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Billy Sherwood - The Prog Collective: Epilogue CD (album) cover


Billy Sherwood


Crossover Prog

2.39 | 28 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
1 stars It was hard to resist the high expectations, after seeing the all-star cast involved with this project: John Wetton, Larry Fast, Steve Hillage, Allan Holdsworth, Nik Turner, Gary Green, Sonja Kristina, a half-dozen members of various YES incarnations, plus a host of other familiar names, including (possibly a joke) The Tubes' Fee Waybill, and (definitely a joke) TV's William Shatner. I ask you: how is it possible to put Captain Kirk together with the guy who wrote "White Punks on Dope" and not have an immediate masterpiece?

The unfortunate answer to that rhetorical question can be found in the album's only common denominator: ex-Yes party crasher Billy Sherwood, who wrote nearly every note of music, performed multiple instrumental duties on all nine tracks, and produced / arranged / engineered / mixed the results at his own home studio. In effect he's riding the sequined coattails of his celebrity guests to help sell a crummy solo album, and the end product is a staggering waste of superstar talent, showing no understanding of what makes Progressive Rock work. Worse than that, it undermines the memory of classic Prog with almost willful obtuseness, inadvertently putting a clumsy foot to the nuts of Prog Rock's already emasculated reputation.

How bad is this album? Enough to suggest it would have been a laughable failure even in the 1970s, when Prog was king. Everything you need to know about the music is illustrated in the tacky cover art, with its DayGlo planets and nebulae, bubbling fluorescent cauldrons, and a fantasy demon too cheesy for even the crassest headbanger. The players were all divided into discrete working sub-units, although even within each song I doubt any two musicians actually shared studio time together. So it's hardly surprising that the music shows little passion or synergy, historically two of Prog's driving forces.

With more structure and development (and fewer clichés) the material they were given might not have been so feeble. Bright spots are few but they exist, hidden inside a fleeting Peter Banks solo, or in the firefly beauty of Gary Green's acoustic guitar: Memories of Old Days, indeed. Otherwise it's a long haul to the title song, closing the album on nothing more than William Shatner's auto-tuned recitation of the other track titles.

Only twice in over five hundred reviews here at ProgArchives have I used the phrase "coyote awful", signifying a piece of music so bad I'd rather chew my own leg off before hearing it again. But this effort goes beyond coyote awful, to a point where repeated exposure might lead you to chew someone else's leg off instead. If you consider Billy Sherwood a villain for his role in the calamitous Yes album "Open Your Eyes", be forewarned. But if your tolerance for color-by-numbers Prog Rock is high enough, bon appétit.

Postscript: For whatever perverse reason the same album currently appears twice in these Archives, filed under Various Artists/Albums and also /Compilations. I've added my own jeremiad to the entry with twelve ratings already (and one other written review). Not because misery loves company, but because this is one injury deserving the added insult.

Neu!mann | 1/5 |


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