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IQ - Tales From The Lush Attic CD (album) cover





3.84 | 453 ratings

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4 stars It is 1983. Prog is supposedly as dead as the proverbial doornail. And yet, there were all those stories in Sounds music paper about these new bands, who liked dressing up a bit, played "proper" music, with commercial sensibilities, and liked, gasp, Genesis. In fact, they apparently sounded a bit like them.

It was all a bit too much for us slightly nerdy types who continued to express our opinion that Floyd could play, and that New Romanticism was, basically, a pile of crap. It didn't get us laid very often, of course, but, hey, that's the price you pay!

So, a visit to the local record shop (when you had one in each town) in 1983 was a bit of a treat when presented with the debuts of the two neo giants, Marillion with Script....and this incredible work from IQ, still, in my opinion, the band who have stayed perhaps the closest to their musical roots over the years.

Founded by guitarist Mike Holmes, this collective could certainly play, and the opening track, The Last Human Gateway, was a stunning statement of intent, coming in at just short of twenty minutes, featuring the most delicate and angsty English vocals from Peter Nicholls since, well, a certain Mr Gabriel. Featuring flute, swirling keyboards, complex guitar and rhythm section, in places very much Yes driven, this was almost revelatory at the time, and, whilst it is fair to say that the production nowadays sounds rather weedy and light, it still stands up remarkably well as a piece of music.

It is, perhaps, unfair to single out any particular member of this collective, but this album was the start of a personal musical love affair with Martin Orford that lasts to this day, and I very much hope we have not heard the last of him as a performing artist on a full time basis, for his work here is simply stunning. And as for those who thought that prog rockers were just a bunch of po-faced nerds, his wonderful piano solo piece on the hilariously named My Baby Treats Me Right Cos I'm a Hard Loving Man All Night Long is moving and classically driven. I would love to know just how the title came about!

Some of it, of course, now sounds pretty dated, particularly the "by numbers" Awake and Nervous, but I still get a great deal of pleasure in listening to the vinyl copy closer, The Enemy Smacks, with its delicate guitar work, delicious time signatures, dark organs, very introspective lyrics, vocals which still have me at times checking to see whether Hamill guested, and, well, confirmation to us at this exciting time that the prog "revival" was not to be a short lived experience.

We have debated neo prog quite a lot recently on this site, and it prompted me to get this out and revisit my late teens and jot down a few thoughts.

This is an important album in prog rock history. Whilst outsold by its better known peer Script, a situation which would continue and widen of course, this album spawned a fanatical fan base which has stayed loyal ever since, and I am happy to count myself amongst that number.

Four stars. An excellent and critical addition to any prog collection, falling just short of masterpiece. They saved those for later. In fact, they are still producing them.

lazland | 4/5 |


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