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AGE OF MADNESS

Jane

Heavy Prog


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hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Their eighth studio release is a kinda unsatisfying (at least for a progfan) mix of light progressive Floydian type of tracks and rather commercial and common hardrock songs. Overall not really that bad but anything a serious proghead would spend his hard earned bucks for. Nevertheless a nice listen, guitar play by Klaus Hess is very good as usual and what's not mentioned here in the line-up Manfred Wieczorke of ELOY is contributing some nice spheric keyboard tunes.

As for all their albums coming after the Live one: For fans and completionists only!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#79585)
Posted Sunday, May 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
2 stars A MIXED BAG OF EVERYTHING!

AGE OF MADNESS is definitely not an essential JANE album as the band starts to show some signs of tiredness and lack of inspiration. Moreover JANE seems to be between a rock and a hard place as they don't know which way to go musically! Be prog? going back to hard rock? don't forget we are now in 1978, this is no time to produce long ''epics''. So i guess our 4 musicians decided to please all their fans with a little of everything, ultimately denying them the possibility to enjoy the album wholeheartdly.

AGE OF MADNESS starts prog, ends prog but there is nothing proggish in the middle!The first 3 songs AGE OF MADNESS (PART 1), MEMORY SYMPHONY and AUROVILLE are pure spacey dreamy tunes once again reminiscent of early PINK FLOYD. The instrumental AUROVILLE could have even been featured on OBSCURED BY CLOUDS and no one would have been schocked. Those are not complicated compositions, JANE has never been know for extravagant arrangements , but the athmosphere is very nice as always with wonderful keyboards and tasty guitar playing.

All of a sudden, with song #4 LOVE SONG, we are going directly to California for a lazy slow paced ballad. Not bad, but kind of a wake up call after enjoying the first 3 space songs . In case you haven't been awakened yet, next is a hard rock song BAD GAME, not really inventive and the guitar riff is somehow aggravating after a while.

Back to California with GET THIS POWER, sounding like a psychedelic jam with harmonica and all!Pleasant tune but do i buy a JANE album to listen to this kind of music? not really! WITH HER SMILE is another mid-tempo rocker with no personality and soul whatsoever; That's what we name a filler!Good guitar as usual, but the vocal melody sucks!

Finally we come back to prog with the last 2 tracks: The wonderful dreamy instrumental MEADOW, a very delicate piece of music showcasing Wierczorke at his most sensitive followed by an ''encore'' AGE OF MADNESS (PART 2) which closed the album in a good symphonic way.

AGE OF MADNESS is a middle of the road album which has its (good) moments and some others i could have lived without. At least, they put the prog on one side and the mainstream rock all together on the middle.But that's definitely not a neccessary purchase for the prog connoisseur.

I haven't bought the following JANE albums because they are not easy to find in the first place, then i know they reverted to pure 80s hard rock later in which i am not interested. KLAUS HESS and PETER PANKA will go their separate ways with 2 versions of JANE like BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST. Peter Panka's JANE released 2 albums in 2003 and 2007 with no HESS on board and it has nothing to do with the music JANE produced in its heyday! Sadly PETER PANKA passed away 3 months ago last June.

2 STARS.

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Send comments to febus (BETA) | Report this review (#143586)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Unlike mentioned in the line-up on PA, on this album, Manfred Wieczorke (ex-Eloy) is still holding the keys. It will be his last apparition with hte band (unfortunately). Klaus Hess will take them over on their next album "N° 9". But I can't say that it was for the best of the band.

The previous "Jane" album was a very good one released and the band is trying to redo the same at least for the first two songs which are again very good ones. "Heep" oriented keyboards to start a powerful opener which will quickly turn into a fully Floydian atmosphere. Even the vocals part is OK but this has been always the case when the three band members featured on this album (Hesse, Hess and Panka) were taking this role. My fave out here and on par with their good songs.

The title of the next song is fully in accordance with its content. "Memory Symphony" is a very nice and tranquil instrumental song. A good balance with very expressive keys and of course a sublime guitar play (but this is a "Jane" TM). Another highlight.

The instrumental "Auroville" is a bit harder. It refers to a human utopy. It is the name of a city in South India (building started in 1968). The goal is to create a universal city where men and women from all around Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity.

The worst of their numbers so far (all albums considered) is "Love Song". A bluesy . love song with stupid lyrics. I really hate this song. Press next of course to reach "Bad Game" which is a repetive and heavier rock instrumental, not too bad though. I would also consider "Get This Power" as the nadir of their production (on par with "Love Song").

