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Step Ahead - Step Ahead CD (album) cover


Step Ahead



3.72 | 50 ratings

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3 stars Recorded well after the peak for symphonic progressive rock and just before the nouveau prog of Marillion et al, Step Ahead sounded like a blend of latter day YES and STARCASTLE, with some ALAN PARSONS and ELOY thrown in for variety. While Danny Brown possesses a fairly distinctive high pitched, yet generally pleasant voice, the group's overall sound was not that unique, even if it was not typically French either. Moreover, while the keyboards are competent in that early 1980s busy way, it is Christian Robin's lead guitar that takes precedence time and again, and any pretenses to above average status stem from his often arresting yet tasteful flights of fancy.

In the final analysis, the album contains only one great track, several good ones and a few middling pieces. "Thinking" begins with gentle flute from Claude-Marius David and Gérald Macia's acoustic guitar before the scintillating lead histrionics begin, and these are really the high point of the disc, a ten megaton tune that fairly collapses the sonic barrier. The main vocal part manages to do justice to the original musical concept, before the guitar inserts itself for the grand finale. "Right or Wrong" provides a pleasant acoustic-electric blend but is marred by silly vocoder running alongside the vocals. Both "White Lady" and "The End" confirm that the group is at its best when they defer to Robin, although admittedly the latter's keyboards do provide a suspenseful kickoff.

The bonus material consists of fan-directed live versions of a few tracks and two studio songs not previously released, both of which espouse decent and compact AOR. In particular, "Shangri La" sounds very much like its time period, thinking "Abacab" and "90125", and is one of several tracks that suggest the band may have inspired 1990s Swiss proggers CLEPSYDRA, as it sounds similar to their 1994 single "Fly Man".

When contemplating the sole effort by STEP AHEAD, I have to conclude the group was a bit optimistic with their name, but they weren't simply followers, and may have improved given the opportunity. Just under 3 stars, rounded up.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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