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4 stars Salem hill´s: "Not everbodys gold" by far their most accomplished piece!! Complex music with added what comes to mind!! "Ridin the fence" is a masterpiece in the prog/ rock vein !! And the track:"The Last enemy" a beautiful example of melody and arrangements the vocals intervene with the odd we know progmusic should be!!! Great themes ...great music....great arrangements!! I just love this group...they´re nowhere near any proggroup i know!!! Oooohhhh...they´re much more than that..they are supreme...... im in awe......i just wish, they were more known to the progpublic!!! Its fantastic..its prog at its best..its wonderfull...its absolute progmusic!! Fabulous music....fabulous vocals....fabulous arrangements!! Now im out of Fabulous!! Just hear this : GET THIS RECORD!!! This is progmusic in its prime!!! Salem Hill rules...OK ? "Sweet hope suite". is the last number on this beautiful record ,and what a treat it is!! This is prog!!! In its prime!!! YYYEEAAAARRRRRRGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Report this review (#6459)
Posted Friday, March 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This Salem Hill recording has to be one of the best symphonic prog efforts of the end of the millenium. 'Not Everybody's Gold' is a truely prominent musical work: well, it may be not everybody's gold, but mine it is for sure! With keyboardist Kevin Ayers integrated into the line-up, the quintet had plenty of room for varied interesting musical ideas: their own high- calibre skills allowed to perform and explore them with both cleverness and intense sensitivity, which is someting you can suspect from track one, a captivating overture titled 'Prelude'. The two aforementioned elements are displayed in great amounts in the rockier tracks ('Riding the Fence', 'Let Loose the Arrow'), the softer ones ('The Last Enemy', 'We Don't Know'), and the one in between ('January'). Though the influences of Kansas, Yes and Rush, - as well as some Styx and some neoprog - are somewhat evident, they are not derivative, since these guys have got a creative flame of their own. Groves and Dearing guitar interplaying is superb, and so are Ayers' keyboard textures and solos; meanwhile, the rhythm section duo exhibit their prowess and tightness with such ease that sometimes the listener might forget how intrincate the material actually is. The intended gem of this album is, of course, the very long suite 'Sweet Hope Suite'. This track is so impressive that I won't even try to describe or analyze it: all I will say is that it contains all the good ingredients that a proghead should expect from a long, ambitious number - lots of melodic lines, diverse sections, well crafted arrangements. What else is there to say? I give it 4 stars, and I wish I could give it an extra half.
Report this review (#6460)
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Dan Bobrowski
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Salem Hill: Strong vocals and harmony, Gentle Giant with touches of Kansas and ....shhhh (Styx).

Power Guitar, From Gilmour to Livgren

Keys: very Kansas styled.... almost to a fault.

Ryhthm section: Again, very Kansas influenced.

Lyrics: hmmmm, again Kansas, but with touches of Roger Waters.

Guests: David Ragsdale's violin is the perfect foil for Dearing and Groves. Too bad he didn't play on the whole disc.

Not Everyone's Gold: A solid three stars. A good cruisin disc, but extremely hampered by '70's production values. Re-mastering is needed. They won't hit their stride until BE, a truly unique disc.

The first 6 tunes are almost juvenile compared to Sweet Hope Suite's majesty. SHS is worth the price alone, a multi-sectioned piece with power and grace.

If you want to get into Salem Hill, Start with BE, then a Robbery of Murder and finalize the set with NEG.

Report this review (#6461)
Posted Sunday, October 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the albums I take the most pleasure listening to. Although the general mood of the album remains 70's sympho prog, there is enough variety between the different compositions to avoid uniformity. The long piece is very good, but I even prefer the six shorter tracks. One sounds very Flower Kings' like, another would easily have found a place on... a Lenny Kravitz album ! (with a killer Hammond). Above all, it is a masterpiece for any keyboard lover, including, apart from the above-mentioned Hammond, some beautiful piano passages. What's more, the lyrics are worth a thought too...
Report this review (#6462)
Posted Saturday, December 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. Good album from the band, but they have a few that are better in my opinion.

