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WhiteWing - WhiteWing CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.19 | 8 ratings

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3 stars Live from the Black Hills...

When I stumbled across a prog rock band from the formidable prog rock power center of South Dakota, I knew I had to stop what I was doing and listen. It's so much fun to listen to obscurities from the glory days. This one is no exception. White Wing formed in the late 60s and had regional success before morphing into the band Asia in the mid 70s. Asia had completed a second album and seemed poised for bigger things when it all fell apart, partially because of legal problems arising from the use of their band name, which was clashing with another band called Asia across the pond. But that's another story.

Before there was Asia there was White Wing. This is one of those midwest regional bands like Surprise or even early Curulewski-era Styx, who blended together influences of British progressive rock with plenty of good ole American hard rock. I'm guessing the fans at their shows were far more interested in the kegger after the gig than they were in obsessing over Tony Banks. Again, just a guess. In the summer of 1976 one of their tracks called "Hansa" actually charted with Billboard which is probably not that common for South Dakota prog bands.

White Wing's self-titled and only album was recorded in Minneapolis and is likely the culmination of music the band had been gigging for years at that point. Thus there is much passion and no doubt some nostalgia in these songs, both for the band members and their fan base. There's also quite a bit of good music. My favorite parts are the softer, very dreamy and very 1970s acoustic guitar interludes like "Hansa-Cygnus", "Hansa-Aquila", and "Tuzashottma." The first two sound a bit influenced by early Crimson, bathed in Mellotron, while the latter is more classically influenced like the stuff Emmett would throw on Triumph albums.

Most of the rest of the songs are riff-heavy bluesy hard rock with lots of testosterone, blazing guitar, and occasionally organ splashes. There is an eclectic touch to the songwriting just as there is on those first four Styx albums so you are always in for a surprise or two when listening to White Wing. Some of those surprises you might really like and others might have you reaching for the gong mallet. "Wait Til Tomorrow" is one that sounds a bit different, a bit like 60s Moodies or even early Pete Ham songs. "Harbinger" approaches Deep Purple territory, heavier and no doubt a fan favorite live. "A Little Levity" is a party anthem with a cool, hyper energy strum that sounds like an SG cranked in someone's garage-I swear I've heard it before. Great keys too!

White Wing is never going to make the "greatest" list of anyone around ProgArchives, but I'll tell you, it has the kind of spirit and musical warmth that is sadly missing in many of the cold and technically talented "progressive" bands (and attitudes) of today. While I often enjoy the math-y, the dissonant, and the avant myself, there is so much room in my heart for bands like White Wing. Any band from the Badlands is welcome on my turntable, it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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