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The Tea Party - Splendor Solis CD (album) cover


The Tea Party

Crossover Prog

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Mellotron Storm
4 stars THE TEA PARTY really took Canada by storm in the early to mid-nineties with their Middle- Eastern flavoured brand of Rock. It was like listening to Jim Morrison singing for LED ZEPPELIN but with all those ethnic instruments. A power trio and each a multi- instrumentalist.Jeff Martin the vocalist also played guitar, sitar, oud, sarod, banjo, mandolin and dumbek. Stuart Chatwood the bass player also played guitar, keyboards, harmonium, tambura, cello, percussion, lap pedal guitar, bass pedals and mandolin. Drummer Jeff Burrows also played tablas, percussion, djembe and goblet drums. And these guys put on one hell of a live show too.This album was really their first official release and sold over a million copies in Canada, which was huge considering our small population. I still remember when they toured Australia and the reports coming back indicated that the people there fell in love with them as well. While their sound was familiar considering that DOORS and ZEPPELIN flavour yet they had these incredible lyrics and that ethnic sound that was different.They could be so powerful and emotional and at the same time play these beautiful acoustic tracks that made everyone think of "The Rain Song" or "The Song Remains The Same". Still for me this is barely 4 stars because the best was yet to come in the form of their next album "The Edges Of Twilight".

The early nineties were refreshing for me personally after the absolute crap that was on the radio from 1987 to 1989. Bands from Canada like OUR LADY PEACE,MOIST, I MOTHER EARTH and of course THE TEA PARTY restored my faith in music somewhat along with the Seattle Scene.

"The River" opens with that Eastern flavour as drums come pounding in then guitar reminding me of ALICE IN CHAINS. Vocals join in singing "Sailing down, down the styx again, without you my love..." Riffs kick in as the tempo picks up and themes will be repeated. "Midsummer Day" is one of those beautiful acoustic tracks with reserved vocals. It does kick in hard at one point before settling back. "A Certain Slant Of Light" has a psychedelic flavour as sounds sort of echo. I like when it kicks in as contrasts continue. "Winter Solstice" is a short acoustic track. "Save Me" is probably my favourite track.The lyrics are meaningful and there's a lot of emotion. "The Sun Going Down" is a very Bluesy track. I like when it picks up with fast paced vocals before settling back. "In This Time" is an acoustic tune. "Dreams Of Reason" is fairly laid back. A rare guitar solo after 3 1/2 minutes is a relaxing one. Cool tune. "Raven Skies" is more upbeat with vocals. Love the drum work 2 1/2 minutes in. "Haze On The Hills" is a short acoustic instrumental. "The Majestic Song" ends the album in a positive manner lyrically.

The band thanks radio station CFNY, the same station that inspired RUSH's song "The Spirit Of Radio" many years previous.

Report this review (#401369)
Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Splendor Solis' - The Tea Party (9/10)

Here's a completely blind purchase I made; based on the album cover and a few words of encouragement from the record store owner, I picked up The Tea Party's 'Splendor Solis' out of the discount bin and brought it home. While I have been often duped by my constant hope that I will find a new great band I've never heard before from those discount bins, there is always the rare album like 'Splendor Solis' that keeps me coming back. Although very clearly influenced by a couple of bands that covered their ground back in the '60s and '70s, The Tea Party manages to take the classic rock sound and give it a modern do-over, which on its own is a worthy feat. Besides that, the album is a feast of organic sounds, clever songwriting and powerful performance; in other words, a perfect introduction to this band.

While the classic rock sound has been coming back as of late, The Tea Party does it with conviction. When describing the sound of the band, the best way to compare them would be as a cross between the instrumentation of Led Zeppelin and the vocals of Jim Morrison, from the Doors. Of course, The Tea Party has something of their own style, but a newcomer to their sound might not recognize it at first. Regardless, whatever The Tea Party does, they do incredibly well. From the Middle-Eastern tinge of 'The River' to the charming pastoral acoustics of 'Midsummer Day' to the proggy beauty of 'A Certain Slant Of Light', there is always something new being explored with the sound.

For the instrumentation, there are many Jimmy Pageisms and other Led Zeppelin inspired material here. 'Winter Solstice' is a short acoustic ditty that could have easily been mistaken as a Page solo piece. 'Sun Going Down' is very close in sound to Zeppelin's 'When The Levee Breaks'. Luckily, the songwriting and power the band maintains keeps things well worth a listen, despite the fact that this is not such an original work. Usually innovation is key to making a masterpiece, but The Tea Party does the classic rock sound so well that the album quality of 'Splendor Solis' is undeniable to me.

