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The Tangent

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The Tangent Not as Good as the Book album cover
3.87 | 424 ratings | 38 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 - A Crisis in Mid-Life (50:46)
1. A Crises in Mid-Life (7:13)
2. Lost in London 25 Years Later (7:33)
3. The Ethernet (10:13)
4. Celebrity Purée (3:43)
5. Not as Good as the Book (8:54)
6. A Sale of Two Souls (7:16)
7. Bat Out of Basildon (5:54)

CD 2 - Throwing Metal at the Sky (43:58)
1. Four Egos, One War (21:15) *:
- Ours
- Theirs (including Ours reprise)
- His
- Mine
2. The Full Gamut - A Travelogue (22:43) :
- The D599
- Gothenburg
- Last Tango
- Studio Tan
- Southend on Sea
- The A1 North of Paris
- Four Last Days
- The D599 & the A61

Total Time 94:44

* Originally performed by Parallel or 90 Degrees

Line-up / Musicians

- Andy Tillison / vocals, keyboards, electric guitar, producer
- Guy Manning / acoustic guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, vocals
- Jakko M Jakszyk / electric guitar, vocals
- Theo Travis / saxophone, flute
- Jonas Reingold / bass
- Jaime Salazar / drums

- Julie King / lead vocals (2.1)
- "Unknown Frenchman" / violin (1.1)

Releases information

Artwork: Antoine Ettori (including illustrations on novella booklet) with MBL Graphics (design)

2CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 291 (2008, Germany)
2CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMSECD 291 (2008, Europe) Special Edition w/ 100pp illustrated novella.

Thanks to grablesky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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THE TANGENT Not as Good as the Book ratings distribution

(424 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE TANGENT Not as Good as the Book reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Yaye! The Tangent keep stretching the envelope. Whether you like their music or not, you got to give Tillison his due, the man has balls and a singular sense of absurdity to go along with his musical attributes. Putting out another 2 CD affair on the heels of the extremely satisfying "A Place in the Queue", while making more personnel changes in the guitar slot by bringing in the celebrated Jakko Jaszczyk (don't fret it's easy, just pronounce "Yash chick"! who one can admire on the 21st Century Schizoid Band project DVD as well as a long storied list of session jobs) and then Andy also elevating Guy Manning to a larger role ,fully deserved as the guy (again?) is a true musical cascade and then probably having to sell his soul (Yo, Aretha!) to keep Jonas Reingold manning (again that name!) his finest bass, steering the ship in truly progressive oceans. Phew! Sam Baine is not listed on this record, unless she is holding Andy's hands when on the piano, pretty romantic thought, wot! Jaime Salazar and Theo are both back for return visits, comfortably at ease doing such great music and great music this is, now far removed from the more accessible previous recordings. While not as technically practiced as the Flower Kings, the Tangent come across somehow as more homogenous, with less filler material and even less Yessisms and far more wit fueled amusing than our Swedish friends. The inclusion of saxes and flutes are perhaps significant but certainly not as much as the unending "nods and winks" to prog history that is so synonymous with their style. In the past, they have hinted at various Canterbury legends, outright podium-ized "Tales from Topographic Oceans", infused muted Gong references , dabbled into some extended Tangerine Dream areas (jokingly referred to Tangent Dream!), and included history, politics, anti war, social and business commentaries. This singular disposition continues unabated here with a slew of at times off kilter, innuendo laced lyrics that hone in on any subject, taboo or not. Reading lyrics is a must with this crew. Even Microsoft and Captain Kirk are not spared, the words strolling "with Buzz Aldrin on the moon", approaching the Federation Neutral Zone (also known as the -gulp- FNZ) . The first CD is sub-titled "A Crisis in Mid-Life" and leads the listener immediately into the by now familiar Tangent territory: quirky arrangements, replete with twists and turns, fabulous playing from the entire gang, hilarious lyrical content expressed by a "like it or not" vocal delivery and foraging though a jungle of moods and swings that just cannot disappoint. There are no highlight tracks really; everything just flows, keeping in the spirit of the title "Not as Good as the Book", a musical story that starts from some original point and ends somewhere far away. It's a voyage that suggests no chopping, dicing and slicing by the pundits. The playing is monstrously first- rate throughout as on the instrumental extravaganza "Celebrity Mincer" where all the boys get to let their bald spots hang, with a sulfuric Jakko lead followed closely by a "saxual" blast from Theo Travis. "Throwing Metal at the Sky" is the second CD-chapter, featuring 2 massive tracks and displaying very clearly their prog badges of honor. Radio friendly this just plain ain't! In fact, after some intro female vocals, an almost Hawkwindian riff kicks in, a heavier space vibe with vrooming organ leading the warp, the anti-war theme illuminated by the highlights, with Jaszczyk in particular zipping nicely along,! A few overt and luscious Zappaisms add to the gumbo, as "Four Egos, One War" has Julie, Andy, Guy and Jakko all taking lead vocal slots and addressing some very contemporary issues to say the least. B-Zarrr stuff but fun, man! The final suite, "The Full Gamut-A Travelogue" is not the usual CD ending bonus material but more of the same classic tangential expressions of unexpected observations: blitzing organ, piano, e-piano and "Cynthia Size A" work from Andy, who has clearly expanded his mastery over the black & white, rollercoaster sections that challenge gravity and pace, setting up the proverbial flute, guitar or sax intervention at the most opportune time. This is good time prog, totally noncommercial and definitely their best yet. A good musical story, though not as good as the book! We all should like those. A limited edition comes with a huge booklet, so that you can truly indulge in the experience. Fabulous cartoonish artwork is provided by the seemingly pubescent teen-looking Antoine Ettori. A Master Piss. 5 diskdrives.
Review by TRoTZ
2 stars So trivial it sounds, albums like this still incomprehensibly please in an unmeasured way so many listeners. Its architecture owes entirely to the progressive art rock classics from Van der Graaf Generator, Genesis, Yes or Jethro Tull, but with such a lack of substance and class that its experience results in a profound agony, as it assassinates progressive rock essence. Much beyond the album's contemporaneous electronic arrangements (which solely overshadows its retro-nature) it ended to be no more than a substandard poppy interpretation of those classics. Far worse than this, the band now looks like a second version of The Flower Kings.

If A Place on the Queue could be saved by glimpses of a meaningful interpretation of 70's progressive rock, not even that can save this album. Still, this is truly the purpose of this band, who does not hide that, and, beyond these considerations, it may appeal mostly to the new prog purists.

4/10 (avoid)

Review by Moatilliatta
4 stars After proving that the group could thrive without the aid of Roine Stole on A Place in the Queue, arguably their finest release to date, the group returns with another bold statement: Not as Good as the Book. For this output, Andy has written a novella to go with the double-disc album. When you read that a band has released a "double-disc" album, especially a band in the symphonic prog realm, you immediately think that it must be a pretty lengthy endeavor, if you think like I do. And usually such is the case if the album is a modern one. However, The Tangent has never been a band that feels the need to use all of the possible disc space. This album is only about 90 minutes long, one disc being a set of shorter tracks (10 minutes or less) and the other being two minute epics (about 21 and 23 minutes each). And, of course, no Tangent album gets released without a lineup change (gift or curse? both? probably that one), so now we have Jakko Jakszyk on electric guitars. Also, Sam Baine is no longer with the group; her and Andy were in a relationship and they recently broke up. So, let's take a closer look...

First, a note on the concept and lyrics. I opted out of getting the deluxe edition, so I have no comments to make about the aforementioned book. However, I believe it tells the story that the album is based off of. From what I gathered, it follows the life of a prog fan and some struggles he encounters. As far as the actual album goes, I don't think there is a linear concept here, but the songs all seem to be told from the perspective of baby boomers who have grown up and are living in the 21st century. The content is pretty darn cynical, but it's also kind of approached with humor in spots (a dark humor, though). Andy's lyrics are solid as usual.