Most of the songs are average to good (at best). "With Her Smile" is one of them. Some old-fashioned psychedelia from the sixties. But this album was released in .1978.

Bearing this in mind, the short and peaceful instrumental "Meadow" is like a kind of fresh air. Nice and aerial keyboard play, nice melody somewhat similar to "After the Ordeal" on "Selling". One of my fave (would you believe!).

The reprise of the opening and title track is just as good as its counterpart. At least it leaves the listener with a favourable felling about this release which holds three very good songs and two good ones. For a total of twenty minutes not a great one.

Three stars (but this is on the higher end). Five out of ten would be more appropriate. But you know the story...

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#153682)
Posted Sunday, December 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars "Age of Madness" has all the traits of a band on autopilot - no truly outstanding songs, mostly shorter material, repetition of simple motifs beyond their usefulness, overall brief running time, etc. After the almost uniformly adventurous and convincing "Between Heaven and Hell", given the lateness of the hour for such epic material, a disappointment was inevitable.

Yet in the case of Jane, "Age of Madness" also played to their strengths. Their ability to stick doggedly to a simplistic yet catchy theme and plod along with slight variations was without peer in the German scene and beyond. It also strangely fits with the theme of madness, when one is unable to completely escape the infinite loops and disconnected circuits in one's brain. The title cut here is such an example, spacey, textural and hypnotic. "Memory Symphony" is similar, but more symphonic, with string synth sounds galore. The marriage of Jane's trademark psychedelia with country and western motifs in "Love Song" even shows a willingness to break new ground; even if this may have been commercially motivated, it doesn't seem like compromise. For a heavier repeating loop, try "Bad Game" - again, Jane takes a riff where it has gone before, again and again, and does it better than anyone, thanks to Hess and Wieczorke, amply backed by the rhythm section.

"With Your Smile" is perhaps the best thing here, kicking off mid-song and highlighted by some of Hess' best work and a near danceable beat. It is the ultimate expression of Jane's paradoxical blend of professionalism and amateurism.

On the negative side, "Get this Power" combine the worst of all eras of Jane, and must have sounded laughably retro even in 1978, and "Auroville" fails to inspire in spite of a similar formula to the album's successes. Nevertheless, as an overall collection, this late stage album has the temperament to outlive the vicissitudes of its age. 3.5 stars rounded up.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#194909)
Posted Wednesday, December 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Age of Madness, indeed: 1978 was all that and more, to fans of Progressive Rock. After reaching a creative plateau on their ambitious 1977 album "Between Heaven and Hell", the hard-rockers of Jane followed a lot of other prog acts into shallow waters toward the end of the decade. But let's face it: unlike some groups they didn't have to swim very far.

In fact the band sounded very much at ease in the less sophisticated musical tide pools of the late '70s, at least over the initial three tracks here. That burst of classic Hammond organ grunge kicking off the album was a conscious throwback to an earlier, heavier Jane: the musical equivalent of slipping into an old pair of sneakers after a formal night on the town. The song itself was still uncomfortably in debt to PINK FLOYD, but with a welcome economy of style compared to the bloated, faceless wall Roger Waters was erecting at the time.

And then we arrive at the bluntly-titled "Love Song", sounding like a different group altogether: a soft rock ensemble from the beaches of southern California, perhaps. It helps to hear the track as a clever parody of a radio-friendly single, which I'm sure wasn't the intention, but the almost robotic repetition of rhythm and verse might have worked as satire in another context. From that point on, the madness in the album's title can be officially diagnosed as schizophrenia: half creative energy, half commercial tripe.

Okay, so that last comment was a little harsh, and not entirely true. Yes, there's a 50/50 separation in quality over the album's nine tracks, divided almost equally between songs and instrumentals (and here I count the two-part title track as an instrumental, with singing). But even at its lowest common denominator the album is occasionally lit by incandescent flashes of energy, typically sparked by guitarist Klaus Hess, in the dramatic sustained notes of "Bad Game"; or his striking solo turn in "With Her Smile"; or the driving pace of "Get This Power", the latter effort shortchanged only by Peter Panka's lack of traditional New Wave drumming chops.

The overall structure of the album helps it too, with the better (wordless) selections bookending the weaker songs, in effect supporting them in a firm musical embrace. And despite its split personality the complete package strikes a more unified tone than the somewhat contrived prog stylings of their more popular "Heaven and Hell". While not a triumph by any means, it's hardly the stumble I might have expected, and actually compares well to the late-inning rallies of other, bigger prog bands nearing the end of their relevance.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#1163141)
Posted Saturday, April 19, 2014 | Review Permalink

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