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Duncan Browne

Crossover Prog

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Duncan Browne The Wild Places album cover
3.89 | 9 ratings | 1 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Wild Places (5:55)
2. Roman Vécu (4:43)
3. Camino Real, Part I-III (8:30)
4. Samurai (4:25)
5. Kisarazu (7:10)
6. The Crash (3:53)
7. Planet Earth (6:15)

Total time 40:51

Line-up / Musicians

- Duncan Browne / vocals, guitars
- Tony Hymas / keyboards
- John Giblin / bass
- Simon Phillips / drums

Thanks to windhawk for the addition
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DUNCAN BROWNE The Wild Places ratings distribution

(9 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(67%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

DUNCAN BROWNE The Wild Places reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "In the heat of the moment I just lose control"

It seems a shame, but the late Duncan Browne will forever be conveniently listed under the banner of one-hit wonder (in the UK at least). Ask anyone to name a song by Browne, and if they are able to at all, inevitably the reply will be "Journey". That 1972 single saw him make an appearance on Top of the Pops, while climbing to the upper echelons of the UK singles chart. That "Horse with no name" type acoustic number offered a reasonable reflection of where he was at that time, but it represents a mere point in time in terms of his career.

After the release of that single and the album which complemented it, Browne formed the band Metro, their sole album being released in 1976. Most notable about that album was David Bowie's covering of one of its songs on his album "Let's dance". Browne returned to a solo career thereafter, reinventing himself both musically and in terms of image. The first product of this makeover was the 1978 album "The wild places". It is during this period, and the following "Streets of fire" that Browne moved closest to prog territories, although personally I would contend that he never moved closer than prog related.

For this album, Browne put together a small band, with his guitars and vocals (and occasional keyboards) being supplemented by synthesisers, bass and drums. The result is an album of wonderfully creative atmospheres, strong melodies, and imaginative songwriting.

The strongest statement on the album is the opening title track. Here we have a superbly constructed song which moves from almost inaudible understatement to sweeping crescendo, not once but several times. There is a little Leonard Cohen and a little Bryan Ferry about the song but the main feeling is one of stunning originality. Tony Hymas' contribution on mellotron like string synth also does much to enhance the flavour of the piece.

"Roman Vécu" slows things down, the melancholy, reflective vocal delivering a more orthodox ballad. The fine melody and the arrangement of the song however lifts it from the prosaic, resulting in in a keyboards drenched piece which demands more than a cursory one off listen. There are seven tracks in all, the longest being the 8˝ minute three part instrumental suite "Camino real" (no relation to the Steve Hackett number). This quasi- classical composition really does demonstrate how Browne has moved on from his singer/songwriter period and how he is wiling to explore new and unfamiliar territories. There are suggestions of bands as diverse as Yes, Brand X, and Jean Michel Jarre among the myriad of moods and themes which are embraced by the track.

The second side of the album is slightly more conventional, with four songs of between four and seven minutes occupying the side. "Samurai" is an out and out rocker, but the style does not really suit Browne's delivery, his vocals sounding nasally and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the song will get the toes tapping. This is one of two tracks on the album ("Planet earth" is the other) which was co-written with Peter Goodwin in 1976, when they were working together in Metro.

Although lyrically "Kisasazu - The touch" is set in Japan, it has something of a film noire atmosphere, the moody ambience conjuring images of shady street corners and mysterious women. "The crash" lifts the pace and the mood again, but unlike "Samurai", here we have a pleasantly melodic mid-paced pop-rock song. Browne's slightly tremulant vocal is well suited to this, the most commercial of the tracks. The album closes with "Planet earth", the other joint composition from 1976. This is a sort of "Space oddity" meets ELO song which once again has a strong melody and a building, repetitive arrangement. A fine closer.

Overall, a first rate album which sees Browne venturing well beyond his comfort zone, and doing so with a significant degree of success.

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