Things get started with an instrumental with lots of keys and drums. "Riding The Fence" is an uptempo tune that seems almost too fast, but it did grow on me. "The Last Enemy" features some good guitar. "January" is a real highlight for me, with good vocals and a cool guitar riff that comes and goes. Nice keyboard solo as well. "Let Loose The Arrow" features some good vocal harmonies and a melodic keyboard melody. "We Don't Know" is my other favourite with some teriffic organ and guitar passages. "Sweet Home Suite" has David Ragsdale guesting on violin, and I would say that instrumentally this is the strongest track.

This is a good symphonic record, but if your new to the band I would start with one of their higher rated albums.

Report this review (#99008)
Posted Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars When I listen to "Prelude" it sounds as if the band is willing to sound more pompous and that the influence of ELP stroke them. As well as "Yes" to a certain extent.

Vocals are more Anderson oriented than usual, and music also flirts with the pop genre. "Riding The Fence" is just a confirmation of this. A rocking song hesitating between AOR and neo-prog. Dynamic for sure, it offers a fine piano middle section which is a carbon copy of ELP (again). What follows is extremely "Yes" oriented, especially the guitar play. Even if this track is OK, it is not very original, is it?

One of the best true symphonic piece is the excellent "The Last Enemy". Song writing is more polished and diverse. Fine vocal harmonies are combined with very good guitar play. The almost classical middle part is convincing as well. One of their best song ever IMHHO.

The problem with this album is its lack of personality. Trying to simulate great bands from the seventies shouldn't be their only concern ("Let Loose The Arrow"). And when they are taking some distance from this source of inspiration, they produce some sort of heavy music like in their third album "Catatonia". The number "We Don't Know" is such a track.

Now, the epic "Sweet Hope Suite". Twenty eight minutes of some fine moments from the seventies. Melodic, harmonious and wild intro (you know like "Heart Of The Sunrise".). Add some nice violin and you'll get it all.

After a weak vocal part, here comes "Watcher Of The Skies". The band keeps going on the novelty wave.All this is well performed though and as an old nostalgic freak, once in a while it is not too bad to listen to an approaching music I was used to listen some thirty-five years ago; even if, like here, the references are too many and too obvious as well (listen to the bells in the background which remind the finale of "Supper's Ready").

If this isn't derivative, than I don't know what it is!

We'll get some nice acoustic guitar as well (hi Steve, both of you). This piece of music is a patchwork of sounds one has the impression of having heard already but I won't be too harsh because of that. It is a fine and long moment of symphonic prog. Which deserves a listen. But don't expect too much originality.

Three stars for this good album after all.

Report this review (#180688)
Posted Sunday, August 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Salem Hill is a band that has a special place in my heart. When I was first researching newer prog bands, they came up and I was blown away by their album "The Robbery of Murder", which I still consider to be one of my favorite albums. It led me to getting their whole discography, which led to acquiring this little gem of an album called "Not Everybody's Gold". There is a lot of great symphonic prog to be enjoyed on this album and it opens with the fantastic mostly instrumental "Prelude" which really kicks the album off with a bang. There are great harmonies of "do do do" before the band kicks off and is able to show off their chops. The keyboards and drums are fantastic on this track.

This leads into "Riding the Fence" which is a nice little rocker with only minor prog influences. Nothing too incredibly special, but rather enjoyable in its simplicity. The proggiest section is a keyboard solo in the middle of the track that sounds like it could have been done by Keith Emerson himself. Very fun track! I do think it is perhaps a little too long and maybe might have been better to end after the awesome instrumental section. "The Last Enemy" is a rock ballad that has some tender vocals from Carl Groves and some really nice guitar playing. I must admit, though, that sometimes this track feels like it drags a bit, and I can't get myself too excited about it. Pleasant, but not memorable is my assessment. "January" might be my least favorite track on the album. It sounds bland to me and like straight forward classic rock rather than prog. There are some interesting keyboard bits, but not enough to save the song from mediocrity in my opinion.

