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3RDegree - The Long Division CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.02 | 216 ratings

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5 stars A couple of months ago I purchased this album in preparation to go and see a local concert with 3RDegree being the opening act. Unfortunately, they were unable to perform but what I was left with was having purchased my favorite album of 2012. The moment I put this in my cd player a howling guitar met my ears followed by a guitar line over an ominous melody soon followed by a bunch of voices singing "Everybody needs a revolution, everybody needs a new solution. Everybody needs some evolution, everybody wants some resolution." Well, my ears perked up immediately and then this growling voice strarts to sing over everyone else with "You and your gun toting, flag waving corporate sell-outs..." and I turned up the volume to listen to what the lead vocalist had to say.

After my first full listen to what I immediately branded a masterpiece, I immediately played it a second time to see if my 1st impressions were still valid. What I found was that I loved this album even more on the 2nd listen and after dozens of listenings my opinion has not changed: this is a great album deserving of the love that I have for it. And, hopefully, yours too.

The aforementioned opening track that instantly caught my musical attention, You're Fooling Yourself, is one of ten totally terrific but distinct tracks on one of the most varied albums that has ever graced my musical collection. A great lead guitar line throughout, an organ percolating slightly underneath the mix and George Dobbs' snarling lead vocals clearly singing about how politics and economics have mixed themselves into the unholy mess that we seem to be in, it is a stinging (but accurate IMHO) indictment of the state of our union called the US of A. But make no mistake, though I might mention only a couple of individuals or sounds in a particular song, this is a group effort thru and thru as the rest of this fine album reveals itself to the listener.

The next song, Exit Strategy, has the same lead singer singing in a much sweeter voice singing "I've got an exit strategy, but it's flawed 'cause the one I've got has a certain company that when deployed is giving second thought but now that I'm caught..." sounds to me like yet another stinging indictment of how corporations and governments run their operations nowadays, seemingly without any "real" exit strategy and the ones in place being flawed. The song's beat is infectious driven by their drummer Aaron Nobel, with great and lovely backing vocals and great keyboards by Mr. Dobbs.

The Socio-Economic Petri Dish opens up with some more keyboards. I love keyboards and this album has keyboard sounds galore and all over the album while the guitars kick in 'round the 1:45 mark. Mr. Dobbs returns back to his growling vocals to emphasize how we were shammed into believing that we had to "give them (meaning the corporations) what they wanted", namely a bailout. As of this writing, those corporations are back to making billions in profit while we, the middle class, are still struggling to keep up. Another great song on point to current conditions and it segues into...

...Incoherent Ramblings, which has me smiling as I type this review. I love this song about the current state of the 24 hour media and the talking heads that really are just "talented lingual whore(s)" that dominate the airwaves using such cliches as "TOO BIG TO FAIL - MARKET-BASED SOLUTIONS - LET'S TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK...". This is smart and intelligent stuff set to music that will suck you into its musical vortex.

After the 1st four songs averaging approximately slightly under seven minutes each, give or take a little, comes the 1st of what can be called "ditties" on the album, The Ones To Follow, employing "tubular" bells (not a musician so I'm guessing here) to make a sweet-sounding song while a terrifically enticing guitar line [email protected] 1:35 mark lasting thru the 2:20 mark followed by Mr. Dobbs growling out "We're all prostitutes hawking out our souls" while the backing vocals sweetly sing "Greed is the word we follow". The ban'd writers have attacked these modern-day subjects with the acerbic wit of two of the best in the business, Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and Walter Becker and the greatest compliment that I can give them and this group in general is that if SD had leaned towards the prog-rock and not the jazz route that this is what they would have sounded like.

The 2nd ditty of a song that clocks in just under three minutes, a Work Of Art, appears to be the most personal on this album as it appears to discuss how two persons see each other and it is almost a jarring change to the angst shown in the prior songs.

Televised speaks loudly about how not real the current spate of "reality" are and how, in reality, when they sign on the "dotted line" how they really are expected to behave in front of the camera.

The Millions of Lost Moments is the 3rd of four short songs, just a plaintive and rather melancholy guitar being the only instrumentation.

The last of the longer songs, Memetic Pandemic, has Mr. Dobbs doing his best Peter Gabriel while he and the band sings "I don't want your handouts, I don't want your hand-me-downs, I want what's mine." Another song dominated by Mr. Dobbs keyboards in what is a eerily sounding early-era Genesis song to my ears.

And, finally, the last of the shorter songs and also the last song of the album, A Nihilist's Love Song finishes off this album in a triumphant mode and it is bringing another smile to my face as I think of its chorus: "All that is and all that was is meaningless...".

Dare I say it: the perfect album. None of the songs too long or too short, the instrumentation being totally complimentary unto itself, the lead vocals being varied enough from song to song to make me actually ask whether it was the same person singing every song, the backing vocals exuding sweetness while the subject matter exuding the sourness of most of the subject matter at hand. This is an album that reconciles the yin and the yang to perfect harmony. 3RDegree have every reason to be proud of this offering and kudos to the group (also Robert James Pashman on Bass, Eric Pseja and Pat Kliesch on guitars, all three on backing vocals) for being able to construct such a varied album, intelligent in all ways without being the least bit boring and one that has grown on my ears with each listening. Crossover prog at its best.

ajcmixer | 5/5 |


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