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Shadowland Ring Of Roses album cover
3.57 | 82 ratings | 15 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Whistleblower (6:32)
2. Jigsaw (11:05)
3. Scared Of The Dark (6:09)
4. Painting By Numbers (6:34)
5. Hall Of Mirrors (14:23)
6. The Kruhulick Syndrome (instr.) (6:07)
7. Ring Of Roses (6:31)

Total Time: 57:27

Bonus tracks on 1997 reissue:
8. Dorian Gray (2:49)
9. I, Judas (6:04)

Line-up / Musicians

- Karl Groom / guitars, bass pedals, co-producer
- Clive Nolan / keyboards, vocals, composer & co-producer
- Ian Salmon / fretted & fretless basses, acoustic guitar
- Nick Harradence / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Willebrord Elsing with Steven van der Hoeff (photo)

CD SI Music ‎- SIMPly TWELVE (1992, Netherlands)
CD Verglas Music ‎- VGCD006 (1997, UK) With 2 bonus tracks and new cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SHADOWLAND Ring Of Roses ratings distribution

(82 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

SHADOWLAND Ring Of Roses reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Prog-jester
5 stars Tha'ts my favourite from Clive.I'd give all other works of him for this one!!!This is an ultimate Nolan:a vintage Neo-prog withwonderful melodies,strong musicianship(Karl Groom shows much more talent here than in Threshold,IMHO;and the rhythm-section does its work very well) and touching lyrics.

I like Nolan's vocals very much,he has a very pleasant and good voice...and he sings in a very emotional way.I wonder why he doesn't sing lead parties somewhere else.Also "Ring of Roses" is quintessence of his composer's talent:such epics as "Jigsaw" and "Hall of Mirrors" show Nolan's ability to make a song from an epic and an epic from a song("The Whistle blower" and "Ring of Roses" are also worth to be mentioned,along with dark "Dorian Gray"(voice+piano only),a bonus on extended edition,and complex instrumental track"The Kruhulick Syndrome"). Some bits(on 5.38 in "Jigsaw" and on 11.02 in "Hall of Mirrors")just drive me insane!!!Great!!!

I ain't a big fan of PENDRAGON/ARENA/CASINO/etc - maybe,because,this marvellous record was the first to be heard by me from him , and nothing from Clive could be better than this CD(IMHO).Highly recommended (for Nolan-newbies especially)!!!

Review by progaeopteryx
2 stars I read a few reviews that raved about Shadowland's Ring of Roses being a masterpiece, so I put it on my list of things to be on the lookout for. I finally got my hands on it and gave it a listen. Something is not right. So, I listened to it again. Nope, something still isn't right. So I looked over the cover. Yep, looks like Shadowland's Ring of Roses. I gave it another spin and something still didn't feel right. So I got online and made sure I had the same track listing. Yes, this is indeed Shadowland's Ring of Roses. But it sure as hell isn't a masterpiece.

Shadowland is a clear example of the worst of the neo prog genre. Too much power-pop fluff. Take the most pop-like songs from Pallas, Jadis, Saga, Marillion, and Asia, and what you have is Shadowland's Ring of Roses. Even the 11+ minute Jigsaw is a pop song that goes on for 11+ minutes! I was amazed that someone would even do something like that!

What made things worst for me was that I highly regard Clive Nolan's talent as a keyboardist. But on Ring of Roses, he just provides atmospheres and shows very little of his talent. If you're expecting the spectacular work he has done with Arena, you will be sorely disappointed with Ring of Roses. What surprised me about Nolan was that I didn't know he could sing. He does a fairly adequate job of it, too, but it isn't enough to save this disc for me.

Ring of Roses also features guitarist Karl Groom from Threshold. Having never listened to any music from Threshold, I can't really comment on Groom's performance in that regard. On Ring of Roses, Groom does a nice job (although he often sounds like Steve Rothery), but again can't save this disc from its mediocrity. Neither can Ian Salmon's bass playing (future bassist for Arena), which is simply average here.

The only song keeping me from giving this one star, is the nicely done Hall of Mirrors, timing in at 14:23. This is the only departure for the group from their aforementioned pop fluff. It goes through various movements, mostly resembling Genesis and IQ, maybe even a little precursor to Arena. It's a really nice song and it's too bad it's surrounded by such awful crap.

