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EARTH OPERA

Proto-Prog • United States


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Earth Opera biography
Earth Opera emerged from the Boston folk scene (as did Appaloosa and James Taylor) and recorded two folk rock albums in the late-60's. The main figures of Peter Rowen and Dave Grisman played in various eastern US folk music groups as far back as the early 60's, and their early works can be found on the String Band Project released in 69 by folk-specialist label Elektra. Earth opera's signing to the label occurred at a moment when they were having success with rock acts, such as The Doors, Love and even Tim Buckley, so Earth Opera got their shot as well. Often portrayed as acid folk rock, they were also pinned by the reductive Bosstown (Boston) Sound syndrome, even if Earth opera didn't have much in common, certainly not in sound.

They recorded their two albums over 18 months, both produced by in-house producer Peter Siegel, with a rather stable line-up, although their second album had many guest musicians, including Velvet Underground's John Cale. Their music is a gentle folk rock with some unusual instrumentation (vibraphone), but also had a dark side, which provided some quite interesting songs, usually their longer tracks. Their second album The Great American Eagle Tragedy is maybe a bit weaker, but holds a real class title track, that should appeal to most progheads.

Not commercially successful, the group folded, and the two leaders headed for California and joined Bluegrass group Muleskinner (offshoot of The Byrds) and Old and In The Way (with Jerry Garcia, this will lead in Grisman playing on the Dead's American Beauty album). Later Rowan will form Sea Train (later Seatrain), which is of some interest for progheads. Then he joined his brothers in The Rowen Brothers, also a bluegrass group, but past 72, the Earth Opera connections are of no interest to progheads.





Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
excellent acid folk prog



Discography:
Earth Opera (68)
The Great American Eagle Tragedy(69)

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Great American Eagle TragedyGreat American Eagle Tragedy
Wounded Bird Records 2001
Audio CD$48.00
$27.97 (used)
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ELEKTRA
Vinyl$18.00
Earth OperaEarth Opera
Wounded Bird Records 2001
Audio CD$23.79
$18.95 (used)
Earth Opera / Great American Eagle TragedyEarth Opera / Great American Eagle Tragedy
Import · Remastered
Rhino/Wea UK 2004
Audio CD$124.97
$74.94 (used)
THE GREAT AMERICAN EAGLE TRAGEDY(ltd.reissue)THE GREAT AMERICAN EAGLE TRAGEDY(ltd.reissue)
VIVID SOUND (JAPAN)
Audio CD$29.50
$30.01 (used)
Great American Eagle Tragedy LP (Vinyl Album) US ElektraGreat American Eagle Tragedy LP (Vinyl Album) US Elektra
Elektra
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USS
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EARTH OPERA(ltd.reissue)EARTH OPERA(ltd.reissue)
VIVID SOUND (JAPAN)
Audio CD$27.81
$1,103.88 (used)
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EARTH OPERA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

EARTH OPERA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 3 ratings
Earth Opera
1968
2.10 | 2 ratings
The Great American Eagle Tragedy
1969

EARTH OPERA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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EARTH OPERA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Earth Opera/Great American Eagle Tragedy
2004

EARTH OPERA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

EARTH OPERA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Great American Eagle Tragedy by EARTH OPERA album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.10 | 2 ratings

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The Great American Eagle Tragedy
Earth Opera Proto-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

After a very interesting debut album, Earth Opera's second opus was probably the make or break album, and it was no good omen that vibraphonist Stevenson was gone, even if the group called upon many guest musician, including Velvet Underground's John Cale on viola. The album had another strong artwork, made out of a collage of faces on which was superimposed another eerie collage mixing the American eagle US emblem with a human skull, but by the time of release (it would climb up to the lower rung of the US Billboard, both single and album charts), the group was almost gone. Leader Rowen again writing the huge majority of the songs, it is a bit of a wonder how the group sounded so different with the Stevenson's vibes.

This album is unfortunately not quite as strong as its forerunner, this one veering more often in country rock, including a relatively disastrous start with Home To You and the next three tracks following suit. Only the A-side closer the 6-mins All Winter Long manages some kind of interest, with a lovely sax-flute duo.

The flipside is a totally different matter with the absolutely breathtaking 10-min+ title track, a strong cry out against Vietnam events, starting out on the spine-chilling sax wailings (ala Nucleus) then the percussion sections taking over, before the group invading the aural space in a dramatic fashion, even curdling the blood at times with all out sax and searing guitars, sometimes reminiscent of Audience's most chaotic moments. Indeed, this is really the only track hinting that the group might have had a bright future if they had not been pressured to be commercial by their label. The rest of the album is uninteresting at best, even if the closing It's Love is a rip off of the Animals' House Of The Rising Sun, offering a bit of a soothing cream over a pus-ing wound, as one can think of the waste of talent this album induced.. The album comes with a bonus track from these recording sessions After You, which is better than most of the tracks on TGAET album.

Saved solely by its awesome title track, this album is not really recommended, but it comes with their debut album in an Elektra 2 CD box-set. Peter Rowen would then go on with Sea Train (later Seatrain), whose first album is of interest for the site.

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 Earth Opera by EARTH OPERA album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Earth Opera
Earth Opera Proto-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Armed with a bizarre mock-Hindu gatefold artwork, Earth Opera's eponymous debut album is a typical US folk rock album of the time, but can't hold back the odd country flavour sprinkled here and there. Lead by guitarist and main songwriter Rowen and mandolin player David Grisman (both also play sax and sing, with the latter also playing KB), the group also has Bill Stevenson on vibraphone and keyboards, giving them a distinctive slight edge in terms of sound, even delving ever so slightly a bit in jazz realm. Rounding up the group is bassist Naggy (sometimes on the cello) and drummer Dillon who adds vocals and percussions.

Right from the leading track, Red Sox Are Winning, Earth Opera show their Boston (baseball) roots with the vibraphone providing a fun edge. But the fun is quickly over as they plunge into a 7-min+ As It Is Before, with a plaintive moaning tone taking on a dramatic twist around the end of the track; surely one of the album's highlight. The following two tracks are hesitating between different types of boosted (rocked) up folk styles, none of which are really standing out, then followed Home Of The Brave a track is grave and dramatic war track (not related to baseball or Atlanta), which finishes rather strongly and can be pointed as another highlight.

Assuming we are now on the vinyl flipside, The Child Bride is again a rather sombre track and resonates with foregone traditions. Shut The Door and Time & Again are both less interesting (wouldn't call them fillers, especially the later with its fuzzed-up guitar solos), before the weakest Full of Wonder overstays its welcome. But the album closes very strongly on the album's best moment, the superb but eerie and dreary Death By Fire, dealing with an adulteress woman, dealt away by a gay pastor.

Although a quite impressive folk rock album as such, I wouldn't dare dreaming exaggerating its importance (it didn't chart on the US billboard) and wouldn't call influential or even less essential, but it remains a good (even strong) album, borderline folk baroque and acid folk with grave Vietnam-era lyrics. Definitely worth a listen anyway.

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