Have you ever listened to an album and realized that all of the songs are somehow tied together? This usually isn’t a coincidence. These albums are often referred to as concept albums, and in the rock community are known as rock operas. These albums are a collection of songs that tie into a story, and sometimes they involve different characters that are introduced in the lyrics. Rock operas have been seen in all genres of rock, from Classic Rock, Glam Rock, to even Punk Rock.
Here are some of the biggest rock operas of all time:
1. The Wall by Pink Floyd.
The Wall is the eleventh studio album by the English rock band, Pink Floyd, released in 1979. The album follows the story of the character Pink Floyd, a rockstar who as a child had to deal with the loss of his father in World War II, and life with his overbearing mother. Due to his inability to deal with the demons in his own mind, he becomes a drug addict, and slowly but surely begins to build a “wall.” Isolating himself from anything and everything. The Wall became a successful theatrical tour, and later on, also a movie. It was arguably the biggest release of Pink Floyd’s career.
2. Tommy by The Who.
Tommy, the fourth studio album by English rock band, The Who, tells the story of a young boy who witnessed the murder of his father by his mother, and the man she was having an affair with. He was forced to keep quiet, and in turn became catatonic, acting deaf, dumb, and blind. As he grows up, he becomes an expert and famous pinball player, even he can’t see or hear, is able to pick up the vibrations felt from playing the game. This record is described as The Who’s breakthrough album, and one of the greatest albums in all of rock history. The album was made into an opera in 1971, an orchestral arrangement, a movie, and even a Broadway musical in the early 90’s. The album has also been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
3. Kilroy Was Here by Styx.
Kilroy Was Here was the eleventh studio album by American rock band, Styx. The album takes place in a futuristic, fascist society that has banned rock music. The record follows the story of protagonist, Robert Orin Charles Kilroy who is imprisoned by the MMM, or Majority for Music Morality. Kilroy escapes, when he finds that a young musician by the name of Jonathan Chance is on a mission to bring rock music back. It includes songs like, “Mr. Roboto”, “Don’t Let It End”, and “High Time.” According to many fans, this album killed Styx’s career, and ultimately led to their demise. It broke their multi-platinum album record streak, and caused riffs to form within the group.
4. Operation: Mindcrime by Queensrÿche.
Operation: Mindcrime is the third studio album by the heavy metal band, Queensrÿche. The story follows Nikki, a drug addict who gets involved with a secret organization with intentions to revolt. Nikki is mentored by Dr. X, the head of this mysterious organization, who brainwashes Nikki into becoming an assassin to kill political leaders. He falls in love with Sister Mary, a prostitute introduced to him by an ally of Dr. X. Nikki begins to question what he’s doing, but is conflicted, as Dr. X is the only one who caters to his heroin addiction. Mary, is found dead, and Nikki is left with the possibility that he was the one who committed the murder. After he’s found with a gun, he’s brought into police custody under suspicion of Mary’s murder. He then enters a mental hospital, which brings the listener back to the beginning of the record. This album includes some of Queensrÿches biggest hits such as, “Operation: Mindcrime”, “Eyes of A Stranger”, and “I Don’t Believe In Love”, which was nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 1990 Grammy Awards.
5. American Idiot by Green Day.
American Idiot is the seventh studio album, by punk rock band, Green Day. The album follows real life events, such as George W. Bush’s presidency, and the Iraq War. It speaks of the ignorance, that the generation of the last twenty years has had, and the ability for the government to deceive and disillusion so many. The album contains songs like, “American Idiot”, “Jesus of Suburbia”, “Holiday”, and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” The success of the album actually sparked the creation of a Broadway musical entitled, American Idiot. It also won the Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2005.