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Kit Watkins - Labyrinth CD (album) cover


Kit Watkins

Crossover Prog

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Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This early Kit Watkins solo album is a must for Happy The Man fans. The first nine out of the thirteen tracks sound like they could have come from one of the HTM albums (While Crome Yellow Shine was actually written by Watkins and Frank Wyatt for Happy The Man). They are all fabulous pieces of keyboard driven symphonic prog, showing off Watkins' keyboard skills and love of odd and changing time signatures.

The album drops a bit toward the end. The last three tracks, the Cycles pieces, are new agey noodling. It's closer to some of the music that Watkins would explore in sone of his later releases. But at least these tracks are all short, and don't really reduce the value of the album.

4.5 stars.

Report this review (#573561)
Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kit's old band, Happy the Man, recorded both Labyrinth and While Chrome Yellow Shine for the band's third LP. Their label Arista cancelled the contract, and the third album eventually was released on plastic by Kit's homebrew label Azimuth, and (much later) on CD.

The version of Chrome here really captures the essense of the subtle, even haunting mood of the song, omitting the guitar-centric middle verse with the upbeat tempo in the HTM version.

I especially admire the pair of tune Two Worlds / 4 bars 1 unit, which I believe are a homage to Genesis, the band that the HTM members most admired and sometimes covered.

The Song Spring 1980 is a simple tone poem, wonderfully melodic and a welcome change from the more fully instrumented other pieces.

The song Labyrinth was inspired by Watkins' rides on the Washington DC Metro subway system, and the cover photo collage was taken in a DC Metro station by Watkins.

Also on my iPod are just about all the other tunes on the CD, excepting the spooks and the three Cycles tunes.

Note that Kit now provides from his web site a free download of this entire album as MP3 files.

Full disclosure: I have been shooting photos of HTM and the Wyatt/Whitaker successor Oblivion Sun for 11 years. Some of my photos are on the band web sites.

Report this review (#588878)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars I can see your Camel from here

I am both a very big fan of Camel and a fan of the solo albums of keyboard players in general, so I guess it was just a matter of time before I would check out Kit Watkins. Watkins was recruited to replace original Camel keyboardist Peter Bardens in the late 70's and he appeared on the 1979 Camel studio album I Can See Your House From Here. Before that he played in the American Prog band Happy The Man.

Labyrinth was Watkins' first solo release and even if it is a bit too much on the easy listening-side for my tastes, it has a few traces of the late 70's/early 80's Camel sound. Even if Watkins did not appear on Camel's excellent 1981 studio album Nude, he did appear on the writing credits (together with Andy Latimer) on one instrumental piece called Docks. This same composition also appears on the present album, here under the different title of Mt. St. Helens. I recognized the tune it immediately, but I have to say that the Camel version is much better and more powerful. This version comes across as a bit lazy by comparison.

The album as a whole is actually rather lazy for the most part, though it is not New-Age music by any means (with the exception of the final three tracks). The music is entirely instrumental and strongly keyboard dominated. For me it is a pleasant listen, but not anywhere above that. There is very little to grab my attention, and this is not an album I would play more than once or twice.

For fans and collectors only

Report this review (#680071)
Posted Saturday, March 24, 2012 | Review Permalink

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