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Michael Quatro - Paintings CD (album) cover


Michael Quatro

Crossover Prog

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3 stars Debut album of Michael Quatro called "Paintings" is a truly diverse recording which consists of 4 long, mainly instrumental symphonic prog compositions and 4 shorter pop/rock'n'roll songs. The dichotomy between them is huge and makes this album rather uneven than truly diverse. Unfortunately Quatro seems to like such formula and he also used it on another album "Look Deeply Into the Mirror" (but with slightly better results this time).

"Paintings" includes lots of keyboards-laden classical influenced music which will please all prog maniacs...but they will also find many cheesy, glam rock/pop duds here.

Let's check this strange album's songs one by one:

1. "Paintings" - titled composition of this album is the longest track here. More than 8 minutes of symphonic prog mixed with truly neo-classical music. It's full of beautiful Grand piano passages, mellotron eruptions, "eternal" choruses and some Moog synthesizer flights. This mini-epic is a rather slow-paced, mellow composition full of charming melodies and relaxed atmosphere. Rick Wakeman's solo career was surely the biggest influence here.

2. "Time Spent in Dreams" - another very enjoyable symphonic, instrumental composition full of sparkling piano and magnificent mellotron waves. First half of "Time Spent in Dreams" is rather peaceful and very classical music oriented but later becomes more lively and we can listen to some interesting flute (synth-made?) passages. Very good one!

3. "Circus (What I Am)" - after two great tracks Mike presents us horrible woogie-boogie pop number full of western-saloon piano beat and - completely out of place on prog-rock recording - soul/gospel like screams and shrieks from beginning to an end. Really offensive song for my ears. The only good thing about this crap is that Michael first time uses Hammond organ here, but it's only supportive instrument here and you need to grab Mike's second album "Look Deeply Into the Mirror" to find some truly fantastic organ performances.

4. "Each Day I Want You More" - is another pop number but compared to other "commercial" songs of this album it's the least offensive one. Just uninventive ballad with leading electric piano and some calm Moog playing. Nothing special but passable.

5. "Life" - it seems that when Michael starts to play crappy mainstream music he just can't stop it. "Life" is a 3rd song in row which has no connection with prog-rock at all. It's just basic rock'n'roll/glam rock which could be easily recorded in the early 60'. Boogie piano and generic wah-wah guitar based piece of garbage.

6. "Rachmaninoff's Prelude" - definitely the best track on the album! Mike comes back to truly ambitious artistic rock with this classical sounding, Grand piano-led instrumental. I don't know if this is some Rachmaninoff's work cover but it surely sounds so. This mini-suite is perfect example why still so many people love 70s symphonic prog: memorable melodies, ear pleasing acoustic piano, Moog synth & mellotron passages, busy drumming, mixing classical with rock & jazz influences, pomposity etc. Everything of these and many more you will find in "Rachmaninoff's Prelude". Splendid!

7. "Detroit City Blues" - oh, man! Why again?!! It's another boogie/glitter rock abomination in the vain of "Circus (What I Am)" & "Life". One song of this type on prog-rock release can be an interesting thing, but 3 songs is just a painful experience. Skip it, especially that just behind the corner...

8. "Court of the Crimson" - perfect cover of Crimson King's most symphonic composition. Michael's version is rather trustful to the original however his extraordinary piano & synth skills bring new dimension to this splendid tune. And his mellotron playin' really rules here too! What a fantastic nostalgic mellotron waves! Can be easily compared to KG's original but unfortunately it's much shorter (less than 6 minutes long).

To sum up: Quatro's debut is a very unbalanced album which tries to mix "radical" symphonic tunes with "radical" pedestrian pop/boogie/glam rock duds, and it just doesn't work well. Lots of reviewers says that Michael Quatro is a derivative clone of ELP/Trace/Triumvirat, but I can assure you that I can't hear any such influences here. Quatro's music is much more influenced by Rick Wakeman's solo output (in prog tracks) and glam rock & rock'n'roll music (in non-prog tracks). If you like organ-driven ELPish music you'd better proceed to next Mike's record - "Look Deeply Into the Mirror", which included few (not too many to be honest...) fantastic Hammond moments. However 2nd album is also flawed by some pop/glitter rock songs (but surprisingly they are rather better than this crap on "Paintings"). 3rd album - "In Collaboration With the Gods" is the only fully symphonic album of Mr. Quatro, however it can't be compared to ELP work too 'cos it sounds almost like tribute to Rick Wakeman. Music is very rather mellow, non-bombastic and you won't find almost any organ there. Besides compositions from "In Collaboration..." aren't as good as prog-rock tracks on his first two LPs. In general all 3 albums of this artists can't fly out above 3,5 stars level to be honest.

