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Circa - HQ CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

2.78 | 30 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars They could last!

HQ was Circa's second studio album and the most recent to one date. In my opinion, this is a better album than the debut. Sound wise, there is not much difference but the focus has shifted slightly from catchy choruses to more instrumental workouts. As such, there is more substance in HQ compared to the debut. The line-up, however, changes slightly with Jay Schellen replacing Alan White on the drums. There is no doubt about the fact that Circa is a Yes-related band both in sound in personnel. The keyboardist is none other than Tony Kaye whose history with Yes goes back as far as to the 60's. Indeed, Kaye was one of the founding members of Yes and played on their three first studio albums before being replaced by Rick Wakeman. In the early 80's Kaye re-joined Yes and recorded a further four studio albums with them including the Union album that brought back as many as eight previous Yes members to write and record as a single unit (on paper at least). The rest of the four-piece that is Circa consist of Billy Sherwood and Jimmy Haun who both participated in the creation of the controversial Union album in 1991. Sherwood even co-wrote (and co-produced) one of the songs for that album with Chris Squire (The More We Live) and on the tour in support of Yes next album, Talk, Sherwood was hired as an extra guitarist in addition to Trevor Rabin before he became a fulltime Yes member for Open Your Eyes and The Ladder. After that he has worked with Chris Squire in Conspiracy. New guy Jay Schellen has played with Sherwood before in World Trade and he has also played with Asia recently, another Yes-related band. So it is fair to say that Circa is connected to Yes in several ways.

It should then not come as a surprise to anyone that Circa sounds a bit like Yes. Billy Sherwood can even be said to be something of a Chris Squire sound-alike both vocally and on the bass guitar and Jimmy Haun's guitar playing is heavily influenced by that of Steve Howe. Billy is clearly the artistic leader of Circa and this album too is, like the debut, most similar those Yes albums on which Billy played the biggest part i.e. Open Your Eyes and The Ladder. Circa also reminds heavily of the two Conspiracy albums that Billy made with Chris Squire. Again like with the debut, influences from both 70's and 80's Yes can be found with about equal emphasis on both. The sound they produce is great, and overall the album is enjoyable even if it offers few surprises.

With a running time of over an hour, I feel that this album is maybe a bit too long for its own good. However, there are no weak songs as such so it is indeed hard to know what exactly they could (or should?) have left out. I feel that there is a bit more energy in this album compared to the debut and I enjoy listening to this one a bit more. The debut grew stale after only a few listens, but HQ remains pleasant, and becomes more so, over more listens. The tunes are a bit more challenging and takes more time to decipher. It is less Crossover and more Prog, if you know what I mean.

As I said in my review of Circa's debut, there is a lot of great music for the Yes fan to discover in the Yes family tree and Circa is not the Yes-related band I would put priority on. Having that said, again, I'm certain that any hard core fan of all eras of Yes will enjoy Circa and this is their best album.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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