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Puppet Show

Symphonic Prog

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Puppet Show The Tale Of Woe album cover
3.43 | 43 ratings | 11 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Seasons (8:45)
2. Seven Gentle Spirits (14:17)
3. Harold Cain (4:16)
4. The Past Has Just Begun (16:41)
5. God's Angry Man (4:13)
6. On Second Thought (11:52)

Total Time: 60:04

Line-up / Musicians

- Sean Frazier / vocals
- Mike Grimes / keyboards
- Chris Mack / drums
- Chris Ogburn / guitars
- Craig Polson / bass

Releases information

Progrock Records

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PUPPET SHOW The Tale Of Woe ratings distribution

(43 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PUPPET SHOW The Tale Of Woe reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Puppet Show sure took thir time to release their second outing. But thankfully, the result is good.

Musically it's easy to hear that these guys have been inspired by Genesis as they sounded at their proggiest. Lots of swirling and twirling synthwork here, synth soloes intermixed with guitar soloing, where emotional output is more important than speed. Lots of long songs as well here, themes that are played, repeated and then played again in later stages of songs, a vocalist better on emotion than range the odd mellow break in the songs here and there - all packed in a soft-tinged production.

Hardcore Genesis fans may think this one sound a bit too much like their inspirations; but personally I don't mind. The songs are good, the moods are good, and the music enthralling and hypnotic.

Review by Prog-jester
4 stars "I'm so tired of waiting..." (c) ARAGON

Actually, the quoted band is another wing of Prog, but their line is perfectly fitting here. Almost 10 years! PUPPET SHOW hasn't changed - and it's pure enjoyment, I like their "DREAM THEATER meets GENESIS" style, close to fellow USA proggers like CRUCIBLE or DISCIPLINE. "The Tale of Woe" has 3 songs and 3 epics, all filled with various ever- changing themes and marked with melodical gift. High-class musicianship and hella complex structures - the album requires FEW DAYS of constant listening, not just FEW TIMES! My only major complaint (and hence 4 stars instead of deserved 5!) is about the instrumental "God's Angry Man", written and performed in HAPPY FAMILY/ANEKDOTEN/ KC manner. I like that kind of music a lot, but sorry, not in PUPPET SHOW's album! It's like eating salted chocolate bar! Sorry guys, it DOESN'T fit here!!!

Highly recommended for all New Symphonic/Prog Metal/Art Rock devotees...and skip that track! ;)

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars - It took almost 10 years to make a successor after their debut album Traumatized (from 1997) but the result is awesome, I am sure that many neo-progheads and also 'non-neo-prog- hating-mid-Genesis lovers' will embrace this new effort by USA band Puppet Show!

.1. Seasons (8:45) : From the start Puppet Show is in high gear with a fluent rhythm, a powerful rhytm-section and a bombastic keyboard sound featuring choir- Mellotron and quick synthesizer flights. The vocals are a bit high-pitched with at some moments a slightly theatrical undertone. The music contains lots of shifting moods, some surprising musical ideas and wonderful, often sensitive electric guitar play. The final part delivers a dreamy climate with warm vocals and a beautiful strings-sound.

2. Seven Gentle Spirits (14:17) : Again lots of shifting moods, from dreamy with piano, vocals and Hackett-like volume pedal guitar work to compelling with a guitar/keyboard duet and a bombastic, very exciting break featuring propulsive drums and captivating work on guitar and keyboards. I have to mention the strong soli in an atmosphere between symphonic and neo-prog.

3. Harold Cain (4:16) : A short track with powerful Hammond organ and remarkable fiery electric guitar.

4. The Past Has Just Begun (16:41) : Another long and alternating composition, the sound of the keyboards and guitar evokes mid-Genesis, very pleasant. I also enjoyed a fluent Hammond organ solo, a slow synthesizer solo and a mid-tempo with raw guitar, culminating in a bombastic climate with fiery wah-wah guitar and a lavish Hammond sound.

5. God's Angry Man (4:13) : This is a bit weird song: it starts strong with again fiery wah-wah guitar and compelling Hammond organ but then it turns into a mellow atmosphere with strange sounds, this doesn't match with the rest of this album (as Prog-jester also pointed at).

6. On Second Thought (11:52) : This magnum opus is a splendid final composition, what a dynamics, what a beautiful keyboard work and what a moving final part featuring lush keyboards and a long, fiery guitar solo, halfway accompanied by the unsurpassed sound of the choir-Mellotron, this is Progheaven!

Highly recommended!!

Review by russellk
2 stars As advertised.

PUPPET SHOW'S strings are firmly in the hands of those trying to replicate the sounds of seventies progressive rock. This can be either a good or a bad thing; in this case it's a bit of both. Each track is interesting, with only the shorter tracks being arresting on initial listens. The longer tracks are so formulaic - I'd defy anyone with a truly extensive prog collection to identify the group immediately if it popped up randomly on your playlist - they are almost inseperable from each other and from countless other neo-prog epics.

