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Earth Opera: Earth Opera/The Great American Eagle Tragedy

Barney Hoskyns, Uncut, September 2004

THE NAME suggested some frightful prog entity, but Earth Opera were essentially Boston bluegrassers Peter Rowan and David Grisman, a pair intent on chucking tradition out the window in favour of spacey, SF-flavoured psych-folk. Rowan’s affectless vocals and guitar combine with future Jerry Garcia pal Grisman’s mandolin and mandocello (plus low-key vibes, drums and more) on slow, sometimes ponderous songs. Neither 1968’s Earth Opera nor 1969’s slightly jollier The Great American Eagle Tragedy – its title track a ten-minute condemnation of the Vietnam war featuring John Cale – have dated awfully well.

Total word count of piece: 93