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SKY 2

Sky

 

Eclectic Prog

3.79 | 61 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

rsmoore
5 stars Most Sky fans regard this as the peak of the band's output, and with good reason. There are ver few weak spots here, which is unusual for a double album. I now have the CD release, but I will speak of "sides" because I first discovered this album in LP form, it being 1980. At the time I first encountered Sky's music, I was already a fan of John Williams' classical guitar playing, so this melding of classical guitar with prog rock was just what I was looking for, particularly at a time when bands such as Yes and Genesis were in decline.

The first side contains the high-energy Hotta, the charming Dance of the Little Fairies, and the intriguing Sahara. The second side (taken up entireley by the "Fifo" suite) is the weakest side, owing to the middle two movements. The suite is inexplicably titled "Medley" on the CD release, but the LP shows the correct title.

My favorite side is the third side. This is where the magic happens, for two reasons. The first reason is that the pieces here represent the solo talents of various band members. This approach was previously used on albums such as Yes's "Fragile" and Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma"; I don't know whether its use here is a conscious attempt to emulate those works or not. The second reason is that the mood on these pieces are much more introspective, a perfect foil to the faster tempos, higher volumes, and electric instrumentation of the other sides. My personal favorites on this side are the Ballet/Volta and El Cielo.

Finally, the more robust music returns on side 4, with "Vivaldi" (it is interesting to contrast this performance with the wilder original versions by Curved Air). Scipio isn't as powerful, but the non-stop appearance of new melodic material keeps a lot of momentum going (12 minutes worth). Finally there is the Tocatta. Of course, I'd rather hear this piece in its original form, on a pipe organ, but what we get here is a respectable rock rendition.

On the CD, I heard a slight hiss on quiter pieces, which is probably most noticeable on "Tristan's Magic Garden". Nothing too annoying.

Another curious bit of trivia: When the original LP was released in the US, it was released with the title "Sky", as if the first Sky album never existed.

The fact that a double album of instrumental music delivers so much good music, and so little filler, earns this five stars. The band's other albums just don't quite deliver as much, although the first and third albums have their charms.

rsmoore | 5/5 |

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