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Michael Quatro - In Collaboration With The Gods CD (album) cover


Michael Quatro

Crossover Prog

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Easy Money
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars In 1975 the great innovators and leaders in the world of progressive rock were starting to drift towards other things and the genre was headed for a downturn in general. Still, stubborn fans of the genre refused to give up and began looking for some new faces to keep their interest alive. This was also compounded in the states by the fact that yank bands were finally getting a handle on this particularly British brand of creative rock music and stateside progressive rock fans were finally becoming receptive to the idea of supporting some local talent. This was the setting that Detroit bred keyboardist Michael Quatro stepped into with his uniquely American brand of quasi-classical influenced prog-rock music mixed with Detroit glitter rock presentation.

This album, In Collaboration with the Gods, marked a peak in Quatro's very short lived reign as a possible leader in American progressive rock. There are a lot of obvious comparisons here because, despite his obvious talents, Michael is not a particularly original artist. Most of this album consists of multi-keyboard oriented instrumentals whose leanings towards somewhat cheezey pseudo-classical affectations recall some of the more lightweight mid-70s output of Rick Wakeman, Camel and Focus. Meanwhile, Michael's occasional vocals on the 'rockin' numbers recall the sound of American blue collar semi-prog rockers like Journey and Styxx, and his mix of glitter and pseudo classical tendencies can sound like early Queen at times as well.

It was fun hearing this album again, but I think its major importance is mostly musicological in terms of the development of progressive rock in the US. Still, I think fans of mid to late 70s Rick Wakeman and Camel might find some things to like here, Quatro has a Mellotron and he knows how to use it. Its also fun to hear 70s American guitar ace Rick Derringer playing prog- rock as a guest on a couple of numbers. By the way, to those who are curious, Michael is the brother of proto-punk and Happy Days star Suzi Quatro.

Report this review (#307740)
Posted Sunday, October 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars John already said facts before me (I'm not that good with facts anyway), so let's move to my thoughts and impression. This is a strange record (but after all, Michael Quatro himself isn't exactly usual artist), combining Rock, some Prog and also Pop (well, not that much here) & some Classical elements (especially in title track & Rockmaninoff's).

This title piece, In Collaboration With the Gods is a big piece. Switching three sides, one melodic (romantic, tears jerking, sad, whatever you call it), then some rocking parts (basic Rock riffs) and collage of some other sound (I heard The Beatles & Stairway to Heaven), or silence. Repeating these and making quite nice composition. It's not bad song, it's first of all very long song and its repeating isn't so boring. This song in its entirety could be the reason to give better rating. But the problem (or good thing? it depends on your point of view) is what comes next.

The same thing, only divided into five songs. Well, that's this album in a nutshell. Of course there is more waiting for you to discover, if you're interested in this old gem.

4(-), not classic Prog album (rather Classical, or Rock-ssical), but I'm certain that it can please and it has its merits. Very weak 4 minus though.

Report this review (#307775)
Posted Monday, November 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I remember Michael Quatro's fifteen minutes of fame in the mid-seventies when his label leveraged his younger sister Suzi Quatro's name in promoting the rather weak 'Dancers, Romancers, Dreamers & Schemers'. 'In Collaboration with the Gods' is an earlier album, and is both more artistic and more interesting than that one.

Suzi Quatro of course was best known in the United States as the Joan Jett-like sneering rocker-chick Leather Tuscadero in the hit seventies sitcom Happy Days. She would go on to a lengthy music career and was successful pretty much everywhere except at home. Michael never achieved the same level of fame anywhere, but he continues to make music today although he doesn't tour as far as I know and rarely releases singles (there are only two in his entire discography).

I never quite know how to approach this sort of music, which is basically classically- inspired keyboard and synthesized rock with complex arrangements and sophisticated (for the period) studio techniques. There were quite a few American bands doing this sort of stuff at the time, including the Load, Quill, Covenant, Atlantis Philharmonic, Carnegie and others. In most of these cases I have this mental stereotype of big city, first generation immigrant kids raised in the discipline of classical music by stern fathers who worked by day and played violin and night, and by mothers who shared their repertoires of gorgeous vocal pieces with her children around the family piano on cold winter evenings. Despite the family's attempts to instill some culture the kids discover the Beatles anyway and leverage their musical knowledge to try and become the next Jeff Lynne.

I have no idea if this is an accurate description in Quatro's case, but it amuses me to think so.

The list of accompanying musicians is impressive in any case, including Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (aka "Flo & Eddie") of the Turtles and Zappa's Mothers of Invention; guitar whiz kid Rick Derringer (by then in his late twenties); and Dave Kiswiney who was a musical child prodigy of sorts in his own right but plays mostly bass on this record. Quatro plays all manner of keyboards and several other uncredited instruments as well as providing vocals, although much of the record consists of the nearly twenty-minute instrumental title track.

Speaking of the opening number, 'In Collaboration with the Gods' is a ranging keyboard heavy number that combines several well known classical pieces including "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" with a bit of ragtime piano and rock rhythms in a technically impressive delivery of what just about anyone would expect classically-inspired rock to sound like. "Get Away" carries on with a similar theme but with more emphasis on the 'rock' part of the equation as well as the first vocals on the album.

