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Red Jasper - Anagramary CD (album) cover

ANAGRAMARY

Red Jasper

 

Prog Folk

3.95 | 23 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars With "Anagramary", RED JASPER's overt musical relationship with Olde England suffered a direct hit. While on the near masterpieces "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Winter's Tale" they were the lonely exponents of Celtified neo prog, here they practically abandon those musical pretensions even as anti-Imperialist themes remain in the foreground. A few touches of whistle and middle Eastern flourishes remain, as if Davey Dodds' voice alone wasn't enough to remind us to whom we were listening.

With neo prog being no friend of distinction, and with the overuse of colossally over amplified and redundant riffs, what's most arresting about this final (well, at least for 15 years) bow is that it's actually quite a refreshing album, with many passages rivaling earlier peaks. Dodds' voice is in fine form even if several instrumental cuts and lead vocals by Dave Clifford render him less integral than hitherto imaginable within the collective. Robin Harrison excels on lead guitar and Lloyd George's keyboards somewhat redeem otherwise banal hard rockers. "Babylon Rising", "In the Name of Empire', and "through the Dawn" are all top notch, the first two because they are so distinctively JASPER, the latter because it is so slick and un-JASPER like that it could be the pinnacle for a thousand other bands' repertoires. In fact, Clifford is a ringer for Lou Gramm on this emotive piece. "in Her Eyes", in contrast, is like "Through the Dawn" with the edges sanded down, that is, not much of anything, while "Island of the Mighty" and "People of the Hills" veer far too close to riff rock, never the band's trump card. "Waterfalls" is a fascinating, almost ambient instrumental which cascades to and fro, and is quite unlike the usual JASPER fare of any era.

It's hard to say if "Anagramary" represented a conscious effort to commercialize the product by skimming off much of its folky character, or whether it was simply the result of reduced engagement by the band's most eccentric affiliate. The imminent release of the Dodds-less " The Great and Secret Show" might resolve that puzzle once and for all.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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