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High Tide - Interesting Times CD (album) cover

INTERESTING TIMES

High Tide

 

Heavy Prog

2.55 | 9 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
3 stars A brief history lesson. High Tide broke up in about 1970 (give or take a tour), reformed occasionally, sometimes utilizing members of the old Arthur Brown band, but the dream was pretty much over. Or was it? Yes...yes it was. Until 1989 of all years. For some reason, guitarist Tony Hill and violinist Simon House got together and created Interesting Times. Interesting it is...how does High Tide chopped in half with some synthesizers and drum machines grab you? Pretty bad, huh? And yet...and yet, it almost sorta kinda works!

Take the opening instrumental, “Nightmare.” It’s an ominous sounding synth rocker...well, it probably would be more ominous, except the synths kinda date it, so it sounds like the score from some cheap eighties thriller. But there’s a halfway decent tune under it!

The next two tunes are probably the best. “The Nexalist” is another synth rocker, but this one with lyrics. And it’s also pretty fast, so you can probably just bob your head along, until about halfway through when House produces this absolutely gorgeous violin line. I’m serious. Of course, in the end the scattered riffage breaks down into just Hill goofing around on his six string, so some might find it irritating.

The best song by far is “Survival” though. C’mon! If the 1970 lineup recorded this, it would be one of the best High Tide songs ever. The synthy intro is honestly interesting, and it bleeds into a bittersweet violin line backed by Hill’s guitar, and it’s completely packaged with some optimistic/pessimistic lyrics. This is right up there with the band’s “classic” material in my mind, easy.

Anyway, it starts to go downhill from here. Slow rocker “Ice Age” is an older tune that’s been redone with the purposeless drum machines. Fairly inoffensive, if you dig the violin out, but utterly disposable. “Dream Beam” a little folky, laid back instrumental, but it seems a bit purposeless. “Movie Madness” tries to pick it back up again with some rockin’ qualities in the drum beats, but it’s still somewhat lifeless, and will leave most wondering why (especially considering the length).

As if to answer this, comes “The Reason Why,” which continues the laid back folky line. And you know what? Here, it’s good. A pleasant (hell, a pretty) vocal melody, and the eighties affectations are held in the background WHERE THEY BELONG, which leaves us with...a nice lil’ ballad. And House even sticks with piano instead of violin to give us some variety.

“Strike a Light” comes in like a cheap eighties metal number, with poisonous guitar tones and all (it actually reminds me of what Martin Barre would have been doing about this time with Tull). But this is fairly good cheap eighties metal, and while it’s no great shake, it doesn’t embarrass itself too much.

“Rock Me on Your Wave,” however, does embarrass itself. A completely unmemorable seven minute finish. And you know how some songs wear their time on their sleeves? Oh yeah. This one does. Tries to be atmospheric and everything at first. Utterly fails. Sometime later, it tries to rock AND be serious. Damn it. But, hey, I’m not surprised. It’s called “ROCK Me on Your Wave,” what did you expect? End the album with “Reason Why,” and I might forgive it. End it with “Strike,” and I’ll overlook it. “Rock Me” is just no good.

So...our old prog metal heroes playing Cure-esque eighties crap. Why a three? I dunno. Maybe because I set my standards so low anyway. When I first heard this, I assumed it was a two, what with the drum machines and all. But then, I started to dig some melody out of things like “Survival” and “The Nexalist,” and then “The Reason Why” hit me, and gosh, I realized that this is not the old High Tide, it’s a new High Tide, and they lads can still occasionally write songs that aren’t just good, but have all the brilliance of the old High Tide.

I mean, I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone who isn’t already a High Tide fan, but if you’ve shown some interest in the band in the past, and aren’t wholly allergic to eighties stylistics, this isn’t the worst album on earth. Maybe I am being a little generous, but still...there are some really good songs here. Amidst all the crap. And sometimes buried in the crap. Okay, it’s a crappy album, but a good crappy album. I’ll shut up now.

(Psst! Mine comes with a bonus track called “Heartstream.” It’s another instrumental, but unlike “Nightmare,” it’s...very pleasant, almost pretty. Still kinda Cure-esque with the synths and all, but more effectively atmospheric practically Bach inspired. Okay, maybe Vivaldi. But seriously, pull off some of the dross that’s attached to the normal album and stick this on, and who knows? The rating would probably be just the same.)

The Whistler | 3/5 |

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