Of itself this is no problem. I'm a firm believer that originality is overrated. But what is offered here is generic to the point of blandness. None of the songs earn the right to their thunderous moments. Nevertheless, it's not all a tale of woe. While compositionally bland, the performances themselves are excellent. If you want to evoke the spirit of GENESIS, MARILLION and IQ, you could do worse than give this a spin.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Who knows what happened with "Puppet Show" between 1997 and 2006.

When you listen to their second album, it is hard to beleive they have concentrated for about ten years to release it. In terms of music, this album is really on the hard edge limit of prog. Musicians are still skilled of course (but that's the least you can expect from professionals). Only one line-up change : the drummer. The problem being in the quality of the song-writing. Genesis influences are of course still there, but not as strong as on their first album. Vocals are still remininscent of Gabriel.

In terms of compositions, while not flirting with prog-metal ("Seasons", "Seven Gentle Spirits"), they will be poppish and poor ("Harold Cain"). This album is extremely deceiving so far. Even though their debut one was not a big deal of creativity, it displayed some great moments (fully Genesis-inspired).

Things get finally better with "The Past Has Just Begun". The longest "Puppet" composition. Totally in-line with their first album. At last a good prog song : a powerful intro, emotional vocals, very nice acoustic guitar to back up the vocals entrance. This passage is really pastoral and beautiful. What a contrast with some others uninspired songs featured on this album. The listener is back again with the Banks sounds and is only missing some great guitar breaks. Well, just be patient, because you'll get some good ones during the second half of this epic. Very melodic at times "The Past Has Just Begun" belongs to the top three of this band. The finale sounds again rather hard.

You can forget about "God's Angry Man". Heavy metal during two minutes, anf fully experimental afterwards. A pure cacophony. Press next (my advise). Unfortunately, the closing number "On Second Thought" doesn't speak to me at all (except the last section but that's only three minutes).

As I have said, I am rather disillusioned with this album. Let' s say two stars.

Review by Menswear
4 stars Great catch, mate!

In these times dominated with by Justin Timberlake and Kanye West, a pop album has to be catchy from A-Z and must have good replay value. Here, we have a non-commercial album that has lots and lots of replay value but that's hard to get into. Puppet Show really tooked their time (10 years, sheesh!) to come up with 6 tracks that could not create a buzz in your mind­.

So what's the point then? Well, in this case, you have what we call a 'grower'; an album that will reward you not immediately...but will be rewarding someday, promess!

Judging by the cover, Puppet Show is kicking it old school like the grand masters of another time. The usual suspects are Yes and a STRONG tendency for Genesis (Selling England by the Pound period, thank you lord). Despite the fact that this album breathes Genesis by every pore, Puppet SHow is somehow giving a lot of their own stuff, reminding me of a young Enchant more than one time (especially in the vocals, song structure and guitar solos). No tracks are weak, and they're not of the same batch too. Every one seems to part from another, scoring more and more points in my book of preferences.

This is not a masterpiece nor a classic by any means, but strongly deserves more attention from proggers who searches for an old school attitude with a top notch production. With a lot of listenings (a lot, trust me), this album transforms into a sweet surprise and therefore, a great catch.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Oh...has it really been 9 years since Puppet Show released their debut album ? Well I guess it has. Nothing has really changed though. Itīs still prog rock inspired by Genesis and Marillion. Itīs not very exciting though as weīve heard it all before.

Itīs really impressive that they havenīt changed after 9 years. Not even the production is much better that on their debut. Itīs difficult to write anything about this album really, as it is very trivial. Iīll give them credit for being well playing and the singer for putting emotion into his perfomance. There is just one problem, I donīt like his voice or the way he sings.

All in all a very trivial album only for the all eating prog rock fan.

Review by progrules
4 stars As was to be expected this band (and album) is being compared with Genesis and critisized as an uninteresting and unoriginal clone. Could be a veritable conclusion but another truth (fortunately stated as well by some) is that this is not a bad album at all with some pretty good compositions (The past has just begun !). The second statement is winning for me eventhough I have some critisism about the album and band as well. Main downside for me is the vocal aspect which is slightly annoying to me. The vocalist is not necessarily poor technically but it's a kind of voice that can put you off, at least that's how it works on me. Another slight disappointment is that the already mentioned track is by far the best on the album, 3 others (the longer ones) are good and the other two less.

If I make a marking for the album alltogether I come to an average of 3,6 which results in a definitive rating of 4 stars. On a bad day it could also have been 3 though.

Review by JLocke
3 stars I think the biggest piece of enjoyment I got from this album was the first song, ''Seasons''. After that nothing else seems to be as new anymore. Just a rehash of what the band did on the first track. That isn't to say that the musicianship isn't top-notch, because it is, and the singer's voice is very pleasant to listen to, but there is just nothing about this that I can hear that would merit a four-star ratuing or higher. The originality is non-existant as these bguys are simply taking cues from bands such as Gentle Giant, Genesis, Yes and Marillion to create 'their' sound, which is in reality nothing more than a mish- mash of all of those bands combined.

