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Strangers On A Train - The Key, Part I  - The Prophecy CD (album) cover


Strangers On A Train



2.96 | 45 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars From Ignorance To Ecstasy - minus the rhythm section

Strangers On A Train is a trio consisting of three major figures in the Neo-Prog world: Clive Nolan, Tracy Hitchings, and Karl Groom. Before forming Strangers On A Train in 1990, Nolan had played keyboards for Pendragon, and Hitchings had sung for a band called Quasar. All three of them would work together also on Hitchings solo album From Ignorance To Ecstasy (for which Nolan wrote all the material) and Nolan and Groom would go on to form Shadowland, but the three are better known from their separate works with other bands including Arena, Landmarq, and Threshold.

The Key Part 1 - The Prophecy is, as the title implies, the first in a series of albums. Part 2 appeared a few years later, but the planned third part has still not become reality. The sound of this album is rather stripped down, driven by Nolan's grand piano, and Hitchings' lead vocals. Groom's guitars don't play a very prominent role; his presence could hardly be more different from the heavy riffing and fast soling in Threshold. Groom also adds some occasional bass guitar, and Nolan some tasteful synthesiser colourings (and he even adds a few lines of lead vocals himself). Since there are also no drums here whatsoever, this gives further grounds for denying Strangers On A Train the status of Rock band. It is perhaps better seen a musical "project" than as a proper band. It is more progressive than From Ignorance To Ecstasy, but less rocking.

Having this said, this should not be mistaken for a New-Age record. Nolan's keyboards are often lively and authoritative, and Hitchings haunting vocals are full of passion and power (though she doesn't reach the same level of drama as on Quasar's Loreli). Nolan's unquestionable talents as a composer, lyricist, and keyboard player were already on display here, and overall The Key part 1 is a thoroughly enjoyable work of its kind.

Recommended, but not essential

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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