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Argent - Inside Argent CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

2.91 | 3 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A forgotten Nexus

The "Inside" series of DVDs has covered a commendable diversity of prog (and other) bands over the last 10 years or so. Rare footage is obtained and laced together with critical commentary to form a useful overview of the band concerned. The overall quality of the final product varies a lot though, largely depended on the chosen critics and their awareness of that band. When the thoughts of members of band and those close to them are added, the product takes on greater credibility, such as the first of the "Inside Pink Floyd's" and the two dedicated to Uriah Heep.

Unfortunately, "Inside Argent" desperately lacks informed contributors, with just four people, none of who have any association with the band, leading us through their history from inception to the "Encore" album in 1974. The footage, which captures the band well, is primarily taken from two sessions recorded for television. One of these disappoitnly sees music from Argent's studio albums being overlaid onto the video (and not always the right music for the right video), but the Granada TV footage is warts and all live.

My main criticism of the commentary here is that it concentrates far too much on the isolated tracks chosen (of necessity from the footage available) to represent the albums. The first album for example contained the wonderful "Dance in the smoke", a track which appeared on the huge selling sampler "Fill your head with rock" and effectively broke the band. This however is completely ignored along with "Lonely hard road" and many others. Likewise, the minor hit "Celebration" from the second album is not mentioned, and the two part "It's only money" from "In deep" appears not to exist either.

As a result, the albums are not reviewed as a whole, but almost exclusively on the basis of tracks which are in some cases are totally unrepresentative of that album. The worst example of this is "All together now", an album which took so long to bring together Rod Argent suggested to a music magazine at the time should have been called "Sorry to keep you waiting". That album contained the four part Rod Argent prog epic "Pure love" and the Russ Ballard masterpiece "Tragedy" (not the Bee Gees song!). Instead though, the fun track "Keep on rolling" (a sort of "Are you ready Eddy") is dissected and used to belittle the whole album. Ballard's salute to Rod Argent "He's a dynamo" is also ignored. Incidentally, no mention is made by any of these experts of Russ Ballard liking for one word song titles which form the dynamic hook in songs such as "Liar" and "Tragedy".

While Bob Carruthers clearly has a genuine liking for some of the band's later work, his complete dismissal of the early albums seems over harsh. As usual, Michael Heatley seems to be on a different planet, thus resorting once again to the painfully obvious and the unintentionally amusing; "Rod Argent was influenced by keyboard players such as Rick Wakeman in early Yes, although I don't think Wakeman was in Yes at that time". There are also conflicting accounts of the band's history, for example Malcolm Dome says the band was not happy with "Hold your head up" being edited by the record company and becoming a hit single, Heatley says they were delighted.

Quite why the "Nexus" album is completely overlooked is perhaps the biggest mystery. It was released in the same year as "Encore" (the history of which come first is inconclusive as far as I can see, but over half of "Nexus" appears on "Encore") and was to be the final album recorded by the original line up. The departure of Russ Ballard is discussed, so surely "Nexus", by far the band's most progressive album, deserved inclusion.

On the plus side, the three "Music study cases" turn out to be full live performances of three songs, one from each of the first three albums, something of a rarity for this series. I can only assume they are called "music studies" for copyright reasons.

In all, since available visual recordings of this unfairly forgotten band is very hard to come by, this DVD is so much better than nothing at all. In terms of the "Inside.." series though, it is a shoddy addition which could easily have been so much better.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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