I can only recommend this for fans of Shadowland or Clive Nolan (but you really will be disappointed with Nolan's performance), or if you're a neo prog historian in search of a complete discography. Otherwise, avoid. Two stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Clive Nolan never seems to stop surprising me. He is not only the great keyboards maestro for Pendragon, but has also many side projects. The most sucessful being Arena, but he also had another band in the early 90īs called Shadowland. I was curious about this group since I had never heard about them before, even though it included such prog stars like Nolan himself, guitarrist Karl Groom (Threshold) and future Arena bass player Ian Salmon.

Also Clive is singing lead for the first time on record. The results are surprisingly good, even though it enhance the 80īs feel of the album, since his voice often sound like a cross between Robert Smith (the Cure) and Jim Kerr (Simple Minds). The music is very catchy, sometimes closer to new wave pop-ish, but that happens in only two tracks and even then, always with class. The first track The Whistleblower is quite misleading, being one of those aforemetioned tunes. Jigsaw, the next track, is a 12 minute epic that restore the progressive elements so well done in most Nolanīs works. The rest of the album is really a mix of both progressive music and, in a less extension, new wave pop. Something like if Simple Minds would play progressive music.

This is not a letdown. Once you get over the initial pop icing (and Cliveīs voice similarities with both the Cure and SM), what you get is an excellent collection of neo prog songs. Karl Groomīs guitar is also superb and quite different from his style in Threshold. Here he proves he is a versatile musician, playing according to what the music demands and doing a great job.

My rating is 3,5 stars, but I decided to round it to 4, since it is an essential Cd for all neo prog fans. I liked the way he put the 80īs pop flavour into his more progressive songwriting. It was a bold and risky move. Many other prog acts of that era blew their careers trying the same feat. But only Nolan seemed to get away with it so succesfully. No wonder, the guy is a genous! Hail!

Review by progrules
4 stars When I didn't have too many progalbums in the early nineties this was one of my absolute favourites. I still think it's very good but there is so much tremendous stuff on the market these days, that nowadays this is hardly more than an average one.

But let's give some comments on it:

1. The Whistleblower: nice opening song but by far not the best. 3.5 stars.

2. Jigsaw: great epic, one of those that need a few spins before you know it really. 4 stars

3. Scared of the dark: Typical neo prog song. Not too special, not bad either. 3.5 stars

4. Painting my numbers: Same actually. 3.5 stars

5. Hall of mirrors: Another nice long one. This one is even better than Jigsaw. 4.5 stars

6. Kruhulick syndrome: Great instrumental, one in which Karl Groom is able to show his enormous talent. 4.75 stars

7. Ring of Roses: The title track is a funny one. The first few minutes are not special at all, almost poor. But then it ends with a

tremendous guitar solo by Karl Groom that saves the song. 4 stars.

All in all a very good effort by Shadowland, I think still the best album they ever made. 4 stars is the logical verdict.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I still like their final record "Mad As A Hatter" the best. Mostly because Karl Groom is all over it with some incredible guitar work. This one is better than the second one "Through The Looking Glass" though. I smiled sadly when I saw the picture in the liner notes of a concert advertisment that said JADIS / SHADOWLAND + Special Guest Geoff Mann at the Marquee Club, London. Geoff was such a talent. There are other signs and photos that are invaluable for fans of the band. They thank Fudge Smith, Peter Gee,Tracy Hitchings, Dave Wagstaffe, Mick Pointer and others in the liner notes.

"The Whistleblower" opens with these spoken words "I'm blowing the whistle on people I trusted before. I'm blowing the whistle 'cos they can't be trusted anymore..." A fantastic melody follows on this, one of the better tracks. Clive is in fine form vocally. Some scorching guitar early and a synth solo 3 minutes in. A calm follows that lasts a minute before it kicks back in. "Jigsaw" is a song about a person trying to figure out what life is about. Reserved vocals and piano to open. A full sound 3 minutes in with passionate vocals. A meaningful song with some great soaring guitar 6 minutes in. It ends as it began. "Scared Of The Dark" opens with percussion and a thunderstorm. This is a fairly intense and dark song about someone who is very paranoid.

