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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars reaally!!!

This second album is quite the follow-up of their very promising debut, amost borrowing the exact same template. This is to say hat the album is not anymore prog than the previous one, but it is more accomplished and less na´ve. Triumph's line-up will stay unchanged for years and is the perfect trio with Emmett's superb guitar playing (both acoustically and electrically) and Moore is one of the hardest skin pounder around. Both have excellent voices in the same vocal timbre, so it is hard to tell who is signing which song. Levine's bass playing is very apt and he doubles on Kbs although these stay in a minor mode, not any bigger role than in Rush's classic albums of the same era - a few layers here and there, always tasteful but relatively rare.

The first side opens with three typical trying tracks that range from the very riffy Takes Time to a more changing Bring It on Home, but nothing not achieved on the previous record. In this regard, one understands the comparisons to cross-town rivals/friends early Rush. Albums, but the lyrics will always stay down to earth, depicting RnR lifestyles. The two part NY City Streets closing off side 1 is definitely based on the two part Street Fighter on the debut but more ambitious if partly flawed, as they try themselves incorporating some soul singers sister into their RnR but it is only partly convincing and leading into the much heavier second part where manic guitars and great vocals demonstrating impressive vocals sustain ability.

As opposed to the previous album, they start with the epic three part 9 min+The City and this is Triumph at their more Triumphant. The first War March is a very martial instrumental full of breaks showing that they could manage some superb prog writing followed by a very convincing flamenco guitar solo with full dramatics (the first acoustic guitar piece, but there will be at least one on every album for years to come) to lead into a slow but delightfull and ever-changing crescendo to finally reach the grandiose full power finale. Simply their apex, and only an aperšu of what they could've done had they persevered into that direction. After this peak, the rest can only pale, but still manage to to hold its own with the Joe Walsh cover RMW and the great title track a bit flawed by the long guitar solo by an over-confident Emmett.

This second album is clearly their better and proggier effort, but around the corner lay changes in direction and Triumph, sensing the winds of changes, will leave prog pastures for greener more metallic fields!

Report this review (#51315)
Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Like most of the Triumph's albums, this one still remains more "sophisticated straightforward hard rock"-oriented than progressive related. There are however some progressive related parts, like for instance on the "The city" track: "War March" is partly a reprise of King Crimson's "Devil's triangle". "El Duende Agonizante" shows how Rik Emmett is a talented musician: this lively elaborated flamenco track is very surprising coming from a hard rock guitarist. "Minstrel's Lament" is a very melancholic song, like Triumph used to play on the following albums: there is also a short bit that sounds like on the first Iron Maiden album, especially "Phantom of the opera".

Some of the tracks, like the album title suggests, sound hard rock'n roll. On the "rock'n roll machine" track, the LONG & Van Halen-esque guitar solo is VERY weird and funny: it is one of the most progressive electric guitar solo I have ever heard! Impressive! The keyboards are rather floating in the background, and there are some very good progressive mellotron arrangements. Emmet often uses a good acoustic guitar as a complement.

Report this review (#73149)
Posted Saturday, March 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. I had this on cassette in the late seventies and it is not only as hard as hell, but it has some distinct progressive moments.TRIUMPH were a Canadian rock trio who in the late seventies like RUSH could blow the lights out with their power. Rik Emmett is a virtuoso guitar player who has since released many guitar instrumental records. Including some that have a Jazz, Classical and even Flamenco style to them. On this album though he is simply on fire ! Light speed solos, to heavy riffs ,to delicate acoustic melodies, he does it all. The production on this record is stunning ! The drumming is so crisp and clear as are all the sounds that we hear. These guys actually opened their own recording studio in 1981 called Metalworks that is still in business today.

The album starts off with "Takes Time" and it has such a crunchy riff that sounds fantastic.The whole song is filled with guitar solos and riffs and the drums are so crisp ! "Bringing It On Home" opens with acoustic guitar and vocals that are followed with heavy riffs and great vocals.This contrast continues and the results are fabulous ! "Little Texas Shaker" is a straight ahead rocker that smokes.The vocals are rough and the drums and guitar solos are incredible. "New York City Streets Part 1" is a mellow song with some more beautiful guitar and female vocal harmonies.This has a jazzy feel 2 1/2 minutes in. "New York City Streets Part 2" is like getting smacked in the face with a board when it opens with a blazing guitar solo that goes on and on,and the vocals hit new heights.

The next song is called "The City" and it is divided into three parts.This song gave me the same satisfaction back in the late seventies that "Xanadu" did from "A Farewell To Kings" by RUSH. I didn't know back then they were progressive songs I just knew they had lots of twists and turns and were not like normal radio songs. I remember my cousin trying to fast-forward past this song to the next one and I wouldn't let him. "Part 1-War March" begins with drums as they build and the guitar comes in with a scorching solo.There is actually mellotron in this first part as well as the third section. "Part 2-El Duende Agonizante" features a Spanish sounding acoustic guitar melody throughout. "Part 3- Minstrel's Lament" opens with vocals, acoustic guitar then mellotron.The song starts to build in power as some beautiful guitar melodies come in that at times soar before they turn into an untamed monster. "Rocky Mountain Way" is a Joe Walsh cover and they do it even better.The final tune "Rock & Roll Machine" is like a speed metal song as Rik's solos are of the light speed variety. Amazing !