Now, the music. The album opens with a gleeful synth line and continues into a gleeful yet hard rocking tune that is "A Crisis in Mid-Life." This song has a great instrumental section with a notably great solo by the newcomer Jakko. His style is a bit more aggressive while maintaining a tasteful, jazz-tinged feel. "Lost in London 25 Years Later" is as you might expect. It's a jazzier, Canterbury inspired piece like the piece it's expanding upon. Another great track. The album takes a dip with "The Ethernet," the longest track on the first disc at just over 10 minutes long. It's a slower song, with very little digression. A good song, but I think it could have been better. "Celebrity Puree" is a short, aggressive instrumental that gets things going again. "Not as Good as the Book" is a peppy, melodic song which is quite enjoyable. Andy utilizes his Hammill influence on "A Sale of Two Souls," which I find to be a good song but a bit lackluster. "Bat out of Basildon" is a solid closer with a particularly nice mid-section. The highlights of this disc are definitely the first two tracks, but the songs that follow all maintain a pretty high level of quality.

The second disc is harder to describe considering it is comprised of two epics. "Four Egos, One War," is another commentary on "the war," whatever that means, and "The Full Gamut" is Andy's most personal song to date; it must be about the recent misfortune of his relationship with Sam. Musically, the songs contain all you would expect from a Tangent epic, but I don't think they reach the heights of "In Earnest." Still, several sections will have you in bliss, and no sections will disappoint you. And hey, each listen still gets better, so I may have to come back and edit my opinions of these two pieces.

All in all, this is another satisfying release from The Tangent. I don't think they topped A Place in the Queue, but it's still very much worth your time.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Not As Good As The Book is a hard album to rate. I understand some reviewers reservations about this CD. It´s simply not as powerful and inspired as A Place In The Queue. But I think it´s unfair to expect always something as appealing and innovating as someone´s previous masterpiece every time he puts out a new work. People are not machines to produce such things. So I tried not to be too hard: after all, I became a fan of their entire discography up to now.

Ok, to album itself: it´s still a three star efford, although I find it to be not as pleasant to the ears as their earlier stuff. Actually it depends much on which mood you´re in the day you chose to hear it. This is specially true for the first CD. The second one, filled only with two massive epics, is actually better and smoother than the first. But I don´t think any song here is bad. On the contrary. It seems to be the classic case of not chosing the right track list. Maybe. Still, it is far better than most of what is putting out as prog by most moderns groups.

There are some line up changes too: I knew that piano player Sam Brown would be gone by this time, but Jakko Jaszczyk´s inclusiong as the new guitarrist surprised me. He was in the 21st Century Schzoid Band and brought in some different, KC´s influenced guitar lines, that simply just seem not to go as smooth as the excellent and more melodic Krister Jonsson used to. Jonsson´s style is very similar of that of TFK´s Roine Stolt, and this is the guitar sound that really works with the kind of music The Tangent asks for. On this part the sound changed not for the better. A real shame.

Not As Good As The Book is a transitional album, so it is also no surprise it is a bit uneven. Not bad, but not essential in any way. Three stars is a good measure.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars F A B U L O U S ..!!!

It did not really strike me at first spin of the CD because I did not find any catchy notes or passages at first spin. And so the case with the second one, it just flew so flat for me and did not stir my emotion to get excited with the music. But the magic came at third spin and it was on Saturday morning. It blew me away! This is really magic because I had not experienced it during the first two spins. The first thing that struck me was the music groove of the opening track A Crisis in Mid Life especially when guitar solo enters the music. It did stir my emotion and I felt get excited and energized by the music. Oh yeah ... This is truly the Tangent music! i said to myself. So after that I ripped the CD so that I could listen to the music during my mobile period: in the car or on bicycle (I go to the office by bicycle, twice a week, while listening to prog music).

It grew on me ..

Oh yes, the more I spun the CD, the more I like the music and the more I grabbed the subtleties. It took me so long that finally I could write this review. What also interesting about The Tangent is the official website: so informative, so that I know the history of the band since its inception as an "idea, sometime in 1999, right after the meeting between The Flower Kings and Parallel or 90 Degrees.

The mastermind behind all of this concept album was Andy Tillison who focused the album writing from the music making first prior to anything else, not even the book. This is a true progressive act because, in the past, bands rely on the books that had been available in the market and then created the book's soundtrack based on the story. This album is the other way round .. that's why I find the music was composed tightly considering all possible styles as well as textures and wide range of instruments used in the album. Well .. I hope you would find all the behind scenes of the album making from the band's official site.

Prog warriors.. Let's have a look this album in greater details .

"A Crisis in Mid Life" kicks off the album with an intro that did not attract me at all cause it's not catchy. I can sense the nuance of the band's "A Place In The Queue" style of music with an organ-driven style. Surprisingly, the more I spin, I enjoy this intro part. Of course, the most interesting part is when the music reaches minute 2:47 where the groove comes up transparently through the tight basslines of my favorite Jonas Reingold. Jakko Jakszyk (who has played with members of King Crimson) has now taken over for Krister Jonsson on guitars. His guitar solo is stunning, softer and less jazzy compared to Roine Stolt.

"Lost in London 25 Years Later" is much catchy since its beginning because I like the sounds of flute. But the most striking part is when the lyrical verse enters the music with this captivating phrase: "For some strange reason we decided to talk about sex. It was a Wednesday it was half past nine. The conversation just seem to wonder there. Besides we'd done prog two million times .". WOW! It's so prog lyric! Not only the lyrics that stunned me, but the overall music composition is like I am enjoying a blend of Return To Forever meets with National Health and Soft Machine. Oh man .. the music so damn great!

"The Ethernet" starts in ambient style with soft keyboard effects followed with mellow vocal line. It reminds me to the music of Van der Graaf Generator and it's so nice. The music moves in crescendo and brings the style into more jazz. Jakko gives his guitar solo beautifully at the ending part augmented by deep basslines by Jonas. The music flows into a dynamic instrumental "Celebrity Purée" with its syncopated passages. This instrumental piece bridges smoothly to the next "Not As Good As the Book" where Jakko Jakszyk is given a chance to sing for a good portion of this song. He sings confidently with his excellent voices after the opening part that is full with synthesizer's maneuvers. The combined guitar and synthesizers backed by walking bass played by Jonas is a good pieces of this song.

"A Sale of Two Souls" is an acoustic-based composition with powerful vocal line in the vein of Peter Hammil followed immediately with the high register notes singing. The use of flute has made this song so elegant in composition. The ending part of this song demonstrating the flute, acoustic guitar and music that moves in crescendo is truly cool. The concluding track "Bat out of Basildon" locks up the music brilliantly into an energetic combination of music comprising saxophone, bass, guitar, keyboards, drums and accentuated singing style. The guitar solo part is so stunning .. bravo to Jakko who does a great job in this album, overall.

On disc two, there are two epics that both of them are excellent: "Four Egos, One War" (that was actually written for Parallel or 90 Degree) and "The Full Gamut". These two epics are excellent and for me the whole album plus this second CD where the music is different than the Disc One.


Because it's fabulous, I consider this album as a masterpiece. The music of The Tangent is to me like when the first time in 1974 I listened to YES "Relayer" at the first time. The complexities of the composition are similar. I think The Tangent is a true progressive band that has shaped the progressive rock music combining the sounds of 70s and modern music. The onle shortcoming is that .. I miss the artwork design by Ed Unitsky whom I think is today's Roger Dean. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars

What a courage to release a 2-CD with a huge booklet, including a 87 page concept-story, embellished with many drawings, a big hand for The Tangent! As a fan of progrock band Parallel Or 90 Degrees, I am familiar with Andy Tillison Diskdrive his distinctive voice, compelling keyboardwork and a bit sultry and hypnotizing compositions.

Those elements can be traced on the two epic tracks on CD-2 (these are more in the vein of Classic Prog than the songs on CD-1): Four Eos, One War featuring lots of dynamics and shiftings moods, a powerful Hammond sound, some sensational synthesizer flights, a strongly build-up guitar solo, all blended with the a bit cynical voice of Andy and in the more compelling, almost hypnotizing The Full Gamut the vocals are often mighty close to Roger Waters in the The Wall era. CD-1 is another story (musically), it contains 7 shorter and totally different songs: a tight beat with modern keyboards and fiery guitar in A Christ In Mid-Life, fluent jazzrock with swinging piano and screamy saxophone in Lost In London 25 Years Later, a bit sultry climate in The Ethernet, a swinging rhythm with a propulsvie rhythm- section, fiery wah-wah guitar and powerful solos on Hammond and saxophone in Celebrity Puree and a pleasant mid-tempo with swinging synthesizer runs, howling guitar and delicate Fender piano in the titletrack. My highlights on CD-1 are the hypnotizing A Sale Of Two Souls (wonderfully coloured by Andy his distinctive voice) and the compelling Bat Out Of Basildon (strong work on saxophone and the mighty Hammond organ).

