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The Tangent - Not As Good As The Book CD (album) cover

NOT AS GOOD AS THE BOOK

The Tangent

 

Eclectic Prog

3.87 | 291 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

infandous
4 stars At the risk of making a bad pun, this is not as good as the last album, in my opinion. But it still ranks as a 4 star album (though I'd probably give it a 3.5, or 8 out of 10, if I could). So still a worthwhile album, but just not quite up to the standard of the last one for me.

I think the fact that much of the retro approach of previous albums is removed (though far from gone) may have something to do with this. However, it is the more unique songs on here that work best for me.

First off, the special edition comes with a novella, which is well worth getting if the idea of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy littered with copious prog references appeals to you. It is rather well written and certainly entertaining. It is actually based on the album, and not the other way round. So the packaging is first rate, and the artwork is something that indicates the change in style of this album over previous ones. It is excellently done, but has a more earthy, gritty kind of feel as opposed to Ed Unitsky's over the top Rodger Dean like computer renderings.

The music is similarly less grandiose, though the track times may make you think differently. The first CD deals with various mid life issues, and as Tillison points out, there isn't much music made in prog or rock that addresses such things. To be honest, some of the lyrics hit a bit too close to home for me, as I push up on the big four O myself. But they are, as usual, well written. Still, I think I prefer more varied and less personal lyrics.

The first track, A Crisis In Mid Life, belies my earlier comments by sounding very much like the Tangent you would expect. An upbeat song, with a retro prog feel, plenty of organ and guitar. We get our first taste of Jakko and it's very impressive, reminding me very of much of Holdsworth. The next Canterbury installment, the sequel to Lost In London from the last album, is also of a familiar style. This song is autobiographical and tell a tale that actually occurred. It features a fantastic instrumental section with great keyboard leads and outstanding bass playing from Jonas and drumming from Salazar. The Ethernet is the first taste of something different. A very mellow beginning, seeming very unlike much of anything I've heard from Tillison before. The song slowly unfolds and builds, and is quite a refreshing change from previous Tangent tracks. Celebrity Puree is a blistering instrumental introduction to the title track that I absolutely love. Great playing and very much everything one would expect from a prog instrumental. The title track is a bit less successful, seeming a bit too jaunty and even catchy, yet not really giving any great melodic hook to recall after it's over. We do get to hear Jakko's vocals for the first time, which are quite good, and there is a lovely mellower middle section. A Sale Of Two Souls is probably my favorite track on CD1, with it's heavy Van der Graaf Generator / Hammill style. The lyrics are the most hard hitting for me, and the music just works great with them. This followed by my least favorite song on the album, Bat Out Of Basildon. I understand Tillisons desire to write a biker song (since no one writes them anymore), but I just don't think the gritty verse works with the cheesy, disco like chorus. I'm still puzzling over the seeming mention of Neal Morse in the song.

CD2 contains what, on first glance, appear to be two large epics. This is somewhat deceptive, as neither is like any previous Tangent epic. The first, and my favorite of the two and second favorite track on the album, is actually an old Parallel Or 90 Degrees song (Tillison's previous band) that was never recorded. It features 4 different lead vocals, for each of the 4 sections of the piece, with the female vocals of Julie King standing out. Probably because it's the first time female vocals have appeared on a Tangent album. But each of the vocalists does a great job and the song progresses well through its four sections. I think that again what appeals to me most is that this is not your typical Tangent epic. But it works very well. The Full Gamut was a bit of a disappointment for me, until I realized that it is really a very long ballad disguised as a prog epic. It seems to be about Tillison's break up with long time partner (and former Tangent band mate) Sam Baine. For what it is, essentially a break up song, it is quite well written. There are some proggier sections towards the end, but the bulk of it is a piano ballad excellently sung by Tillison.

So all in all, a bit different from the previous album and what looks to be something of a transitional album for the band. I suppose as far as transitional albums go it is quite a good one. While I don't like it as much as the previous album, I do prefer it to the World That We Drive Through and find it much more original and interesting than the first album (which I still really love though). I don't want to give it the same star rating as the previous album, but I also don't think it is a 3 star album. So I'll give it a 4, with the caveat that it is really more like a 3.5 (compared to my giving the previous album a 4.5). So despite them having the same ratings, this one really is a full star below the previous album for me.

infandous | 4/5 |

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