"System Crash” is the vibrant single from Les Fradkin. This odyssey of sound centers around the visionary past, present and future. Gotta fix it, gotta fix it, Fradkin passionately sings. Flowered with synth, a whirlpool of classical symphonies and legendary-level guitar playing, “System Crash”, originally appeared on Fradkin’s 2003 Reality: The Rock Opera. Shy of 20 years later, the resonating theme and social commentary seems to culminate into Fradkin’s more than 50-year career. His latest album is The Les Fradkin News.
Like the sound aurora borealis, the dancing light Fradkin weaves is a moving canvass of flute, electronica, keys, percussion and guitars. He creates the sounds from his MIDI guitar, an instrument Fradkin helped pioneer. He curates a lush music bedrock. The listener is swayed between diverging and converging elements of rock music and stage (opera, Broadway, drama). It’s hard not to feel enamored with the flute, as it dances along, passing the baton to the piano or organ keys. Fradkin shares writing credit with his wife, Loretta (Fradkin). Some of my favorite lines include some folks like the status quo/ other ones see through a new rainbow, reminding me of the strife happening in our world. So many people are demanding change, others want to keep things as is, or even roll back the tide. The next lines use a similar alliteration, opening into system crash / they stole all our hope now we got not cash/system failed, large dreams died they were bought wholesale/lost control, beat us to the punch found an old loophole / somedays if it’s not too late, gotta find a way to system update, Fradkin sings. His voice is oiled the same way John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot or Jim Croce.
The way Fradkin composes the song, it’s very much like an overture. You get a glimpse of many different melodies and emotional branches. His background in television music, as well as his starring role as ‘George Harrison’ in the Broadway hit Beatlemania, during its 1970s run, comes into play in the structure. I think he sees the entire scenery and landscape, not just a few moments in the pop world us listeners to which we have grown accustomed. It’s a much wider scope and listening experience. Frankly, you’re not listening to “System Crash”, you’re embarking on a musical journey. Nestled into the experience is joy, contentment and a blinding amount of melodic guitar. Icarus might have come too close to the sun, but Fradkin’s guitar surpasses the sun kissed rays.
To hear his playing is to feel embraced by all the greats (Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Brian May, Prince, etc.) all-at-once. I also loved the booming percussion, and what sounds like a timpani, booming it’s way to the forefront, making its presence known. Fradkin’s voice, a personification of the proverb to speak softly and carry a big stick, echoes the nostalgia of Harrison, fueled further by Harrison’s quiet demeanor. Though he speaks gently, the lyrics stand tall. “System Crash” is a definite addition to any music lover’s playlist.