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Lisa LaRue

Crossover Prog

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Lisa LaRue Fast And Blue album cover
3.79 | 25 ratings | 3 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mystery Of The Rose (1:10)
2. Prometheus (17:58)
3. Tryptych (4:54)
4. Jam Jehan Nima (12:51)
5. Lament Of The Cherokee/Ruins Of Home (7:30)
6. Fast And Blue (5:12)
7. Recurring Dream (7:17)

Total Time: 56:52

Line-up / Musicians

- Lisa LaRue / keyboards
- Steve Adams / guitar, bass
- Merrill Hale / drums
- John Payne / vocals, bass

guest musicians:
- Ryo Okumoto / keyboards (2)
- Michael Sadler / vocals (7)
- Don Schiff / NS stick (2)
- Mitch Perry / guitar solos (4)
- Maxi Nil / backing vocals (6)
- Mike Alvarez / cello

Releases information

CD First People Media 2011-01 (2011 US)

Thanks to psarros for the addition
and to rivertree for the last updates
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LISA LARUE Fast And Blue ratings distribution

(25 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (20%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

LISA LARUE Fast And Blue reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars Who intends to record a perfect progressive rock album unquestionably comes close to some prog paragons sooner or later. Okay, reminiscences occur here and there, however 'Fast And Blue' still leaves me amazed because of its uniqueness as a matter of fact. This is my first attempt with Lisa LaRue's projects and now I can say, it's definitely worth it to have a listen. Although the band is headed by her, this only can live from a collaboration with several prolific fellows of course. So she's proud of having guitarist Steve Adams (ARZ) and John Payne (Asia) as the co-writer/co-producer on her side.

When already producing a prog album you should also comprise one extended epic at least ... and including a short opener the following flamboyant Prometheus comes just like this. They choose a somewhat cinematic start including dramatic impressions, decent cello contributions (Mike Alvarez) and mandolin/bouzouki similar guitars. I would even dare to say that this is suitable for decorating diverse movies. Challenging ... great dynamics furthermore including alternating touches from Genesis to Dream Theater. Ryo Okumoto and Don Schiff (Rocket Scientists) contribute here and you'll find only a few moments where Lisa's synths are stepping forward into dominance really.

Totally different - on Tryptych acoustic guitar, piano and cello care for impressive profit sharing in some way, and then they provide Jam Jehan Nima - a wonderful eclectic piece of work, thus a masterpiece really, a tough case for a reviewer in the same way. Well, what can I say ... it's so tricky, featuring oriental touches, mysterious chorals, excellent guitar attendance - Flower Kings fans will be exited too. Merrill Hale, the other half of ARZ joining the lineup on drums, is on top of things here while Mitch Perry guests as for the guitar solo parts.Ruins Of Home shows some neo prog traces which remind me of Polish band Believe first of all and finally due to the catchy title track (John Payne on lead vocals) and Michael Sadler's appearance on Recurring Dreams the album ends with a softer Saga related touch.

No doubt, keyboard/synth wizard Lisa LaRue and her friends handle a wide spectrum of styles on 'Fast And Blue', reaching from eclecticism to AOR, comprising modern and 70s rooted prog elements - decorated with some sparkling jewels. The Special Edition version additionally contains a DVD (several videos) and a magazine with artwork; photos aso. I'm surprised about the compositional depth of several songs. Defiinitely not a keyboard-eccentric album, which one or two may expect probably. And all the fans of the aforementioned bands will detect something satisfying here, I'm sure - recommended by all means.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Fast And Blue' - Lisa LaRue 2KX (7/10)

If someone had first told me about the work of Lisa LaRue and her place as a 'virtuoso prog keyboardist', I would have likely not checked out this album. It is certainly not that I have a problem with highly skilled musicians, but whenever the words 'solo' and 'virtuoso' come up, I get the aching feeling that this will be more an ordeal of feeding the artist's ego through incessant scale worship and technical wizardry, rather than the more musical and tasteful elements that first attract me to certain types of music. Thankfully, I had no preconceptions of who Lisa LaRue was before listening to this, because as far as her latest album 'Fast And Blue' indicates, 'solo' and 'virtuoso' aren't words in the vocabulary. Instead, what we have here is an hour or so of band-oriented, eclectic prog rock, drawing from a range of sources and coming together into a longwinded span of varied sounds and mature composition.

The music on 'Fast And Blue' never focuses on the technical skills of the artist as I may have thought, but rather the tasteful arrangements of a number of musicians. If one was listening to the album without any idea of what it was, it could even be concluded that 'Fast And Blue' was the work of a guitar-oriented band, rather than the brainchild of a keyboardist. This is mostly instrumental music that leans towards the mellow side of prog rock, and best represented with the eighteen minute instrumental 'epic' 'Prometheus', the music is pleasant and emotional, with the talents of the musicians coming through in the slight ways they change the tone and dynamic as the track goes on. As I have said, the music here is surprisingly led mostly by the guitars, although LaRue's Wakeman-esque solos come in once in a while. Keeping in suit with the vibe of the rest of the album, most of it revolves around melody, rather than the flaunting of her skill, which is obvious enough without her necessarily having to show it off outright. Ironically though, some of the most exciting moments of this album are when she really lets loose her talent, and takes the keyboard for a frantic spin.

