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The Tooners | Rocktasia

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Rock: Classic Rock Rock: Hard Rock Moods: Mood: Dreamy
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Rocktasia

by The Tooners

Contemporary Classic Rock concept album of life in the age of Free Love.
Genre: Rock: Classic Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. I'm Growing Away From You
3:58 $0.99
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2. Backstabber
3:08 $0.99
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3. Eve Of New Year
3:26 $0.99
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4. They Died Young
3:09 $0.99
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5. I've Seen Love In My Dreams
4:18 $0.99
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6. Heat Of The Night (instrumental)
3:15 $0.99
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7. Paid To Die
2:47 $0.99
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8. Let Others Dream
4:22 $0.99
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9. Paradise
3:28 $0.99
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10. Together All This Time
3:06 $0.99
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11. Heat Of The Night
3:13 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
1969 was a pivotal year. While Woodstock and Neil Armstrong’s lunar landing would spring to mind for most Americans, for another Neil, 1969 would would long be remembered as the year when two seeming incongruent facets of his live would suddenly merge into a crystal clear path toward his future. The teenage Neal Warner of 1969 had already been playing guitar in garage bands for several years and that summer he had performed with his band at a battle of the bands at place called Devonshire Downs where just two weeks earlier Jimi Hendrix had headlined a music festival. As a talented artist and cartoonist, 1969 would be remembered as the year he animated his first film. It was produced as a junior high school class project and shot on Super 8 film with a running time of three minutes. Into the early seventies, as he graduated high school in California’s San Fernando Valley and entered college, he would be published in the various underground comix and counterculture magazines popular at the time as well as his high school and college newspapers. But what was most memorable to him was not making an animated film but seeing one.
In 1969 the Walt Disney Company re-released their animated classic, Fantasia, for the first time since it’s original 1940’s release. Because of the perceived artistic pretensions of the film, it featured animation synchronized to classical music rather than funny barnyard animals, and America’s entry into World War Two in 1941 which severely cut the revenue from European screenings which were traditionally a large percentage of Disney’s profits, the original release of Fantasia was considered a financial disaster. 1969 was a very different time, in more ways than one. The abstract fantasy depicted in the film was in keeping with the prevailing mind set of the times especially with the hippy or “head” crowd. They didn’t require long, involved storylines but rather appreciated the raw beauty of the artwork, color and movement. They were also a generation extremely into music, even classical music. Fantasia was a hit upon it’s 1969 re-release and has since proven to be a moneymaker in subsequent re-releases. Neal was very familiar with Fantasia even before he’d seen the film as his aunt Marcia, a professional animator who had started as an ink and paint girl at Disney in the forties, had provided a link to the world of animation from his youngest days. Paintings based on the Nutcracker Suite segment of Fantasia decorated the walls of his grandmother’s home and painted cels from Cinderella were in his aunt’s private collection. But it was the one/two punch of seeing Fantasia within months of seeing the original release of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine that delivered the knockout blow.
Yellow Submarine was produced by the TVC (Television Cartoons) in London and was released in July of 1968. By the time it premiered in Los Angeles it was only a matter of months from the re-release of Fantasia. Suddenly the conundrum of having two equal but seemingly separate passions melted away as those two motion pictures vividly illustrated how really compatible music and animation could be. Disney’s Fantasia certainly wasn’t the only animated pre-Yellow Submarine film to feature visuals produced solely to illustrate music, Oscar Fliescher had also produced avant-garde abstract animated films to music, but it was the stories that accompanied the music that really captured the imagination. The Beatles’ film had some typical movie musical sequences where the characters simply sang the songs but it also had it’s abstract sequences that consisted of simply color, movement and music such as the Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds and It’s All Too Much sequences. Beyond the fairie tale-like storyline and the Beatles as characters acting throughout the film, the biggest structural difference between the two films was that Yellow Submarine featured rock and roll music rather than classical. It suddenly seemed all so obvious and from that moment on Neal’s ambition as a filmmaker was to animated to music and his goal as a musician was to compose songs to be used as soundtracks.
On the other side of America, geographically, but not mentally, was a young man named Greg Piper who was about to make the move with his family from New York to California. As with Neal, Greg had also been raised in a family involved with show business. His parents, Buddy and Beverly Piper were both actors and had been part of Red Skelton’s ensemble. They went on to become the co-creators of television’s longest running game show, Concentration. Greg, his brother Tim and sisters Sally and Susie all became actors, singers and musicians as the family toured the country with their own theater troupe. Greg and Tim would spend most of their adult lives performing together in professional rock bands occasionally joined in various configurations by their sisters.
Greg met Neal in high school and soon the two were jamming informally before hitting the town on Friday nights. Several years later Greg would become a professional bassist playing with L.A. club bands and Neal a professional animator at such studios as Murakami-Wolf, Filmation and Ruby-Spears. Neal was still actively pursuing his dream of combining music and animation and had at one point formed a company with his cousin who had experience in the burgeoning field of home video. That company, called Montage Visuals, approached such bands as Alice Cooper, Logins and Messina and The Rolling Stones with the proposition of supplying a video crew to tape their live concerts while projecting the images onto huge screens onstage for the benefit of the ever-growing stadium crowds. Although the idea of live video projection did become a popular feature of the stadium shows of the 1970’s, the financial return was not sufficient to keep Neal from network animation for very long. By the time MTV proved the value of the music video and particularly the popularity of the animated music video, Neal had reformed a new band of his own specifically designed as an “underground comix and animation” band which played the clubs of the Los Angeles New Wave circuit such as Madame Wong’s and The Troubadour. Greg, along with his brother Tim and sisters Susie and Sally were also playing the same circuit.
Known as The Pipers, they and Neal’s band, Womanizer, supported each other and occasionally shared a billing. The New Wave scene in Los Angeles, while capturing the world’s attention with the success of such bands as The Go Gos, The Knack, The Motels, The Bangles, Oingo Boingo (which featured Neal’s childhood neighbor, Steve Bartec on guitar), and Missing Persons, was still a showcase scene and therefore non-paying. Neal kept his day job as an animator and eventually an animation director while Greg kept his paying gig as a bassist with professional cover bands. While performing in one of L.A.’s most successful dance bands, The Street Kids, Greg met Richard “Buzz” Brissette, a keyboardist originally from Rhode Island.
It was after Greg saw an early pencil test of an animated music video Neal was producing along with fellow band member and artist Corey Harris, to one of Womanizer’s songs that he decided this was something to which he’d like to contribute and joined the band, eventually bringing Buzz along as well. By the late eighties Womanizer’s animated video had made the rounds of international film festivals such as The Denver International Film Festival, The Los Angeles Animation Celebration and The Chicago International Film Festival where it was awarded the Gold Plaque in Music Video. But the times had changed and with it the humorous irony of the name, Womanizer.
During the days of New Wave, which had a considerable humor about it, names such as The Marina Swingers, The Lounge Lizards and Womanizer were taken as self-depreciating humor. But the scene had moved from the New Wave and punk rock palaces of L.A.’s Chinatown to the glitter and glitz of the Sunset Strip where big haired, leather-clad heavy metal was having its day. Womanizer was being mistaken as a serious, misogynist, “hair spray metal” band and this was neither appropriate to their attitudes as people or the band’s musical style. Womanizer was therefore rechristened The Tooners since many of their fans had come to refer to the band as “the tooners” anyway because of their comic book and animated video aspect.
The band had published a comic book style magazine called PaperCuts, The Illustrated Lyrics Magazine that included a two song Flexi-disk soundsheet that was playable on a turntable and accompanying comics that illustrated the lyrics. The rest of the magazine was filled with cartoons and comics all written from the point of view of the rock and roll fan. Kurt Loder introduced the first issue of PaperCuts on a segment of the MTV News. Neal and Greg also collaborated on a musical stage play version of Greg’s brother Tim’s John Lennon Tribute Band, Working Class Hero, called A Day In His Life which was represented by the William Morris Agency and has played to sold out crowds nationwide.
The Tooner’s debut full length CD, Rocktasia, tells the story of Neal and Greg’s lives in rock & roll including all the sex and drugs, Vietnam War era draft and the colorful characters met along the way. Their enhanced CD version of Rocktasia which includes their award winning animated music videos is appropriately subtitled; The Trip Disc.

