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HEAVEN'S BRIGHT SUN

Iona

Prog Folk


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4 stars At long last, after months of anticipation, the Iona double live album, Heaven's Bright Sun (ALD 092), has surfaced and as soon as you press 'play' on the first disc you know immediately that the wait has been worthwhile. There's obviously no need for me to introduce you to Iona's music, but anyone who has ever watched them play live will know that, despite having a very complicated sound, they always play a stunning set, combining top artistry with an array of influences in a seemingly effortless cycle of musical prowess.

The band played three gigs in the middle of last winter which were all recorded especially for this release. The evening included a thorough cross-section of choices from each of their four studio albums and successfully mixed the more commercial songs with some of the more atmospheric instrumentals. Thus the haunting melody of the opening track, Turning Tide, the jazz-tainted Flight Of The Wild Goose and the ambient Columcille are interlaced with Treasure, Today and Irish Day in which Dave does his best Runrig guitar impression.

Phil Barker from Sal Solo's band is in the bass chair for this album and proves himself well suited to the task. Some of the highlights for me were Inside My Heart, a quieter moment from the Journey album which develops into a powerful guitar solo and Heaven's Bright Sun, an instrumental which conveys the majesty of Christ. Two new pieces are included, a moody arrangement of the traditional folk song I Will Give My Love An Apple and, as promised, a set of reels, imaginatively titled Reels. A fourteen minute rendition of When I Survey brings the album to a dramatic climax and this, combined with all the other elements of the live set, will serve to make this a landmark album for Iona.

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Send comments to Andy Long (BETA) | Report this review (#16094)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. It's unusual to see a live album rated so low because for the most part it's the band's loyal fans who buy the live records. So I think that means this may not be the best place to start if you want to check out IONA.This live record features songs from their first four studio records. I would describe their sound as very atmospheric with a Celtic flavour.The female vocals and guitar playing really stand out.

Highlights for me are "Treasure" which is an amazing song with sax, flute, guitar and drums providing the gorgeous melody for Joanne's beautiful vocals."Inside My Heart" opens with acoustic guitars and it gently flows as a prayer to God.The guitar solo seems to go on forever, and is worth the price of admission alone."Trilogy" features a lot of sax and synths to begin with, that are taken over by a flute and drum melody, and this continues as synths, sax and guitar lead the way.

On disc 2 I really like "Columcille" a very atmospheric song with flute and synths. I believe uilleann pipes are featured here as well. "Kell's Theme" is a powerful song that is all about the lyrics."When I Survey" is very spacey and atmospheric to begin with before we hear some of the greatest words penned by man, and Joanne's vocals couldn't be better.

This is an extremely talented band that seem to be getting better and better.Check out some of their studio releases I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#103570)
Posted Tuesday, December 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The more albums from "Iona" I listen to, the more I like this band.

I was really not keen on their offering with their first two albums but I noticed a more pleasant sound and better compositions with "Beyond These Shores" and even more while discovering ""ourney Into The Morn".

Even if none were masterpieces, they were quite nice to listen to. And a good chunk of the songs featured here do belong to these two albums (definitely when the timing of these is concerned). So, no wonder, this is a good live album.

It is amazing to discover how this band could have influenced "Mostly Autumn" or "Karnataka". Even if I prefer these two bands compared to the source of inspiration. Of course, "MA" will deeply dig into the Floydian repertoire but they certainly owe a big deal to this band.

This is not a long album. It is a very long double one. Almost two hours of enjoyable music with lots of truly folk parts (which can not be found in the two other band's offering).

I really suggest you to start with this double CD set to discover the repertoire of "Iona". Just listen to the fantastic version of the track "Iona" and embark into this live set. You shouldn't regret it.

It is a nice musical moment, with little highlights indeed but weak moments are scarce as well. Three stars and recommended.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#154531)
Posted Thursday, December 06, 2007 | Review Permalink

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