Les Fradkin: Press
"REALITY-THE ROCK OPERA"
Two words sum it up: "Bloody Brilliant"! When long respected music wizard Les Fradkin contacted me as the "father of the Rock Opera," asking me if I might be interested in offering my opinion on his still freshly baked Rock Opera, "Reality," I feared the worst. Not that I expected anything less than a high quality effort, but - a Rock Opera in 2003?? Hardly the prospect of a "cutting edge" work that could possibly conform to and accommodate today's no-frills, in your face, music market demands. "There are no kids on it, are there?" I asked gingerly, dreading the mere possibility. "No," Les assured me, adding, "It's not a fantasy. It's quite serious and very powerful. It's - real."
No kidding! An hour or so after listening to "Reality," I had to peel myself off the wall, having been blasted there by Les' TNT production that reduced even Jim Steinman's most opulent work to mere fire side whispers. I was surprised the CD wasn't dripping with adrenalin!
So, did all those pounding drums, stirring orchestrations and full throttle sonics add up to just a bunch of loud noise? Far from it. While surely pervading the air with an ambience of chaos, only occasionally interspersed by enough dynamic breezes to at least allow us to catch our breath every now and then, "Reality" artfully presents not only organized, but exquisitely choreographed chaos (much like today's action movies), to reflect as a genuine mirror of today's internal as well as external "Reality" Angst by which we are all enveloped, often consumed and ultimately held hostage.
In a stroke of production genius, juxtaposed, and brilliantly contrasting all that visceral mayhem, Les, the narrator and musical actor, virtually manifests in our living room as a undeniable, up-stage yet low-key presence, as if sitting on a park bench, blithely pondering emotions and notions while the city is exploding behind him in the back ground.
Reality is not only musically clever, fiendishly manipulating our sensual wires with an utterly successful merger of classical and rock music, but boasting a most intelligent libretto that makes you not only feel but also think. How unusual for a "Rock Opera"!
No doubt, a certain "pomp" and extravagance is omnipresent. Yet, far from intimidating as an indulgence, it disarmingly strikes us as affectionate, ironic sarcasm.
Much like the "real life thing," whose truth is determined like beauty in the subjective eyes of the beholder, "Reality" is one of those works you either love, or hate, or even love to hate. Not much chance for in-between reactions. The biggie acid test question, of course, remains: Is "Reality" trend-appropriately "no-frills" and "in your face" enough? Despite the initially seeming contradiction - you damn bet it is! Check it out for yourself.
So, this then is ostensibly a grand-child of mine, is it? Ah well, come here then, let me give you a big hug. And a smack on the cheeks (all of them!) for daring to sound even bigger than my stuff once did!
mark wirtz, savannah, ga,
"REALITY-THE ROCK OPERA" (RRO-1001)
A masterful multi-instrumentalist who came to the attention of this writer through his release of two instrumental symphonic surf guitar rock CDs recorded under the name of Get Wet, guitarist Les Fradkin returned with his long awaited new album in early 2004...and it was worth the wait. A legend of the underground rock scene and studio world since his early ‘70s work with The Godz, Fradkin strikes a universal chord of well...reality with the 17 track Reality - The Rock Opera. A self-contained one man rock orchestra, Fradkin reestablishes himself on the cutting edge with his unique symphonic / synthesized guitars approach. Imagine influences from classic ‘70s groups such as Procol Harum and Moody Blues up through the high tech New Age electronic vibes of Yanni and you get a good idea of Fradkin’s mindset on Reality. An underrated songwriter, vocalist and rock guitar innovator, Fradkin keeps the spirits of Warren Zevon and George Harrison alive with his own probing lyrics and fitting melodies. Pundits into old rock lore will pick up on other cogent influences here like the caustic social satire of Harry Chapin and Turtle rockers Flo & Eddie. Fradkin’s production, engineering and performance of all the instruments—along with the superb co-production from his wife Loretta Fradkin—could turn him into the Phil Spector of the new millennium.