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Combination Head


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Combination Head Progress? album cover
3.98 | 49 ratings | 2 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. New City (5:08)
2. Glass and Steel (4:10)
3. Liquid (5:41)
4. Smoking Tree (3:36)
5. Future Wisdom (3:36)
6. Anthem (4:09)
7. Solid Ground (5:19)
8. Tomorrows World (4:41)
9. The Great Escape(5:08)
10.Cloud Cover (5:08)

Line-up / Musicians

Paul Birchall/Keyboards, Vocals
Keith Ashcroft/Guitar, Bass (7), Percussion (3), Intro Vocals (10)
Gareth Moulton/Guitar, Lead Vocals (1,8,10)
Dominic Finley/Bass, Vocals
Paul Burgess/Drums

Guest Musicians:
Phil Knight/Drums (1,2,7,9), Percussion (5,6,7,9,10)
Neil Fairclough/Lead Vocals (6)
Nick Van Eede/Lead Vocals (7)
Sheila Gott/Lead Vocals (9)
Bryan Hargreaves/Vocals (6)
Lyn Christine/Narration (7)

Releases information

S.A.M. Records (SAM004)

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COMBINATION HEAD Progress? ratings distribution

(49 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(63%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

COMBINATION HEAD Progress? reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ozzy_tom
4 stars 2nd album recorded by British band Combination Head contains a very solid material. It's no longer pure organ-driven, ELPish symphonic prog as in their debut, but I still like it a lot. Compositions & their arrangements on "Progress?" are truly varied. We can listen to alternative fast-tempo rockers, pop/rock ballads, electronic/sountrackish instrumentals and - what's the most important for me - there are still many ELP-like tracks with flashy Hammond runs.

And now the songs:

1. "New City" - after few seconds of unrelated electronic noises and police (or fire-brigade?) siren, the real "thing" begins: powerful organ-led instrumental with additional analog synth solos. Gareth Moulton also plays some great metallic guitar sounds here. Very dynamic & symphonic influenced track. Halfway between ELP/Triumvirat & Ayreon, but the most suitable comparison would by Japanese keyboards wizard - Motoi Sakuraba. Very similar style, really!

2. "Glass and Steel" - quite catchy and rather mellow pop/rock ballad which reminds me Pink Floyd's work on "The Wall". Background organ, leading synthesizers and warm vocals (probably it's Paul Birchall's voice, not sure).

3. "Liquid" - the longest track of the album is a very enjoyable instrumental. It's rather slow tempo and without any flashy keyboard solos, but I really like this omnipresent organs & melodic synthesizers here. Relaxing composition, slightly in the vain of Camel. Splendid.

4. "Smoking Tree" - slightly boring track based on calm piano and atmospheric synthesizer landscapes.

5. "Future Wisdom" - along with "New City" this is the most Emerson, Lake & Palmer inspired composition. Fantastic organ runs all the way through + supportive guitar tones. Some fragments seem to be even "stolen" from "Tarkus" suite but overall it's Combination Head's own vision of keyboard-led symphonic rock formula. So far so good!

6. "Anthem" - this one begins with lengthy, mellow electronic/piano landscapes like from some Vangelis' soundtrack but later on Neil Fairclough (guesting vocalist) starts to sing and we find out that "Anthem" is in fact quite nice electronic-pop/rock quasi-ballad. More mainstream sounding tune but not so bad.

7. "Solid Ground" - extremely surprising song! Begins with some goofy since-fiction voices and later on we have a mix of up-tempo alternative rock with electronic pop and ultimately catchy Hammond organ rides. Nick Van Eede's (guesting vocalist) really suits this material. In fact after some editing it could become a radio-friendly hit :-).

8. "Tomorrows World" - nice, slightly folky ballad with acoustic & electric guitar and background keyboards. Suitable vocal delivery by Gareth Moulton, very warm & pleasant. Overall very poppy but not offensive for my ears.

9. "The Great Escape" - another unusual song for Combination Head. In fact it's some kind of disco-hit track with infectious female vocals by Sheila Gott. Sounds like disco but it's so much better than your typical FM radio staff. Very sharp guitar, great bass work & floating synths are truly good, but the best is gritty organ solo included in the end of the song.

10. "Cloud Cover" - my least favorite track on "Progress?". Sounds like your usual radio-friendly staff. Not memorable at all. Only some Moog/organ/guitar soloing near the end is worth mentioning.

Overall "Progress?" is a much different album than Combination Head's debut one. It's more varied in style and that's why it may make some of the most hardcore prog-heads very unhappy. But wide range of different kinds of music & arrangements on this particular album sound rather good for me. Anyway first part of the album seems to be stronger and directed toward ELP/Triumvirat/Collegium Musicum/Trace/Social Tension/Motoi Sakuraba/Gerard/Ars Nova keyboard-based symph-prog aficionados, while the send part is more mainstream, radio-friendly oriented. So I recommend it to both kind of audiences.

Best tracks: "Future Wisdom" & "New City"

4 stars from ozzy_tom

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Combination Head is one of the intristing bands from newer generation of progressive rock bands, started somewhere around 2002 last decade and releasing so far 3 albums, each one with fresh ideas and competent songwritting. Progress? is their second release and a great one I must tell you. This time face the first who was an instrumental album Progress? has some vocal lines, but sounds very good for sure. Combination Head delivers a combination, of neo prog arrangements, but much looser and more varied then most of the bands from this style and some hitts that goes to ELP music. The result is very elastic in musical terms, not a copy of ELP for sure and not a copy of neo prg bands that influence ethe genre in early years. A mature band with inteligent musicianship, crafted pieces and above all some very nice playing. This time beside organ driven prog that was on first album, here the band is concentrated in some parts on rock atmosphere, some mellow parts but all interluded very well. Crafted musicians all of them, speciualy I like the keybords how sounded here and Paul Burgess the drumer, very elastic playing and with plenty of good chops. All pieces stands as great not a weak moment here, even the pieces are not lenghy all have around 5 min and under, the musicianship and overall ideas are excellent and is one of the pleasent albums that needs a far better view for sure. I will give 4 stars, excellent work buy this almost discrete band from UK. Recommend, the album comes in digipack format with a great booklet inside.

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