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5 stars Live versions on this album surely won´t catch your attention, and most IQ fans tend to say that Paul Menel is a bit commercial, but here he show us what he can do. He has a crystal-clear voice. The band really peak on the studio tracks, here the musicianship of the band explodes. Menel´s version of "Intelligent Quotient", "It all stops here" & "Sera Sera" surely are among the best music I´ve ever heard. Sure IT ALL STOPS HERE!
Report this review (#3686)
Posted Friday, January 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent compilation regarding both the period with Peter Nichols and that one with Paul Menel, including almost the whole range of classics from the early period (listen to the medley containing the mini-suite "The Last Human Gateway") and the recent one. This band demonstrates to be the unique New-Progressive rock band (along with PENDRAGON in some circumstances) to be closer to such 70's Romantic-Progressive rock stuff, GENESIS-like; moreover by maintaining a certain personality (listen for example to the song "IQ" or the excellent "It all stops here"). They are still a remarkable reference for the most accessible Romantic-Progressive proselytes of such "New-Prog stuff" nowadays. Recommended, above all talking about the fans of the most accessible new progressive wave genre!!
Report this review (#3687)
Posted Friday, April 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Despite sound quality and mixing, this album is musically excellent. For those of you who love the band, it's your chance to enjoy the voice of Paul Menel because he sung on majority of tracks presented here - only one song which features Peter Nichols as lead vocalist, i.e trak 4 "Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir". This track is actually also available at remastered edition of The Wake CD. I personally enjoy this album veru much because I can see the difference of Paul and Peter's voice which in a glance they sound very similar. Try the opening track "It All Stops Here" (7:40) where Paul demonstrates his capability in singing through wonderful vocal at intro part. This track is interesting as far as structure concern because it comprises multi styles with changing mood. You can find an early Genesis sound with this track. This track was recorded at Rockfield Studio, Feb 86, issued as one side of a shaped picture disc which had a limited run of two thousand copies.

"Sera Sera" was originally intended as B side of "Drive On" 12 inch which never saw the light of day. It demonstrates a nice combination of acoustic guitar and vocal with some flute-like sound - a mellow one. The band's title tracl "Intelligence Quotient » (7:33) is a nice composition with some classical music touch through a combination of keyboard and acoustic guitar - during opening. The song is quite melodic with many soft keyboard sound. Well guys. I really enjoy this track because of its strong composition and nice melody - even though the sonic quality is not good. The melody and the Hackettian guitar are really killing! This song demonstrates the sound of IQ! It was recorded at the same period with "It All Stops Here" at the same studio.

I have been familiar with "Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir" (7:38) through my "The Wake" CD which contains this track as bonus. Structurally, this is a very strong track with changing moods and tempos. You may find some soft keyboard sound in certain segment in the middle where it does sound similar with the opening part of "Beat The Drum" by Pallas. The organ solo sound in the middle is so rewarding as well.

Track 5 to 8 are basically live tracks with Menel as lead vocal. "Medley" comprises parts of classic tracks: The Last Human Gateway - Outer Limits - It All Stops Here - The Enemy Smack taken from Bristol, June 89. It's an excellent medley. "Common Ground" (6:56) was recorded live at Manchester, June 89. "Promises" (7:06) from Nomzamo album was recorded differently than studio version from Manchester, June 89. It surprises me that the track starts differently and in the middle of the track there is a "disco" version. "Wurensh" (8:35) was recorded at Birmingham, June 89.

If you are an IQ fan, this album is a MUST. But if you are a beginner with IQ, I would not recommend this album as your first experience, you must try other albums like "Subterranea" or "ever" or "Dark Matter" or "The Seventh House" or "The Wake". If you enjoy early Genesis, you would love this album. Forgive the sonic quality. I heard that this CD is now OOP (out of print) - so you may find the used one. I got this CD in 1999. Recommended. I don't understand if people do not enjoy the music of IQ. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW.

Report this review (#61970)
Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars IQ only have released three studio albums at the time, but two "live" ones and this hybrid one which will both feature live and studio tracks (equally distributed). I also do not really understand why they needed to mix both eras of their short life (Menel and Nicholls).

As far as the studio recordings are concerned, there is a bit of redundancy. "It all Stops Here" and "IQ" could already be found on a previous studio live effort "Nine a Pond Is Here". Version of the former being more dynamic on this album. I also prefer this version of "Intelligence Quotient", a bit harder and with a much better sound recording (this can be clearly heard in the intro, but not only) here.