Many titles and lyrics point at known books and songs and reading some pages of the story I enjoyed myself with the humor and fantasy of Andy, I would like to compare Not As Good As The Book with Tommy by The Who, The Lamb by Genesis and The Wall by Pink Floyd, of course it's not at the same level or musically similar but it's a also a very interesting Holy Trinity of music, lyrics and visuals, in my opinion Not As Good As The Book deserves worldwide attention!

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars This is the first album I can ever remember preordering, and even though I was more than thrilled with the entire record, I don’t think I’ll ever preorder again. Biggest reason is that the week after I received this in the mail I saw that the band had a special edition available with a booklet included, written by Andy Tillison himself. Hopefully he reads this review and decides to reward a loyal fan by mailing me a copy of that book.

(Note added later: In the interest of fairness, I have to report that Andy's publicist apparently saw this review, contacted me a few days after I posted it, and sent me a copy of the special edition. More on that below).

I have to say that I’m still playing ‘A Place in the Queue’ pretty regularly though, and especially on long drives, so sometimes it seems like my CD player is filled with nothing but the Tangent music. Not that this is a bad thing necessarily, but it makes it difficult to separate the two albums in my mind at times. And that can be challenging since the two of them seem to go so well together anyway.

One thing the Tangent are often accused of is being derivative, which of course they are in many respects, but for older progressive music fans like myself this really isn’t a problem. And Andy Tillison readily admits to being guilty of having had prog-god heroes in his youth, so really – where’s the problem? There are lots of bands that get that same label these days (Salem Hill, Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Proto Kaw), but I prefer to think they are simply building on the masters of the genre that they grew up listening to. It’s more a matter of recognition and respect, not repetition. I think there’s a big difference. By the way, if you do manage to get your hands on the special edition, you really need to block off a couple hours in your busy schedule and read Andy’s story that goes along with this album. It brought back my own memories of being young and of having more energy than sense, and of my own childhood music heroes who I also discovered were human, but were also still admirable for music they shared with me.

Tillison’s stories are entertaining as well, to say the least. The guy has a wry and sometimes sarcastic wit, and it shows in most of these tracks. He seems to be struggling with being a bit of a middle-aged anachronism, but doing so with a self-deprecating sense of humor that certainly endears him to those of us who are working our own way through some of the same emotions and adjustments in the middle of our life journeys. Kudos to him for putting into music what a lot of the rest of us are feeling.

Musically this music is top-notch stuff, with every member of the group performing flawlessly. Tillison’s keyboards on tracks like “Lost in London (Twenty Five Years Later)” and the energetic instrumental “Celebrity Purée” are invigorating and something special to behold. The guy never seems to repeat himself despite having a fairly recognizable style. And newcomer Jakko Jakszyk gives the band an edge on guitar that was missing a bit on ‘A Place in the Queue’. I think he is the biggest difference between that album and this one.

Why Tillison decided to follow a double album with another one is beyond me – perhaps he’s trying to get everything inside of him out before his declining years set in, but once again there is no decline in quality on the second disk. “Four Egos, One War” may be a bit more restrained musically than the songs on the first disk, but Tillison’s biting commentary is no less strong here. The throwback harmonizing vocals are a great touch that make the song seem a bit earthier and dated than the first disk, but this one is turning out to be the track I keep skipping to whenever I listen to the whole album.

“The Full Gamut” on the other hand is a bit too slow and jazzy for my tastes, but by the time I get to this one I’ve had my fill anyway so the slow descent back to reality is probably warranted.

The excellent novella that goes along with this album helps to give a little context to some of the music (and especially some of the lyrics like those in “Four Egos, One War” and “A Crisis in Mid-Life”), but the biggest revelation comes from him describing his experiences with bands like Van der Graff Generator back when they were still alive and culturally relevant. I understand better now why he is willing to make the kind of emotional investment he does in the Tangent’s music today.

I was first introduced to these guys a few years ago with ‘The World that we Drive Through’, and I have to say that each subsequent album has been more developed, more mature and more enjoyable than the last. I hope that whatever follows ‘Not as Good as the Book’ is even better, but in any case this is a solid four star effort that is strongly recommended to all prog music fans, especially those who are over the hump of life but still have a little mileage left in the tank and whose tastes haven’t aged as much as their bodies. Really good stuff.


Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars A fine collection of well crafted tunes proving-- to me at least-- that when it comes to the world of symphonic-prog, The Tangent is just about the best band out there, and Not as Good as The Book keeps the group's stellar reputation intact.

This time around, Tillison delivers songs of a (slightly) less critical nature, focusing on the disillusion and frustration of middle-age. Deeply personal but still easy to relate to, his lyrics and voice are superbly suited to the tone of these songs, which range from the sardonic to serious. The dynamics typical of the genre are here in fine style, performed with a mixture of styles and tempos; lots of variety throughout. The musicianship is top-notch, myself enjoying Reingold's lightning dexterity on the bass much more here than in the saccharine slop of the Flower Kings as well as Manning's thoughtful guitar work. The alternate, jazzy instrumentation helps distinguish The Tangent from the lot. Of course, the Tillison's keyboard almost steals the show; very impressive soloing and textures.

The first half of the album is the better half, with excellent, catchy songwriting-from anthem-life A Crisis In Mid-Life or tongue-in-cheek Bat Out of Basildon, which has a faux-hard rock feel; these songs easily rate amongst the band's most enjoyable yet. The second half is a little less approachable, being two 21+ minute epics which fall apart under their own length and ambition; they lack the punch and memorability that is all over the first half. Nice moments, but not the group's best extended length tunes.

All in all, an outstanding release-- derivative be damned, "Not As Good As The Book" is a great listen!

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Six musicians, one exquisite album

Formed and conceived as a ''progressive'' side-project by Parallel or 90 Degrees front man Andy Tillison, The Tangent eventually took on a life of it's own and became a full blown band. Good thing too, because if they'd stuck to a one album project we would never have received this effort from the band. Not As Good As The Book represents a very personal record for the lead singer/keyboardist, with the entire album focusing on events in his life or his reactions to the modern world. As such the album has a very sarcastic feel to it at points, but a very emotional and attached feel at others. However, even with this mix of messages the album never gets lost. Whether he be commenting on warfare and media reactions or telling the story of himself and a friend trying to get into a club in Soho the album always manages to keep a familiar feel, and the songs segue perfectly from one to the next, never jaunting the audience, but bringing them along for the ride.

Though not a concept record in of itself, the album is tied together in the form of a book. That's right, for Not As Good As The Book Andy actually published a near 100-page novel to go along with it, harking back to the days when albums weren't simply groups of songs to be downloaded from iTunes, but an experience which one could actually sit down and enjoy the entire way through. It would be redundant to actually make comments on the book itself since it has nothing to do with the actual performances on the record, but it certainly does tie all the songs together. Not to mention that old and young proggers alike should be able to get plenty of kicks from all the prog references in the book itself. Tillison may not be the greatest novelist to have ever lived, but he certainly knows how to entertain.

The music itself on the album is very reminiscent of progressive records of old, while maintaining a modern sound. The opening synth riff right off the top of A Crisis In Midlife gives that away immediately. The album is rather keyboard heavy, but what prog head is going to turn that down, really? The keys always press the album along in a satisfactory manner, and this is likely because (as he's said before) Tillison really builds the songs from the ground up. Start with the keyboards and start to layer everything on top of it. Thus, everything feels like it's in the right place at the right time, long songs like The Ethernet manage to express an idea without becoming redundant and short rockers like the heavy and cynical instrumental Celebrity Puree and Bat Out Of Basildon come off as excellent music instead of a hard rock song out of place on an otherwise very progressive record. Of course all the other instruments are there when you need them. The heavy guitars, the powerful sax and the graceful flute all appear exactly when you'd want them to.

