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Symphonic Team
4 stars A Fond Farewell

With both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake gone, Robert Berry's 3.2 is the closest we will ever get to new music from ELP - and serious fans of that famous group are going to love this! Third Impression is the second and final album Berry has made under the moniker of 3.2, and the third album overall (hence the title) including the original 3 album from 1988.

The group 3 was essentially ELP, but with Berry instead of Lake, and with a more streamlined approach fitting to the 80's. Many years later, not long before Keith Emerson's death, Emerson and Berry had started working together again, writing songs for what was intended as a late follow-up to To the Power of Three. Sadly, this project was not completed while Emerson was still alive, but amazingly Berry completed and complemented the music they had worked on and this eventually became The Rules Have Changed. That album was released in 2018 - 30 years after To the Power of Three!

That could have been the end of the story, but Berry had one more unreleased song that he and Keith had worked on together. That song now appears on this album together with nine other songs written by Berry alone. I did not expect to ever see another 3.2 album, but Berry has done it again! Like on The Rules Have Changed, Berry sings and plays everything himself, including drums; bass; guitars; and the keyboards, which again sound as if Keith is alive! Berry is multi-talented.

The song co-written with Emerson is Never, which stands up well beside Desde La Vida from To the Power of Three, and Last Ride Into the Sun, a song that was written by Emerson, Berry, and Carl Palmer, but ended up on Berry's solo album Pilgrimage to a Point. Other strong tracks on Third Impression include opener Top of the World and A Fond Farewell, but there are no weak tracks as such. Emotional Trigger is a jazzy piece that brings to mind something from ELP's Works Vol. II.

Overall, I enjoy this as much as I did The Rules Have Changed. If you are a fan of ELP and are hungry for more music in the extended family of that band, you cannot go wrong with Third Impression.

Report this review (#2510827)
Posted Thursday, March 4, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.2 is the musical sequel to the legendary group 3 made up of EMERSON, PALMER and singer-instrumentalist Robert BERRY. She gives melodic tracks, AOR, YES, ASIA, ELP and more nervous; the last is precisely the last collaboration with the peerless organist who left suddenly. Berry did almost everything on this album, except of course Keith's keyboards. "Top of the World" for the start with acoustic guitar then synths, from Yes 80's, heavy rhythm to Led Zeppelin and hardy vocals, a bit of Asia, dizzying synths where dexterity transpires with each note; final return more calm which leaves a great impression. "What Side You're On" for a heavy rock short track, I find there the fishing of Gtr solos, fresh keyboards and the verses phrased of a Queen track but shh, everything is fast, nervous and very good , punchy interlude. "Black of the Night" symphonic title, pompous, playful high in note with Irish and Celtic traces, a sound of biniou halfway; pompous prog-AOR development on rare synth traces, grandiloquent air tinged with spleen, a little Toto at times. "Killer of Hope" intimate intro and title to crazy, enjoyable Emerson whirlpools, Berry giving the drums an energetic quirky tempo. "Missing Peace" acoustic guitar, synth, Yes est l, AOR for a rhythmic bass, carpet synth, superb fat guitar solo, a bit of Porcaro, the voice imposes, the catchy chorus, one of my favorites. "A Bond of Union" delicate piano, Springsteen-style crooning voice, warm, slow ballad that makes you shiver with its May-style guitar, progressive with the crystal-clear arpeggio of the piano; introspective title on the importance of family union. "The Devil of Liverpool" 80's synths, hacketian guitar on Gtr, synth keys thrown in clusters! Thundering solo of the moog, a crescendo of notes reminiscent of Asia, Elp, pleasurable to the hoof. "Emotional Trigger" and his bluesy ballad la Toto, an intimate jazzy piano accompanying this warm voice; the keyboards a little too high and crisp for this track but we suddenly forget that. "A Fond Farewell" for the flagship title on this company which is going really badly, 7/8 synths do you want some here; Berry's well-established voice reminds me of Wetton at times, the synths still twirl and give the dimension of what this organist could do. "Never" and an Elp track like "Trilogy"; A thunderous film intro, it starts with an endless sequel with the typical chorus, go a little APP there, then the break and magic between the keyboards and the guitar on various well-oiled drawers; return to the voices to launch a last solo starting on that of Boston, sufficiently well introduced to want to put in replay. BERRY took up the work left on cassettes to release this exquisite progressive music album, work started thanks to Brian Lane and Carl Palmer (Yes, Asia, A-Ha), with more vocals for easier listening, work done in the pandemic context; a "sunset" as a tribute to Keith and his silver hands; here we have a fusion between Elp, 80's Yes and Asia for a scotching album.
Report this review (#2522830)
Posted Tuesday, March 9, 2021 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars I always felt that 3, the band formed by Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer and Robert Berry was tremendously under-rated and their solitary album a triumph (I also feel the same way about Emerson, Lake & Powell). Everyone was amazed when news came out that Berry and Emerson had been writing together again and there were plans for a new '3' album as '3.2'. Sadly, that was never to be during Emerson's lifetime, but Berry then sat down and recorded the planned album on his own, bringing their ideas to fruition and the result was the excellent 'The Rules Have Changed.' Most people think of Berry as a guitarist, singer and songwriter, yet he is a full-blown multi-instrumentalist, one of the very few who are an accomplished singer as well as musician.

No-one really expected another 3.2 album, but there was the small matter of "Never", the last song written together by Keith and Robert, so what to do with it? The answer was to write and record another 3.2 album using sounds and styles which would have been approved by Keith and familiar to fans of his work, and yet again the result is superb. Listening to "What Side You're On", one would be hard pressed not to think of Keith as the keyboard sounds are exactly what one would expect from him. Berry has always approached music from a more commercial AOR manner than the classically inspired prog of Emerson, but here has reined in the more overt stylings which one can hear with his work with The Alliance and has again produced an album which could well have been a follow-up to the 1988 classic. This is an album which any fan of the more commercial side of ELP, or 3, will surely love the first time of hearing. Also, Robert has now formed a touring band with keyboard player Andrew Colyer (Circuline), drummer/vocalist Jimmy Keegan from Spock's Beard, guitarist/vocalist Paul Keller, who toured with Keith, Robert, and Carl Palmer on the original '3' tour in 1988 with Robert providing bass and vocals. The live shows are bound to be epic, and perhaps a new album will follow, who knows? This is a sheer delight from beginning to end.

Report this review (#2677696)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2022 | Review Permalink

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