The end result is an average-quality release that is fun to listen to, but gets boring very easily, at least for me, since listen to them makes me want to listen to the original bands that Puppet Show took off of. The keyboard-heavy sound is quite sappy and after awhile began to make me ill, but luckily there IS enough guitar featured to keep the cheesiness at bay. One of the more beautiful songs is The Past Has Just Begun, which features superb acoustic guitar picking accompanied by the lead singer's powerful vocal strides. Great ballad-like feel to it. The problem is, however, as it is with most bands like Puppet Show, is that the vocal styles, guitar playing and song structures have all been recycled over and over so many times in the past that it is hard for me to take Puppet Show seriousely as a stand-alone band. However, there is enough hope here to think that if the guys keep working at it, they may end up making their own mark eventually. They just didn't do it with this album.

Not horrible, but not fantastic, either. I enjoy this album very much, but it is 'good trash', as it were. There is nothing about it that would set THE TALE OF WOE apart from any other Symphonic Prog album out there. Three stars fits it perfectly, I feel. Good, but not essential. I would recommend it to you if you like Genesis, but at times it feels like blatant copying. If you want to liste to an absolutely fantastic modern Symph Prog band, check out Echolyn. If you want some catchy tunes to use as background noise as you drive to work in the mornings, then check these guys out. Either way you can't really go wrong, as the musicianship itself is absolutely superb. I just feel that the originality is lacking, that is all.

Overall not a bad effort, but that epic 'feel' to the title and all makes me feel like Puppet Show was aiming for the next prog epic, and if that is so, then they missed the mark by miles. Qualilty playing, but only so-so music on the whole.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Second album named The tale of woe of this californian progressive rock band named Puppet Show was released in february 2007 through progrock records after nearly a decade after the first album. The expectation were high, and for sure this album doesn't dessepoint anyone, or at least me. With 10 years older, the musicians still come with an excellent follow up, great arrangements, elaborated symphonic prog with a lots of mellotron, moog and hammond and awesome guitar parts. Opening the album with the excellent Seasons, the band throw plenty of catchy vocal melodies by Sean Frazier and brilliant guitar parts aswell. Powerful voice who manage to fit very well in this context. The vintage keybords arrangements remind me of old Genesis, when thy were in their peak, but Puppet Show manage to take those influences and wrapped them in their sound, the resul is quite great and very inventive. Only two pieces are short here, the rest 4 are lenghty and has complex musical interplay, quirky arrangements and melodic vocal parts. The Seven Gentle Spirits, The Past Has Just Begun and On Second Thought are long enough to show how great Puppet Show is in this album, intricate rhythms pattern, lush acustic guitar who interplay very strong with the rest of the passages. There is aswell an instrumental track called God's Angry Man, taken similaries with King Crimson with crunchy guitar riffs and acrobatic arrangements, maybe the heavies track from the album and the one less symphonic in elements, still good. So, they realy done it with this album, I've enjoy a lot latley this release, not a weak moment here, powerfull album, solid arrangenets, I don't really know what is the problem to be so low rated by some reviewers. I will give 4 stars easely, great album with a lot to offer, not to mention that I like a lot the cover art both front and back, great drawing who goes hand in hand with the music. This album is a great return of a band that never was popular or widely known in progressive rock circles, we hope or I hope untill now with this album.
Review by stefro
3 stars An excellent, if somewhat obscure, slice of highly symphonic progressive rock, 'The Tale Of Woe' comes courtesy of American outfit Puppet Show, a group who have remained resolutely under the radar thanks to the fact that they have released just two studio albums in ten years of existence, thirteen if you count the three-and-a-half years since this album was released. Obviously inspired by both classic-era Genesis and Fish-era Marillion, Puppet Show's sound falls somewhere between the modern proggery of fellow yankees Spock's Beard and Sweden's impressive Simon Says, with Mike Grimes lush and complex keyboards the dominant instrumental force and Sean Frazier's low-tone vocals eschewing the usual high- pitched, squawked-jester Pete Nicholls-and-Jon Anderson-styled singing that usually comes as standard in this sub-genre. They may not sport they most original sound or feature the cunning pop edge prevalent on Spock's Beard's or Marillions more mainstream-courting material, yet somehow it doesn't seem to matter, especially when one is confronted with the jaunty, keyboard-dominated opener 'Seasons' and the epic-and-emotive sixteen-minute opus 'The Past Has Just Begun', which finds Puppet Show at their most audacious and 1970s- inspired. Hopefully it won't take another ten years for this most unique of American groups to release a third album, and this reviewer for one is waiting with breath baited. One suspects that this five- piece have probably had to do it all themselves, seeing as it ain't exactly 1972 any more, which could well explain the massive interlude. As most record companies won't touch anything that isn't a 'sure thing' these days, it seems only bland rockers, ex-Christian minstrels, R'n'B-toting diva's, idea-stealing pop-stars(I'm looking at you Madonna) and dance-orientated DJs get the studio time, so Puppet Show's next could well take a while. However, if the improvement rate shown is anything to go by, album number three should be a genuine masterpiece. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011

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