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Triumph - Allied Forces CD (album) cover




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2.57 | 77 ratings

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1 stars There's a talented, daring trio hailing from Canada that's been around since forever commenced, consistently making high-quality progressive rock & roll throughout their long career while accumulating a legion of die-hard fans along the way. And then there's Triumph. If you're an admirer of theirs and consider them to be a literal bastion of prog music then you might want to stop reading right now because you aren't going to like what I have to say about this album. I know very little about Triumph other than being vaguely familiar with one of their songs that garnered some FM airplay back in the 70s, "Lay It On the Line," and coming across their various LPs while rummaging around between Traffic and The Tubes in the record store bins of that era. No one I knew was into them or ever said anything pro or con about them so they flew under my radar. When I noticed that they were listed as qualifiers for this esteemed site it occurred to me that perhaps I missed out on hearing some decent prog by never paying them any attention. They wouldn't be the first band I've overlooked and even though the aforementioned radio tune never struck me as particularly proggy it didn't mean it wasn't an unrepresentative anomaly. I mean, it wouldn't be fair to judge Genesis' catalog of work by "Follow You, Follow Me" would it? I picked "Allied Forces" because I figured that by the time they recorded their fifth record they'd most likely have honed their craft to the point where they felt very comfortable in the studio environment and should be making some of their best music accordingly. To say I was disappointed is putting it way too mildly. There's absolutely no prog to be found on this disc. Not a speck. In fact, listening to it turned out to be like playing some kind of parlor game titled "Guess The Band They're Trying To Sound Like On This Cut!"

Any tune that sports the unimaginative, pedantic moniker of "Fool For Your Love" is hinting that it's not going to be something along the lines of a complex King Crimson number. This opening song is a case of bad Bad Company and my immediate reaction was that it was probably written on the road in a Podunk, Iowa motel room in about ten minutes tops. It's pedestrian, middle-of-the-road fare akin to what you've heard a thousand times before from as many groups. "Magic Power" is next and it's a blatant Journey imitation. It's about as authentic as a gold Rolex watch purchased on a street corner. I find nothing original whatsoever to report and I'm kinda surprised that they weren't sued for plagiarism. The short segue item that is "Air Raid" follows and it's so predictably patronizing as to be humorous. As the title implies, it comes complete with sirens wailing atop some general mayhem sound effects and ends with a metallic thud. "Allied Forces" mimics Deep Purple semi-accurately sans the intensity. By this juncture I can't help but think of those fancy golf courses they're building these days where every hole is intentionally designed to be a replica of one of the more famous ones on the PGA tour so that a middle-of-the-road player can get a second-rate taste of the real thing. Don't get me wrong, the musicianship I'm hearing is passable but it's nothing that you can't hear on any given Saturday night at your local biker bar. "Hot Time (In This City Tonight)" is as boring and unimaginative as the name implies. I guess they added the parentheses' because it looked cool or something. Here they ape any one of a half dozen Southern-styled boogie outfits that flourished in that timeframe by cranking their amps up to eleven and bellowing out some rhyming lines about how much crazy fun they're going to have while getting wasted with their bubbas. Holy crap this is so lame!

"Fight the Good Fight" proves that even Led Zeppelin wasn't immune from being ripped off by these desperate dudes. By the way, fellas, using a synthesizer doesn't make you progressive. On this cut it appears that singer Rik Emmett is trying to out-screech his northern territory rival, Geddy Lee. Ugh. "Ordinary Man" is counterfeit Styx, complete with big stacked vocal harmonies and a lot of low-brow political posturing crammed into the lyrics. This is so contrived and amateurish that it's embarrassing to listen to. Next is "Petite Etude." If there's a bright spot in this morass of mediocrity it's this little acoustic guitar piece that's the equivalent of a colorful toadstool growing out of a cow pie. It succeeds mainly due to bassist Mike Levino and drummer Gil Moore taking the day off and not being in the studio to screw it up. That's my guess, anyway. "Say Goodbye" is the last tune and I couldn't have put my sentiments more succinctly than the title does. The number is so generic that it defies identification as to whom they're trying to copy this time around. I'll put it this way. If you were to combine all the hair bands that were yet to come along in the 80s into a musical melting pot and have a song appear this is what it'd taste like. Bland to the point of being nausea-inducing. Considering that this record was released in 1981 it might be reasonable to blame Triumph for all the banal power ballads that inundated the industry for the rest of the decade. That might be stepping over the line of decency, though. That's a brutal accusation on my part so I take it back. You can decide for yourself as to who started that ball rolling.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, it could be that they started out as a progressive band in '75 but abandoned it long before they got around to recording "Allied Forces." In their defense they sold over a million copies of this album and it reached #23 on the LP chart so they no doubt filled a few arena seats because of it and, according to what I found on the web, they're still a working entity with a loyal following traipsing the state fair circuits. I have no beef with these boys per se but when they're put up on the Progarchives dartboard and labeled worthy of inclusion then they're also qualified to be shot at. My only goal is to warn proggers who, like me, might be tempted to check this disc out in hopes of discovering something intriguing that they should spend their time looking elsewhere. To think that a group can manufacture a hit song simply by imitating what others have achieved is folly but it sounds like Triumph was trying to do just that. This is as intentionally derivative as anything I've ever come across and I hope I never have to sit through it again. 0.5 stars.

Chicapah | 1/5 |


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