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3 - 3.2: The Rules Have Changed CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.89 | 111 ratings

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5 stars I'm not going to get into a history lesson, you know the band 3 (much maligned by hardcore ELP fans, but with a bit of a cult following, etc). It may have taken 30 years, but here is the follow up 3.2 project spearheaded by multi instrumentalist, musician, producer, Robert Berry. With interest from Keith after the release of 3, Live in Boston, Robert began working on this 3.2 project with his friend and mentor, only to have everything come crashing down at Emerson's untimely death. But, a few years later, the project was finished. With vintage synth sounds, leftover '87 recording tracks, new ideas and shared music, the Japanese release is in hand, and I find it refreshing, nostalgic, and downright brilliant. What Robert Berry has crafted is next to genius, using just a few Emerson snippets and conceptual ideas. It opens with "One by One," probably the most progressive rock track. The concept was outlined by Keith and Robert, but all instruments recorded by Robert. Berry throws every stereotypical prog rock trick including the kitchen sink at your ears, and yet still hooks you with the melody and lyric bouncing around the brain hours later. "One by One" was an arrangement sketched out with Emerson, from the Edward Grieg piano idea, to the Roland D50 sounds, Berry stitched it all together. "Powerful Man," the second single to be released and first official video is also a strong track with deep emotions and symbolism. Perhaps the most AOR track, hearkening back to the original 3 sound (you know what I'm Talkin 'Bout), it's a great song to listen to. The video might be cheesy, but I like me some nice vintage 1988 cheese (ew!), and those synths are here, premium cheese (yay!). Although no Emerson input on Powerful Man, his influence and his sound is rich within this track. "The Rules Have Changed" has a very modernistic prog sound and arranging without Emerson input. There may be no Carl Palmer here either, but Robert Berry really shows off some impressive drumming chops, ripping guitar solos, and and epic battle between synth and electric guitar toward the end. "Our bond" is a very emotional tribute written after the death of Keith Emerson. Originally released as a piano and vocal track, this updated version here is much more powerful. The added strings, synth and drum flourishes add much more depth. Hear Robert quote America, Fanfare for the Common Man, Hoedown, Tarkus, Desde La vida, etc, and sing powerful touching lyrics, it really does pull at the heartstrings. "What You're Dreaming Now" with Emerson input dating back to 1987, you hear the soundtrack influence and later "Changing States" demo sound. A fun track that is finally finished with Robert's added lyrics and melody. "Somebody's Watching," the first single released really put 3.2 on the map months before it's official release. Emerson's beautiful piano intro circa '87 and added drum and keyboard tracks balance well with Robert's fun guitar and vocals. "The Letter" is an all Berry original. It starts with just acoustic guitar, in a rather Phillip Phillips/Lumineers way, but just as one may be dismissing this track as the odd red-headed step child of the album, in come added piano and accordion, busting out into a party and ending with full blown progressive Hammond and synthesizer drive to the end. Well played Robert, well played. "Your Mark on the World" is an Emerson collaboration made up from left over bits and parts. There are some unique patches used here, and if you are familiar with Robert Berry's Encores, Legends and Paradox, Karn Evil 9 recording (with Jordan Rudass and Simon Phillips), this track has a lot of those qualities. Robert is leaving his mark on the music world with this stunning tribute to his friend and musical partner. You don't hear music like this in the mainstream anymore, and that's what makes it so refreshing. The Japanese bonus track "Sailors Horn Pipe" is an Emerson track that sounds like it was lifted, dusted off, and updated from his Honky album. A fun instrumental to end this release. The 20 page booklet is very insightful and full of history, read along as you listen to this to better understand the background and motives of each song. Some true emotion and understanding of what Keith's final days may have been, not read anywhere else before, is shared from Robert's conversations and understanding of his good friend. I give the music a solid 4.0 stars (a little busy and excessive at times), the nostalgia and history 5 stars, and the tribute and legacy to Mr. Keith Emerson 6 stars. This was a very emotional ride that every progressive rock, and Keith Emerson fan should add to their collection. I have to give the whole package an overall 5 star rating, I can't stop listening to it.
OldSchoolProg | 5/5 |


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