"Dans Le Parc du Château Noir" is a beautiful song, full of emotion and with a definite sound of hope. There is a sublime guitar break from Mike towards the end. Great work. He is not often put in the forefront, since IQ depends very much on the keys from Martin. This number comes from the sessions of "The Wake" and is availble on the CD edition as a bonus track. Nothing new here.

"Sera Sera" is a pittyful ballad which should have been remained unreleased, believe me.

Now, the live recordings.

I have seen IQ twice live (both with Peter on the vocals). I actually prefer Peter even if Paul sounds similar at times. Peter sounds more desperate and has a more emotional tone (and I guess that you know that I like emotions quite a lot).

There is an attempt to please early IQ fans with "The Medley" featuring (amongst others) two of their legendary tracks from their first two albums "The Last Human Gateway" (from "Tales"), and "Outer Limits" (from "The Wake").

One can discuss the use of such "Medley". These two song alone were almost clocking at thirty minutes. To reduce them so much is not in line with my expectations. But Genesis will do the same with their Gabriel era songs while they were three or four on stage. So, if the master does it ...

From "Nomzamo", we'll get the AOR-ish and very poor "Promises" (pretty much extended here) and "Common Ground" only saved by a great guitar break at the end.

And yes, a great original track will almost be ruined ! "Wurensh" featured on "Are You Sitting Comfortably ? and which was, by far, the best track of the album is poorly rendered here. It is also shortend by a minute. Not really great to say the least. Almost a massacre.

As you can figure out, there is really nothing extraordinary on here. Average to good tracks (and even or two or three poor ones depending on your feeling about "Wurensh") and that's it !

No audience participation, no little stories to introduce the tracks (as Peter - Nicholls often does) during the live "set".

I would not recommend you to buy this record (it does not even sell for cheap). IQ won't really produce studio compilation as such but their live CD "Forever Live" or their great DVD's "IQ20 - The Twentieth Anniversary Show" or "Stage" are definitely a better choice.

This one is for die-hard fans and therefore I will rate it with two stars (and I am generous).

Report this review (#123026)
Posted Monday, May 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars 2.5 stars

Don't rely on the minimalistic cover art, this compilation contains a few interesting and enchanting tracks. "J'ai Pollette d'Arnu" are supposedly the first French words the band understood, althought it does not mean anything in Voltaire's tongue. Half-studio, half-live, the set-list is quite heterogeneous, featuring singer Paul Menel, except for one song with Peter Nicholls. The studio part contains 2 previously unreleased tracks and 2 reworked compositions from the debut 1981 cassette "Seven Stories Into Eight". The live part covers the 80's albums, and - unfortunately especially - the second half of the decade, more commercial oriented.

"It All Stops Here" is one of the main interest of the records. Its powerful RUSH-esque intro unveils multiple changing rhythms and as well as nervous, spacey and melancholic atmospheres. A great neo-progressive composition! This is one of the best released version of this song, with the one from "Nine in a Pond is Here", rock-ier than the original from their debut and faster than the later reworked version of "Seven Stories Into 98". In contrast, "Sera Sera", is an enjoyable soft guitar ballad recorded in 1989. "Intelligence Quotient" is the other song from the debut cassette. It also features different atmospheres, but contains cheesy moments, lacks coherency and is uneven. Only track featuring Peter Nicholls, "Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir" is however the other true highlight of the disc. Composed in 1984, as its title suggests, the ambiance is dark and haunting, with a beautifully touching keyboard passage and an epic finale. Quite original for IQ and neo-prog, and one their best creations! This track can now be found as a bonus on the remastered version of "The Wake".

Concerning the live part, only "Medley" is worth the listen, as it mixes extracts of material from the first half of the eighties (the good one): "The Last Human Gateway", "Outer Limits", "It All Stops Here" and "The Enemy Smacks". Not much to say about the insipid "Common Ground" and the awful "Promises", as they both come from "Nomzamo", the weakest IQ record. "Wurensh" is an anagram for "New Rush", and is also one of the best tracks from their second worst opus, "Are You Sitting Comfortably?". This unfortunately just means just an average song.

This compilation is more for connoisseurs of the band than for newcomers. Without surprises, only tracks composed in 1981-1985 are really interesting, especially "It All Stops Here" and "Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir". In conclusion, this disc is a bit uneven and unbalanced, only intended for IQ lovers.

Anyway, "J'ai Pollette d'Arnu" was worth it, because its hidden goal was to finance IQ's next studio album, marking the return of Peter Nicholls...

Report this review (#1565958)
Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 | Review Permalink

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