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June 16, 2010

Owl Meat's Tipsy Wednesdays: Rock of Stages

rock of ages? no, rock of stages!

Owl Meat's column, which typically runs on Tuesdays, was delayed due to Internet errors. That said, I'd pay to see Kayne West's Broadway musical, "Stroke My Ego," if it existed. What about you? Owl Meat has a few hilarious ideas of his own. Owl Meat? Are you there? Oh, here he is:

Rock music and musical theater seem about as compatible as corn and lima beans – the latter being succotash and the former sucky trash.

The exception is the most awesome musical ever: Sir Mix-a-Lot's Pirates of Penzance.

The music of rebellion has become glitter-mulch for super-fabulous Broadway spectacles. Blech.

"Rock of Ages starring Constantine Maroulis and the music of Journey, Whitesnake, and Night Ranger" (pictured, top) is funny. Pathetic, kitschy, and funny. ...

The idea of people spending $219 to see a TV karaoke contest also-ran sing hair metal with fancy dancey costumes ... in Baltimore, blows my mind. (Tickets still available for "Rock of Ages" at the Hippodrome, November 30 through December 5.)

To each his own. Who am I to harsh your Quiet Riot buzz ... Sister Christian? When I told my friend schlockmeister extraordinaire RoCK about "Rock of Ages" he nearly jumped out of his seersucker suit with glee. To each his own.

pete townshendThat got me thinking about musicals, rock operas, and concept albums.

Who's to blame? Pete Townshend (pictured, middle) in part. I never liked "Tommy." I thought it was pretentious and boring. Andrew Lloyd Weber? Puhleeeze. Productions like "Rock of Ages," "Mamma Mia" and "Movin' Out" are not rock operas, but trunk or jukebox musicals, songs strung together with a thin story line.

Green Day's "American Idiot" is another story. Apparently it's a concept album and now a Broadway show. Very punk, dudes. What next, "Buzzcocks On Ice?"

Flash: OMG intern Valerie Valencia just informed me that American Idiot was nominated for three Tony awards and won two on Sunday night.

Editor's note: Owl Meat has interns? For a weekly column? Why the heck am I doing a daily blog by myself?

I was thinking about one of the iconic albums of my youth, Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." The song "Jungleland" is a mini-rock opera of sorts – cryptic, bombastic, and long. Then I thought of the taut poetry of the opening lines of "Thunder Road" from the same album:

The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays

I think of those lines often. They are like a Proustian madeleine, opening the hemi-powered world of Born to Run and resurrecting dreams, memories, and desires of youth. "Jungleland" doesn't do anything like that.

Recently I stumbled upon Lou Reed's 1978 album "Street Hassle." It contains an 11-minute song called "Street Hassle" (NSFW).

lou reed sticks his tongue out at you!It consists of three parts that involve male prostitutes, drug dealers, overdosing, love, death, the whole street megillah in E major. Oddly, trendsetter Reed (pictured, bottom) says that Springsteen was an inspiration and Bruce mumbles a few words about tramps like him at 9:02. Despite its pretentions I love it.

I was in New York last weekend and I asked a busker how to get to Broadway. He said, "Pretension, pretension, pretension." Oh!

Given Green Day's example (ka-ching), I guess we can expect a spate of concept albums aimed at making it to Broadway. My crystal ball came up with a few possibilities:

  • Ke$ha's "Stuff I Like Found Like In My Purse" featuring "Don't Touch My Strawberry Lip Gloss, B***h".
  • T-Pain's "Mr. Roboto-Voice." Domo.
  • Rob Zombie's "Sound of Music" - The Reckoning, featuring "The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of People Being Disemboweled".
  • Amy Winehouse's "A Streetcar Named Crack"
  • Michael Jackson's, oh never mind, you know that's going to happen.

It's hard to make up some of these, because it seems like almost anything can be a musical. "Carrie – The Musical?" It happened. Just smother me in my sleep when they announce "Born to Run - The Musical."

(Top photo by, middle photo by AP, bottom photo by Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:50 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays


Rob Zombie's C.H.U.D.? I'd buy that for a dollar.

Musicals : Thumbs down.
Concept albums: Thumbs way up.

Pretentious? Sure, but in capable hands it can be done well. You could (and did) make the argument that Pete Townshend is to blame, and Tommy certainly supports that, but The Who did far better with Quadrophenia... not to mention the fact that Who's Next was taken from the Lifehouse project when Pete abandoned it. Then there's good old Rush; I personally prefer Hemispheres over 2112 but both fit the category of albums that can be described as "pretentious" and "awesome" in the same sentence.

Anyway, the one thing you didn't touch on is the "Home-Grown-Do-It-Yourself" version of a concept-rock-musical, like listening to a Chris Brown album while watching Enough on mute.

like listening to a Chris Brown album while watching Enough on mute.

Too funny, Dave F. Any more exmaples?

I realized that the topics I touched on here could all support reams of writing.

As much as I dislike Tommy, I LOVE Quadrophenia, but I love it for the music, recording and flow of the songs. The story? Eh. The movie didn't interest me. Quadrophenia used to be the album I would play all the way through to signal the beginning of Spring. Keith's drumming was superb and Entwistle's bass (not to mention horn arrangements) amazing. And it just sounds so good.

It took three days to get this through to the Sun's mail server. And you know who I blame? MR. ROBOTO.

How could you omit the GREATEST piece of rock theater of ALL time? Spinal Tap's Stonehenge!

I look forward to the broadway version of Wizard of Oz set to Dark Side of the Moon.
Justin Beiber can play Toto.

Too funny, Dave F. Any more exmaples?

Hmm, I dunno. Maybe listening to Hole while watching any documentary about Kurt Cobain?

Or, apparently, listening to Davey G and the Keyboard while watching Silence of the Lambs.

Help, someone let me out. I'm chained to a pipe in a basement. I don't know where I am but I can smell marinara sauce.

Valerie, stop blogging or you'll get the hose.

Lou Reed, gimme back my face!

Elton John's "Captain Fantastic", with product placement by Marvel

Evelyn Champagne King's "Shame" (not to be confused with "Fame")

So, only $219 you say to see Rock of Ages? I've seen Rock of Ages 7 times and flown to NYC, stayed in a hotel AND paid for tickets! It was worth every nickle. And guess what? I'd do it again in a New York minute to see that show.. Best show on Broadway..

I haven't seen any of these chimerical performance pieces, but from your description they sound altogether like another exercise in vapid conformity. It would seem the apogee of rock music united with narrative is the music video.

This is apparent with the gem you offered. "Street Hassle" is clearly a work of art with its thematic consistency, Warholesque visuals, subterranean story line, and gorgeous, sweeping music cradling Beat-Noir lyrics. Heartbreaking.

How about a story about a British rocker who gets convicted of a sex-crime, set to the music of Mariah Carey. We'll call it Gary Glitter.

Anybody else find it ironic that macho sports events like baseball heavily feature songs by the Village People, Queen, and Gary Glitter?

The comment that Pete Townshend "was cleared of the charges but was forced to register anyway" is false.
Townshend was placed on the registry for an offense he committed in 1999. He was cleared of posession charges after a police raid on his house in 1983.
The concept that one can be placed on a registry for no good reason, might cause people to discount the warning that these registries provide.
This deceptive phrase has been peddled by Townshend's publicists in order confuse the public about his criminality. The crime he committed is "Inciting another to distribute child pornography."

Rock opera is like Dinner theatre; you'd rather the parts than the sum

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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