"Paint By Numbers" is a pleasant yet restrained track. It's again about someone trying to find the answers to life. Some nice guitar throughout this one. "Hall Of Mirrors" opens with a reserved 2 minute intro that gives way to an uptempo melody. Mood and tempo change throughout. Some acoustic guitar 9 minutes in. "The Kruhulick Syndrome" is a cool instrumental of classical piano. Some soaring guitar 4 minutes in. "Ring Of Roses" opens with the sound of children playing as spoken vocals come in that turn into singing. Drums and a melody before 2 minutes. A fairly light soundscape follows. The guitar after 4 minutes isn't light though. Haha. It is tastefully played though to the end of the song. The vocals are great on this one.

This band has never hit the spot for me, but I do enjoy their melodic and tasteful music.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Ring of Roses is the debut album from neo progressive band Shadowland which features Clive Nolan from Arena as itīs biggest attraction.

The music is very much in the vein of Fish era Marillion and I think especially the guitar sounds very much like some of the things Steve Rothery plays on Misplaced Childhood. The music is generally allright in my book, nothing special but not bad. Some of the tracks stand out from the rest though: Hall Of Mirrors is a 14 minute plus epic with some nice progressive instrumental parts. The Kruhulick Syndrome is a bit different from the rest of the songs too as it is purely instrumental. Both are very nice songs.

The overall level of songwriting and sound quality is high, but there are things that makes this an average neo progressive album in my ears. First of all Clive Nolanīs voice which I find trivial. The melody lines arenīt that memorable either. The originality is also a problem in my opinion. This sounds very much like the thousands of other neo progressive acts out there, nothing really distinguisses this album.

So Iīll have to end my rating at 3 stars. There are many good things on the album, but especially the vocals drag this in the wrong direction. Are there really no other great neo progressive singers but FISH ?

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars I like most of the works which feature Clive Nolan and since the band is reuniting for a tour shortly (they will come to my home country fairly soon), I decided to give them another some spins and review their three albums.

''Ring Of Roses'' is the first one of a trilogy of pleasant neo-prog albums. One of the most astonishing performances i-on this album, is the vocal one from Clive. He is very discreet with ''Arena'' and ''Pendragon'' with limited backings at times, but he definitely demonstrates some good skills in this department (especially during the emotive ''Jigsaw''.

This long piece of music is very melodic with moving vocals and includes a superb guitar solo to showcase the excellent Karl Groom. It is the highlight of this album by all means. Such a beautiful track won't have counterparts here unfortunately. Still the album is pleasant, but with little surprises.

Good (but not great) song writing (''The Whistleblower'', ''Painting by Numbers'') which should please any neo-prog fans (and even others). Simple and straight forward structure sustained with the excellent work from Karl are the essence of ''Ring Of Roses''.

Here and there, a blunder like the Marillion Mark II oriented ''Scared of the Dark'' and the funky-poppy closing title tracks.

The longest song ''Hall of Mirrors '' (almost fifteen minutes) could have brought some more passion to this work. Nevertheless, after the ''Grendel'' borrowed theme (and subsequently ''Supper's Ready'' one of course), this emotion is palpable again.

''Hall of Mirrors'' is a very pleasant song, and at no times I found it too extended. Crafted material by skilled people. Shouldn't it be always like that? The highlight again is Karl. He is such a great guitar player! The same feel is induced in the average instrumental ''The Kruhulick Syndrome''. It is only worth a mention again thanks to Karl. IMHHO he is the one who raises the level of this album.

This is a pleasant work. Three stars.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another nice project by the leading figure of the past and current UK neo-prog scene,keyboardist Clive Nolan.Formed at the dawn of the 90's,SHADOWLAND released ''Ring of roses'',featuring experienced guitarist Karl Groom,prog veteran Ian Salmon on bass and Nick Harradence on drums.This is not even a slightly complex album.''Ring of roses'' is a work focusing straight on deep emotions,strong melodies and atmospheric piano and keyboard parts.Nolan handles also the vocals himself and he definitely has a very warm and expressive voice,which fits perfectly to the band's melodic style.What makes this album trully progressive is the alternating atmospheres,going from keyboard/piano grandiosity to vocal-led delicacy along with nice grooves and melodies.I find this work to be efficiently well-arranged and performed and it could be a very nice break between more complex and adventuruous listenings.Among the best neo prog releases of the 90's,''Ring of roses'' certainly deserves some spins by any prog rock follower.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars From out of the shadows comes Clive the vocalist

Anyone in those parts who does not recognise the name Clive Nolan is clearly an imposter or is just stepping out in their journey through this great genre. Clive is a prog workaholic, who writes, produces, and plays keyboards for great bands such as Arena, Pendragon, Nolan and Wakeman, etc.