To continue on the theme, Quatro delivers the rousing Rachmaninoff-inspired number "Rockmanninoff's Prelude in C Blunt Funk" complete with scorching guitar licks, almost- metal percussion and plenty of piano and synth. "Ave Maria Rock" is again more of the same but a bit more subdued, while "Prelude in Ab Crazy II" extends the classical theme with more emphasis on guitar.

For reasons that are probably lost to time Quatro throws in a bluesy rocker to close the album. "Sweet Lovin'" sounds like a cover but if it is I can't quite place it. The sound is all organ, percussion and driving guitar power chords and is a radical departure from anything else on the album. It does portend to a certain extent some of the sort of music Quatro would create on subsequent albums though.

Musically this record is very firmly rooted in the seventies; a bit pompous, brash, and imbued with all kinds of musical ideas but at times somewhat self-indulgent. The musicianship and enthusiasm are real and solid though, so overall I'd say this is a pretty good album but not quite great. Three out of five stars and mildly recommended to nostalgia types.


Report this review (#336460)
Posted Saturday, November 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3rd album of Michael Quatro called "In Collaboration With the Gods" is definitely his most symphonic effort. Almost no pop or glitter rock tracks her which often appeared in his previous album, mostly just pure prog-rock here. Overall this release is dominated by Michael's skillful keyboards classical-style playing so similarities to Rick Wakeman's work are obvious.

1. "In Collaboration With the Gods" - album starts with 19+ minutes long suite which is surely the most ambitious project of Mr. Quatro. This composition has plenty of keyboards (synthesizers, pianos & splendid mellotron) passages and quite large amount of electric guitar solos played by Rick Derringer. Everything seems to be in good place but somehow this epic sounds often disjointed, filled with too many different ideas which don't cooperate together easily. We have romantic Grand piano fragments, hard rock guitar riffs, cabaret- like moments, tear-jerking mellotron waves & even short quote of Jimi Morrison's "Petition the Lord with Prayer"(from "The Soft Parade"). Jumps from happy-sloppy ragtime music to heavenly classical influenced piano rides are a bit too much in copy-paste fashion. In general not bad at all, but after it's finished you won't remember too much from it.

2. "Get Away" - begins like typical classical tune with only Michael on his trusty Grand piano but after a while starts more up-tempo, almost hard rock style tune and we can also listen to vocals this time. I kinda like those cosmic solos in the middle of the song, still wondering whether it's guitar or synthesizer... Anyway this track sounds like Argent for me, but without organ.

3. "Rockmanninoff's Prelude In C / Blunt Funk" - my favorite track of the album is atmospheric instrumental full of guitar leads, great piano lines, omnipresent mellotron outbursts & some additional synthesizers. Classical music meets with rock and it's a very fruitful meeting.

4. "Ave Rock Maria" - relaxing symphonic piece played mainly on Moog synthesizer and mellotron with non-obstructive rhythm section. Interesting vision of this classic tune but may be boring for some.

5. "Prelude In Ab Crazy II" - fantastic tune in the vain of "Rockmanninoff's Prelude In C" but even more mellotron-drenched. Very energetic sparkling piano + few electric guitar licks and more melancholic ending.

6. "Sweet Lovin'" - short and completely out of place glam rock song. For the 2nd time we're able to hear vocals on this album and they're not good at all. The only good thing I can say about this tune is usage of Hammond organ for the first and last time on this record + some nice fat sounding Moog sounds from time to time.

Conclusion: "In Collaboration With the Gods" is surely the most progressive album of Michael Quatro and (albeit last song) the most consistent one. But somehow it's lacking real emotions & passionate power I'm looking for in music. So overall I can give it only 3,5 stars and recommend to Rick Wakeman fans & general neo-classical rock aficionados who like plenty of mellotron/Grand piano passages (but if you're looking for more rock- oriented, energetic staff I advise you to check previous album of this artist called "Look Deeply Into The Mirror"). Especially casual keyboards-oriented prog lovers may not appreciate this album because of rather slow tempo & almost complete lack of Hammond organ or flashy synth solos.

Best tracks: "Rockmanninoff's Prelude In C / Blunt Funk" & "Prelude In Ab Crazy II"

P.S. It's a pity that I wasn't able to find any later works of Quatro so I don't know whether he ever recorded fully satisfying album or not.

3,5 stars from ozzy_tom

Report this review (#415445)
Posted Monday, March 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4,5 stars !!! Among the albums That I know ( "Paitings" 1972 and "Dancers , Romancers ..." 1976) from the discography of the North-American keyboard player Michael Quatro, I consider "In Collaboration With The Gods" (1975) his best work. A perfect combination between Symphonic and Hard-Prog in title track already recommends the album. Besides this one be the usual arrangements of classical pieces, always using the same "explosive" combination of sympho/hard prog with great space for the other musicians which accompany in the execution ; as for instance the drum parts in track 3. "Rockmanninoff's Prelude In C Blunt" ... the guitar parts in track 5." Prelude In Ab Crazy II " .In resume I think which only 40 ratings for 7 albums, is a very little number of quotations from so talented musician . My rate is 4 stars !!!
Report this review (#1577152)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2016 | Review Permalink

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