For it being a mostly instrumental record, Lisa LaRue's 'Fast And Blue' is a surprisingly tasteful record, with plenty of mellowness and well-thought melodies to send it going strong, although there is the occasional throwback to ELP-like climaxes to balance out the less eventful sections. Lisa LaRue was certainly trying to recreate the glory of the 70's prog rock with this one, as so many in today's progressive music scene have tried to do. While the sound is definitely emulated well enough, there is not quite enough that LaRue adds to this formula. The songwriting is quite well done, although no track here leaps out as being particularly memorable. Also, the addition of vocals on the later half of the album feels a little jarring. There are a number of vocalists that participate on this record, and while none are particularly bad, there is not one moment where the vocals feel as if they contribute anything vital to the sound; 'Fast And Blue' would have almost certainly have had a greater impact, had it been kept purely instrumental.

This 70's throwback thing is not my thing, and never was, but it is impossible to deny the skill and talent that Lisa LaRue has both in terms of playing, and arranging such an eclectic piece of music. We have folkier sounds here, 70's symphonic prog blowouts, jazzier moments, and classical sounds. A very good album from this talented artist, and for what it lacks in cohesion and identity, it makes up in variety and feeling.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is actually my first experience with a Lisa LaRue project, and I say this because I know she has been involved in the progressive rock scene for several years, with different projects and with a considerable amount of records. Now after some reviews I read, I got interested with her 2KX project and the album entitled "Fast and Blue", composed by LaRue, along with Steve Adams, Merrill Hale and John Payne.

The album comprises seven compositions, two of them epic tracks. It is an almost instrumental album, full of keyboards, wonderful and well-crafted compositions. It opens with "Mystery of the Rose" which is a one-minute introductory track with a peaceful and hopeful sound. It leads to "Prometheus", which in the other hand, is the longest composition of the album, with seventeen minutes of true and first-class progressive rock.

The first part has some inherent drama, I imagine it as a passage of a movie, with some tension and an unknown fate. Later it slows down, soft guitars and drums, nice bass notes, and great keyboard nuances. The song seems to be divided in several passages, showing the band's compositional skills. I like the bombastic moments where several elements are added, with great guitar riffs and the always prominent keyboards that creates a symphonic sound.

When drums, a bell and then a gong sounds, the tone changes dramatically and becomes much more bombastic. I am almost sure that in this part Ryo Okumoto enters with his keyboard feast. Along with the keys, the other instruments perfectly complement the music, which now show the quality of the musicians as performers, because each and every of them are well connected and flawlessly playing. This is a long, complex and well arranged symphonic offering that Lisa LaRue's 2KX share to us, and which can be appreciated and loved by the strictest prog fan.

"Tryptych" starts with a mellower sound, charming acoustic guitar and a cute cello creating a gentle atmosphere. I love how after the storm comes the calm, because this track allows us to take a breath after that vertiginous previous epic. This shorter piece fills our souls with a beautiful sound, that's it. But it leads to the other long track, which is entitled "Jam Jehan Nima"; this track begins with a more eclectic sound, with elements taken from different parts and genres, here the symphonic touch is not really present, instead, we can appreciate some mid-east hints, along with soft spacey keys, and even some jazzy moments. After four minutes, vocals appear as a choral group and create a dark and church-like sound. A minute later it vanishes and a new structure is being built, now with a more aggressive feeling, creating either a heavy prog, or even a symphonic metal-like sound. In this song, I prefer by miles the second part, honestly, I did not really enjoy the first one.

"Lament of the Cherokee / Ruins of Home" has once again cello and a soft beginning. The atmosphere and background are perfect for a fantasy film. A minute later a narrator appears with a strong voice, while keyboards and the other instruments continue creating that background. As he speaks, we can imagine what he says, even close our eyes and create our own story. The voice vanishes before the third minute and then a new structure is being built up. Here I like a lot the work of the drummer, giving the correct intensity in every passage. The last two minutes are great, once again, adding elements that let us create some images in our minds.

"Fast and Blue" has a clear symphonic prog sound since the first moments, but later it changes when Payne's vocals appear first, later joined by a female voice. There are some nice bass lines during the whole track, a song that I may label as a prog metal one, though the music is actually far from it.

The album finishes with "Recurring Dream" which has an instrumental beginning with some pastoral passages, but later when vocals join it changes a little bit, both the music and the feelings change as well. Later at minute four there is a wonderful moment with mellotron and beautiful and softly played strings. This is a very good ending track.

A strong, well-composed album that will please symphonic rock (mainly) fans, but which can be also loved by the average prog rock follower. Recommendable!

Enjoy it!

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