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Flaming Youth - Ark 2 CD (album) cover

ARK 2

Flaming Youth

 

Proto-Prog

2.61 | 6 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars God knows that I'm not a fan of Phil Collins due to the difference between his era as GENESIS frontman and the Gabriel years, much less for his solo albums, so when a former hippy uncle gave me a copy of the album, I accepted he gift (mainly for courtesy), but without really caring too much about it. Some months passed, and one day placed the CGD in the car, and listened it while going to work, when I reached the office all my prejudices were left behind and I was already a fan of the band.

Besides being a symphonic nut, I have developed a strong passion for the late 60's, specially for those bands who combined the experimental sound of Psychedelia with early forms of Prog........."ARK 2" is that and much more, couldn't really believe what I was listening, even loved the tracks where Phil takes the lead vocals, simply delightful.

Something else ,must be said, "Ark 2" is a conceptual album about a journey of an astronaut across the solar system and beyond, of course the lyrics has the influence of the times, with clear references to the search of peace and hope, and even when not as strong as they could be, the idea is interesting.

The album starts with the excellent vocal intro of "Guide me Orion", somehow like THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS without The Mamas, but suddenly the band bursts in fire with typical British Invasion sound, but in this case fused with Classical music and Rock, a very good start.

"Earthglow" is a radical change, starts melancholic and Baroque, with clear references of PROCOL HARUM but with better vocals, Gordon Smith does an outstanding job with an almost religious voice and Brian Chatton playing killer keyboards, incredibly beautiful song.

The beauty of Weightless is the contrast between the clearly Baroque organ intro that without advice turns into some sort of 50's Rock Boogie Boogie and Jazz instrumental with classical overtones, the guys were really versatile, but the stars of the track are Phil Collins in the drums and Ronnie Caryl who complement the outstanding rhythm section perfectly.

Now is the turn for the epic "The Planets" (In some versions each planet of the solar system is a song), there's little (if any) connection) with Gustav Holst's masterpiece but it's clearly inspired in this work, even the inner notes make clear references to each movement of the classical piece and as Holst they ignore Pluto.

Now lets talk a bit about the music, there's everything, from 12-bar Blues, to Classical - Orchestral, Jazz, Rock,Vaudeville, Acid Psychedelia, etc, and the "personality" of each planet is described by the music, we can find influences from THE NICE and almost every great musician of the 60's but with a unique touch. This 12 minutes track alone would pay the album.

Changes marks the point where the astronaut leaves the solar system and a turn for Phil Collins and Gordon Smith to take the lead vocals and both make a hell of a job, the sound is lost in the boundaries hat divides the late first British Invasion from early Psyche until Chatton starts to jam with the organ and crosses all the possible boundaries of Rock, but that's not all, the band enters into melodic (almost Symphonic) territory, one of the best songs of the album

"Pulsar" is a frantic track in the vein of THE NICE with Chatton adding an incredibly fast keyboard performance with Phil covering him all the way, another excellent track that leads to "Space Child", which after a keyboard and guitar intro allows us to listen Phil Collins singing some sort of early Symphonic with real feeling, a bit cheesy by moments but beautiful.

Almost every release has a weak point and "In the Light of Love" is the one from "Ark 2", this guys have proved they could play almost everything, but an almost Latin percussion song with Motown touches is not one of them, not so bad to press the skip button, but clearly bellow the level of the album.

"From Now On (Immortal Invisible)" presents Brian Chatton as a vocalist (he can also sing) and at least in the live video Phil Collins in the organ, extremely beautiful and melodic musical piece with full orchestra and chorus, a brilliant closer for "Ark 2".

Not a perfect masterpiece, but very far from some reviews that qualify them as a disaster, in my opinion an excellent addition for any Prog collection and for this reason worth 4 solid stars.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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