If your into Prog-Metal you have to check this record out ! From top to bottom it is pure bliss !

Report this review (#112943)
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Triumph II - some further confusion

In my review of Triumph's self-titled debut album I tried to sort out some of the confusion concerning all the different versions of that and the present album in existence. As I said there, some versions of the debut album features some tracks from this second album mixed in with some of those from the first. Some versions of that "mixed" album are called In The Beginning and yet others are called Rock 'N' Roll Machine (that's right, the same title as the present album but with only partial overlap in terms of tracks!). The point of compiling tracks from the first two albums like this was probably to make songs from the debut album more widely available outside the band's native Canada. From a Prog point of view this was something of a lost opportunity, however, as some of the more progressive tracks from Triumph's first two albums were left off it. Had they put both Blinding Light Show/Moonchild from the debut as well as the three part The City from this second album on the same disc, they would have diminished any need for all but the completionists to get hold of the two original albums.

While I have had the In The Beginning album for years, I only recently searched out the two original albums as they are listed here on Prog Archives. Since I already had In The Beginning, I previously knew the songs Takes Time, Bringing It On Home, Rocky Mountain Way and Rock 'N' Roll Machine and as I commented on these songs in my review of the debut album, I will concentrate on the other tracks here. Little Texas Shaker is bluesy hard rocker that vocally reminds me of Captain Beyond's debut album (with ex-Deep Purple singer Rod Evans). But it is a rather mundane song, I'm afraid, with cheesy lyrics including the phrase "shake your money maker"! Part one of New York City Streets is a rather funky number with some Jazz influences. The female backing vocals going "down in New York" are hard to tolerate! Part two is a more conventional Triumph hard Rock number.

The centrepiece of the album, and the only good reason for the Prog fan to invest in this album, is the nine and a half minute, three part The City. While not as great and memorable as Blinding Light Show/Moonchild, this is still a great song with flashy Flamenco style guitar play and King Crimson-esque Mellotron. For those who know me, you know that I have a very soft spot for Flamenco style guitars in a Rock setting. Once again Triumph here prove to us that they can make really good progressive music when they want to. Sadly they preferred to concentrate on trite Hard Rock and Rock 'N' Roll numbers for most of their career.

As I said, only completionists need all the different versions of Triumph's first two albums. But The City makes this album worth while.

Report this review (#250755)
Posted Sunday, November 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars TRIUMPH, the Canadian power trio of Rik Emmett (vocals, guitar), Gil Moore (drums) and Michael Levine (bass, keyboards) followed up their debut just a year later with their second release ROCK & ROLL MACHINE which at first was released only in Canada but due to increasing popularity they scored an international recording contract with RCA and then soon after MCA Records. Unfortunately the album was released with one album cover and track listing for the Canadian release and another for a global market with even a few tracks donning completely different titles. Obviously this has led to a ridiculous amount of confusion over the years as one version even went as far as mixing several tracks from both the debut and this album under the title ROCK & ROLL MACHINE. Thankfully this marketing faux pas has been corrected with the newer remastered albums at last donning the original superior album cover with the band's profile in the space sphere as opposed to the cheesy neon lit guitar and sparkles under the band's logo.

While no sophomore slump haunted the band, comparisons to Rush certainly did however ROCK & ROLL MACHINE successfully sounds like a foray into their own world of bluesy hard rock with more idiosyncratic heavy riffing which would become the trademark sound of Gil Moore's songwriting contributions . Also debuting is the classic AOR ballad sound that would showcase Emmett's powerful vocal style on "Bringing It Home" and "New York City Streets - Part 1," a style that would yield them their biggest hits in the future. As with the debut, TRIUMPH also continued their dabbling into the progressive rock world as heard on the ambitious fusion frenzy of "City: War March / El Duende Agonizante / Minstrel's Lament" which would hijack a sampling from Gustav Holst's "The Planets" as well as display a superb Spanish classical guitar workout by Emmett. The beginning thunderous march actually brings Rush's progressive works to mind (think "La Villa Strangiato") as well as showcasing a percussive rhythm workout that would find a home on Dream Theater's "Images And Words" album a decade and a half down the road. Worth mentioning is the second part of "New York City" with its jazzy guitar segments and genre shifting restlessness.

Also of extreme importance is the fantastic title track finale which jumps back into the hard rock arena and pumps out the heaviest track on the album with one of the best heavy rock guitar solos the 70s had to offer displaying Emmett as not only a gifted vocalist but a bona fide virtuoso guitarist of the first degree. This track would remain a staple of live performances and remains one of the most memorable tracks of TRIUMPH's entire career. The only track that is a misstep to my ears is the ill-placed Joe Walsh cover "Rocky Mountain Way." While i absolutely adore the original and Walsh's music in general, there is something just so wrong when it's performed without his distinct vocals at the helm. TRIUMPH does a veritable job but it really seems like a fish out of water on this release. The only other gripe i have is that the beginning heavy guitar riff on "New York City Streets - Part 2" sounds too much like Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein." Other than these quibbles, TRIUMPH produced one of their best albums of the 70s. ROCK & ROLL MACHINE is an excellent collection of hard rock, power pop and prog related treats and not a bad place to check out what made them stand out. Be sure to track down the album with the original listing as it is the superior format as well as the intended one.

Report this review (#1738308)
Posted Monday, June 26, 2017 | Review Permalink

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