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Reviews


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David Rudabaugh

This concept album is almost cinematic in its dynamics and pacing.
This concept album is almost cinematic in its dynamics and pacing as it builds in both musical sophistication and emotional maturity following the growth arc of its characters. The early songs such as the declaration of independence, "I’m Growing Away From You", and the flip side of that coin, "Backstabber", have the raw emotions, both lyrically and musically, of a high school rivalry breakup. The songs follow the protagonists’ journey through the singles bar dating scene ("Eve of New Year"), the threat of a military draft ("They Died Young"), the inner longing for love and deeper need for some sort of spiritual discovery ("I’ve Seen Love in My Dreams") to the mundane working world existence of "Paid To Die", the first blush of romantic conquest ("Let Other’s Dream") to true love ("Paradise"), and finally to reflect on a life’s long journey ("Together All This Time") and the friends who didn’t make it with us to the end ("Heat of the Night"). The classic rock sound and style evolves along with the characters becoming more melodic rather than mellow and adding more orchestration to represent the characters’ maturing from angry young men to seasoned, survivors of a now romanticized age. The Tooners’ Rocktasia is not a rock opera with inferior songs added because of a need to further a specific storyline but an experience along the lines of a soundtrack album where each song stands alone in quality and uniqueness and sets the mood of a particular time and place. It demands listening uninterrupted, from beginning to end as do albums such as Bruce Springsteen’s "Born To Run" or King Crimson’s "In The Court of the Crimson King", which don’t so much tell a story as paint a picture. Rocktasia is a painting in which to get lost for hours.

Dave Rudabaugh, The Rock City News
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