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The Tangent - A Place In The Queue CD (album) cover

A PLACE IN THE QUEUE

The Tangent

 

Eclectic Prog

3.80 | 254 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Squire Jaco
4 stars Tangent leader Andy Tillison softened me right up before I even played a note of this cd. In his sleeve notes he starts waxing nostalgic about Yes' "Tales From Topographic Oceans", an album that had a profound influence on me as well some thirty years ago. But I fear that he also raises one's expectations about this new cd a bit too much when he implies (despite his explicit denials and sincere attempts to the contrary) that "A Place In The Queue" might eventually sit comfortably alongside the likes of "TFTO", "The Lamb Lies Down", "Pawn Hearts" and others in the annals of prog.

With the absence of Roine Stolt on this cd, Tillison clearly steps to the forefront of the group. One gets a much more personal look at Tillison here; I do enjoy his self- deprecating humor and the insights into his musical influences that he conveys in both the extensive sleeve notes and the lyrics of some of his songs (e.g. "Lost in London"). His distinctive voice bears some passing similitudes with Greg Lake (who I never hear anyone complaining about!), and he displays some fine keyboard playing throughout another very good Tangent album.

I view The Tangent as being in the upper echelon of current prog groups, largely because of Tillison's unique vision, keyboard playing and distinctive writing style, but also because they have rock's best bass player (Jonas Reingold), an excellent drummer (now Jaime Salazar) and they make interesting use of sax and flute (Theo Travis), especially in the jazzier sequences.

Yes, the guitars are good here too, but there are literally thousands of "good" guitarists out there. Let's be honest here, folks - you really can't replace Stolt (just as Yes could never adequately replace Steve Howe). Plus he used to carry some of the vocal duties, both lead and harmony. Sorry if you disagree, my friends, but Stolt's signature guitar phrasing and flourishes are regrettably missed on this cd, and one of the reasons that I can't give more than 4 stars.

The other main reason is the same complaint I have with some Flower Kings cd's: in some of the longer songs, they tend to get lost in some of the jamming and go off on too many tangents..oh wait, maybe that's the point..hmmmm. I just felt that some of the epics could have been even better if they were a bit shorter and more focused (though I probably should be indulging the symphonic nature of the longer pieces!).

This cd probably leans more towards jazz and Canterbury than the previous two Tangent cd's, with references to Van Der Graaf Generator ("DIY Surgery"), Hatfield and the North, and some Caravan (perhaps even Traffic at times?). Travis really pulls his weight on this album.

I keep seeing more and more proggers venturing into political territory since September 11th and the invasion of Iraq - TFK's "The Truth Will Set You Free" and IQ's "Harvest of Souls" come quickly to mind. This album has some of that too. Overall, I like the lyrics (the word "spreadsheet" makes it into a prog epic!), and I really like the keys and drums that drive the Yes-like "GPS Culture" and "Follow Your Leaders".

And don't take "The Sun In My Eyes" too seriously folks. Remember, "nous sommes du soleil" from Yes' TFTO means "we are of the sun". This is clearly a tongue-in- cheek song in a style that lies in direct opposition to the type of music that us nerdy 1970's prog lovers listened to. (It even clocks in at a radio-friendly 3-1/2 minutes!)

O.K., enough meandering thoughts about this very long and complex album. Perhaps I'm just as guilty about going off on tangents as I accused this cd of being! Rest assured that this is a VERY GOOD cd with a distinctive style within the prog genre..but also a slight step back from their previous two albums, in my opinion. But this IS The Tangent!

(You should still buy it for the frequent periods of prog-induced euphoria.)

Squire Jaco | 4/5 |

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