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Peter Banks - Two Sides Of Peter Banks CD (album) cover


Peter Banks


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.38 | 67 ratings

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4 stars Review Nš 196

Banks is, of course, best known as the guy who played guitar in Yes before Steve Howe came into the fold. But, those who only see that part of the picture, though, are missing out on quite a lot. Banks first got his start with Yes' bassist Chris Squire in the group the Syn. After that, Banks and Squire moved to their next group Mabel Greer's Toy Shop. Banks left them when Jon Anderson was starting to become a presence on the scene. But, he hooked back up with Squire and Anderson. By then, they had added Tony Kaye and Bill Bruford to the line up and thus, Yes was born. After leaving Yes he formed the band Flash who released three albums before breaking up in 1973. Later in the same year he released this self titled solo album. With it, Banks showed clearly that he had the potential to become an interesting progressive rock solo artist, but strangely, instead of that he chose to disappear from the scene for the rest of the 70's.

'Two Sides Of Peter Banks' is the solo debut studio album of Peter Banks and was released in 1973. The line up on the album is Peter Banks (electric and acoustic guitars, ARP, Minimoog and Fender piano), Jan Akkerman (electric and acoustic guitars), Steve Hackett (electric guitar), John Wetton (bass guitar), Ray Bennett (bass guitar), Phil Collins (drums) and Mike Hough (drums).

'Two Sides Of Peter Banks' has nine tracks. All tracks were written by Banks except 'Vision Of The King', 'Battles', 'Last Eclipse', 'Stop That!' and 'Get Out Of My Fridge', which were written by Banks and Akkerman and 'Beyond The Loneliest Sea', which was written by Akkerman. The first track 'Visions Of The King' quickly builds from a thin layer of guitar sounds into a thick layering of electric guitar chords that are absolutely majestic, before dissolving into the acoustic intro of 'The White Horse Vale'. It's a beautiful electric guitar duet, Banks' classic volume pedal tones and Akkerman ringing out with sad and gothic feelings, characteristic of his work on Focus. The second track 'The White House Vale' is divided into two tracks, 'On The Hill' and 'Lord Of The Dragon'. This is a melodic guitar poem which showcases some of his own classical moves, with a brief interlude that presages the next piece, 'Knights'. It spends its six minutes meandering through all sorts of acoustic and jazzy wah-wah licks, before it in turn morphs into 'Knights'. The third track 'Knights' is also divided into two tracks, 'The Falcon' and 'The Bear'. It has a discordant riff that makes me think of some of the better and noisier moments of Yes, but it's not as prominent as I tend to remember it. There are a lot of quieter stretches with two or three layers of Banks noodling about, but the noodling has enough interesting stuff going on. And it builds into a really nice frenzy before the riff comes back. The fourth track 'Battles' comes around, after a brief reprise of some of the best sounds from 'Vision Of The King', and it's a bit of a noisy anti-climax. It's all fine, but that much build-up seems like it should resolve into something more. The fifth track 'Knights (Reprise)' brings back the 'Knights' riff with some guitar effects thrown in for good measure. The sixth track 'Last Eclipse' closes things out with some final call back to the 'Vision Of The King'. The quiet guitar meanderings bring the suite to a nice conclusion. All in all, the suite isn't spectacular, and it certainly doesn't live up to the side longs that Yes was doing at the time, but all Yes' fans should definitely hear it. The seventh track 'Beyond The Loneliest Sea' is a delicious mellow piece of Spanish flavoured guitar duet between Banks and Akkerman. It's comparable to any acoustic work that Akkerman made with Focus. The eighth track 'Stop That!' consists of the 14 minute jazz rock fusion jam. It's a decent jam, with Collins showing off his future Brand X like jazzy rhythms and Bennett contributing with some very active bass. Banks does his best to keep things interesting. While I basically enjoy it on the whole, I can't help but feel that Banks bit off a little more than he could chew here. I think Akkerman shines more than him, here. The ninth track 'Get Out Of My Fridge' sounds to me more like something I'd expect from a Howe's solo album than a Banks' solo album, courtesy of its focus on the kinds of electric prog boogie licks that are Howe's calling card. It's a lot of fun to hear Banks try to beat Howe at his own game. The interplay between Banks and Akkerman is a fun close to the album.

Conclusion: This album is more a collaboration between Banks and Akkerman than a true solo album. Akkerman has co-written credits on most of the tracks and even a full credit for the acoustic guitar ballad 'Beyond The Loneliest Sea'. The interaction of the two guitarists is what really makes this album stand out for me, they're both good on their own, and they're great together. It's a shame that Banks hasn't really gotten his full recognition as an outstanding guitarist in his own right. This album certainly won't be to everyone's taste, as a solo guitar album. Listening to this, I'm reminding of that seemingly long gone era of guitarists, who didn't need to rely at all on a cadre of effect boxes or studio trickery, but had a command of the instrument that can only be had by playing and playing and playing. It's really a great album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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