The two disc set is split heavily between discs, and one could even go so far as to call them separate albums. They maintain feel and consistency enough to be able to let them run together without having the album feel long to listen to, but they really are separate entities, as suggested by Tillison's naming of them. The first disc [A Crisis In Midlife] is full of the shorter songs. There's a kind of light feel to these songs thanks to pieces like the somewhat humorous Lost In London 25 Years Later (in which Andy and friend Ian find themselves face to face with a Soho pimp), with its calm progression leading up to outright heavy parts, and the formally mentioned Bat Out Of Basildon which is fairly uplifting thanks to lines like ''He's only as old as his helmet, and he only got it last week''.

The second disc is where prog heads will likely turn, these are the 'epics'. This disc holds a mere two songs, and two wonderful songs they are. They heavy, brooding, and socially aware Four Egos, One War makes wonderful use of everything The Tangent is good at, its good when it's quiet and when it's loud it's spine chilling. It's hard to not get worked up listening to the lyrics of the song too (I'd quote them, but there's far to many good lines to make reference to), it really makes you want to take to the streets with 'Stop the war!' signs. At the shrill scream of ''Throwing metal at the sky!'' it's hard not to feel a chill down your spine (no wonder they chose that line as the title of the second disc). The second track The Full Gamut is a hugely personal song for Tillison, reflecting on the end of his long marriage between the time of this album and the band's previous. The emotion comes across very well in the song and Andy gets a similar effect in this song when he starts into the ''This is not a rehearsal'' lines of the song. Surprisingly heavy for a song of its nature, this one does not let go oft he energy started on the first track.

Honestly, either one of these discs packaged on their own would have been great, putting them together only brings the album to another level.

As for the topic of the album, it's not aimed at the norm. Yes, it covers a large area (the size of New York...?), but it's mostly for the people Tillison's age. A Crisis In Midlife indeed, and a lot of the older audience of prog heads should appreciate that quite a bit with a lot of songs being aimed at the majority market (16-30 year olds). However, if you're young are you going to miss the point of the album? Not likely. Sure, we may not be able to relate to the album in completely, but it does give a strange insight into a different generation, and that's something not a lot of artists are able to capture. Besides, now I find myself looking forward to that 'crisis' in midlife so I can put on this album and say to myself ''ah, that's what he meant!''. Besides, since the music on this album is just so enjoyable it's easy to overlook not being the target audience for once. Kind of refreshing actually.

It may only be halfway through the year, but I don't think it's premature to say that this is a must have album. It takes a bit for this album to grow on you, but after three or four spaced out listens you might find yourself coming back to it every single day needing more. 5 Soho Jazz clubs out of 5! It doesn't get much better than this. It's going to be very, very hard to top this album for my album of the year.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This will be hard to beat for album of the year.

Some people may call the sound of bands like THE TANGENT "regressive" or "retro". I think that what this band has delivered with "Not as Good as the Book" is one of the best symphonic-prog albums to come out in the last few years, thus helping keep prog's most revered sub-genre alive and well. Unlike other more avant-garde bands of today, groups like THE TANGENT don't feel afraid to recognize their allegiance to progressive-rock and to give it all in their records: very-long epic songs, extensive jamming and instrumental sections, harmonies and melodies of varied type and form, lyrics that deal with abstract subjects and constant displays of technical wizardry in the way of solos, odd- time signatures and sudden tempo changes. But what really makes this album so fantastic is that, all of these things, the band manages to do them right.

Bearing some resemblance to fellow symphonic-masters THE FLOWER KINGS (some of its members play or have played in that band after all), THE TANGENT combines elements of traditional 70's symphonic rock (like the use of mellotron and the structures of songs) with elements from jazz, hard rock, and other genres. What separates this album from its predecessors is that herein THE TANGENT has achieved perfection in the combining of all those different influences. Whereas "The Music that died Alone" sounded too-symphonic and "The World that we Drive Through" too jazzy (I haven't heard their other album), in "Not as Good as the Book" we have a perfect balance. The melodies, which were somewhat weaker in "The World", are outstanding now, and at the same time, the jamming and the very interesting harmonies have not been sacrificed.

The musicianship is first-rate throughout the whole record, starting with Tillson, the mastermind, a keyboard master. The vocals in THE TANGENT remind us of Roger Waters and Peter Hammill but also of John Wetton or Roine Stolt. The guitar duties are masterfully handled by Jakszyk, as the acoustics are by Manning. But is the rhythm section, inherited from THE FLOWER KINGS, which, in my view, steals the show, with an amazing coordinated work by Jonas Reingold and Jaime Salazar that keeps the machine running smoothly from symphonic to jazz arenas, from hard rock passages to quiet interludes. It's a performance of stellar quality.

A Crisis in Midlife (9/10) starts things up with a very optimistic, cosmic keyboard riff and a thunderous bass line that makes us wait for the best. The middle section is much jazzier than the very hard-rock sections that enclose it. Very good.

Lost in London 25 Years Later (8.5/10) starts rather ambiguously, and shifts from jazzy hard rock to a very 70's-flavored, spacey atmosphere. The middle section features a jazzy instrumental passage where guitars, bass and drums amaze us while the piano keeps everything in place. Pure prog- rock bliss.

The Ethernet (8.5/10) has a very quiet beginning, very atmospheric, just voice over keys and some effects. The vocals face their biggest challenge here, and even if they don't manage to totally win, they are good enough for the song's purposes. All the song is rather slow and pensive, but it closes with a very positive reaffirmation of hope followed by a guitar section which sounds very close to neo-prog. Intriguing song.

Celebrity Puree (9/10) is an instrumental track of outstanding energy, with a beginning that, after a few introductory compasses, even borders on metal territory, double-bass drum and everything. Quite an excellent instrumental, it dissolves masterfully into the next song.

Not as Good as The Book (10/10) is, in my opinion, the best song in the album and a magnificent achievement by THE TANGENT, mixing catchy melody and fabulous performances with progressive elements in a song not entirely unlike some of the best bands like THE FLOWER KINGS have offered. After an insecure verse, the chorus is reassuring, even though in a resignation kind-of-way. The middle section is pure symphonic bliss, and the closing which features more fusion of genres is rather spectacular. Superb song.

A Sale of Two Souls (8.5/10) starts only with acoustic guitar and piano, followed by vocals. It's in moments like this when the limitations of the singer are evident, but they never get in the way of the music. The flute accentuates the voice with pianos and keys supporting it and elevating this slow song to a higher level. The final section with is more desperate, with the vocals getting angry and dramatic (very Waters-esque) and the acoustic guitar being strummed violently. Very good.

Bat out of Basildon (8.5/10) is the harder track in the album, but surrounded by a harsh-sounding verse is a middle section of faster speed and more relentless impulse. A good way to close disc 1.

Four Egos, One War (9/10) is an epic of gigantic proportions, taking the entire half of disc 2. This is a progressive-rock fan's dream, with melodies abounding surrounded by extended instrumental sections and constant changes of mood. I think the track is slightly longer than needed, and keeping it below the 20-minute mark would've made it even better.

The Full Gamut (9.5/10) is another mammoth of a track, but it leaves me even more satisfied than the previous one. The melodies are better, and the structure in general makes even more sense than in the first epic on this disc. A fantastic closer to this album.

Not many bands can accomplish recording not one but two 20+-minute songs in one double album where the rest of the songs average 7 minutes and still keep me interested all the way through the end. Even though THE TANGENT lost me for a few seconds, that's nothing compared to the more than 90 minutes that it managed to entertain me, both on an intellectual and emotional level. This is a remarkable album, one of the best in the modern symphonic-prog movement, and very likely, the best album of 2008. It will take a really supreme masterpiece to top this one.

Buy it. Now. "Not as Good As The Book" it is not. It is better.

Review by progrules
4 stars Well, this is going to be a review of a band that has moved up in my personal ranking very quickly the last year or so. A few years ago there was the stream song Up hill from here that impressed me a lot, then I bought the album The world we drive through and my admiration was increasing, next the Place in the Queue that proved this band isn't just a flash in the pan but a band with great potential.

