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3 stars Less hard-rock, more jazzy and song-oriented than FROM BOOKS AND DREAMS. Some of the tunes (e.g.: "Horrorscope") tend to be a bit silly, but some others are pretty strong ("Before The Dawn", "Waves"). Allan Murdoch's guitar tone has grown to become quite unique, more clear-toned with lots of tremolo and reverb. He is easily at the forefront of the band's sound. There's some uncredited keyboards and female vocals on this album, too.

Something of a transitional release, decent but hardly essential.

Report this review (#45681)
Posted Monday, September 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album being the only one I know from Message, I cannot compare it to their previous or latter offerings. Therefore, my review will not be biased by the other albums.

What an album it is! Opener "Before Dawn" sets the mood perfectly, fading in with a superb melody courtesy of McGuigan on woodwinds. Every instrument sounds just fantastic, in my humble opinion (listen to that bass sound!!!). The middle section of the song, complete with breathtaking strings arrangments, is superb.

"Thoughts" reminds me of a Moody Blues song (sorry, forgot the title!) with its catchy hook all the way through. The intro is a perfect exemple of McGuigan's mastery of the saxophone, sending shivers down your spine with his stretched notes finishing the intro... You have to be amazed at the solo section, with all instruments building a frantic crescendo in intensity, double-bass drums beat included (and we were in 1975!). Great entertaining song!

The jazzy "Is That the Way" starts off as a ballad building into a somewhat complex mid-tempo middle section with a nice sax solo. Tom McGuigan plays the role of "let down" lyrics wise, sneering his feelings towards the woman object of his dismay... Tongue-in-cheek ballad, nicely done.

"I Can See the World" showcases what is one of the 2 best basslines of the entire album. A wonderfully catchy song with a female chorus. Very upbeat !

"Waters" is definitely my favorite here. The tremolo used in Murdoch's guitar gives the song a weird feel. The main riff could have come from a Voivod or King Crimson album, twisted and dissonnant. The bass line in the instrumental chorus section is just fantastic, Murdoch's offbeat guitar shuffle completing it perfectly, while Von Bohr just slams away as tight as one can be, all supporting McGuigan's wonderful saxophone intervention. Murdoch's solo here is the best of the album, with an octave-fuzz effect making it sound... well... insane!

"Horrorscope" is the funniest track on the album, where McGuigan laughs his butt out at horoscope and their readers. Reminiscent of Gentle Giant, Free Hand, Interview period. Nice percussion jam in the middle.

"Back Home" is another great song (though probably my least favorite, which goes to show how much I appreciate this album), which, strangely enough, reminds me of Iron Maiden in places (listen to the twin harmony guitars and you'll see what I mean).

Album closer "Train to Nowhere" is my other favorite track. The guys really created the perfect train mood musically, and you just have to roll along with them.

All in all, this album never fails to put a smile on my face. I have been listening to it for 10 years now, and it still sounds as marvellous as when I first heard it. If I can find the other albums, I am sure to buy them all!

Report this review (#71356)
Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
4 stars This self titled album MESSAGE really got me thinking. It wasn't the first album that I heard by them. First I stumbled upon the second album "From Books And Dreams" which blew my mind and only the last song "Dreams And Nightmares (Nighmares)" on that album kind of slowed things down for me, not making it the psychedelic/space/heavy/proto-metal masterpiece that it otherwise would be (strong 4 stars though).

After hearing such stuff I was prejudiced when I found this album which was a lot more commercial and less progressive or heavy (you kind of expect it when you see the cover); yet I couldn't find flaws honestly in it. This album really doesn't make me wanna nitpick it at all, it's really an enjoyable listen and from my side, replayed very often. The sound of the band has changed a lot since the debut and their subgenre here on PA barely applies. It's not completely without progressive roots, as for other music like this I was personally reminded of maybe something like heavy progsters BIRTH CONTROL but only after their most creative years, more around the "Increase" album era in 1977. This album by MESSAGE is pretty accessible like that, however, unlike BIRTH CONTROL, it's more jazzy, gives more space to saxophones than their previous efforts, and just frankly, they pull it of better. It's worthy to remind that MESSAGE is a British/German band where vocals belong to the British member. Now I'm not that picky about how strong an accent a singer has, but this may be a feature that gives pretty charming results which maybe wouldn't work if it was Germans who were singing a pop tune. For example "Is That The Way" is a very laid back jazzy ballad and even though it gets complicated in the middle, the rest of it really made me think of RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS for some reason; it's really one of those vintage gem songs that you wouldn't be surprised if it would turn up sampled in a hip hop song one of these days. There is also some humour in "Horrorscope" which also reminds me of BIRTH CONTROL.

Not their most progressive effort, but it is in competition for the best album. Unlike others, it's pretty even throughout and fun, and I have trouble separating highlights from the rest of the songs. Well, "Is That The Way" and "I Can See The World" with female backing vocals might be the lightweight ones, but it still isn't just background music. Weird how they failed to achieve mainstream success as this is pretty good. In any case, I recommend it. It's fun, healthy and good for you.

Report this review (#658769)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | Review Permalink

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