. The story is based on a play (titled "Gutter Ballet") that producer Paul O'Neill had written in 1979 and which he had originally intended for a Broadway musical. It remained in a drawer in his house until Criss Oliva found it, and the band picked it up and turned it into "Streets: A Rock Opera".

"Streets: A Rock Opera" sees Savatage developing their style once again. "Gutter Ballet (1989)" saw them incorporating elements from musicals, orchestration, and just a generally more sophisticated and detailed songwriting approach than before. That musical direction is continued and further developed on "Streets: A Rock Opera". The basis in the music is still heavy/power metal with the rare nod towards progressive metal. The progressive tendencies are more due to the overall concept of the release, than due to the compositions themselves, which are predominantly vers/chorus structured. Savatage challenge conventional songwriting here more than ever though and at times the tracks are relatively adventurous, although you won't be exposed to long instrumental parts or other progressive metal traits. Keyboards/piano play a more dominant role on this album than on any Savatage release before it, but they rarely function as a lead instrument. They are rather used for atmosphere, orchestration, and harmonization.

Musically "Streets: A Rock Opera" was the most diverse Savatage release up until then. It's a highly dynamic release featuring both heavy/power metal tunes like "Jesus Saves" and "Agony And Ecstasy", heavy mid-paced epic tracks like "Streets" and "Ghost In The Ruins", up-tempo energetic rockers like "Sammy And Tex" (that swing rhythm is infectiously catchy) and "Strange Reality", epic power ballads like "Tonight He Grins Again" and "If I Go Away", and shorter ballad type tracks like "You're Alive" and "Heal My Soul". All musical styles and songs are placed strategically on the tracklist to make most impact along with the concept story.

"Streets: A Rock Opera" is a well produced album, featuring a powerful, detailed, and clear sound production, which suits the music perfectly. The musicianship is as always on a high level. The rhythm section of drummer Steve Wacholz and bassist Johnny Lee Middleton are a hard pounding machine, who drives the music forward with great energy and passion, while guitarist Criss Oliva plays one great catchy riff after another and also delivers blistering solo work. Lead vocalist Jon Oliva sings with both his commanding rusty voice and in a more sensitive fashion, but always with a great melodic sensibility. His performance here is both varied and very well executed.

So upon conclusion it's safe to say that "Streets: A Rock Opera" is a very impressive high quality release. The concept isn't the most original as artists like The Who and Pink Floyd (just to mention a few) have done similar things in the past, but it still works reasonably well, as Savatage skillfully combine music and lyrics into a great whole. Even with 16 tracks and a full playing time of 68:33 minutes, the album never feels long and there's nothing on the album which feels unnecessary or doesn't live up to the high quality of the rest of the material. This is through and through a well thought out, well executed, and well produced album. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.

Report this review (#1560274)
Posted Monday, May 9, 2016 | Review Permalink

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