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Magenta - Seven CD (album) cover





4.07 | 345 ratings

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4 stars Wow! This album moves me to the core with each and every listen. It's taken me four years to finally find a copy of it and I am so happy I did! I don't care if it's considered "Neo-prog" or that Magenta is considered a "Yes clone": IMO, there is no better 'neo' or 'clone' album out there. Okay, "Gluttony" sounds like it came from Drama or The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and, yes, "Lust" sounds like it came from 90120, but Magenta still manages to make new, fresh music from the stylings and sounds of the much revered gods of the 70s.

The band as a whole stands very well, with all performers adding significantly to a collaboratively beautiful album, but their stellar achievement here rests on the talents of two extraordinary lead soloists: singer Christina Booth and lead guitarist Chris Fry.

Many people like to compare Christina to the incomparable ANNIE HASLEM, but I see more similarities to KATE BUSH. The crystal clarity of Annie with the emotion and diversity of Kate (though, IMHO, not quite as good as either.)

Then there is the astoundingly talented, enigmatic and creative 'chameleon' guitarist, Chris Fry. He is Steve Howe, he is Steve Hackett, he is Steve Hillage, he is Steve Rothery, he is he is John Mitchell, Paul Buchanan, he is Chet Atkins, he is Jamie West--Oram (THE FIXX), he is Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson (BIG COUNTRY), he is B.B. KING, he is CORRADO RUSTICI, he is Jeff Beck--he is so many guitarists all wrapped into one. No two solos throughout this album sound anything like any of the others. Superlatives, people, only superlatives!

1. "Gluttony" (12:07) begins with a very familiar YES Relayer sound to it but, in fact, this is the song where the band break out from under the grips of neo-clonehood and offer something uniquely their own, something fresh (despite the occasional Steve Howe-like leads, Rick Wakeman-like organ and Chris Squire-like bass stylings.) The vocal harmonies and lead vocals are gorgeous and the use of 'harp' and The Vienna Symphony Strings is absolutely brilliant, integral, beautiful. And the diverse guitar and keyboard sounds and soli make it much more than just another Yes clone. (21/25)

2. "Envy" (10:10) is a fairly straightforward and easily accessible GENESIS-like song (And Then There Were Three era)--guitars, keys, bass pedals, Collins-like tom rolls--except for one small detail: THE INCREDIBLE VOICE OF CHRISTINA BOOTH! At 3:20 the song shifts to sound exactly like the background set up for Tony Banks' mellotron solo (the greatest mellotron solo in the history of music) from the second half of "Entangled" when--surprise, surprise!? Rick Wakeman's organ solo from the lull part of "Awaken" enters. Brilliant!! As hauntingly effective as the two source-originals! (20/20)

3. "Lust" (12:29) begins with the movie theme-song-like Vienna Strings intro before the band joins in for a couple of minutes of jamming in a YES/STYX sound and feel. At the 2:30 mark vocals are introduced in harmonic chords before the song settles into a straightforward rock backbeat with Christina singing and STYX-STARCASTLE-like keyboards playing around. The guitar solo sections accompanying the vocal "Ahh" harmonies are wonderful. At 4:45 everything switches to an astoundingly beautiful blues setting with Chris Fry playing one of the best ROY BUCHANAN solos I've ever heard. Wish it would go on forever! By 5:50 we're into a new "confess" section with repeating bouncy piano chords and regular breaks for Chris Fry soli. The use of orchestra in the next, instrumental, section beginning at 7:30 is wonderful. Guitar solo hear conjures up pure CARLOS SANTANA before giving way to a Moogy Klingman-like keyboard solo. Very exciting section! 9:40 begins a "take my soul/give me new life" section with recorders, tubular bells and piano, before giving way to orchestral support for a blistering guitar solo. Great emotion from Christina Booth's vocals leading into the outro! Wow! What a ride! (22.5/25)

4. " Greed" (13:55) starts off so beautifully, with harmonized vocal "Ahhs" striking an arpeggiated variety notes/chords, and, despite the joining of some Yes-like instruments (keys and guitars), the song really takes on a sound and feel quite unlike the prog Masters, though perhaps at times with some ANNIE HASLEM -like (post Renaissance) vocal similarities. In the mid-sections there are actually some similarities to THE CARPENTERS (in a good way), followed by some Yes Drama-era sounds and riffs, switching around the eight minute mark to total RENAISSANCE (piano & vocal). Genius Chris Fry then takes over for a flash or two over the continued Scheherezade-like music. With two minutes to go there is a switch: it sounds as if they're about to break into "Squonk" when instead a light BURT BACHARACH-like section ensues to end. Beautiful. (28.5/30)

5. "Anger" (5:13) is an amazing little semi-pop song. A heart-wrenching vocal song over 'harp' (?) and The Vienna Symphony Orchestra strings. Does anyone hear know "A Perfect Day" by the infinitely talented Miriam Stockley (ADIEMUS)? It was used as the theme song for the 1992 BBC animated series of the Beatrix Potter "Peter Rabbit" stories. "Anger" has some of the pastoral and emotional majesty Ms. Stockely's beautiful little song. (10/10)

6. "Pride" (12:31) sees a return to a very Yes-sounding song--sounding more from the Close to the Edge to Going for the One era. This is, IMO, the song on which the band is most clearly imitative of pure YES, and, except for the incredible instrumental section from 7:56 to 9:40 (Chris Fry is an absolute genius!!), the weakest song on the album. "There Must Be Some Misunderstanding"!! (Do you hear it??!!) (18/25)

7. "Sloth" (10:08) has a very theatric, RENAISSANCE sound and style. Even the topic ("Gitchee Manitou" or pre-European conquest America) is similar to the xenophilic fascinations of RENAISSANCE (or was it lyricist Betty Thatcher's?). Absotlutely amazing vocals throughout but the CLAIRE TOREY ("Great Gig in the Sky" from Dark Side of the Moon) finale is almost as powerful as Miss Torey's original! (18.75/20)

IMHO, this is indisputably a masterpiece of absolutely beautiful music with stunning performances and brilliant compositions. Neo-clones: Top this one!

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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