With their latest release I think they once again prove their consistancy in quality and they might even have gone up half a level compared to their predecessor. And then I espacially mean in the overall performance. Almost every song is of very high level and I also feel they have managed to bring more variety in the sound of the separate tracks. Take the first song for instance: I never heard them do such a cathchy and accesible track before and I can say, it works really nice with them. I recently watched an interview with Andy Tillison on Youtube and the first few tones of A crisis in midlife were used there in the introduction of the interview on Prog Radio (I can recommend to view it on youtube by the way (tags: Morow or The Tangent), it's an interesting interview) and this didn't surprise me because it's almost poppy, I mean they could hit the charts with it if they wanted to. But actually I would regret that because I hope they will stay fully progressive and not try to go too commercial. On the other hand, that's my personal feeling about it, The Tangent should do whatever they want of course.

Are most of the songs much more accessible than the ones on their previous albums ? No, they are not. A crisis in midlife is more or less the exception, it's just the title track that can be called a catchy song also but the rest of the tracks are at least as progressive as we used to know of The Tangent. But if I have to be more specific about this: I think you can call disc 1 the diverse one and disc 2, the epical disc, the most progressive of the two and this second disc is actually a tough nut to crack, I have to say.

On their previous album I was very fond of the two epics (In Earnest and the title track) and I really could get into them quite easily but with these two it's a lot harder. I heard them at least 5 times now but I couldn't get a grip on them yet. Does this mean they are less ? Absolutely not, they could even be better but I have the feeling I can say that after 15 or 20 times listening. I only know they are very diverse tracks, both with very nice moments, both starting and ending quietly with all kinds of things happening in the middle part. And still they are different in many ways. It just shows the versatility of the bands composing abilities. And that could even be their biggest quality of all. Their compositions are excellent, the execution equal in standard, it's just the vocals that will never be the biggest quality of The Tangent, unless of course they hire a great vocalist. I believe Tillison does most of the singing on this doubler, I know Manning of earlier releases, they have more or less similar voices but even though their singing is not annoying, they will never reach top level either.

What is going to be the final verdict after all these statements ? Well, that isn't easy by any means. It's another tough call between 4 and 5 stars. But when I rate each track individually and make an average after that the score is some 4,3 so I will have to give it 4. Highly recommended to all proggers !

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars With the callibre of players that have come (and sometimes gone) through the ranks of The Tangent I feel I should be blown away by this album. Current or ex-members include four musicians who are currently or have previously been in The Flower Kings, Van Der Graaf Generator saxman David Jackson was even on their first album and Guy Manning. After living with this double cd since it's release and after many plays I'm left feeling that overall mainman Andy Tillison has presented us with a well produced, well played decent piece of Progressive Rock with a modern edge though tipping its hat to the classic Prog (particularly symphonic) giants of the seventies. Ultimately though on reaching the end of the album I'm left slightly unfulfilled.

As The Tangent is basically Tillison's baby, writing all the lyric and music as well as playing keyboards, supplying the vocals and occasional rhythm guitar, the success or failure of any Tangent project ultimately lies with him. How much input the rest of the band had into arrangements etc I could not say but as parts remind me a little of The Flower Kings and this release featuring Jonas Reingold on bass and Jaime Salazar, ex-drummer of said band I suspect they have been allowed to make their mark.

I think what let's the album down the most is Tillison's vocals. He doesn't have a particularly good or strong voice with a limited range and as a result the vocal melodies suffer and you can't help thinking with a better vocalist so much more could have been made of these tracks. Still not to be too hard on the guy, sometimes he does nail it and put on a reasonably convincing performance. To look at the positive where this album does shine the most is with some excellent and extremely well played instrumental sections spread throughout the album occurring fairly frequently with some excellent keyboard dominated moments in particular. I particularly enjoy Celebrity Puree which as it happens is entirely instrumental. This runs into Not As Good As The Book which overall turns out to be one of the most successful tracks here with some strong melodies.

Due to the current state of the music industry it's brave move for any band these days to release a double cd but perhaps a Prog band is better placed than any to get away with it. Disc one has the relatively shorter pieces, though most of the time breaking the seven minute or more barrier and therefore still giving the band opportunity show their musical muscle. Disc two comprises of only two tracks of similar length breaking the twenty minute barrier and both tracks contain some good moments though even after many listens some parts leave no lasting impression. Four Egos, One War benefits from additional vocals from Julie King and Manning but The Full Gamut suffers in this area and is perhaps the least satisfying piece on the album.

Not As Good As The Book is overall a good but not great album and a bit of editing in places could have made a stronger single disc. It appears that Tillison has pretty much disbanded the line up that appear on this album and intends to collaborate with Beardfish on the next one. It will certainly be interesting to see the results of this collaboration.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Tough to know where to start with this one. It's a double album that has a concept to it. It also came with a book that Tillison wrote and it is excellent. I had such a good time reading it as the subject matter is about this middle aged man who talks about the past and present with Prog bands and music being central to the theme. It also goes far into the future when the earth has been long since destroyed. Well I won't go into the details but it's a blast with Prog music still being the center of it all even thousand of years into the future. I like at the start of the book where he thanks groups of people using only their first names. They're all Prog bands, and it's actually very meaningful because he brings it to such a personal level, like they're old acquantances. It's fun too trying to figure out each band. I also got a kick out him saying he's been yelled at for playing VDGG by four generations, his Grandparents, parents, wife and kids. Haha. This book is something I treasure.

I do prefer "A Place In The Queue" to this one musically, but the whole package here makes it a must have in my opinion. Sam Baine is not on this one. She's been with Tillison from those PARALLEL OR 90 DEGREES days up to the last album I just mentioned. Most know they are a couple who just recently broke up, and that's why she's not here. The final track "The Full Gamut-A Travelogue" actually takes us through their final tour together (read the subtitles) and the problems and battles they had. It's very personal and Andy chose not to have the lyrics for this song only omitted. He had to be convinced by band mates to even include this track. Some of the lyrics are "And the water turns to wine, and the wine turns to pills, and the pills turns to games, and the games are just cheap thrills." The song and album ends with "And I only can dream maybe someday we'll meet again."

For me the second disc is a five star record in itself. My favourite song on the album is "Four Egos, One War" which features Julie King on vocals and she's incredible.

I highly recommend this double album to all. Again this package goes beyond the music, and the book will make you feel proud.

Review by LiquidEternity
5 stars This is it. My first album by The Tangent, and my favorite. Personally, I think it's better than the book, which is interesting on its own, still. So, Not as Good as the Book. Here we go. I'll try to be brief.

The Tangent capitalizes on their ideas from the previous three albums and brings it to a brilliant climax (hopefully, nothing final though). The songs are strong, unique, adventurous, and plain fun.

A Crisis in Mid-Life kicks it off with a fair bit of cheese-synths and well-driven rock. This song clearly sets the standard for the album, promising something new while at the same time able to look back on prog and stuff. A delicate balance, but so wonderfully held.

Lost in London 25 Years Later plays off the A Place in the Queue song (minus the 25 Years Later, see?), following a good song with a pretty good song. I like them both, though neither really strikes me all that intensely. This is probably my least favorite song on the album, which is a funny thing to say, because I honestly love this whole album, a thing that doesn't happen that terribly often these days. The Ethernet follows, with lovely vocal work and harmonies. Rather mellow but rather swell. I like it a lot but can't really think of much more to say about it.

Celebrity Puree and the title track work together, sharing a common bit or two between them. Celebrity Puree is an instrumental, a hard hitting one, especially by The Tangent standards. The wicked saxophone break towards the end is probably my favorite moment here, and something that just kicks the Van der Graaf Generator fan in me in the rear. Splendid. Not as Good as the Book is a great song in itself, hard hitting like A Crisis in Mid-Life while being carefully witty like Lost in London 25 Years Later.

Speaking of Van der Graaf Generator (well, I was somewhere up there, anyways), A Sale of Two Souls features a wonderful vibe to it that hearkens back to none other than the aforementioned musical act. This one probably took me longest to appreciate of all the tunes, but now it's one of my favorites. Mostly mellow but with a few moments of some neat heat. Bat out of Basildon is a cool song, a good driving tune, but nothing all that remarkable.

