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HANDS

Hands

Symphonic Prog


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Greger
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is Shroom Productions best release so far. HANDS were an American band, founded by members from PRISM, who were active between 1977 and 1980. They never released an album back then, but this CD is put together with material from that period. The sound quality is overall very good with a few exceptions. - Their music is a mix between medieval music and progressive rock, mostly instrumental. HANDS have strong compositions and intriguing arrangements and they're reminiscent to GENTLE GIANT, JETHRO TULL, KING CRIMSON, MIRTHRANDIR, PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI, and YES. I really like their wide range of musical instruments such as flutes, saxes, oboe, clarinet, various other woodwinds, keyboards, percussion, bass, guitars, drums, trombone, mandolin, viola, violin, vitar, quatro, piano, tubular bells and tuned percussion. - The highlights are the opening Jethro Tull-ish "Zombieroch", "Mutineer's Panorama" with nice Mellotron playing, "Worlds Apart", "Dreamsearch", "Mindgrind" and the epic masterpiece "Antarctica". - This is a forthcoming classic in progressive rock, and the fact that the disc is over 70-minutes long with a 20-page booklet containing pictures, loads of information and a band history, makes it even more valuable. This is an American masterpiece together with MIRTHRANDIR "For You The Old Woman" (1976) etc. Highly recommended and a must have!

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Send comments to Greger (BETA) | Report this review (#3356)
Posted Thursday, March 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars HANDS were a US band from the late 70's (Texas) who managed to record a real charmer with their debut release. For this progressive rock fan, this album is simply indispensable and a real cornerstone in the US Prog genre. As with so many of the US prog acts their music is complex and ever changing revealing elements of GENTLE GIANT, GENESIS, ECHOLYN, JETHRO TULL and even early KANSAS. Instrumentally these lads really shine with tons of exquisite keyboard , bass, drum and guitar work. Other instruments include viola, violin, cello, vitar, quarto, woodwinds and mandolin. Musically HANDS encompass all these instruments to create a vast wall of sounds and tones with a wild mix of symphonic and rock forms. The overall results is a nicely varied album with some wonderfully memorable songs which one can not grow tired of listening to.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#3357)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Steve Hegede
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It's pretty sad when you read about how these 70s prog bands spent countless hours composing, practicing, and promoting their music only to find indifference from the general public. This was the case with the Texan band HANDS. The band, made-up of gifted musicians from the same small town, recorded some excellent prog between 1977-1980 only to have to give up because of lack of interest. Their music was inspired mostly by GENTLE GIANT (they got to open for them once!), but I'm sure the other major prog bands were also influences. Each song's multiple sections feature different styles that range from guitar-led riffing, to baroque, to dissonant-prog-funk, to gentle flute/mellotron interludes(which sound very Swedish!). The weakest part for me here are the vocals which sound a bit like John WETTON. But they are far from being mediocre, it's just that WETTON isn't one of my favorite vocalists. This CD is a must for fans of bands like CATHEDRAL, MIRTHRANDIR, and anyone exploring the seventies American prog-scene.

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Send comments to Steve Hegede (BETA) | Report this review (#3358)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Grab a pot, throw in a load of Gentle Giant, some Camel, a smidgen of Kansas, Jehtro Tull, Happy The Man and King Crimson, add a pinch of Italian symph and you have a stew called Hands. And what a stew it is. These guys from good-ole Texas USA are some incredible players. Every instrument under the sun is played and played with professionalism. Starting out with the track "Zombieroch" a Gentle Giant-like instrumental, you'd swear it was cut from the 'Octopus' lp, it's that good. Most songs are instrumental, especially in the beginning. Of the songs with vocals, "Antartica" is my favorite. In fact, it's the only song that doesn't sound like any other band. And that's the only reason why I give this album four stars over five. It's fine to be able to sound like other bands. But for my money, originality merits masterpiece ratings. The track, "Dreamsearch" is a case in point. Starting out with an incredible take on classic Italian symphonic prog, four minutes in it switches gears into a blazing Gentle Giant boogie to then settle back into the Italian prog sound masterly. Yet, if you played the track not knowing who it was, you wouldn't think, "Oh, that's that band Hands." Come to think of it, the name of the band is rather the point. They dip there hands in all sorts of bands. Maybe they should have been called, 'Chameleon'. I'm not knocking the playing, which is awesome. But derivative, my name is Hands. Still, when compared to other US bands from that era, Hands are tight, talented professional players who, if given time, money and started out earlier could have been THEE best prog band ever from these shores.

