15 March 2008

Rock Operas: Short, Early; Long, Best

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The Shangri-Las "Perform" (Remember) Walking in the Sand

Ultimate babe Betty Weiss, on lead vocals, and The Shangri-Las, in one of the earliest short form rock operas. {Addendum: 20May2008} Almost 20 years later, (Remember) Walking in the Sand is used as the musical backdrop to a key set of scenes in the most critically acclaimed mob film ever: Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas.

The best long form, important, rock opera -- ever! -- was just released:

5 comments:

pwyll said...

I haven't heard Across the Universe, but to have any claim on being the best long form rock opera it has to compete with Jesus Christ Superstar. Of the many recordings of JCS, the best is the original 1970 version. If you haven't heard it lately, give it a spin.

Paco Malo said...

I wore out more than one vinyl copy of the original Jesus Christ Superstar. The question "Did You know your messy death would be a record breaker?" still rings in my head, more than thirty years later.

I've seen, heard and/or studied all the important rock operas. My argument stands. The DVD of Across The Universe bumps The Who's 1973 Quadrophenia out of first place. Jesus Christ Superstar moves down one position in the top five -- ever.

Paullinator said...

Its very difficult for me to put Quadrophenia anywhere but in the center of my universe, still, I was massively impressed by Across the Universe -- surprised at how good it was. The songs were sung with such sensitivity - the actually enhanced the melodic strength of the songs beyond what the Beatles had accomplished. (Yeah, I did just say that.) And the interweaving of the songs into the story was really well done too. I suppose that with the huge Beatles catalogue, this isn't too hard. But still impressive.

Bizet said...

I never heard of this opera rock.
Thank you for this post, Across the Universe is a very appealing title. Im curious about the meaning of it n this film. Thank you.

Paco Malo said...

The new film "Across the Universe", the title coming from a later-era Beatles song, is only a rock opera because this critic called it one. It is a wonderful trip trough the peace, love, and revolution of the Sixties, set to all Beatles songs, very well covered by the actors, with state of the art animation mixed with real life footage seamlessly.

The film's official website is

http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/acrosstheuniverse/

The use of the song in the film is a more complex matter; this is a classic circa 1970 John Lennnon song that, as with all great poetry, can truly be interpreted only through the reader's or listener's eyes and ears:

Song: Across the Universe

Lyrics:

"Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Jai guru deva
Jai guru deva"