Four Egos, One War I've been told was originally from Parallel or 90 Degrees, which is Andy Tillison's other main band. I don't care. This track is awesome, with wonderful vocal melodies and whoever that is singing using his Roger Waters sort of sound to its utmost. As far as an epic 20 minute plus track goes, this one holds together absolutely perfectly. It's like a normal prog song, but longer, and is nicely cohesive. The end result is a powerful sort of feel to the entire thing. Maybe an epic feel? That's what they're supposed to do in the first place. Cool. The second epic on this disc, The Full Gamut, is more generically proggy and less impressive, but it's pretty awesome as well.

In all, not an album to be ignored. It's one of the top rated for this year, if not the top rated so far, and there's a reason for that. This album is a definite five star for me, and I'm terribly glad that I ran across this band.

Review by fuxi

In the illustrated booklet which accompanies this CD (Luxury Edition) band leader Andy Tillison thanks Dave, Roger, Rick, Nick, Syd, Chick, Stanley, Lenny, Bill, Al and a whole range of other worthies.

Andy is still trying to make albums with the range of A PASSION PLAY or TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS, and it must be said: his latest attempt is full of goodies. There's an enormous amount of exhilerating (but usually rather brief) keyboard solos - too many to count. My favourites are the ones where Andy plays the same kind of mad moog (or is it a modern copy?) as Rick Wakeman used on 'Sir Gawain and the Black Knight'. Guy Manning's acoustic-guitar-and-mandolin intervals are a delight too; you'd almost expect him to start singing about hares who've lost their spectacles... And lead guitarist Jakko M Jakszyk is a major acquisition: a Holdsworth disciple, his solos are moments of sheer delight.

And yet this album falls flat on its back. One of the main reasons can be found in the title of the opening track. 'A Crisis in Midlife': hey, wait a sec, isn't that what ALL Tangent albums have been about? By now their message is growing mighty stale. Tillison's never-ending attempts to set grumpy old man's thoughts to music have started to sound monotonous, whiny and lugubrious. Don't you realise, Andy, that if you want to make dark or pessimistic music, you will still need jokes and poetic images - not an endless blog filled with complaints? 'Running round in circles from the cradle to the grave' you sing, and it could be that's how you see life, but an almost total absence of memorable melodies doth NOT a convincing album make, and since you're not a particularly gifted vocalist, why can't you SHUT UP and let your keyboards speak?

Only on the final track, 'The Full Gamut', do real passion and anguish shine through for a while - although even that track (which started off so beautifully) soon is ruined by a dispiriting Dead Sea of words which seem to drag on and on. The Tangent will need a change of tack if they want to get out of the doldrums.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars I approached this favorably-received 2008 release by The Tangent without any preconceived notions of what I was in for other than knowing that the rhythm section of drummer Jaime Salazar and bassist Jonas Reingold (of The Flower Kings) would at least guarantee professional, tight tracks being generated under the music. I have yet to experience the earlier offerings of this band so digest this review as coming from a progger who jumped into their pool unaware of what might lie beneath the surface of the intriguing cover art. At first I wasn't exactly thrilled because leader Andy Tillson Diskdrive's rather toneless voice (a curious combination of Al Stewart, David Bowie and Greg Lake) takes quite a bit of getting used to. But I tend to rate my prog by the musical content first, the lyrics second and then vocal ability last so I was patient. And once I got a few listens under my belt I started to discover the considerable charms of this album and began to look forward to every investigative spin. This is superb prog, indeed.

I do wish to clarify my position on singing styles. There are plenty of vocally-challenged artists that I admire immensely (Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Waits come to mind), so the fact that Andy is less than a virtuoso in that department isn't necessarily a deal-breaker for me. He's stuck with the warble he was born with and, besides, it's really a matter of putting your heart where your mouth is when all is said and done. But, as Dirty Harry put so well, "a man's got to know his limitations" and there are times when Tillson doesn't. For some that might not be a big bugaboo but for me it's as distracting as an overplayed, annoying guitar or synthesizer solo would be. Fortunately, those moments are brief in duration and his composition skills, along with the intelligent, literate words he and his cohorts sing throughout, go a long way in compensation.

"A Crisis in Mid-Life" is a great opener with its straightforward rock beat and crisp synthesizers that are reminiscent of the jazz rock/fusion territory that Bill Bruford was exploring in the late 70s and early 80s. Very bright and exciting keyboard sounds. The disemboweling agony of divorce and the stark reality of aging are prominent topics on this album and here he expresses the total bewilderment of not knowing who or what to turn to for solace. ".Now we're in the middle/our heroes bought houseboats with their wives/there's no one left to sing along with/as we make the crossing of our middle lives" he laments.

"Lost in London 25 Years Later" has a much jazzier motif, thanks in large part to Theo Travis' sprightly flute and Salazar's deft drumming. A lively intro leads to laid-back verses where Tillson sings about the frustration of facing the fact that he and his pal are no longer part of or even eligible to enter the enclaves of the "hip" generation as they are turned away from a trendy nightspot. "The guy we need to see is just inside the door/but he might as well still be in Malmo/we talk about our kids a bit and wish that we were them/and hark back to our younger days again," he relates. The spicy, high-spirited instrumental movement they segue into midway through is one of the best parts of the album. Here the blistering piano and saxophone performances are hair-raising and marvelously memorable. Bravo.

"The Ethernet" is greatness. It features a mysterious start that takes you directly to wonderful verse/chorus melodies. Jonas and Jaime provide an extraordinarily firm foundation below and the tune's steady build up climaxes in a huge, exhilarating wall of sound. The lyrics about the unending loneliness of a life centered around a computer-based existence are poetic and thought-provoking. The instrumental "Celebrity Mincer" follows and it's a much heavier affair where Andy's growling organ, Jakko Jakszyk's blazing guitar and Theo's hot saxophone are a treat to hear.

After a seamless transition the album's namesake track arrives and it's a decent rocker but, unfortunately, Tillson crosses that line I spoke of earlier. The guitar sound is delightfully Jeff Beck-ish, the bridge is unexpectedly jazzy and delicate and the flamenco-tinted movement is a true eyebrow- lifter but the vocal harmonies are surprisingly loose and when Andy strains his voice it makes me wince because it wasn't necessary in the context of the story. "What happened to me?/was it a turning that I took?/what happened to the future?/it's not as good as the book," he complains. (These are questions folks my age ask all the time so I can relate.) "A Sale of Two Souls" is next and it suffers from the same malady in that the vocal is unnaturally forced in places. It's a very dramatic number and Travis's flute is inspiring but the predictable structure of the song makes it the nadir of the proceedings. Yet, once again, the perceptive words save it from the abyss. "The sky's as blue as when I was young/and I've as much right to play there/as the young guys beneath the billion-year-old sun/and I still have my fingers/and they still push the keys/'cos everyone I know got older/at the same rate as me," he sings.

"Bat Out of Basildon" ends the first disc on a witty note with its hard rockin' groove, gritty sax runs and Keith Emerson-styled Hammond organ stalking the grounds like a hungry panther. While I've been immune from the lure of motorcycles since I almost did myself in on one back in college, I have plenty of acquaintances who have found their fountain of youth astride a dangerous, horse-powered hog. They're mild-mannered Clark Kents during the work week, Supermen on the weekends. "He's got 'Born to be Wild' on the Walkman/and the devil tattoo doesn't show/but the guy from the chip shop down your street/is a heavy metal God of the road," he exclaims. For many it's better to burn out than to fade away and this tune captures that attitude brilliantly.

The second CD has two long, very involved epics that are well worth your time. The political "Four Egos, One War" leads off with the addition of guest Julie King on "Ours" as she assists Tillson in some unison singing while the background, filled with excellent acoustic instruments, provides a nice change- of-pace. On the more forceful "Theirs" Andy gets perilously close to shouting his words but in this instance the lyric content somewhat justifies his angst. "The world is awash with dictators and moguls/between them we don't stand a chance/caught between egos and cold economics/we all know the steps to the dance," he cries. Following a short reprise of "Ours" they dive into the meat of the song on "His" where guitarist Guy Manning takes a turn at the mike. It features acoustic guitars, flute, a very funky clavinet and mood-shifting dynamics that'll bring a smile to your mug. Jakko's singing is a welcome turn of events for the groovy "Mine" with its large Hammond organ sound surrounding the central guitar riff and the interesting fadeout deserves your rapt attention.