"Let Loose the Arrow" starts with a very cheesy keyboard riff before some grooving bass kicks in and the band finally gets into a good grove. Then the vocals come in for some great harmonies which leads into an uplifting track with plenty of acoustic guitar. It is one of the better of these shorter tracks, but I still feel it is missing some kind of magic and it feels overly cheesy at parts. "We Don't Know" starts off with the sound of a music box before a more melancholy song starts up. This song doesn't seem to fit in the overly happy mood of all the other songs on the disc, and it is perhaps the most original. However, it still isn't anything special to me and seems like a pretty standard rock song.

But, fortunately the masterful "Sweet Hope Suite" comes on to save the album from mediocrity. It starts with pretty frenetic guitars and keyboards with majestic organ in the background. It sounds very much like Yes, either the opening to Close to the Edge or Heart of the Sunrise, I can't decide. After this breathtaking opening, things slow down a bit and Carl Groves sings beatifully over some beautiful keyboard. It is a thirty minute epic so it is impossible to write about all that is included, but it moves from the rocking to the beautiful. From the majesty of Yes to the fun of Kansas. There are some beautiful melodies throughout the whole track and all musicians shine throughout the track. The mark of a good epic is one that can keep your attention throughout the whole length. This one definitely does as it moves through its several sections. I'm a sucker for epics, and this is definitely no exception. It is wonderfully done.

This album would be worthy of 5 stars if it only contained the epic, but the album is dragged down for me by several mediocre tracks throughout the middle of the album. Sometimes it is a chore listening to the middle tracks in order to get to the magnificent epic, and that is a problem. I feel that Salem Hill have many other way stronger than this album and this album is not quite gold for me, despite the strength of the mighty epic.

Report this review (#225424)
Posted Thursday, July 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not Everybody's Gold from 2000, is the big step in Salem Hill career. To me is much better then Diffrent world and among their best works.The sound is more fat, they try and most of the time succed to come with a more pompous more elaborate arrangements here. I was quite pleasent impressed about this album, after the not so exciting Diffrent world. The arrangements are more elaborated, the progressive elemenst are now melted great with their AOR sound, this time lesser, Salem Hill comes with a great album that push them not necesarly in top 10 prog bands from USA, but in a good spot to be discovered or re discovered by a larger public.The symphonic prog elemets are now more in front, th neo ones are just here and there but alway combining succesfully. Some highlights hereb like the smooth and elegant January, very good piece, with fantastic keyboards who interplay excellent with the guitar parts, intristing and damn catchy tune and the last track thier longest track Sweet Hope Suite I guess since today nearly 35 min of greatneass and good musicianship. Salem Hill's music is something between Relayer (band from USA), some Kansas or Styx in places, always bordering the complxity with pompus arrangements. ON Sweet Hope Suite he is invited as guest one of the Knasa members David Ragsdale who made some violin parts here and there, good track, thier second best after January. Let Loose The Arrow is another winner for me, a positiv track full of great musicianship and great atmosphere. Well this album is in any way better then some of the past albums they done, I will give 3.5 rounded to 4, because I like this band and I like their positiv attitude on their albums.
Report this review (#267674)
Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Songwriting matures yet again as Salem Hill continues its metamorphosis from neo-prog masters ("Robbery of Murder") to symphonic prog explorers on the album "Not Everybody's Gold". Even the casual listener is provided with more than enough catchy hooks and flashy pop flourishes to hold their attention. Odd meters are liberally sprinkled throughout the predominantly 4/4 backdrop. Unless you absolutely abhor sweet vocal harmonies, pop hooks, and the occasional pompous keyboard line, given the chance, this album so effectively blurs the distinction between guilty pleasure and prog gem that you can't help falling in love with it.

"Not Everybody's Gold" aptly sets the tone for the group of songs to follow with the powerful and up-tempo "Prelude".. On the whole, this album is faster, bouncier and more complex than its predecessor "Robbery of Murder".

