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Simon Says - Paradise Square CD (album) cover

PARADISE SQUARE

Simon Says

 

Symphonic Prog

3.72 | 67 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Analog keyboards and acoustic guitar always makes for an interesting combination, and both are present on the opening track and throughout this interesting work. I’ve no idea where the band disappeared to for nearly eight years, but that long after their debut comes this second and presumably final album from the band.

This is a concept album of sorts, something akin to a modern-day Pilgrim’s Progress. The story is a bit hard to follow unless you read along with the liner notes, which is distracting so I don’t recommend it. The influences are rather obvious but not overpowering: clearly Banks keyboard tendencies, although quite pleasant. The piano parts remind me of Salem Hill quite a bit, although I doubt they were an influence. The guitarist is new since the first album, and has some mild leanings in the direction of Marillion, but nowhere as aggressive. The vocalist has a slight accent and sounds a bit dated like too many early nineties MTV bands to really impress, but not really a distraction either. At times he sounds like he’s trying to emulate Gabriel’s story-vocal gesturing, but he’s not all that forceful or convincing.

None of the tracks stands out particularly, although the arrangement of the album as a whole is a bit of a throwback with four ten-minute plus meandering tales and two shorter ones, plus one very short kind of bridge piece.

The piano outshines the other keyboard work in my opinion, although it is more like easy listening than progressive really. There are a number of places where the band wanders off with some keyboard effects and somewhat discordant arrangements that might be King Crimson influenced, or might just be partially improvised instrumental passages to try and heighten the storyline.

The most memorable tracks are the lengthy and varied title track; the eleven-minute “Striking Out A Single Note For Love” with keyboards that are very reminiscent of Salem Hill’s ‘Robbery of Murder’ or ‘Mimi’s Magic Moment’ but vocals that border on Joe Jackson ala ‘Big World’ and some very jazz-like passages; and the piano-and-organ laden “White Glove”.

This is a very decent album, a little obscure but easy to find than the band’s first album, and altogether a solid symphonic work. It doesn’t quite reach the level of essential since there isn’t anything specific to make it stand out from dozens of similar bands from the eighties and early nineties, and the timing of this release makes it stand out as seemingly a late bloom from a band that debuted, peaked, and disappeared several years prior. All told this is a typically three-star work, so that’s what we’ll give it. Worth picking up if you run across it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way looking.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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