"The Full Gamut" is totally different from anything else on the album. Here Tillson's cathartic, personal description of the demise of his marriage makes this a tragic but gratifying journey to travel with him on. He takes an almost operatic approach from the get-go with piano and vocal but the piece never gets tiresome as it flows gracefully through various moods and landscapes. The first instrumental sequence with its driving organs, synths and clavinets rolling over the ever sturdy bass/drum track and the riff-based segment where Andy conveys his angry alarm ("This is not a rehearsal, this is not a drill/madness rides tonight, banners flying/this is FOR REAL!") are major highlights. The whole marvelous tune undulates up and down much like one's emotional state during a life-changing breakup and his last lines that tie the broken couple's present to their romantic past are passionate and heartbreaking. The somber but emotional symphonic ending is absolutely gorgeous.

One thing I can assure those who have yet to try out The Tangent's "Not As Good As The Book," is that it is pure, Grade A prog from beginning to end. It may take a few listens for it to get under your skin but I strongly recommend it to the adventurous among you who, like me, are ever in search of reaffirming musical experiences. Do I detect obvious influences from past prog rock giants in the composing? Yes, but I find that quality endearing and an attractive characteristic rather than a detriment. It's like quoting from the classics. My bottom line is always the songwriting and the musical presentation in general and this double CD has both of those in spades. A solid 4 stars.

Review by Menswear
3 stars Not as good as I they say.

I never really understood the all the hoop-la behind the Tangent; in my opinion not being far from the Flower Kings or Moon Safari, they are not as exciting as the last one. Okay, they are prolific. Okay, they play quite well. Okay, some segments really swings. But this is my first attempt at knowing the band better, and I frankly didn't heard anything new, sorry.

The Tangent is probably a band that a majority likes, but that I don't fancy. I sometimes wonder why I'm not into the recent super-bands like The Tangent, Transatlantic and such....I really wanted to be a fan, but I just find them too flat. I just the same recipe again and again: intro, organ, solo, speech, little keyboard solo, then guitar solo, then time changing, then repeat ad nauseum. I mean, it's been done SOOO many times these last 10 years! It's like Spock's Beard, but with 20 minutes songs! (include loud fading sigh here).

Good in general, but not fresh enough for me.

Not as good as I thought.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So foolish I was, I though that 4 stars would be enough for this good album. Such wrong, this is masterpiece for me. But it's strange, even after one year of listening (which is quite long in my 1.5 years prog history) I'm overwhelmed by feelings when listening this. Not inspirating ones as with Blomljud, but with those that mute (severe your hands off) and you can't say (or type anything, instead you would try to write something with your blood and severed hand, creepy thing though). I always gives damn good reasons for so high rating, but not today. Just few of them.

""For some strange reasons we decided to talk about ... (sex)"" isn't it hard to say this kind of words ? Singer wasn't surprised at all, not stunned by shame, he just said it. I wouldn't be able to do it I think. "Lost in London After 25 Years". It goes so slowly, without ANY obstacle in the way. And yet you know somehow, deep inside your heart, that this is not some pop sound, not easy demanding music. Very hard for me to rate.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A very nice piece of music that I did not expect. The only reason I even looked at the Tangent was the fact that Roine Stolt was with them, (I'm a huge fan of his work,) and when I saw that he wasn't in this album I almost didn't buy it. But then I noticed that Salazar and Reinhold were still on this album so I went ahead and tried it out. Little did I know I was going to get an album like this! A concept double-album Not As Good As the Book tells the story of a hippie who was waiting for the world to get better like he read in books but he ended up finding it wasn't going to happen. On the first disc, pretty much each song has almost a funk induced sound. The lyrics aren't as bad as I expected vividly describing the concept all the way through. Celebrity Puree could've been a hit back in the seventies and is an amazing song. It's kind of lost in our time almost like the hippie in the concept. The second disc contains two epics that aren't all what people expect. They're okay tracks they just not the best epics I've ever heard (certainly not a Gates of Delirium or Echoes). All-in-all a very good album not at all expected though.
Review by TheGazzardian
3 stars When I uploaded my CD of the first disc of this album into iTunes, iTunes classified it as Electronica/Dance. I can only imagine that, whatever guy works at the company that creates the database that iTunes uses listened only to the first thirty seconds of the album, then made the call based on the opening of the first track. To be fair, if I were tasked with classifying music, I probably wouldn't listen to entire albums either. But I might spend some time googling instead of making guesses based on the albums opening.

That being said, the opening that got this album labelled as Electronica/Dance is a great way to open the album, building energy and and giving the album a rocking start. In a strange way, I can't help but feel excited as Andy Tillison belts out that there's "nothing like a crisis in mid life".

Lost In London 25 Years Later always strikes me as being a bit awkward. It has memorable moments, but the song as a whole doesn't quite gel as a cohesive unit. I actually feel that the band did this somewhat on purpose - as if they wanted to say, "This is what it feels like to reach the point in this song, the knowledge that life is all one interconnected thing, but it feels like a sequence of unrelated events." The line: "Please write your answer on a post card: are me and Ian old?" always hits me as being a bit awkward as well. The story of the song is fun, though, and overall it isn't an unenjoyable listen by any means.

The Ethernet is roughly the same in quality; a good story, slightly awkward but still an enjoyable listen with some high moments. I think, if anything, these songs suffer from the fact that the interesting musical ideas and the interesting lyrical ideas rarely play at the same time.

Celebrity Puree starts out with a bang, and is a pretty rocking track that any prog rock fan will enjoy. Unfortunately, the next three songs all suffer from the same problem as the second and third ... they are full of good ideas that merge in occasionally awkward ways or just don't gel. Lyrically, they are full of great ideas, fun references, and generally good lyrics. Bat Out of Basildon and Not As Good As The Book strike me as having the best lyrics on the first disc.

While these guys aren't quite what I came to expect from eclectic prog from listening to the '70s giants in the sub-genre like Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf, and King Crimson, I can see why they are placed in this genre. They have songs that sound like "Electronica/Dance" (although to my ears I'd just say keys-dominated), they have songs with blistering sax, angry guitars, acoustic guitars ... their are many different sounds distributed throughout the music. They are held together by Andy Tillisons voice, which I don't think is the best in all the cases, but which works better in songs like A Sale of Two Souls, where he sings deeper to match the darker sound of the music. Overall, I would say that the strongest aspect of disc one is the lyrical content, which really gives me the impression of a Crisis in Mid Life happening (which is what the disc is named).

The second disc feels like a seperate album to me (which might be why they gave it the name "Throwing Metal At The Sky; to seperate it from the first disc). It opens with Four Egos, One War, which distances itself from the concept of side one lyrically by being a song about war. To my understanding, it was actually originally released by Andy Tillisons other band, Parallel or 90 Degrees, so I'm not entirely sure why it's here. This version is pretty good, and it's refreshing to hear someone behind the microphone other than Andy (female singer Julie King accompanies Andy in parts i and iii, while Guy Manning sings part iv and Jakko sings part v). It is, ultimtaely, a pretty decent recording, although it doesn't quite reach the heights of the best prog rock epics.

I've read somewhere that the next track, The Full Gamut, is about Andy's divorce. Its lyrics are mysteriously missing from the booklet, so I initially expected it to be an instrumental. The lyrics are actually quite touching, however, although the music has yet to leave an impact on me beyond listening.

Overall, I'd give this album (these albums?) three stars. Definitely a lot of good ideas and fun lyrics, but overall, it feels a little drawn out over two discs, and lacks something cohesive.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I'm not sure that it's not as good as the book but this album was definitely not as good as most people claimed it to be!

I found some parts of the first disc quite enjoyable at first but eventually it all got old and not that exciting. The album supplies just enough prog to keep me entertained for a few spins but eventually it all came crashing down like a house of cards.

