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The Greatest Show On Earth - Horizons CD (album) cover

HORIZONS

The Greatest Show On Earth

 

Eclectic Prog

4.10 | 86 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
5 stars THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH were a short-lived, eight-piece Jazz-Rock band from Great Britain who released two albums in 1970 on the specialist Prog-Rock label, Harvest Records, a branch of EMI. The band consisted of two singers/guitarists, a keyboard player, a bassist and drummer, and a three-piece horn section. Their music has been described as similar in style to the Jazz-Rock of early Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears. This 1970 album, "Horizon", was their debut album and they followed it up later that same year with "The Going's Easy", shortly before their break-up. The striking artwork for this album cover was designed by Hipgnosis, a specialist art and design group who produced many famous album covers of the classic Prog-Rock era. Let's have a listen now and see if this band really ARE The Greatest Show on Earth.

"Sunflower Morning" opens the album like a beautiful flower blossoming in radiant sunshine. The song title perfectly matches the ebullient mood of the music. It's a powerful organ-driven sunburst of classic prog. It's atmospheric, it's anthemic, and it's terrific music. It's a feel-good opening number designed to brighten up the dullest of days. Just take a look at the positive message in these uplifting lyrics:- "To wake up one day, Find that my eyes can't believe, All the good things around, That keep happening to me, And the world is filled with love, On a sunflower morning." ..... Now that we're in buoyant spirits after such an exuberant opening to the album, let's have a listen to Song No. 2: "Angelina". No, it's not about Angelina Jolie. This is a bright and breezy Jazz-Rock number about a lady in an old folks home, reminiscing about days gone by and longing to be young again. Take a look at these heartfelt lyrics:- "Angelina remembers the pleasant days When she was young, But doesn't seem realized these pleasant days are gone." ..... It's another sassy and brassy, cheerful-sounding number, despite the sad message contained in the lyrics. Onto Song No. 3 now and "Skylight Man". What's it all about you may well ask. Take a look at these enigmatic lyrics:- "Tells me if you try to run with a skylight man, It could put a strain on your eyes, 'Cause the stage is set for a whole life, Trying to take your line to the sky." ..... No, I haven't a clue what it all means either, but it's great music. The singer sounds remarkably like Peter Gabriel on this particular song, which has to be a good thing. It's another lively Jazz-Rock number that's as bold as brass with the horn section in fine fettle. On we come now to the closing song of Side One and "Day of the Lady". It's another emotionally appealing tale of a lady longing for times gone by with these touching lyrics:- "Through the recalling she has longed in calling, For days of diamonds and lace, Victorian springs nights, Banquets by gas light, Now neon light shines on her face." ..... This charming little Jazz-Rock ditty is carried along nicely by the dulcet tones of the singer and the pleasing cadence and cascade (to quote King Crimson) of the music by this talented eight-piece group of musicians.

And so, what's next on the "Horizon" as we delve into Side Two. Song No. 5 is "Real Cool World", which was later released as a single. It's a rollicking rock & roll number brimming with energy and vitality. The single did well in Europe although it didn't make much of an impact in the U.K. The music certainly packs a punch though with the pounding rhythm and the guitarist embarking on a wild riffing spree. This song rocks!! "I Fought for Love" is up next. The keyboard player is in his element here, displaying impressive dexterity with some amazing keyboard runs in the style of keyboard maestro Ken Hensley, of Uriah Heep fame. This is Jazz-Rock with an uncompromising take-no-prisoners attitude. You're bound to be impressed by this powerful piece of music. And now we come to the epic title track, the 14-minute long "Horizons". This is where the eight musicians really get to demonstrate their individual prowess, taking it in turns with some very impressive soloing. There's a long drum solo, a sonorous keyboard solo, a flute solo, and a stunning wild guitar solo. What more could you ask for!? It's booming and bombastic and it sounds fantastic! The musicians sound like they're having a real blast here. How can you possibly follow that!? You follow it with "Again and Again", that's what. It's the closing song on the album and it's a rousing and uplifting romantic ballad, only this is no gently lilting romantic ballad. No, this is a powerful ballad going full steam ahead with the unstoppable power and energy of a runaway train. Make no mistake, this is a Power Ballad with full locomotive power!

This terrific Jazz-Rock album really DOES sound like The Greatest Show on Earth, or at least it would be if you could see this album performed Live. This is bright and breezy British Jazz-Rock at its best. The music is very much in the style of early Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears, so if you like those bands, then you'll love this album too. If you haven't heard this stunning album before, then you're in for a real treat. We never know what wonderful music awaits us just over the "Horizon".

Psychedelic Paul | 5/5 |

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