Les Fradkin’s epic release, Reality – The Rock Opera, is certainly ambitious. Its title track, for example, muses about the wide-ranging topic of reality, and exactly what it is (or is not). Thus, this is not your typical selection of love songs, breakup songs, and missing-my-baby songs. Instead, it actually takes on the extremely deep subject of philosophy. In case you’re wondering. Fradkin doesn’t actually explain reality. He’s a pop singer, not a scientist. However, he’s a pretty good pop songwriter, and that’s what matters most.
The next song, “Magic Attic” is more in his artistic wheelhouse. Fradkin sings this song in lovely falsetto and sounds to have multi-tracked himself on the track’s chorus. Musically, the track is built around and orchestrated keyboard part. This is an unusual arrangement, especially when you consider how Fradkin is a lead guitarist. In fact, he was an original cast member of the Broadway hit, Beatlemania. Naturally, then, one can also hear a bit of the Beatles’ influence, especially with Fradkin’s strong melodic sense. He played George Harrison in Beatlemania, by the way.
The word ‘reality’ finds its way into multiple song titles here. For instance, one titled “Reality Idol” takes aim at reality singing shows, including Fradkin’s commentary on aspiring country singers. Another verse discusses the whole bachelor/bachelorette angle of reality television. Then one called “Reality Check,” which is extremely short, echoes the lyrics to another one(the title track, again) simply titled “Reality.” On this one, Fradkin sings, “Reality’s you, reality’s me/Reality’s whatever we want it to be.” One may want to quibble with Fradkin’s assertion here. Yes, we all have wishes and dreams, but we can’t create our own realities. Sometimes reality can brutally crush the positive image we have of ourselves. We may think we’re celebrities or superheroes, for instance, but most of us are not either of these high-profile folks. However, one imagines Fradkin’s meaning is far more positive than that. One surmises that life is basically what we make of it. No, we can’t speak our chosen realities into existence, but we can strive to be whatever we want to be. It’s been said America is the land of opportunity, and this is most likely what Fradkin wants to emphasize. “Ascend up the mountain, thru sharp winding curves,” he encourages at one point. These are words that admonish individuals to grab for all that life can give them.
Fradkin complains a bit with “Everything Is Wrong.” Of course, not EVERYTHING is wrong. It just seems that way at times. Many of these complaints are aimed at corporate America. Yes, capitalism has its value, but sometimes corporate greed can take a relatively good thing and make it bad. “Marriages destroyed, people stay annoyed,” Fradkin observes, over a synthy groove.
The album closes on an extremely hopeful note, with “Together.” On it, Fradkin imagines a future time when “We’ll all be one one day.” Of course, one hopes Fradkin is right, and his prophecies come true. When he sings about a future where there is no war, the listener may want to shout out, ‘Preach it, brother!’ After all, who doesn’t want a world without military conflict?
This ambitious album takes on a whole lot. Fortunately, Les Fradkin was well up to the task and fully delivers on this album’s big concepts. And you can take that kind of reality to the bank.