Streets: A Rock Opera



by Steerpike USER (24 Reviews)
February 28th, 2006 | 29 replies

Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist

How Savatage isn't bigger is beyond me. It boggles the mind that such an amazing group has never made it much bigger. They have survived through the worst of times and stuck to their guns the whole time. How can anyone not respect that" Those of you who have known me longer than a month know how much I push this band to other in order to draw more attention to them. I've had some success, but I'm hoping this will convince some of you just how much you're missing.

Streets is a landmark album in Savatage's career. They had already produced two albums with Paul O'Neill (Hall of the Mountain King and Gutter Ballet), and Streets became their first concept album, based on a novel that Paul had written.

The story tells of a young musician who pays the bills as a drug dealer. He becomes known as Downtown Jesus (DT Jesus for short) as all the junkies saw him as their savior. Utilizing the nickname as a stagename, DT started playing in a band and became a huge rockstar. He became addicted to his own drugs however, and ended up destroying his own career.

DT cleaned himself up and prepared for a comeback, when a figure from his past swept in and murdered his closest friend. Grief-stricken and lost, DT wandered the streets of New York, looking for answers, though no one could help him. He finds his answer though as he comforts a dying old homeless man in his last moments and witnesses the spirit of the man finally pass on to the next hereafter in peace.

It's a very powerful story, and particularly struck a chord with Jon Oliva, lead singer, pianist, and founding member. At the time Jon read the book, he himself was going through a period of wild drug abuse and had recently been released from the Betty Ford Clinic. It would turn out to be eerily prophetic two years later when his brother, Criss Oliva was killed in a car accident. Though one does not need to hear this backstory to enjoy the album, it does add another dimension to the powerful message.

The album itself was not only a landmark for being the band's first concept album, but also because of the diversity of the songwriting. There's no shortage of roof-raising anthems that power metal specializes in so well, but also mixed in are plaintive and heartfelt piano-driven ballads. This strikes up a balance to the listener between Criss' intense fretboard gymnastics and Jon's emotive piano work. This makes for a delightfully diverse album that will satisfy most any metal fan.

I doubt I could effectively do a song-by-song critique like I would normally do. Each song has its own individual character and charm, and there really isn't a single weak track on the album.

But what I can tell you is that there are two tracks in particular that are worth the price of the CD.

The first being track 2, Jesus Saves. This song starts with a spoken intro of panhandler on the streets of New York talking to another man whom he was asking for change about the story of DT Jesus. From there, it launches into Savatage's standard bombast and edgy melodies. The lyrics tell of DT's initial rise and fall.

But the final track... I'm sorry give me a minute, I'm really choked up here because I'm listening to it as I type this... Believe is without a doubt the most powerful song the group has ever made. From Jon's gentle piano work, thundering drums, and the beautiful layers of guitars that Criss Oliva and Chris Caffery put together with Paul's help, this song slowly creeps forward and gradually gains steam into an anthem that will reach deep down into your soul.

From the atmospheric and chaotic opening track of Streets all the way to the final, delicate whisper in Believe, Streets: A Rock Opera stands as an under-appreciated classic of American metal, nay, of metal overall.

I am the way, I am the light
I am the dark inside the night
I hear your hopes, I feel your dreams
And in the dark I hear your screams
Don't turn away, just take my hand
And when you make your final stand
I'll be right there, I'll never leave
And all I ask of you is believe


Recent reviews by this author
Edguy Space Police - Defenders of the CrownAncient Bards Soulless Child
Ancient Bards The Alliance of the KingsVolbeat Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
Jonathan Coulton Where Tradition Meets TomorrowHuman Fortress Eternal Empire
user ratings (220)
other reviews of this album
Robbit (4.5)
One of Savatage's most ambitious projects blossoms into their finest achievement as a band....

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 1st 2006


Solid review, but it smells a little too much of fanboy. I can't really take you seriously with lines like ' this song slowly creeps forward and gradually gains steam into an anthem that will reach deep down into your soul.' Not knocking the song at all, it's just that the obvious emotional connection it makes with you is a very personal thing that probably won't affect others in the same way, so it's probably better to keep it out of the review. Still, you get a 'yes' vote from me.

March 1st 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Gawd dammit Alex. Two Savatage Rock Operas at the same time will destroy Sputnik as we know it.

Great review, by the way.

Hall of the Mountain King is mine!

March 1st 2006


[quote=review]How Savatage isn't bigger is beyond me. It boggles the mind that such an amazing group has never made it much bigger.[/quote]

After some research I found a picture that explains your confusion.

March 1st 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Hey, nice shorts Nick! Are you pointing to the remains of your dignity on the ground beside you?

March 1st 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

So... fanboy has a smell? I imagine it would be a potpourri of 20-sided dice, pizza, M:tG cards, Star Wars costumes, and Mountain Dew.

March 1st 2006


After reading this review, I think I'm going to have to give Savatage a listen. "Believe" sounds like it'll be an amazing track.

Nice review as well, Steerpike.

March 1st 2006


[quote=river]Hey, nice shorts Nick! Are you pointing to the remains of your dignity on the ground beside you?[/quote]

I don't get it.

March 1st 2006


Alex, you did pretty decently, but I think you're better suited for band writeups.

Your review isn't bad by any means, it just seems to lack character. You don't really go into much detail about the music (I, for one, don't really know what the band sounds like), and it just seems to lack something.

March 2nd 2006


SAVATAGE IS AWESOME!!! I'm glad someone finally reviewed some of their stuff. I would have bbut I dont own any of their albums...

Afro Ninja
April 20th 2006


Rock on Steerpike!!

I remember the good old days with my old account, back when you started the Savatage thread in R&M which first attracted me to them.

As soon as I see this cd in person I'm buyng it. I know just from listning to "Jesus Saves" and "Believe" that this must be a groundbreaking album, on the scale were downloading it wouldn't do it justice.

June 29th 2007


...Why is this 1991's #1 album :confused:

June 30th 2007


I can see why they aren't bigger. Because there isn't anything special about them at all.

July 31st 2007


Great band, I'm not sure which album of theirs I should get first, but I'm content with the 11 songs I got free off their website (one of which is Jesus Saves).

And nice review.

EDIT: Took the liberty of adding a crapload of songs to their page.This Message Edited On 07.31.07

June 27th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

good band.... but not "that" great

December 16th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

They're a pretty damn good band and Streets is an amazing album. Pity they're not more well known. I think a lot of it stems from their involvement in Trans-Siberian Orchestra, though.

August 4th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Definitely one of their classic records where broadway meets metal.

Streets have good songs like Streets, Jesus Saves or Ghost in the Ruins but my favourites are the previous two and the next one.

Chris Oliva was an amazing guitar player.

Digging: Humanity's Last Breath - Abyssal

July 31st 2012


Album Rating: 3.5


November 10th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

"New York City Don't Mean Nothing" and "Believe" are classic Savatage.

Staff Reviewer
January 6th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent album. Savatage are too underrated on here.

Digging: Estas Tonne - Internal Flight

January 14th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed. Way too underrated.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2017
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy