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


The Tangent


Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 330 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The many reviewers who came before me must have given readers a fairly good idea of what this album is like, so let me just add this: if you like classic symphonic prog of the 1970s, you'll most probably love this album. The Tangent's compositions are highly ambitious, and this album contains enough first-rate playing to keep any prog-freak happy. Flutes, saxes, electric and acoustic guitars, a superb rhythm section, and the quirkiest keyboard solos to come out of the U.K. since the late seventies - all that makes for sheer delight.

I've got just two gripes with this album. First of all, there's A PLACE IN THE QUEUE as a 'concept'. Apparently Andy Tillison, the leader of the Tangent (and an artist I really admire) intended to record a new and original album along the lines of A PASSION PLAY (Jethro Tull) and TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS. Some of Tillison's work can certainly be compared with epic tracks such as 'Supper's Ready'. As a composer, he's trying to resurrect the kind of symphonic suite that was abandoned by the first generation of classic prog groups after 1977. But does he succeed?

Before I go on, I must admit this was the first album by the Tangent I heard. (And to be honest, I liked it so much that I immediately bought the others too.) So when I first played it, I was virtually unaware of the Tangent's previous connection with Flower Kings singer-guitarist Roine Stolt. To my feeling, the Tangent were, first and foremost, Tillison's band. Now there's a positive side to this, and a somewhat less positive one.

The positive side can be summed up as follows. Andy Tillison writes intelligent, first-rate lyrics that are far more interesting than those of his Swedish and American peers. The Flower Kings and the Beard tend to make me squirm with embarrassment, but there's no danger of this with the Tangent. To make things worse, Roine Stolt and Neal Morse have an overbearing, theatrical way of singing. On many of their tunes they sound O.K. for a minute or two, but they really get on your nerves after that. That kind of problem does NOT exist with the Tangent. Andy Tillison's vocal delivery is subdued and very English.

Now for the negative side. Although A PLACE IN THE QUEUE's first epic track, 'In Earnest', is sung with great passion (and sounds totally convincing), the (even longer) title track seems truly disjointed. Tillison's ruminations on our willingness to take our 'place in the queue' are not uninteresting, but they would be far better dealt with in a five-minute pop song. No matter how pertinent they may seem, they're simply not gripping enough for an epic 25-minute track. Each time Tillison resumes singing after yet another fabulous keyboard solo, you feel like shouting: come on, man, don't you have any NEWS?

'Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)', 'Supper's Ready' and A PASSION PLAY keep your interest alive because their lyricists chuck a number of images at you which keep getting crazier and more and more surreal (or even, in the case of 'Nous sommes du soleil', more and more moving) while the music builds towards an irresistible climax. Tillison has all the (musical) climaxes he needs - but not the images that move you.

This brings me to my second gripe. A PLACE IN THE QUEUE doesn't contain the 'immortal melodies' it so sorely needs. I admit that 'Lost in London' and 'The Sun in my Eyes' are endearing, but to my disappointment there is nothing on this album as majestic as: 'Can't you feel our souls ignite, shedding ever changing colours...' Perhaps Roine Stolt would have come up with a melody like that (there are similar moments on FLOWER KINGS albums) but then HE would have spoiled it with squirm-inducing lyrics... (Sorry, Roine, no offense - I really like your guitar.)

Oh well. I guess you can't have everything. And maybe I'll keep discovering more 'hidden melodies' on this album as time goes on. That's the way it went with many classic prog albums. I certainly didn't want to slag off the Tangent; I just wanted to, ahem, share my thoughts. Let's hope the Tangent will treat us to many more first-rate albums in the years to come.

fuxi | 4/5 |


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