But let's come back to current record's review! I don't know what kind of music Mike played after 1975 year, but "Paintings" seems to be his weakest effort from the albums I know.

So I'll rate it solid 3 stars, no more but also not less.

Report this review (#323117)
Posted Wednesday, November 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I believe that for the fact of counting (until this moment) with just one review, the work from this excellent American keyboard player's is little known, I had ear up to now the albun "In Colaboration With Gods", that I consider as an excellent work. And I was satisfied when hearing "Paitings", because I also found a great disk, however slightly different from "In Colaboration...; " that it presents a mixture of symphonic prog with hard rock (slightly similar to the style of STYX), This album already surprises soon of begin, the track 1 "Paitings" begins with a theme in the style of GREENSLADE and it presents a very beautiful vocal choir that although being of simple melody, it checks to the track a very solemn atmosphere. The track 2 "Time Spent in Dreams" begins with a ballad and it retakes a certain air of GREENSLADE again, until returning the ballad to conclude. The track 4 "Each Day I Want You Lives" has a more approximate style of the sound found in "In Colaboration... " and it is highly influenced by Rick Wakeman. The track 6 "Rachmaninoff's Prelude" leaves (at least in my opinion) the admiration that Michael sits down for this virtuoso master of the piano (because there is another allusion the work of Rachmaninoff in "In Colaboration...). Besides in Tracks 3 "Circus" and 5 "Life" show to us another interesting musical facet of this keyboard player, that is the taste for the rhythms close of the black music. My rate is 4 stars!!!
Report this review (#342878)
Posted Saturday, December 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Born in 1943, US composer, promoter, producer and songwriter Michael Quatro received Classical education on piano already at the age of seven and during the 60's he established a succesful promoting/management agency, developing talents such as Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, his sister Susie Quatro or Iggy Pop, highlighted by a great number of music festivals.In the 70's Quatro focused on his personal compositions and came up with a solo debut entitled ''Paintings'' in 1972 on Evolution Records as Mike Quatro Jam Band.He was responsible for the analog keyboard parts and collaborated with Ted Nugent on guitars, Terry Mullen on drums as well as vocalists John Finley, Pat and Nancy Quatro.

The album contains some excellent Symphonic Rock pieces next to some dull moments and it is quite uneven, however its value is to be desired.The first two compositions ''Paintings'' and ''Time Spent In Dreams'' are fantastic examples of Romantic-period Classical/Symphonic Rock with strong NOVALIS, OCEAN and ELP vibes, offering majestic Mellotron waves, superb piano interludes and melodic moog synth parts of the highest caliber.The short ''Circus (What I Am)'' features the Quatro's vocals but this one totally uninspired catchy American/Boogie/Blues Rock mixed with Soul, pretty awful regarding Michael's talent.Side A closes with the piano ballad ''Each Day I Want You More'', which is pretty nice and emotional with a good performance on piano.''Life'' opens the flipside, the keyboard/piano work of Quatro is still pretty good, but the style of Funky Rock chosen is just unsuccesful.''Rachmaninoff's Prelude'' is a long instrumental piece in the style of the opening tracks.Superb Mellotron, spacey moog synths and grandiose piano themes of the best symphonic quality, this man can really mix up Rock with Classical Music in an awesome way.''Detroit City Blues'' says it all.Uninspired piano-based grooves with a bluesy touch and horendous vocal arrangements, just skip this one.The closing re-edition of KING CRIMSON's ''The Court Of The Crimson King'' is absolutely personal and satisfying.Featuring Quatro's own voice and respecting the grandiose sound of Mellotron, the track is added the lovely moog synths and piano of the composer to make it less darker and more sensitive as a composition.

One of the best Symphonic Rock albums I have ever listened to.The couple of dull tracks in this release prevent this from being a masterpiece, but the symphonic arrangements of Quatro are of first class and easily compared to the best of KEITH EMERSON or RICK WAKEMAN.Absolutely recommended.

Report this review (#783157)
Posted Saturday, July 7, 2012 | Review Permalink

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