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Kraan - Dancing In The Shade CD (album) cover

DANCING IN THE SHADE

Kraan

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.00 | 14 ratings

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HolyMoly
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams
3 stars This 1989 album continues Kraan's chosen path they traveled during the 1980s, and like their other albums of the period, it bears the sound of the era it was made. For a lot of bands, the transition from the values of the 1970s to the 1980s was a difficult one, with the band either changing their style completely, or sticking to their guns and failing. However, with Kraan, I've always gotten the impression they were quite comfortable in their new 80s shoes. Their sound is different from the 70s albums, but their core style seems to be a more natural fit for 80s stylings. They've always been relaxed and not afraid to have fun - I've always liked how they're always smiling in their band photos. Despite a couple of awkward tracks, this album is pretty rock-solid, typical off their albums of the period but taking some chances with the current-day technology as well, resulting in some successful steps forward.

"Rockets", the opening song, is a total triumph and one of their best ever songs. Anthemic, raging space rock worthy of Hawkwind, jammed with melodic hooks and an unforgettable lyric (Come into my arms / Let the rockets fly / Together we die) - this would make a great opening track for any album, and even sounds like it could have done well as a single. "Good Enough" is a decent midtempo rocker with a solid melody - if the album were full of these it would get pretty dull fast, but as a come- down from the heights of "Rockets", it does its job (it's "good enough"). A pair of nifty instrumentals follow - "Egyptian Cha Cha" brings in Kraan's ongoing interest in MIddle Eastern melodies, sounding a bit like what Secret Chiefs 3 might have sounded like in the 80s. Standout track "Polarity" feels like a new chapter in a long line of memorable melllow-yet-dramatic instrumental numbers this band seems to put out effortlessly (Ausflug, Luna Park, Silky Way, etc), and it stands up well next to any of them. And then we get the title track, a lovely and romantic little reggae number that sounds like it was rescued from an early Sting record. Prog fans may be scared off by this, but to me it underscores why Kraan is such a fine band - they couldn't really suck if they tried! The front half of the album concludes with another groovy and smooth jazzy instrumental called "Banana Moon" that continues the beachy vibe of the prior track. It throws in a few odd scales to keep you off balance, but this is easy listening that gives you something to ponder.

The album's second half isn't quite so impressive as the first. "Is This the Way" is the main culprit I had in mind in the first paragraph when I referred to "awkward tracks" . It has a brisk, mechanical dance beat and a melody that fails to inspire me like the other pop songs thus far have. Then we have "Middle East Beat", an instrumental that's a bit too similar to "Egyptian Cha Cha" to warrant too much interest. Things get outright strange with the innocuously titled "One Day", a mostly synthesized (with horns joining in the mayhem eventually) chanted number that is unlike anything they'd done to this point. This tune certainly wins some weirdo points, not a bad thing to keep us on our toes like that, but it feels like an experiment that doesn't have enough meat on it to qualify as a great song, though it is cool and interesting while it lasts.

The CD edition contains a couple of additional tracks not on the original LP, plus three alternate versions/demos. "Kraan Mooloo" is basically "Polarity Part 2", but Kraan does this kind of number so well it's a welcome re-entry. Then there is "Soldier Drums", a fine slice of 80s art pop/rock. I could see someone like Tony Carey having done this on one of his concept albums. Dense and pithy, but quite electronic and 80s sounding. The CD concludes with demo versions of "Dancing in the Shade", "Good Enough", and "Polarity". These all sound similar to their finished versions, lacking only the smaller details that made it to the final mixes.

If you like Kraan's late 70s to early 80s efforts like "Weiderhoren", "Flyday", and "Nachtfahrt" (coincidentally, my three favorites in their catalog), you're pretty likely to enjoy this. If all you know is their first few early to mid 70s albums, this album may rub you the wrong way at first, but I'm fairly confident you'd agree that even with the 80s sound, this album has way more hits than misses.

HolyMoly | 3/5 |

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