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First+Aid - Nostradamus CD (album) cover

NOSTRADAMUS

First+Aid

Symphonic Prog


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Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Oh, waiter! I'll have an order of Well-Past-Its-Sell-By-Date English Progressive Rock. And could you garnish that with a side order of extra cheese?

Of the small handful of "new" British prog bands that released albums [i]after[/i] punk exploded, First Aid were easily the lamest. When you're responsible for the sort of portentous narrative recitations that even The Moody Blues had abandoned five years earlier, lyrics like "Nostradamus was his name/Seeing the future was his game" and orchestrated seven-minute suites that seem to repeat the same nine notes over and over like a litany, you [i]know[/i] you're in Prog Hell!

High point, keysman Keith Parkinson, who kind of overdoes it on the synth effects at times but who's really talented. Low point, the aforementioned "Two Brothers", which seems pretty obviously thrown together to fill out the album side. (With an orchestra, no less! How profligate!) The thirteen minute "The Shape Of Things To Come" that closes the album is actually fairly strong. Now if only they didn't muck it up with still [i]more[/i] of that tacky narration, plus a clichéd montage of speeches by Winston Churchill, FDR and Hitler just to add insult to injury. Thank God England came along a year later with their classic [i]Garden Shed[/i] album, allowing the progressive rock genre to save face a little.

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Send comments to Progbear (BETA) | Report this review (#73292)
Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
bhikkhu
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Team
3 stars I don't know if it was planned, or if it is just a coincidence, but "Nostradamus" has the appearance of being a big farewell to grandiose '70s prog. Being that it was released in 1977 (the golden age of punk), and it is First+Aid's only release, leads me to believe this. The classic prog bands were already adjusting their sounds by this time. However, this one album band decided to record a pompous, ultra-pretentious, symphonic, concept album. I think it was their way of giving one last bombastic blast.

As you may have already guessed, the concept is based on Nostradamus, and his prophecies. In the middle, it shifts to a bit about Catherine de Medici. Sometimes it works quite well, at other times it is downright cheesy. The lyrics in the title track are especially trite. The compositions, however, are very strong. The instrumentation is also worked out very well with a blend of straight rock, and a studio orchestra. The vocalist also has a strong voice, but I wonder if this might have worked better as a strictly instrumental affair. With the absence of the lyrics, it might have been a very powerful musical interpretation.

There is keyboard straight out of the Keith Emerson playbook, guitar grooves, and lush strings. Oh, and the pomposity, I can't forget the pomposity. It would be easy to immediately write this one off as a result of listening to "Tales from Topographic Oceans," and "Brain Salad Surgery" one too many times, if it weren't for the fact that it is good music. Forget the concept, and listen. There is much to enjoy here. It's a about a 3.33 star album, so I have to round down.

H.T. Riekels

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Send comments to bhikkhu (BETA) | Report this review (#134836)
Posted Saturday, August 25, 2007 | Review Permalink

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