To recap what I was saying on Wednesday – concept albums exist, so do rock operas, and because of three albums there’s a lot of amazing music that inspired a lot more:
- The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds”
- The Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
- The Who’s “Tommy”
Among those inspired by at least one of those three albums was David Bowie
And you can link almost ANY musician back to Bowie.
That aside, I wanted to talk about a couple of albums that aren’t officially rock operas, but sound suspiciously like they could be.
First one is easy enough – The Killers’ “Hot Fuss”
It really isn’t a rock opera, BUT there IS a storytelling element to it… kinda.
There’s two tracks on Hot Fuss that, when combined with an old b-side, make up what fans call the “Murder Trilogy”, melodramatic, yes, but also plausible, and loosely confirmed by the band themselves.
So the three songs are:
- Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf (the b-side, you can find it on a compilation album called “Sawdust”) – in which the narrator begs “Jenny” not to leave him
- Midnight Show (track 10 on hot fuss) – in which a jealous narrator kills Jenny
- Jenny Was a Friend of Mine (track 1) – in which the murder confesses to the murder of said Jenny
So those three songs are out-right CONFIRMED to be a narrative story, but here’s the thing, the rest of the album has the same sort of theme to it, and while not confirmed, there’s quite a few compelling and well-reasoned arguments out there. Like this one.
But there’s two others by the same band I want to talk about.
So, My Chemical Romance. I said in the chapter that pretty much all of their work could be considered a rock opera – though only The Black Parade is officially listed as one.
I haven’t really listened much to Danger Days – I didn’t like it – but their first two albums have definite qualities of a rock opera – if nothing else, they seem to tell a story.
Their debut album was called “I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love”, and there’s a pretty clear story arc centered around a Bonnie & Clyde style couple, who, like the real couple, get gunned down in the desert at the end of that album.
Their second (and also their breakthrough) album was “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge”, and, while unconfirmed, is also widely regarded as a concept album/rock opera because of the seeming narrative of the lyrics. It gives off a vibe of somebody coming back to life, almost like a newborn vampire. That somebody being the Clyde expy from the last album who made a deal with Satan to save the life of the Bonnie expy.
There’s also this evidence (pulled (and edited) from wikipedia):
- The album’s cover, named “Demolition Lovers” (As is the final song on I Brought You My Bullets…) and its interior artwork (including the text that reads “The story of a man, a woman, and the corpses of a thousand evil men.”)
- The lyrical themes of the final songs on both of the band’s first two albums, which are “Demolition Lovers” and “I Never Told You What I Do for a Living”. The lyrics of the latter include “They gave us two shots to the back of the head and we’re all dead now” suggesting that the character (if it is linked to the storyline) has been killed and has failed in saving his lover from Hell.
- The song “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a F*****g Deathwish” from Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge also includes themes of a man rising from his grave, who suggests that his purpose in doing so is to commit a murder.
Or maybe I, like many others, am just reading too much into it.
So why discuss them here instead of on the show? Self-imposed rule. Confirmed rock operas only if and when I do a Rock Opera based Masterpiece Theatre.
Stay tuned for next week’s chapter, which again is on some of the best, and most influential guitarists in music history.
Some names that WON’T be on that chapter because of time limitations include:
- Tommy Iommi
- Angus Young
- Zakk Wylde
- Eric Clapton
- George Harrison
One name you WILL see on there is Chuck Berry – but where will he be? Listen in on Wednesday to find out.
Thanks for reading, dear listeners. I’ll talk to you next time.