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Earth Opera - Earth Opera CD (album) cover

EARTH OPERA

Earth Opera

 

Proto-Prog

3.07 | 8 ratings

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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.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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