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IQ - The Wake CD (album) cover





3.79 | 534 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars [ begin the Rod Serling voiceover] Picture if you will, GENESIS- but in an alternate universe in which they resisted Phil's coup but accepted the 80s production trends. While it is definitely laudable for carrying a prog torch at the same time GENESIS as well as YES, ELP and PINK FLOYD were shamelessly embracing commercialism, it fails to find new meanings like KING CRIMSON or RUSH (although IQ's better pop moments do forecast the candian trio's 90s sound). There are some embarassingly dated-sounding moments; the gated drums on "Outer Limits" are very like solo-Collins, but the song itself reminds me somewhat of STYX- take that as you will. The title track brings ALDO NOVA to mind but has some interesting bits in between the verses. "The Magic Roundabout" is less whimsical than the name would suggest; the lyrics are self-pitying and poorly written, and strangely enough the demo has a tighter rhythm section than the final version. Anybody remember TOM PETTY's "Don't Come Around Here No More"? "Corners" is a sonic sibling, with a more overwrought vocal and no mad hatter video. "Widows Peak" proves indisputably the ties to 70s GENESIS, but is also one of the better tracks, as is "Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir". "Headlong" has a weak start- the lyrics are again of poor quality- but revs up to a nice soaring chorus. "Thousand Days" is a good 80s pop song (the demo version isn't too far from "Murmur"-era REM) with touches of "Run Like Hell" in the guitar, but my throat hurts when I hear him straining for the high notes. Overall the band is a bit bland. Hackett was a more admirable guitar foil to the wall of synth (on earlier albums, at least) and the guitars here are both more aggressive and less original. The drums often sound like 80s Phil Collins but only occasionally aprroach his musicianship (and sometimes sound downright sloppy!). Gabriel balanced his dramatic qualities with a dry humor and a touch of anglo-soul, whereas Peter Nicholls focuses on precisely enunciated theatricality to add life to an unimpressive vocal timbre (think Waters' unsteady tenor mixed with an amateur, embryonic James LaBrie). On the other hand, the keyboards add lush and intersting textures when they're not relegated to merely chord pads. All-in-all "The Wake" is a mixed bag; kudos for keeping the dream alive in 1985, but in this case it is one of those dreams you have a hard time recalling once it's over. My three stars are stretched pretty thin here; I'd have kept it to two but this album is more historically important than the quality of the music ultimately deserves.
James Lee | 3/5 |


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