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CONSPIRACY

Conspiracy

 

Crossover Prog

3.41 | 22 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Gerinski
Prog Reviewer
3 stars It was quite surprising that an album by Chris Squire had only 2 reviews in PA 10 years after its release, so here comes one more.

As for the rating, we are faced with the problem of having to rate in a prog site an album which is not meant to be a prog album. Judged as prog this would hardly deserve 1 or 2 stars, but it would be unfair to give it a rating suggesting that it is crap, because it is not. It is simply not meant to be a prog album, it is a crossover pop album and as that it's a pretty decent one. Squire himself made it clear that people should not take this album as a follower to "Fish Out of Water". I find it justified to give a low rating to albums such as Yes "Open Your Eyes" because after all Yes is supposed to be a prog band, but released as a side project and free from the Yes name things can take on a different perspective. At least this is quality pop-rock which does not insult the intelligence of the listener, and in the 21st century this is already quite something. So I prefer to give the necessary warning in the review and give it at least a dignifying 3 stars.

This is a collection of songs which Squire and Sherwood wrote together between '89 and '96. According to Squire the share of contribution by each was around a fair 50/50. Some are songs they played during a '92 tour as The Chris Squire Experiment. We have also the original versions of "The More We Live" and "Love Conquers All" which would appear in Yes "Union" and "YesYears" respectively after getting some overdubs by Anderson, Rabin, Howe and White. We also get a song ("Violet Purple Rose", one of the best) which Squire developed during some sessions with guitarist Steve Stevens (from Billy Idol and also the excellent trio project Bozzio Levin Stevens) and Prince drummer Michael Bland.

Alan White plays the drums in 2 tracks "Lonesome Trail" and "Love Conquers All", while other drums were played by World Trade (Sherwood's other band) drummers, by Sherwood himself and some are just drum machines. There is also a small guitar contribution by Jimmy Haun, the guy who was requested by Arista to replace significant part of Howe's original playing in "Union", for the rest Sherwood plays nearly all the keyboards and guitars, and Squire thinks that even some of the bass was actually recorded by Sherwood (in return he plays some acoustic guitar). Given the disparity of times and musicians involved in the recording of the tracks, the whole thing sounds quite consistent.

Around '96 enough material was ready to be released with the album title Chemistry, but then Sherwood was called into Yes and the project was put on hold and 2 of its songs were reworked for the Yes "Open Your Eyes" album (curiously enough, the worst 2: "Wish I Knew" which would become "Open Your Eyes" and the even more disposable "Man in the Moon"). Finally the Squire/Sherwood album came out in 2000 renamed as Conspiracy, name which eventually they would retain as band name. The 2 tracks which had been used for "Open Your Eyes" (in their original versions) plus another one "Say Goodbye" which Sherwood had used for the World Trade '95 album "Euphoria" were also included but as "hidden tracks" at the end, meaning that they are not mentioned in the tracklist on the sleeve. Which is alright because they are the worst 3 tracks in the album anyway.

The style is basically the same as the pop side of Yes we find in albums like "Open Your Eyes" or "The Ladder", quality pop-rock with a few slight influences from prog (for what matters, quite similar to the style of Trevor Rabin songs or Robert Berry's).

Squire is not blessed with a great voice as lead singer but he more than compensates by his notorious gift for building great vocal harmonies. And Sherwood's voice is not very distinctive but it matches very well with Squire's and at times it's not too different from a mix of Anderson and Rabin, so as a result the multi-layered vocals provide an unmistakable Yes feel and they are one of the strongest points in the album. Squire does not give us a master class in bass playing technique here but his distinctive fat and powerful bass sound is still present throughout. Sherwood's performance is as we know him, not outstanding in anything but good enough at everything.

As long as you can take your proghead hat off before listening, this is a fine album.

Gerinski | 3/5 |

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