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Argent - The Argent Anthology: A Collection Of Greatest Hits CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

2.81 | 12 ratings

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3 stars I'd been obssessed with hearing Argent ever since I stumbled upon the masterful track Lothlorien on the 5CD box set Supernatural Fairy Tales, and thought nothing of picking up this compilation when I got the chance (to date I've never even seen another Argent album). However what I got was a clear indication of just what a schizophrenic band this was.

Keyboardist Rod Argent came into this band very much the boss. Having penned two defining hits of the 60s for his previous group The Zombies (who can forget She's Not There and Time Of The Season?) he even had the luxury of naming his new band after himself. While he intended to take the band in a progressive direction, singer/guitarist Russ Ballard had a great talent for writing hard rock with a strong commercial edge (Radio favourites like Three Dog Night's Liar, Rainbow's Since You've Been Gone and Kiss' God Gave Rock'N'Roll To You were all written by him). That the duo were pulling in different directions is glaringly obvious on this collection.

Unfortunately this compilation is slanted towards the more radio-friendly side of the band, a fact evinced by the fact that of the seven Argent originals, five are written by Ballard and only two by Rod Argent himself. The absence of the brilliant Lothlorien and a whole host of apparently classic tracks (bear in mind that I haven't heard that much Argent music) like Dance In The Smoke, I Am The Dance Of Ages, Candles On The River, The Coming of Kohoutek and Music Of The Spheres means that the average progressive rock fan will want to start somewhere else. Also, it's worth noting that the compilation only covers the period up to the 1974 live album Encore, and doesn't include anything from the two post-Ballard albums Circus and Counterpoints.

Still, with Rod and Russ backed by a faithful bass/drums combo of Jim Rodford and Bob Henrit, there's plenty of quality music on show. Despite the lightweight sounding vocal segments that call to mind Todd Rundgren/Jackson Browne tunes, Rod Argents' Pleasure is the most prog-friendly piece here, with some excellent instrumental interludes, and both Hold Your Head Up (which Argent co-wrote with his old Zombies bassist Chris White) and Liar have strong keyboard solos in the middle (echoing The Zombies hits). Even the oh-so-glam God Gave Rock'N'Roll To You starts off with some proggy organ, before going on to become one of the finest anthems the glam rock "movement" never had. The fact that Kiss simplified the song a little and produced a truly great tune (albeit nearly 20 years later) is proof enough that the band's inner rifts didn't always work out for the best.

In fact all tracks have that strange mix of pop/rock and bold expressive keyboards. It's Only Money (Part 1) was another hit single that had a latent rock punch, a power- packed guitar solo, and some funky organ with a brief Keith Emerson soundalike moment. Similarly, Thunder And Lightning is like a mid-70s Mannfred Mann's Earth Band track, with a catchy, yet ominous rock song soaring thanks to a nice spacey synth solo, while Tragedy is a catchy white funk-rock piece. The album concludes with a live version of Time Of The Season with weak vocals (who can outdo the Zombies' Colin Blunstone really?) and some great adventurous playing from ol' Roddy.

Listening to this, (and Lothlorien being the only other Argent track I've heard) I'm sure that this collection doesn't do justice to Argent the prog band, but it's still such a compulsive blend of prog-tinged hard rock. I think fans of Styx, Mannfred Mann's Earth Band and early Alan Parsons Project will derive the most enjoyment out of this sort of set. ... 50% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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