While his commitment to each of these bands is total, Shadowland is his baby. Here, Clive steps out from behind the keyboards to assume the role of front man and vocalist. He is joined in the band by Threshold guitarist Karl Groom, Arena bassist Ian Salmon, and Threshold drummer Nick Harradence.

Released in 1992 to a favourable reaction, "Ring of Roses" was the band's dÃĐbut album. Clive plays all the keyboard parts but for obvious reasons he brought in a second keyboard player when the band performed live.

Even if we take into account the fine pedigree of Clive and Karl, "Ring of roses" is a quite astonishing first release. Naturally, the music is rooted in neo prog, but at the same time it is totally unique. The balance of lead guitar and keyboards is spot on, the lead guitar sound being of the type commonly referred to as David Gilmour like. There's no question of a Pink Floyd sound to the music though, indeed the only real comparison I can come up with is with the earlier days of Nolan's erstwhile band Arena. Lyrically, the songs resemble those of Fish era Marillion, songs such as "Jigsaw" being verbose with often complex vocal arrangements.

We open with "The whistle-blower", an upbeat number clearly designed to stimulate a live audience. At its core is a highly effective contrasting guitar motif. I am sure Clive himself would readily admit that there are more accomplished singers around (and indeed many who are less accomplished!), but his voice seems to fit the overall sound of the band well.

"Hall of mirrors" is one of the few places where the band display their influences on their collective sleeves, and even then only briefly. There is a short instrumental section with a rhythm very similar to the distinctive "Apocalypse" section of Genesis' "Supper's ready" (or is it "Grendel"?!).

Having for no excusable reason allowed Shadowland to generally escape my attention until recently, I have to express my delight at discovering such wonderful music. When Karl Groom and Clive Nolan get together, there is clear a magic at work which inspires them to create magnificent albums. Recommended.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars He's doing a balancing act in the dark

Ring Of Roses is the first out of three albums that was released by Shadowland during the first half of the 90's. The band's leader, principle songwriter and lead vocalist is none other than Clive Nolan, better known for his role as keyboard player extraordinaire in Pendragon and, first and foremost, as the brain behind the fantastic Arena, in which he is responsible for the music, the lyrics and the keyboards as well as for some backing vocals. While in Arena, Nolan's constant partner is ex-Marillion drummer Mick Pointer, in Shadowland it is guitarist Karl Groom, better known for his later work with Prog-Metal band Threshold. Groom is a very good guitarist and his playing in Shadowland is very different from what can be heard on Threshold's albums. The band is rounded of by Ian Salmon (who also would end up in Arena later) on bass and acoustic guitar and Nick Harradence on drums.

Clive Nolan is indeed a multitalented artist as he is a brilliant songwriter (both from the musical and lyrical perspective) as well as a great keyboard player and - surprise! - a good singer too. Admittedly, he is perhaps a less good singer than he is a keyboardist and songwriter, and it was certainly a very wise choice to employ other vocalists for Arena. But having that said, I must say that Nolan does a fine job singing lead in Shadowland. He has a distinctive and emotional voice. Some qualities of his voice and the way he sings even bear some similarities to the vocalists of Arena (John Carson, Paul Wrightson and Rob Sowden). Hearing Nolan sing here makes me think that he had much of the vocals for Arena's music figured out in advance and that he instructed these vocalists according to how he would sing the songs himself.

The music of Shadowland (despite these and perhaps some further similarities) is very different from that of Arena, however. Fans of the dark and hard edged sound of Arena (or the heavy sound of Threshold) are almost certain to find Ring Of Roses to be a rather lightweight and almost poppy affair; the choruses are often very catchy, the guitar sound is very clean and the production is very polished. Coming from a band that bears the "dark" name of 'Shadowland', this album is surprisingly light-hearted and easy on the ear. The overall feeling and mood of the music can aptly be described as 'romantic' and Ring Of Roses is thus much closer to Marillion's Misplaced Childhood and Pendragon's Masquerade Overture than to anything by Arena (or Threshold for that matter). Some of Fish's solo work (A Gentleman's Excuse Me?) might also be an appropriate reference point to understand what Shadowland is about.

