From: Industrial Metal magazine, fall 1991.

By: Michael Moses

Contributed by: Ellen Bakvis


For the most part, concept albums usually wind up collecting dust in the &2.99, "Buy 2 Get 8 Free", cut-out section at K-Mart. Take bombs like Blue Oyster Cult's Imaginos or Kiss'  The Elder for example ( for your mellower fans, think of Styx'  Mr. Roboto  LP).
Of course, there's an exception to every rule, as in Queensryche's Operation : Mindcrime and of course, the Who's classic Tommy.
So when Florida's metallers Savatage revealed they were to release a concept album of their own, and it's a "rock opera ", no less, one has to wonder.

"I don't know how the true, grittier metalheads are gonna take to this, " says Savatage vocalist Jon Oliva of new album Streets . "Some of it they're gonna love and some of it they might have a hard time understanding.
There's some very heavy stuff on it; there's some bizarre Pink Floydish shit on it. It's got a lot to offer. Its a lot like the last album, but way more intense. If people like that one ( Gutter Ballet ), they're gonna love this one. "

Produced and co-written by Gutter Ballet's producer Paul O'Neill, Streets is a major undertaking for the band. Featuring live orchestras, sampled orchestras, choirs and children' s choirs ( "We used just about everything but the kitchen sink and if that made a sound, we'd have probably used that too, " says Jon ), the album contains 16 songs and a total running time of 74 minutes.

Īt was written by Paul, myself and Criss," explains Jon. "Paul and I wrote most of it and Criss came in and added some musical things at the end. We wrote the story and the lyrics first and then we went and put music to it.  It's very intense and was very challenging trying to make everything work around the story and God ( laughing ), I hope it fucking works."

The story as described by Jon: "I don't want to let too much out on it, but to give you a rough idea, it's basically about this character who is a musician. He starts with nothing, achieves everything, loses everything and then tries to get it all back. Each song, as it progresses, goes through this guy's life and shows you the different things he deals with through this adventure. It deals with conflicts he has with certain people, his drug problems, getting straight, then his trying to make it again.
Everything is very street referenced. Once you listen to it and read through the liner notes, it's very easy to understand the story. We're toying with the idea of narration in certain parts but we haven't decided on it yet. It's gonna have a booklet that explains the whole story and each song plays a key part in the plot. Not one song on the record sounds like another."

As Jon related the story of Streets, I wondered if Queensryche's recent success with Mindcrime encouraged Jon and Savatage to attempt a project of this magnitude.
" I like Mindcrime a lot, but we were toying with this idea back in the Hall Of The Mountain King stage, but because Fight For The Rock was such a nightmare, we figured that we needed to come out with a couple of strong albums to re-establish ourselves.
It's not like Operation : Mindcrime or some of the King Diamond stuff, where it's an inticrate storyline, y'know, where the priest kills this guy, who then kills... y'know what I mean ? It's basically something that's easily relatable, it could relate to someone who's not even a musician. Everyone goes through a thing where they're trying to achieve a goal, gets there and blows it all, and then before it's too late, tries to get it back. Anyone can relate to that. "