Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted by Nick Scaramuzzo
10. 'Franks Wild Years,' Tom Waits
This 1987 "Operachi Romantico in Two Acts" was first performed in Chicago by the Steppenwolf Theater Company a year earlier and has given us such classics as 'Way Down in the Hole' (popularized by the epic show 'The Wire') and 'Innocent When You Dream.' Inspired by a single track of the same name from Waits's 'Swordfishtrombones' album, 'Franks' tells the tale of a sad sack who burns down his old life and heads out for adventure.
9. 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch,' Original Cast
John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's 1999 off-Broadway smash introduced a transgender anti-hero with a loony backstory and full frontal audacity. The tunes are by turns Beatlesque and Ziggy- and Iggy-ish, inspiring covers by Frank Black, Sleater-Kinney, They Might Be Giants and Dar Williams, among many others, proving once again that anger is an energy.
8. 'Quadrophenia,' the Who
Before 'Sybil' and 'The United States of Tara,' this 1973 rock opera was our introduction to dissociative identity disorder. Titled as a play on the more classic term – schizophrenia -- this song cycle centered on a boy with four different personalities. Features some of the all-time Who numbers, including 'Love Reign O'er Me' and '5:15.'
7. 'Joe's Garage, Acts 1-3,' Frank Zappa
Predating 'Footloose,' Zappa's 1979 comic tale is a rock opera about what would happen if music became illegal. Zappa appears on the cover in blackface, pledges his devotion to 'Catholic Girls' ("with their tiny little mustache") and asks the burning musical question 'Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?' And then the fun really begins. Tipper Gore didn't stand a chance.
6. 'American Idiot,' Green Day
It's 'Pump Up the Volume' for the aughts. Originally premiered at the Berkeley Repertory Theater this past September, Green Day's 2004 album turned musical has now made its to the Great White Way. While the thematic push of "rage versus love" remains constant, ultimately it's a great, poppy homage to what punk rock is all about.
5. 'Jesus Christ Superstar,' Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice
In the spirit of other period musicals, like 'Hair' and 'Godspell,' this rock opera/musical/dinner theater piece had some real chops. Deep Purple's Ian Gillan sang the original Jesus, and Murray Head ('One Night in Bangkok') was the original Judas. It certainly was well-timed: In 1971, every longhair under 30 looked like the Second Coming.
4. 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,' David Bowie
Why hasn't this amazing Bowie album from 1972 shown up on Broadway yet? They could even repurpose the old spaceship from 'Cats.'
3. 'Southern Rock Opera,' Drive-by Truckers
The classic Lynyrd Skynyrd lineup may have perished in that awful plane crash, but the band left behind a fine legacy for Drive-by Truckers, the band that would define what it was like to grow up in the South in their wake. This 2001 'Southern Rock Opera' tells Patterson Hood's semi-autobographical tale through the constant touchstone of the Skynyrd legend. Sample song title: 'Shut Up and Get on the Plane.'
2. 'The Wall,' Pink Floyd
Nervous breakdowns are natural subjects for rock operas. Think about it: You're a rich pop star constantly seeking a way to top your last effort. You're on the road nonstop. Sex, drugs and alcohol probably flow at a rate as common as going to the bathroom. Where else is there to go? You could lock the door, stop sleeping and write your suicide-note opus. One thing is certain: Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' should never be listened to (or watched) under the influence of anything at all.
1. 'Tommy,' the Who
Predictable? Yes. Awesome? Yes. This 1969 rock opera was the moment where the rest of the guys decided to keep Roger Daltrey in the band. He owned Tommy. So much so that he was the only one who could play him in Ken Russell's movie version. Thanks to that endeavor, we will forever have nightmares about Tina Turner tweaking.