Philadelphia, PA – Possibly one of the most underrated music groups to emerge from Fort Worth, Texas is Space Opera, whose music has been described as “serious, complex, satisfying music, blending rock, folk, jazz and classical influences to achieve their distinctive sound.” Now, ItsAboutMusic.com is about to release on CD, ‘Safe At Home’ ; 9 rare unreleased recordings from the early ’70s, around the time the band was recording their first album. Also included in this definitive Space Opera collectors item are 6 unreleased gems from 1975, 1977 and 1978 as well as liner notes from founding band member David Bullock.
With a ‘Byrds meet XTC’ sound, Space Opera was forged in the Texas summer heat of 1969 by David Bullock, Scott Fraser, Philip White, and Brett Wilson. Already, their young lives had been a history played out on roadhouse bandstands and in the coffeehouses and ballrooms of Texas. They had worked as studio sidemen in exchange for long hours spent arranging and recording their own songs at producer T-Bone Burnett’s studio in Fort Worth.
Space Opera’s first major appearance was at the legendary Texas International Pop Festival. They refined their unique style during years of touring Texas and the eastern seaboard, headlining shows and opening for such groups as The Byrds, Jethro Tull, Johnny Winter, and Jefferson Airplane. The band’s sound was defined by the dense counterpoint of chiming electric 12-strings, crisp, subtle percussion, and choir-like vocals.
“Our sound by this time was a blues-infused, spacey, folk rock that juxtaposed lightly structured songs and long improvisational pieces”, David Bullock recently explained.
“Space Opera,” an album produced by the band at Manta Sound in Toronto, was released in 1973 by Epic Records. Rock critic and author Ritchie York called the album “incredibly outstanding, deliriously brilliant.” The group lived and worked in New York, Canada and Texas during the 1970s and ’80s, often augmenting their live sound with symphonic instruments.
A music journalist once observed that Space Opera had arrived at “an early, undeserved obscurity.” Describing the band’s music, he wrote, “They don’t just write songs, they compose miniature symphonies, three-to-five-minute pieces that combine musical elements that would seem to have no place in rock.”
Over the years the musicians disbanded and regrouped as they saw fit. In 1997 Space Opera played a ‘reunion’ concert at the magnificent Caravan of Dreams in Fort Worth. New and old songs were woven together in a suite-like concert that music writer Dave Ferman of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram found “…musically stunning. Moving from mood to mood and using subtle shadings of 12-string guitars, oboe and accordion…Space Opera lived up to its legend and pointed the way to a fresh new start.”
Today, Space Opera continues to labor in the vineyard of obscurity, creating music that is uniquely its own for the entertainment of a small but devoted audience.
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