Songs like The Whistleblower, Painting By Numbers and Ring Of Roses have infectious melodies that will stick in your mind after only one or two listens, the title track in particular has an overly sweet melody and romantic sound that, for me, makes the song, particularly the chorus, almost a bit cringe-worthy! This is also the low point of the album for me and pretty much the only low point. Jigsaw is a very existential and emotional song, Nolan really knows how to capture feelings with words. Life is indeed a one-way street as this song has it - you can look back, but you can't go back and change things or re-live your life. Songs like Hall Of Mirrors and Scared Of The Dark, on the other hand, takes a few more listens to get into and as such these have more lasting appeal compared to the shorter songs. The Kruhulick Syndrome is the album's only instrumental and it is a very good one, I particularly like the acoustic guitar solo and the nice classical piano that builds up towards a great electric guitar solo. Also in Hall Of Mirrors is there a very nice acoustic guitar passage.

In conclusion, Ring Of Roses is a very good, very melodic, but perhaps not very original Neo-Prog album made by some very talented people. While I very strongly prefer Nolan's later work in Arena, I would certainly strongly recommend this album to those who like the more "romantic" side of Prog. But anyone expecting anything like Arena (or anything like Threshold for that matter) might be much less impressed. I used to rate this with three stars only, but after a longer time of listening to it I have upgraded it to four stars.

This is definitely the place to start with Shadowland!

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'm not sure how it's possible that Neo-Prog is always so melodic. Even more than Symphonic Prog (which has its moments, we all know Yes). So if this is one of the main weapons of Neon albums, then I for sure want to hear it in Neo-Prog music I'm listening. Let's hear ... Indeed, checked, it's here.

Optimistic songs in vein of brighter side of Pendragon, that's one of the projects of Clive Nolan. I'm quite glad that he has taken vocal duties, his voice isn't bad at all (as I feared). His position as vocalist is completely OK with me, because this kind of voice simply fits to this kind of music.

The most prominent instrument is obviously keyboard. Keyboards. The Whistleblower isn't bad at all, actually it's quite good song. Sets the mood for the rest of album, uplifting, saying faithful to the spirit of this genre. Representant of what this music is about. Of course, when I'm in mood to search complexity, I listen to Avant, not Neo-Prog. And I do, often, but when reviewing certain genre, I'm trying to find positives - to think in genre's way of thinking.

Two epics featured here are pleasant surprise. Not that I'm not used to listen Neo epics, but they simply are as expected, as I like it. For example Jigsaw is very, very thrilling track. Sheer energy pouring from this song is enough to get you into something like Prog Heaven. Other tracks are, well, weaker. This is why I'll give

4(-) instead of something better.

Review by Warthur
2 stars One of Clive Nolan's many projects, Shadowland were purveyors of a fairly light and mainstream-leaning brand of neo-prog; on Ring of Roses they sound to me a lot like a combination of the lyrical approach (but not the actual vocal style) of Fish, combined with a musical style mingling the approach of Fish's early solo albums, some of Pendragon's 80s efforts, a pinch of Jadis and the faintest little echo of U2. It's well-performed and well-produced, but it doesn't really grab me personally - the whole thing feels a little sterile and calculated, like they sat down and went through a checklist of neo-prog cliches. If you are a particularly keen Clive Nolan fan, you'll want it regardless of what I say, and it's not terrible - just not, in my view, especially special either.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I'm not sure what attracted me to this group, apart from the tag of 'neo prog'. A thoroughly enjoyable excursion though. But a problem - neo retrogressive is a more apt genre. Very Simple Minds and even The Cure sound, with a very eklectic drumming style akin to early electro pop (sorry Nick ... (read more)

Report this review (#116303) | Posted by huge | Saturday, March 24, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars So what to say about this prog jewel! First of all I must react to the previous review from progaeopteryx - why do you always mind if a rock song sounds too fluffy! It doesn't necessarily mean it's pop and this album is a great example of it. For me pop is something that has typical pop music asp ... (read more)

Report this review (#84428) | Posted by Guardian | Friday, July 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I literally stumbled over a pile of albums in a recordstore, and this one came out on top of the pile, funny, since I was looking for this album for a while already, and had almost given up my hopes on finding it. I liked the album from first listening, and have continued to love it ever since ... (read more)

Report this review (#6558) | Posted by tuxon | Friday, March 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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