Earth Opera - Earth Opera (1968)

Earth Opera was American rock band active in the late 60s, formed by Peter Rowan and David Grisman.

Both Peter Rowan and David Grisman began their musical careers in bluegrass and folk music. By the time they got together in 1967, they had both had much experience as in-demand bluegrass pickers (Rowan had been a member of bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe's band from '65 to '67). Like many other folk musicians, they were caught up in the musical changes of the 60s and made the move to electric rock. They formed the band Earth Opera with keyboard player Bill Stevenson, bassist John Nagy and drummer Paul Dillon.
Earth Opera's first album was seriously unusual, and nothing like the psychedelic rock other plugged-in folkies of the time like Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead were making. It's a curiously subtle, quiet musical blend with intelligent, complex arrangements which draw on classical influences and border on progressive rock. Peter Rowan took on the role of lead singer and songwriter, his surreal lyrics and quavery vocals giving the album a strange dream-like quality. The instrumental arrangements are unusual too, hardly typical for a 60s rock band - Rowan played guitar, mandolin and sax, whilst Grisman handled mandolin, mandocello, keyboards and sax. As well as piano and organ, Bill Stevenson played harpsichord and vibraphone, giving the album some unique textures. The result is not particularly accessible to the casual listener, and is the sort of music which requires careful and patient listening to really get in to.... but it's worth it.
Surprisingly, there is barely any bluegrass to be heard in the mix, strange considering the presence of Rowan and Grisman.

|> The Great American Eagle Tragedy (1969)


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