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Don Airey - K2 (Tales Of Triumph & Tragedy) CD (album) cover


Don Airey


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2.86 | 26 ratings

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2 stars Journey to the centre of... K2

For his first solo album, keyboard player Don Airey offers us a conceptual album about the mountain in Asia known as K2 - the second highest mountain in the world after Mount Everest. The narration that appears throughout readily brings to mind that of Rick Wakeman's concept album Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (which initially involves a mountain on Iceland). The music itself is actually not unlike that of Wakeman, but more of the 80's than of the 70's variety. Another band that springs to mind when listening to K2 is Alan Parsons Project and, indeed, both Chris Thompson and Colin Bluntstone contribute vocals. Guitars and drums are provided by Gary Moore and Cozy Powell with which Airey had worked previously in Collosseum II and Rainbow respectively. Moore contributes some fine guitar solos, but overall the presence of guitars, vocals and drums is rather scarce and the sound is mostly dominated by Airey's keyboards. Cozy Powell's usually thunderous drumming is not easily detected here and I wonder what he in fact did contribute to the album.

After having worked with such greats as Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Ozzy Osbourne in the late 70's and early 80's, you might expect a solo album in the style of these bands. However, nothing could be further from the truth. This music owes more to Mike Oldfield, ELP and Alan Parsons Project than any of the bands Airey worked on before (and since). The production is heavily rooted in the 80's and the sound comes across as rather dated. Some songs are out-and-out 80's Pop of the worst Alan Parsons sort. Needless to say, this music has little to do with the Jazz-Rock/Fusion or Heavy Rock for which Airey is primarily known. It is indeed admirable that he was able to move outside of his comfort zone, but this venture is not particularly successful despite some nice moments. This release is far from worthless however, but there are many other albums by other artists that achieve the goals Airey set himself here much better.

On the version of this album that I have heard the songs Julie, Death Zone and Whiteout are combined into one long track, and this track holds some of the album's best and rockiest moments (Julie is not among them though). Had the whole album sounded like those best bits this would have been a far better album, but as it stands it lacks direction. Though tied together by a concept, it often sounds rather incoherent and lacking a unified structure.

A decent effort for sure, but not everyone's cup of tea

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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