Mark Wirtz from Cologne in Germany was a member of the EMI production staff in 1960's London, working predominantly with the marvellous band Tomorrow; a partnership which resulted in their rather excellent debut in 1968. But during this period both Tomorrow and Mark Wirtz were working on a far grander project. The vision, a musical, either a full on stage production or even an animated film similar in scope to The Yellow Submarine, this work was entitled A Teenage Opera.
Work began on the project during the summer of 1967 and would continue for a good year before EMI execs pulled the plug on the project, despite several quality songs and purpose made singles being released. It would then take another 30 years for audiences to be given just a hint of the scale and quality of this concept, and here it is, A Teenage Opera - The Original Soundtrack, released on RPM Records in 1996 with the full support and collaboration of Mark Wirtz himself.
On this album are tracks from an array of talent, including works by Tomorrow and in the case of the rather splendid song Grocer Jack, Tomorrow's front man Keith West. There are also works from Steve Flynn, Kippington Lodge and even from Mark Wirtz himself on the triumphant He's Our Dear Old Weatherman, which as a song probably deserves a review of its own.
This album has pop songs, psychedelic songs, full blown musical theatre with children singing choruses and even orchestral delights, which all in all some would find as a whole quite pretentious but I seriously cannot get enough of it. Many of the songs on this soundtrack are beyond catchy so please do not be afraid, trust me its well worth a listen.
I think this album will be of interest to a lot of people. It certainly is yet another example of how much creativity was coming out of England between 67 and 68. I also quite like the fact that despite its quality singles and its creation being slap bang during the concept album wonder years, as a project it still found itself disregarded by the EMI bigwigs, who lets be honest, weren't exactly shy of sanctioning grandiose works during this period, its really quite staggering, for that reason there is definitely an air of loss treasure about this album, and that's very much the case for me.
Definitely one for the curious and most definitely one for those already initiated, buy today.