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Monday, July 6, 2015

Space Opera - Space Opera (1972 us, superb post psych prog rock, 2014 korean remaster)

An obscurity from day one, Space Opera is an overlooked classic-rock wonder. Three of the four members of Space Opera (Philip White, Scott Fraser, David Bullock) had previously recorded a stellar country-folk gem in Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit, and Greenhill. As good as that record was, they were still green compared to the fully developed band (adding drummer Brett Wilson) they would become by 1972.

From Forth Worth, Texas, but recorded in Canada, Space Opera forged a familiar rock sound in an unheard context, combining blissful three part harmonies with searing guitar leads and righteous, intricate jams. The reissue is appropriately billed as “12 string prog rock” and while references to the Byrds and Zappa abound in other reviews, it behooves me to agree. Though it is a must; Space Opera combines these musical forces like nothing I have ever heard before. Still, if you have ever hankered for the sounds of local FM radio rock, this is an album you won’t believe didn’t hit the airwaves.

Songs are well developed and near classical in form, developing into finely tuned suites. “Country Max” leads off as the clear “hit” record, remarkably recognizable, it’s the kind of record you feel like you’ve heard a million times. Moodier numbers like “Holy River” and “Riddle” jangle their way into your head with good craftsmanship and memorable refrains. “Guitar Suite” is the album’s instrumental centerpiece that successfully merges prog and country rock during every moment of sound; gnarly double-tracked harmonica and tape effects stealing the show. The recordings are so warm it’s as if the master tapes were filtered through a rainbow of vintage tape machines, and the flutes on “Outlines” even sound suspiciously mellotron-esque. Some of the beauty to this record must be owed to the warmth and grit that you just can’t get with modern digital technology.

More than pleased to discover one like this. Beautiful songs that are truly unheard classics. These fellas clearly understood how to create rock music in a way more advanced than many better known contemporaries and are still awaiting their recognition.
by Brendan McGrath

1. Country Max (David Bullock) - 3:19
2. Holy River (Scott Fraser) - 5:26
3. Outlines (Philip White) - 4:11
4. Guitar Suite (Scott Fraser, David Bullock, Philip White, Brett Wilson) - 7:38
5. My Telephone Artist (Has Come And Gone) (David Bullock) - 3:46
6. Riddle (Philip White) - 3:07
7. Prelude No. 4 (Philip White) - 3:52
8. Lookout (Scott Fraser) - 2:47
9. Blue Ridge Mountains (David Bullock) - 2:13
10.Over And Over (Scott Fraser) - 5:54

The Space Opera
*David Bullock - Vocals, Flute, Harmonica, Guitar
*Scott Fraser - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
*Philip White - Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Keyboards
*Brett Wilson - Drums, Percussion

1970-78  Space Opera - Safe At Home (2010 Issue)

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  1. Fantastic band and deserves a place in every good music collection...

  2. Sounds fantastic, thank you!

  3. Astounding Acoustic Salad 5 Star Album Found On Vinyl In The Eighties

  4. Wow ! Thanks for posting this. I'd never heard of them before and they were on a major label too. Does no one else hear some
    similarities to Steely Dan and a bit of Memphis' Cargoe ? I'm going to download this now and check out the rest of it.

  5. Wow finally a ReMaster...I've been listening to this album since it was first released...and I think I could listen to it once a month and still enjoy every song. It rates right up there with some of my other favorite albums: the first Moby Grape, Cant Buy a Thrill, first Spirit or 12 Dreams...Space Opera II released in 2001 is a great follow up. Too bad it came so long after, these guys should have been monsters!
    Thanx Marios!

  6. I got this album when it was released in USA. Still sounds great, time could not do any damage...:)

  7. I just recently stumbled across a story about this band online, and was curious enough to look for this album (and "Safe At Home"). Then on a whim I looked them up on, and discovered that they have a whole 'NOTHER album, again self-titled as "Space Opera", and reissued in 2010 as "Space Opera II":

    I don't suppose you (or anyone else reading this) would have this album, also, and would be willing to upload it? The only place I've been able to find it is on another blog that hasn't been updated in a few years, as the owner of the blog apparently died, and it can't be downloaded from there anymore. My anal-retentive "must complete the collection" neurons are firing overtime... :D