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Landmarq - Origins CD (album) cover





3.88 | 13 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars This double CD set was released in 2014, and shows what most people think of as the two different recording line-ups of the band. Use D'Rose (guitars), Steve Gee (bass, vocals) and Dave Wagstaffe of course appear on both, while the first disc features Tracy Hitchings (vocals) and Mike Varty (keyboards) and the second has Damian Wilson (vocals) and Steve Leigh (keyboards). Overall this is designed more as an introduction to the band than anything else, as it only contains one new song (from the newer line-up), "Origins", with everything else already easily available from other albums. What it does do really well, is contrast the difference between the two versions of the band, and as Landmarq now move forward with another new singer and a new drummer, it will be interesting to see where the music takes them.

By the time Mike Varty joined Landmarq, he was already well-known as keyboard player with Shadowland and Credo, while in many ways Tracy was the original obvious choice for the band given that she and Dave Wagstaffe were a couple and she had been lead singer in Quasar, the band that a few of the guys had been in before, but it was never to be. Instead she made a name for herself working closely with Clive Nolan, plus other session work. In fact, the only time I ever saw Tracy sing with Landmarq was when she and Clive supported them at The Standard and then joined them onstage for an encore: I have always loved Tracy's voice, one of the true star female singers from the British prog scene, with a breathiness and range that is simply wonderful. But, Tracy finally did join Landmarq, and this line-up has always felt more symphonic to me, with Mike putting down the layers, Steve Gee putting some amazing fretted and fretless bass as another melody, while Uwe plays over the top. Dave keeps punching it at the back, while Tracy is always a star, always hitting the notes with the emotion and power she has become known for. This CD is that of a mature band, one that has grown and is respected throughout the scene.

But for all that, I must confess that out of choice it will always be the second CD to which I will normally turn to first. I know that part of that is because I was talking to the guys a great deal during this period, and was lucky enough to see them play a few times. I am also aware that I have always raved over Damian's vocals, but Steve Leigh's (ex-Tamarisk) impact on the overall sound cannot be overstated. Songs such as "Killing Fields" sound as fresh and dynamic as they did more than 20 years ago when I first heard them. The instrumental section at 2:50 is wonderful, with Uwe playing a complex solo, Steve Gee doing just as much behind him, while Dave keeps it tight and Steve Leigh provides the support for all of them. But, there are plenty other times when the keyboards are the ones grabbing the attention. Plus, the second CD contains the mighty "Ta' Jiang", sixteen plus minutes of the orient meeting Twelfth Night in a fashion that is surely their finest hour. The first disc is great, but arguably the second is more original in its approach.

If this was being released for the fans I would like to have had the original demos from before Damian joined the band, and wonder if there are any recordings at all (even from gigs) when Moon Gould was singer, as he was a fine vocalist and is often overlooked. But, if you are looking for a perfect introduction to one of the UK's finest prog acts, then here it is.

kev rowland | 4/5 |


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