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Send comments to NJprogfan (BETA) | Report this review (#51238)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This CD compiles a lot of material recorded by Hands in the late 70s. And what is Hands? It is one of the best kept secrets of USA's prog, and let me tell you that it is so unfair that they had to be so secret back in those days (other exceptional injustices that immediately come to my mind are the legendary Happy the Man and the still more obscure However, but now let's focus on this particular band). All tracks comprised in this CD are demos, but many of them really display a good sound quality, and that is particularly relevant for thsi band since the musicians involved were not shy about the use of a varied array of saxes, woodwind and keyboards in each and every track, together with the guitar, bass and drum kit, plus the violin/viola, which elaborates dialogues with the guitar, wind and keyboard alternatingly when not playing a good solo spot. Yes, Hands was as meticulous with the musical arrangements of their material as they were abundant as a line-up (6 or 7 members, depending on the era). Actually, Hands got a recording contract by the time they started recording these demos, but the final process never got to its fruition, and until the band's reunion in the late 90s, this "Hands" CD was the only item available for prog collectors everywhere. This band sure got influenced by their contemporary compatriots of HTM; other influences easy to notice are Gentle Giant, the melodic side of the Canterbury trend (Hatfield & the North, Caravan), the jazzy side of Zappa, PFM, "Songs from the Wood"-era Jethro Tull, Yes. You can even tell there are some Kansas hints for their rockier moments, especially the album's last two tracks. However, these guys were no dilettantes but serious performers/writers who managed to create their own prog voice through their unhidden influences. The instrumental arsenal they used and the controlled way in which the musician integrated their integral performances made their music sound very orchestral, which allowed them to enhance the symphonic side of their musical offer. 'Zombieroch' kicks off thsi album with an undeniable hook, yet bearign enough complexity as to fill the prog mold: mentally picture a mixture of "Free Hand"-era and first album-HTM and you can have a good notion of what this excellent instrumental is about. The same irresistible magic will be repeated in track 3 'Triangle of New Flight'. As a constrast, tracks 2, 4 and 5 step convincingly into the realms of serenity nd introspection, with 'Prelude No. 2' displaying a clear homage to Baroque and the other two tracks built on the melancholic side of jazzy prog (I find 'Mutineer's Panorama' breathtakingly beautiful, powerful despite its patent eerie softness). Later on, 'The Tiburon Treasure' brings another example of genius solemnity with its acoustic guitar-based bucolic aura. 'Mindgrind' is yet another HTM-related adventure albeit with an extra dose of energetic rock. The short tracks 'Greansoap' and 'I Want One of These' bring Celtic and madrigal moods, respectively, in a very polished fashion - pure finesse at writing and performing, this is what Hands is all about at the end of the day. The epic pieces are solid occasions for the band to show how skilled the individuals are and how well-oiled is the team they form: the sense of structure of symphonic prog and the dynamics of jazz-oriented art rock create a solid basis for the togetherness of the various motifs comprised in each epic. 'Dreamsearhc', 'Left Behind' and 'Anctartica' era really awesome, with the latter including some spacey nuances that providing a surprising variation for Hands' usual modus operandi. Since this album is a collection, the repertoire does not get to complety fulfill a sense of consistency, but it is definitely a masterful catalogue of excellent prog music. Hands is a band that should be included in any decent prog collection - the place to start is this particular album.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#163693)
Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I was wondering why this clocked in at 60 minutes when it was released in 1977. Well apparently these are well recorded demos the band had put together and they were compiled for this release. Unfortunately these Texans (like a lot of American Prog bands in the seventies) had a hard time being accepted and taken seriously by both the music indusrty and music fans. The music sounds to me like a cross between GENTLE GIANT, KANSAS and KING CRIMSON's first album. I really have mixed feeling for this recording and therefore 3 stars for me is the right rating.

"Zombieroch" has an uptempo symphonic intro with some chunky bass. It turns orchestral with strings then kicks back in. Nasty guitar after 2 minutes. An impressive instrumental display. "Prelude # 2" is a short piano and flute piece. "Triangle Of New Flight" is led by flute, gentle guitar and violin early. A change 1 1/2 minutes in as the guitar and a more powerful sound take over. Violin too. Synths with flute before 3 1/2 minutes then it picks up again. "Mutineers Panorama" has flute and a relaxed sound leading eventually and this soundscape will come and go. Mellotron too and this is the best song so far. "World's Apart" has vocals and is laid back. It picks up with keyboards when the vocals stop. They do come back again. "Dreamsearch" is acoustic guitar and flute led then the vocals come in after a minute. It's orchestral as well. It turns powerful after 3 minutes and the tempo picks up before 4 1/2 minutes. Some crazy synths too. It's orchestral after 8 minutes then the vocals end it.

"Left Behind" has strummed guitar and vocals as the piano joins in. It kicks in with prominant guitar 2 minutes in. Drums and flute too. It settles 3 1/2 minutes in with some nice bass and it's dark. "Mindgrind" hits the ground running. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in as it settles some. Chunky bass after 2 minutes and some ripping violin before 4 minutes. "Greansoap" features violin and a classical vibe. A Celtic flavour here too. "I Want One Of Those" is acoustic guitar and a laid back sound. Synths help out after 2 minutes. "Antarctica" has an epic intro then all we hear is the wind blowing before it kicks back in. Vocals follow. "The Tiburon Treasure" is a short beautiful song to end it with.

A mixed bag for me but well worth checking out as most seem to love it.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#769731)
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2012 | Review Permalink

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