I'm not entirely sure why I just can't enjoy these regressive types of bands. I guess it's not the "been there done that" that annoys me but rather that the bands actually enjoy to be retro prog which in most cases result in albums filled with forgettable material that most people probably won't even remember in 10 years time. This is definitely something that can't be said about the 70's movement.

I know that tastes are very personal and I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything new. All I'm saying is that if you don't enjoy bands like Flower Kings and Spock's Beard then you will most probably not like this album either.

**** star songs: Crises In Mid-Life (7:13) Celebrity Purée (3:43) Not As Good As The Book (8:54)

*** star songs: Lost In London 25 Years Later (7:33) The Ethernet (10:13) A Sale Of Two Souls (7:16) Bat Out Of Basildon (5:54) Four Egos, One War (21:15) The Full Gamut (22:43)

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album was my first exposure to The Tangent, and frankly, I'm surprised that their bio here seems to indicate that this album was a dissapointment (I may be misunderstanding the bio, as the same person who wrote that also rated the album a masterpiece). While I don't think it's a masterpiece, I enjoy it immensely.

The album begins with A Crises In Mid-Life. If you judge the entire album by the first track, you could be shortchanging yourself. While this song, despite outstanding production, is not much more than arena rock, the rest of the album unfolds to be quite a prog pleasure. The nest track, Lost In London 25 Years Later starts out like a classic Canterbury styled piece, but evolves into a Holdsworthian fusion jam.

At other times, it seems that Andy Tillison is channelling Peter Hammill in his vocal style. While Tillison's voice is much thinner than Hammill's he has the phrasing and inflection spot on.

And I just have to mention the two long pieces that make up the second disk. While these pieces are nice, and very entertaining, I can't seem to appreciate this trend to take whatever musical ideas you have lying around, and append them all into an epic piece. It just sounds disjointed, no matter who is playing it. Yes, I'm looking at you, Transatlantic and Porcupine Tree.

Still, 4 stars.

Review by crimson87
3 stars Retro Prog? or I can t believe is another symphonic and 70s tingled prog record!

One of my main problems with Retro or Neo prog is the lack of originality. The bands seem to have all the same pattern: Keyboard and Guitar Solos , Long structure of songs , Lack of melody and most of them play it safe. The Tangent, while very talented, is one of those bands in my opinion.

Now , don't get me wrong. These guys have the chops and some songs in this particular album are good but there are some aspects that cannot be overlooked: In the first place I found the vocals to be really generic and unmemorable sometimes plain annoying. Secondly, the record is overproduced and sounds really loud. Generally this is not my cup of tea since I like a more "organic" sound in my albums.

Musically speaking The Tangent is a blend of symphonic prog and modern rock music, add also a bit of jazz and you have the recipe of the band s sound. While I like all of the individual ingredients, something may have gone wrong in the kitchen? Some tracks like the opener, Lost in London and Celebrity Puree are enjoyable tunes. Also both epics of the album are ok? I mean, the entire album is OK and that's exactly my problem with it! There are no ups or downs on it! The album goes and goes and I am totally indifferent to it!

That being said, I recommend (while not strongly!) this album to all newcomers to progressive rock music , this album is totally standard and harmless prog rock. However It's a much better idea to go for the real deal: Yes , King Crimson , Genesis and the like.

2.5 stars rounded up to 3

Latest members reviews

4 stars CD2 is five stars! This double-CD concept album is where Andy Tillison really explores his creative side in writing for The Tangent. The band is similar as on A Place in the Queue and Going Off On One, although Sam Baine has left, Julie King cameos on vocals on one tune, and Jakko Jakszyk (wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#1868899) | Posted by Walkscore | Tuesday, January 23, 2018 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Not as good as the book ... but surely with more speeches than the book! Really, too much words in this album, and a kind of progressive that deny its meaning and reason to be: progressive is the contrary of static, what this album is. The music goes on for all the tracks, but nothing hits me ei ... (read more)

Report this review (#1068334) | Posted by Oreste | Tuesday, October 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well, the reason I did buy this album, was mainly because a book comes free with it, which is a pretty werid story involving sci fi, prog and Sid Viscious' spit, but the album itself was suprisingly very good, I didn't really expect alot, but I got alot in reture (much like their debut). I woul ... (read more)

Report this review (#291085) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Monday, July 19, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Ironically, the title of the album says more then it should. I thought I'd splurge on this album and buy the special addition that comes with a small novel. I even set it aside to listen to up at my cottage where all great music gets introduced to me. I gave the first album of the two a spin ... (read more)

Report this review (#174046) | Posted by mothershabooboo | Monday, June 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars At the risk of making a bad pun, this is not as good as the last album, in my opinion. But it still ranks as a 4 star album (though I'd probably give it a 3.5, or 8 out of 10, if I could). So still a worthwhile album, but just not quite up to the standard of the last one for me. I think the f ... (read more)

Report this review (#171118) | Posted by infandous | Thursday, May 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Not as good as previous works.... I am one of the few fans of this group who has been disappointed by this album? I just had few listens but it doesn 't give me any thrill and all the songs appear very proggy but with no special feeling generation... Sorry to say, but the atmospheres which made ... (read more)

Report this review (#168883) | Posted by luc4fun | Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars OK, album is perfect, too perfect. Good for prog purists - all is here. Neo Prog sound (naive 80ties synthesizer sound too), jazzy interludes, symphonic epics, folk moments, complex genesy lyrics with humor. Starts fast and dynamic, then run out. But all is sterile, predictable, nothing new, ... (read more)

Report this review (#165841) | Posted by Clash | Sunday, April 6, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Until three months ago, I had never heard about this band. Yes, I am a prog-newbie with both my eyes firmly rooted on the big albums from 1968 - 1980. What an ignorant ***** I am....... !! Somehow; I believe this album will also shift a lot of albums from The Tangent's back-catalogue.......... T ... (read more)

Report this review (#165550) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, April 2, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Not as Good as The Queue, but exceptional nonetheless. There is something about Andy Tillison's style that allows the listener to by hypnotized with each listen. This album is no exception to that rule. Andy manages to sculpt his tunes on this album from a familiar material, but forms a new, un ... (read more)

Report this review (#164243) | Posted by Inverted | Tuesday, March 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A Masterpiece! Yes, they did it again. The first three albums were already great and expectations were high, but they did meet the expectations and did even better than that. Especially after reading the booklet included in the special edition one can appreciate the lyrics of the songs together ... (read more)

Report this review (#164142) | Posted by wvz1 | Monday, March 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Tangent have had a triumphant romp through the world of progressive rock since the release of The Music That Died Alone. Many have lamented the departure of Roine Stolt after The World We Drive Through, but now those who miss him can relax. Jakko M Jakszyk has picked up the reins (a littl ... (read more)

Report this review (#164093) | Posted by beebs | Sunday, March 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album convinced me to create a ProgArchives account - just so I could write a review. We need more modern music like this, The Tangent is very talented. I won't go through and do a track-by- track rundown, as I'd need a couple more listens to do so. I can say that there aren't any true wea ... (read more)

Report this review (#163933) | Posted by npoczynek | Friday, March 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars From my humble opinion, this albums peaks the greatness like the big seventeens masterpieces!!! Even the wonderful novel about included in the special edition album, which tells the story of a guy that destroys the world with a copy of the Relayer album!!!! Oooohhh my god, this story is so funny ... (read more)

Report this review (#163775) | Posted by AlexUC | Wednesday, March 12, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The new album of The Tangent, Not As Good As The Book, now when I've listened it through a few times, seems to be very bravo! The first tracks A Crisis In Midlife and Lost In London 25 Years Later wont't get my applause, though. Beating drums, high pitched chords with a synthesizer, and a ch ... (read more)

Report this review (#163772) | Posted by Tall Hair | Wednesday, March 12, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a remarkable album! Yes indeed. With this piece of art The Tangent rises among the great of Progressive rock! Indeed a true masterpiece. The Lamb of this band. Based strongly on the best practises of symphonick rock this music flows from a mood to another smoothly and creates long enjoy ... (read more)

Report this review (#162622) | Posted by pirkka | Monday, February 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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