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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Progressive's Battle CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

3.00 | 5 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars "Progressive's Battle" is quite interesting compilation of live recordings played by 5 Japanese symphonic/neo progressive rock bands from late 80s. We can find 3 more famous bands like: Deja-Vu, Social Tension & Midas, as well as 2 completely unknown formations Yusei & Afflatus here. As I'm aware all of these bands have no official live albums in their discography, and some of them (Yusei & Afflatus) probably didn't record any LPs at all. Taking it in consideration "Progressive's Battle" disk seems to be even more important.

1. Deja-Vu - "Prelude / Next World" - LP begins with performance of one of the most well-known band here - Deja-Vu, which was a first professional formation of highly skilled keyboardist - Motoi Sakuraba. Medley of "Prelude" and "Next World" (which was originally presented in studio version on their only album "Baroque in The Future") is a real highlight of "Progressive's Battle" disk. Sakuraba mainly uses digital keyboards & vocals of Nagatsuma/Ueno seem to be a little goofy (Japanese language), but somehow this track always keeps me interesting. I have to admit that their leader is one of my favorite keyboard players and he shows his magnificent skills here very well. If you like more vintage style you will also find one splendid Korg organ solo (sounds like real Hammond) and short, romantic piano soloing in this track. All in all very good track in the vain of ELP (Fanfare for the Common Man/Pirates - type) and UK.

P.S. If you're interested in Motoi Sakuraba's career I strongly suggest you to check all his soundtracks (Arrange Albums not O.S.T.!!) and concert albums, which he recorded after Deja-Vu was disbanded. He uses his organ & also Moog synthesizers there very often.

2. Yusei - "Handle With Care" - the shortest track here (but still more than 7 minutes!) is recorded by the most obscure band - Yusei. To be honest I don't anything about them...and I don't really care because their song is the weakest one. Very plastic sounding keyboards seems to be the main "attraction" in "Handle With Care", but this time we can also listen to electric guitar solos (which are not so bad in fact, very fuzzed and "spaced out"). We can't also forget about Keiichi Tezuka's bass lines which are surprisingly (those were 80s man!) very loud. Probably the best factor of this tack after all. The biggest issue are Osamu Imamura's vocals: extremely weak, shoddy voice and disastrous English pronunciation (even worse than mine ;-).

3. Social Tension - "MacBethia" - my personal favorite of the album is live version of Social Tension's epic "MacBethia". I know that it would be better if they could record the full 20 minutes suite, but I'm still very happy that I'm able to listen to any concert performance of this phenomenal band. If you don't know Social Tension yet, I can describe them as Japanese equivalent of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Triumvirat or Trace (real pioneer, taking in consideration that Ars Nova didn't exist back then, and Gerard was still a neo-prog band in 80s). Unfortunately Nobuo Endoh prefers to use more digital keyboards than in the studio here, but when he switch to Hammond organ or Moog you'll know that his a real master of such vintage equipment. This track is a 5 stars worth symphonic prog. (BTW no vocals in this one)

4. Midas - "Yako-Tennyo" - Midas seems to be relatively popular band but I still didn't listen to any of their studio albums so this song is my first experience with them. Anyway it's a very pleasant neo-symphonic composition with good vocal (Japanese language), Moog & digital keys, but the most important is presence of violin whith adds more classical influences to the music. Quite typical sound for 80s Japanese prog bands, similar to early Gerard, Magdalena, Teru's Symphonia & Mugen. Enjoyable staff.

5. Afflatus - "Seven Beauty" - Along with Yusei, it's another enigmatic group which probably didn't record any other material. Comparatively it's the most guitar-oriented track on this release, however keyboards (mainly modern equipment but also some nice Hammond organ background in the middle) remain to keep its important role. Anyway it's 13+ minutes jazz-rock instrumental with never-ending guitar and synths solos which can become quite tiresome if you're not used to such kind of music. A bit too much pointless meandering but still okayish track.

All in all it's not bad, slightly above average compilation of live recording which can be very interesting for Japanese prog-rock aficionados. So it's a pity that it has never been issued on CD and the only available disk is vinyl. However if you dig such obscure staff, I'm sure it's worth to do some research and you'll find a way to listen to it.

The best track: Social Tension - "MacBethia"

P.S. If you're interested in other live recordings of Deja-Vu and Social Tension, I suppose that "Crime Syndicate" disk can be also a good pick for you. According to Internet sources that album includes live recordings of mentioned bands along with Atoll, Rosalia & White Fang. But I still didn't listen to it so I can't say anything more about "Crime Syndicate".

3,5 stars from ozzy_tom

ozzy_tom | 3/5 |


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