After the inspired fantasy of The Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the general perception was that any vaguely connected series of songs with a backbeat could be billed as a rock opera – or, as Neon Philharmonic composer Tupper Saussy would describe his creations, a “phonograph opera”.
The Neon Philharmonic (made up of some of the finest players from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra) released two albums – both in 1969.
Their debut album, The Moth Confesses, was inspired, according to the liner notes, by a production of Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra, which Saussy attended after The New York Times claimed that it was a terrible opera – and he wanted to see what a terrible opera looked like. The album spawned a Top 20 single, Morning Girl.
A subsequent self-titled album produced the single No One Is Going To Hurt You (A Promise).
Saussy, a former advertising jingle writer, jazz musician and classical musical student, threw everything into the pot in concocting these oddities, which are not psychedelia, rock or “new classical”, but contain elements of each, resulting in overblown set pieces about pirates, debutantes washed-up by the age of 30 and portentous statements like “Are the circus clowns in Prague still starving?”
In 1972, the band moved from Warner Bros to TRX and produced another single, Annie Poor b/w Love Will Find a Way, after which the group disbanded.
The Neon Philharmonic name was sold to producer David Kastle, who released additional singles through MCA and London, including at least one Saussy song, Making Out the Best I Can.
These later singles have no other connection to the original group.