"Riding the Fence" quickly reinforces the notion with a "Kansas in overdrive" flavor. The piano section in the middle bristles with excitement and energy! Catchy melodies combine with toe tapping odd meters throughout the album on poppy proggers like "Let Loose the Arrow" and "January". A couple of slower songs ("The Last Enemy" and "We Don't Know") are sprinkled in to provide us the chance to catch our breath every now and again.

Salem Hill continues their improbable streak of "one-upping" themselves with every subsequent studio album with 27+ minutes of prog wonderment on the closer "Sweet Hope Suite".

Report this review (#280132)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Salem Hill's followup to the pretty decent The Robbery of Murder doesn't sound quite as compelling to my ears - possibly because this time around the band's Kansas influence is much more prominent, and I'm afraid Kansas are a band that I've never been able to understand the appeal of. On top of that, the production values on the album seem to be a bit more rudimentary than those on The Robbery of Murder - and that was hardly an engineering masterpiece to begin with. It may be an OK listen for Kansas fans but I suspect even they would have to admit it's not a patch on its illustrious predecessor.
Report this review (#641227)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars If ever there was an album that I have eagerly been awaiting it was this one. I gave Sara the booklet of their last album to read the lyrics, and she agreed with me that it was some of the most powerful and thought provoking she has ever seen. So how could they match 'The Robbery Of Murder'?

Simple, don't. What they have done here is take the music in another direction without losing any of the power that was there before. David Ragsdale from Kansas has again grace proceedings, here playing on the thirty-minute epic "Sweet Hope Suite". Nevertheless, before getting to that, the last 'song' on the album there is much more to enjoy. The opening instrumental gives no idea of the power of the following number "Riding The Fence" which has some very early-Kansas sounds at times, particularly on the keyboards. It is with Kansas that musically they have the most in common, and that surely cannot be a bad thing.

An album that is a joy from start to finish, with enough strange rhythms and counter melodies to please any proggers, often in the same song. "January" on its' own is enough evidence to buy this album, let alone the epic that is later.

Spock's Beard, Salem Hill, Discipline and Kopecky are all very active prog bands from the States, and all deserve your support. Start here.

Originally appeared in Feedback #62, May 01

Report this review (#968524)
Posted Saturday, June 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ''The robbery of murder'' was one of these works you simply can't pass by.The album caught the attention of the Cyclops' management and the British label offered the band a new contract.As Cyclops had done many times in the past, this gave the chance to Salem Hill to re-release their entire back catalogue.Now the fifth album was on the way and the band recruited a new member, keyboardist Michael Ayers, who had contributed additional keyboards in some of Salem Hill's previous albums.The new work carried the title ''Not everybody's gold'' and was released in 2000.

The evolution of the band from the early, more AOR-oriented releases to a full-blown Prog combo becomes complete with this album, even if discreet hints from the far past are still around.Salem Hill managed to capture the spirit of the 70's and transform it into their own amalgam of complex, rich progressive adventures with strong YES, KANSAS and STARCASTLE influences, led by some powerful electric guitars, fascinating keyboard pyrotechnics and an evident aura from the old years in the bombastic organ parts.There are up there next to SPOCK'S BEARD and similar groups with a vivid mood for dense, quirky yet accesible arrangements, where there is a lot of space for melodic or romantic textures among a storm of concentrated rockin' ideas.They retain their deep American flavor of the KANSAS family due to the prominent use of Hammond organ and striking synthesizers over Classical-inspired melodies and over-the-top refrains, but they get close to British-styled Prog quite often, especially to YES, with the impressive guitar manoeuvres of Groves and Dearing and the strong, symphonic textures of the keyboards.Honorable mention should be written for the 28-min. ''Sweet hope suite'', a great Prog/Symphonic Rock epic in the vein of YES with some lovely keyboard interludes, marching sections, sudden breaks, flashy solos and tons of vintage colors, featuring again the presence of KANSAS' David Ragsdale on violin.

Another solid work by Salem Hill in the vein of old, symphonic-oriented bands.Not much of a personal style, but numerous moments of impressive musicianship and well-executed vocal parts.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1234828)
Posted Monday, August 4, 2014 | Review Permalink

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