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Comedy Of Errors - Disobey CD (album) cover


Comedy Of Errors



3.95 | 258 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars As you like it

Having long since been quietly allocated their place in the where are they now archives of prog, it is with the greatest of pleasure that I can report that Comedy of Errors have released their first new album in well over 20 years. The core of the line up which recorded their 1988 eponymous album reconvene, including vocalist Joe Cairney, keyboards player Jim Johnston and guitarist Mark Spalding. Johnston writes and arranges all the songs here, but the three plus Bruce Levick on drums gel together as if their last studio collaboration was but a few months ago. The band themselves see this as a debut album, not because they wish to turn their backs on their legacy, but because this is very much a new beginning for what will hopefully become a highly successful rebirth.

Still rooted mainly in the neo-prog (the album publicity prefers 'post prog') style they adopted all those years ago, there is an intrinsic confidence to 'Disobey' which underpins a highly creditable set of songs climaxing in the four part 26 minute epic 'The student prince'.

The album opens with its title track, a truly majestic starter which thrives on power chords and walls of synths. Despite the maturity of the band members, Joe Cairney's voice sounds as young as ever. Mark Spalding takes the opportunity to slip in some fine lead guitar early on, the track making an unmistakable statement that the band are very much alive. 'Jekyll' is an upbeat number based around the synth runs of Jim Johnston. Here, acoustic guitar combines with chorale keyboards effects to create an uplifting atmosphere for the piece. During its 5 minute tenure this superb song becomes a mini- prog epic.

As the title suggests, 'Prelude, riff and fugue' is an instrumental in three linked parts. At times ELP like, at other times perhaps Wakeman-esque, the piece shows yet another aspect to the band's willingness to experiment and diversify. The lead guitar motif here is particularly captivating. At around 10 minutes, 'Carousel' is the longest single piece on the album. This beautifully reflective song describes the challenges of the ageing process as seen through the failing eyes of an old man. Sitting somewhere between classic symphonic prog and its younger offspring neo-prog, the piece draws on the full instrumental prowess of the band while affording Joe Cairney the opportunity to display his fine vocal talents.

'American rodeo' is something of an oddity in the set, the band taking a quick dive into some straightforward loud rock. Complete with 'Goin' down the highway' lyrics, the song is great fun, and not to be taken too seriously. Things settle right down again for 'Could have been yesterday', which opens with some 'The wizard' (Uriah Heep) like tumbling acoustic guitar. The song, and in particular the chorus, has an anthemic quality, with suitably picturesque lyrics.

The brief piano instrumental 'Ailsa's lullaby' apparently takes its name from the Ailsa Johnston to whom the album is dedicated; presumably the daughter of Jim Johnston. The piece links in nicely to the piano intro to 'Joke', a song which reminded me of Supertramp's 'If everyone was listening' (for no justifiable reason!). One again, Mark Spalding adds some excellent lead guitar to this building prog ballad.

The albums concludes with the four part 'The student prince'. This piece appears to have been in development for many years, the first part even being mentioned in the track listing for the self titled 1988 album. Heard as a complete piece, the four sections stand alone as individual songs but marry well together to form the greater whole. There are strong hints of bands such as Arena, Pendragon and IQ in the styles and structures adopted, but the suite also finds its own unique identity. This magnificent statement alone must surely serve to establish Comedy of Errors credentials as a tier one neo-prog band.

It really does seem quite remarkable that 23 years after the release of their previous album, Comedy of Errors should reappear. What is even more remarkable though is that they should return with an album which by any standard is a magnificent achievement. If 'Disobey' and the launch gig where the band played live together for the first time in over 20 years are anything to go by, Comedy of Errors time has finally arrived.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |


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