Not a rock opera, as it stated, in any case, no more so than "The Wall", stretching for two discs with the same gloomy feeling. Donald Scarf-influenced paintings in the brilliant booklet, and shadows of FLOYD abound from the "Overture", an attempt on opera method, as main themes appear here to be developed later. Husbands and wives alienating and families breaking up appears a serious issue but to build an album on it doesn't feel a great idea. Music, composed by the keyboard player Mark Durstewitz, is strong, and the only flaw is quite weak vocal melodies. To perform four characters of the story, the band invited singers, all good but only Christine Hull convincing as a Mother, especially in the bitching mode of "The Big Belly Blues", and when duetting in "The Children Of Children" with pleasant tenor of Dennis Johnson, Father, too soft to equally send the chill down the spine. Partly, it's due to often pathetic approach, an operatic one, a contrast to the music. "Your Fault" belcanto, though beautiful, hardly belongs here.
Not so with players, genuinely awesome, and if Durstewitz tends to be shy and concentrate on the piano rather than synths (they're there to create an orchestra sound), Vince Genella's guitar is amazing, easily spanning pure prog ("All I Need Is Life"), an exquisite acoustic lace ("An Eagle And A Dove") and Chicago blues ("Tell Me"). His work on the latter complemented by boogie-ing piano, a real driving force, very versatile too, switching from bar-room bashing of plaintive "Madmen And Dreamers" through vaudeville in "Another Joyful Day" to "I Don't Know You Anymore" slow disco. Thus, the music's diverse - up to nursery rhyme tune in "Running Wild" - yet coherent, with reoccuring themes and instrumental interludes being the most proggy pieces, like "One Moment Please" or "Retreat" intro. But they're bleak next to Father's aria "Where Are You Now?", a magnificient hymn, and closing "Daddy, Can We Talk?".
Don't think of "Jesus Christ Superstar" or "Evita" here, but having "Starlight Express" for a reference point will set the mood right.