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Argent - Ring Of Hands CD (album) cover

RING OF HANDS

Argent

 

Crossover Prog

3.23 | 40 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Dark Nazgul
3 stars Argent vs. Ballard, act two.

After the experience with the Zombies in the Sixties, Rod Argent founded his own band trying to play more complex music, closer to progressive rock style. "Ring of Hands", published in 1971, is the band's second album. Argent can also count on the help of Russ Ballard, guitarist and composer that will became famous in the 80s with the worldwide hit single "Voices".

This is an album with highs and lows, enjoyable especially in the first part. It contains Lothlorien, one of my favorite prog songs ever, some other great song, but also others mediocre. It is basically a record featuring Hammond organ and piano, masterfully played by Rod Argent: almost all the solo parts are performed by these instruments and the guitar of Ballard remains largely in the background. Without any doubt the clash of styles between the two main authors is not very positive for the band: while Argent tryies to give the songs a progressive mark, with complex instrumental arrangements, changes of pace and refined vocal parts, Ballard prefers simpler and more rockin' songs, mainly based on guitar riffs. The result is a record without homogeneity, and a bit of disorientation is inevitable when you listen to this album: the question is, what kind of stuff I'm listening to? Now, a short analysis of the nine songs of the album:

Celebration. One of the more accessible songs (despite being written by Argent!) and based on pleasing harmonies. Simple and catchy, structured around a piano melody, it's a fine start. Rating: 7/10.

Sweet Mary. The song hated by purists of prog music. It is an ordinary and obvious blues, but this does not necessarily mean it's disappointing. All in all, I find that in the context of the album this song is pleasant. Rating 6/10.

Cast Your Spell Uranus. The lyrics are a bit strange, maybe a little 'anchored in those years, I think. However this is an excellent song, which begins with strange dissonances and frantic piano accompaniment. It is the first song of the album composed by Ballard. Rating 8/10.

Lothlorien. The masterpiece of the album, the longest song and definitely the closest to the canons of progressive rock, with symphonic interludes, and some jazzy sections, with the Hammond organ in evidence. The title refers of course to "The Lord of the Rings". Rating 10/10.

Chained. A classic rockin' number, according to Ballard's style, but well refined, especially for the great use of backing vocals. One of the best songs of the album. Rating 8/10.

Rejoice. Now...the painful notes. This is a gentle song with voice and piano, rather soppy and banal, introduced by a church organ solo. To give an idea, is vaguely reminiscent of the slow songs, for voice and piano, played by Freddy Mercury and Queen. The final part, preceded by unbearable choirs, reprise the organ intro. Rating: 4/10.

Pleasure. In my opinion the worst song on the album. The falsetto voices are terrible, and the backing vocals are really annoying. I still remember the Queen, in their worst. The symphonic interlude in the middle of the song is perhaps the only decent thing. Rating: 3/10.

Sleep Won't Help Me. Though the vocals are still disappointing and the chorus a little dull, is a piece with an original and captivating arrangement. The first time you hear may be indigestible. With successive plays it's better. The initial pace reminds me a little bit '"Come Together" by the Beatles, while in the middle interlude the organ sound is pretty identical to "Riders Of The Storm" by The Doors. Rating 6/10.

Where Are We Going Wrong. A pure and simple rock song based on a guitar riff by Ballard. Reminds me The Who very much (and Ballard seems...Daltrey). All in all, is mediocre and the worst of the songs written by the guitarist. Rating 5/10

In conclusion, we are certainly not in front of a masterpiece, but "Ring Of Hands" is still a good album, perhaps not very progressive and certainly with some flaw, but still enjoyable.

Final rating: 6/10.

Best song: Lothlorien

Dark Nazgul | 3/5 |

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