Report this review (#423750)
Posted Sunday, March 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I remember these guys very well. They were often compared to Zeppelin musically and singer Jeff Martin's voice was compared to Jim Morrison. He hated that. Obviously they were going for a 'retro' sound, specifically the late '60s/early '70s period. They were not the only group doing this in the early 1990s, but they were one of the best at it. This was The Tea Party's second album but first on a major label. This includes some songs re-recorded from the independent debut album, which I assume was only available in Canada. I have always loved "The River" with it's great use of wah-wah guitar. Great drumming too. I love the middle section with a Middle-Eastern flavoured guitar solo. "Midsummer Day" picks up when the drums enter, at which point it sounds very Zeppelinesque. Gets more interesting and original sounding towards the end. "A Certain Slant Of Light" starts with some great tremoloed guitar. Good bass playing at first. Awesome chorus with a great riff during it. Some good intricate guitar playing in this song. "Winter Solstice" is a nice acoustic instrumental, again very Zeppelinesque.

"Save Me" is probably the most well known song from this album. Great drumming and great singing during the chorus. "Raven Skies" is one of the better songs here. Off and on you hear the sound of some kind of Middle-Eastern wind instrument. Great chorus which features another great riff. In the middle goes into some kind of a 'Latin' rhythm. Later some spacey synth sounds before the song kicks back into gear. Some sitar at the end. "Haze On The Hills" is another acoustic instrumental, not quite as enjoyable as "Winter Solstice" though. "The Majestic Song" continues where "Haze" left off. Then full band comes in. The singing style is catchy. More intricate guitar playing.

This is my favourite album by these guys but I never thought of them as being too proggy. If you like hard rock heavily influenced by Zeppelin and Middle-Eastern music, then this may be for you. They got more popular (in Canada anyway) after this but I don't think they ever topped it. 3 stars.

Report this review (#426971)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I got this album shortly after being blown away by 'The Edges of Twilight' and initially I was a bit disappointed, the songs are more intimate and melancholic and probably less immediate. Whatever the reason, it's turned out to be a pleasure experience revisiting the album and to discover and enjoy the fine musicianship and honest emotion that smoulders underneath.

If you've already read one single review about this band then you will probably have read that this band found themselves a spot in between the Doors and Led Zeppelin, and in fact, I find no better way to describe them neither, whether they like that themselves or not. The music largely reminds of Led Zeppelin, with huge pounding drums, folksy acoustic guitars, soaring electric ones, influences from Middle-Eastern music, a sound like a house, and so on. Add the emotion of Jim Morrison to that and you got an idea of what these guys sound like. Luckily, their songs are never derivative, at least, I don't find any moment hear that makes me want to stand up and shout plagiarism!

I was initially a bit underwhelmed by this album, but time has proven me wrong. This is a strong collection of psychedelic/blues/rock songs that should please fans of 70s heavy rock and heavy prog. Recommended.

Report this review (#512708)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A lot of rock and a dusting of prog, THE TEA PARTY are a perfect fit for Crossover Prog. This, their second album (but first widely available release), showcases their sound. Blues-based rock tinged with acoustic tendencies a la LED ZEPPELIN III or any number of folky '70s bands is your starting point, but I would point out that you can hear grunge influences, particularly in some of the guitar and vocal phrasing. The Middle Eastern references people associate with THE TEA PARTY are almost absent here. If this is your cup of tea, read on.

Splendor Solis is organised around a solid centre of excellent material: the first five songs are well crafted, powerful and fit together very satisfyingly. 'The River' is a snappy opener, while 'Midsummer Day' is an improvement on the version recorded for their debut. The drama peaks on 'A Certain Slant of Light', which is carried by an outstanding vocal performance laid on a strong rhythm section and an excellent guitar riff. 'Save Me' is a fan favourite and about as proggy as it gets on this album.

Sadly, the second half of the album tapers off, starting with the cringeworthy and thoroughly derivative 'In My Time Of Dying' - I mean 'Sun Going Down', sorry. 'Dreams Of Reason' needed more work to make it worth over six minutes of your time. The rest of the tracks are at best inoffensive.

Report this review (#1280807)
Posted Sunday, September 21, 2014 | Review Permalink

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