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It Bites

Crossover Prog

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It Bites Once Around the World album cover
3.75 | 118 ratings | 20 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Midnight (4:04)
2. Kiss Like Judas (4:08)
3. Yellow Christian (6:29)
4. Rose Marie (3:33)
5. Black December (3:50)
6. Old Man and the Angel (9:21)
7. Hunting the Whale (4:46) *
8. Plastic Dreamer (3:53)
9. Once Around the World (14:46)

Total Time 54:50

long-version (only 4:00 on LP)
* not on LP

Line-up / Musicians

- Francis Dunnery / guitars, lead vocals
- John Beck / keyboards, backing & harmony vocals
- Dick Nolan / bass, backing vocals
- Bob Dalton / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Simon Fowler (photo)

LP Virgin ‎- V2456 (1988, UK)

CD Virgin ‎- CDV 2456 (1988, UK) With an extra track and longer version of track 6

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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IT BITES Once Around the World ratings distribution

(118 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

IT BITES Once Around the World reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars This band reminds me of some of the worst moments in prog history (look at the dates) and also reminds a bit of Saga (not in sound but in the approach to music). Just not my cup of tea. On the whole I don't appreciate this band so I won't review their other albums ( i've heard the majority of it) so as not to hurt too many feelings too much.

I am not sure one can consider fully It Bites as prog, but once again because of the dire times, the least group that had a slight bit of longer tracks, did draw some reactions from starved progheads (I include myself in this pack, since I have heard the majority of the group's discography). Just not my cup of tea!!

Review by Blacksword
4 stars Their best album, without a doubt, and certainly their most progressive. With Steve Hillage co-producing a few of the tracks, it's clear again that IB had prog in mind for this, their second album. The album opens with the explosive, albeit rather poppy 'Midnight' and is followed up 'Kiss like Judas'; the hit single from OATW. With the pop out of the way the band plough into 'Yellow Christian' the first of three conceptual songs on the album. 'YC' is awash with Tony Banks style keyboards, and some quirky Yes-ish vocals, not to mention a few odd time signatures for good prog measure. This is not to say that this album is a rip off of other artists. IB always had their own style and sound, even though their three studio albums were all very different. 'Old man and the angel' was the second single from this album. As a single it failed miserably, but thats hardly surprising as it's a great song!! The CD unlike the vinyl has the full 9 minute version of OMATA, which in my view is the one of the best tracks on the album. The epic is the title track. A thirteen minute collage of English prog eccentricity, woven together by excellent musicianship. The album is well produced, well played and drips proffesionalism and confidence. It Bites were a sadly underated prog act in the 80's. Once described by Mark Lammar as 'Like Marillion with sex. A far more pallatable concept than sex WITH Marillion'
Review by hdfisch
3 stars Most fellow reviewers call this one their best and most prog-ish album and maybe they're right, since their other releases are even worse than this one. First two songs are nothing special in fact, "Midnight" and "Kiss Like Judas" are simple pop-rock songs played in typical 80's style. "Yellow Christian" is the first track showing a bit more prog-ish approach at least for the poor relations of these "darkest times of prog". "Rose Marie" is a rather short rock song with quite funny lyrics and staccato riffing. Next one "Black December" is for sure the weakest one of the album. "Old Man And The Angel" sounds slightly better to me, quite ok showing at least some versatility. The beginning of "Hunting The Whale" appears quite prog-ish with some laughter and sounds of whales but what follows is quite disappointing I have to say. "Plastic Dreamer" is in a similar very typical for the 80's, maybe good for the time being, but since I use to hate 80's at all, it can't offer me anything. The title song is the longest one with a quite unusual length for this era of 15 minutes and for sure the highlight of the album. It's the first one of this album I can call a real prog song and the reason for giving this album 3 stars although I've to admit only by showing much good will not to offense too much fans of this band.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Calling all the Bravehearts!

Despite the presence of a couple of longer tracks, "Once around the world" is still very much based in 80's pop rock. Of the nine tracks, six are of a similar simplistic structure. The performances are exemplary, and the songs certainly well above average, but prog it ain't.

The melodies can sometime sound very similar to those of LEVEL 42, this being particularly apparent on "Hunting the whale" which closely resembles "Lessons in love". The message of the song is along the lines of Yes' "Don't kill the whale" the lyrics asking "why can't you leave him alone..".

The opening couple of tracks, "Midnight" and "Kiss like Judas" have strong melodies and harmonic vocals. Even when we get to "Yellow Christian", a slower 6 minute song, the overriding impression is of an enhanced rock ballad. Certainly the instrumentation has a slightly neo-prog feel, with hints of the type of music made by IQ and JADIS. The 9 minute "Old man and the angel" is really in two distinct parts, the pop element being followed by a lengthy development of the theme.

The final track, which gives the album its title, runs to almost 15 minutes. The song is by far the bands most progressive, although it remains completely accessible. Various instrumental sequences, including frequent synthesiser flourishes, punctuate the melodic storytelling of A day in the life. The lyrics include a section which goes "The Scots have invaded our land again. . . take a piece of turf home to show their wives", an apparent reference to a great football victory at Wembley(!). The track closes with a fine building instrumental refrain.

The three longer more elaborately structured pieces here cannot disguise that fact that this is primarily a sophisticated pop prog album. It is nevertheless a hugely enjoyable piece of work, enhanced by those three standout tracks.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars "I may look like some animal, but I am what I am, a man"

According to many Once Around The World is It Bites' best album and it is surely an improvement over the promising but somewhat pre-mature debut. Once again we get very accomplished Crossover Prog with both strongly commercial elements and many progressive elements. As on the debut, the sound of the band is mostly wholly Pop oriented and the songs all have strong hooks, but the arrangements are often unconventional and the music takes some surprising twists and turns that will certainly please the Crossover fan. Like all It Bites albums, this album too is very well produced and it sounds very professional, even more so than the already polished debut.

It Bites were hardly a groundbreaking group but they certainly had their own characteristic sound and approach which is further developed here. Compared to the debut, there is more energy and "punch" in these songs and a slightly harder edge is tried out here for the first time. The voice (which often evokes Peter Gabriel) of singer and guitarist Francis Dunnery is very strong and distinctive and the whole band oozes with musical and instrumental talent. There is a bit more lead guitar work on this album which is also very accomplished. John Beck provides some very nice keyboard work as well.

The album opens with Midnight which is more or less a pure Pop song that probably leaves many Prog fans wondering what the fuss is about, but it gets better. On Kiss Like Judas the progressive influences start to come through within a still basic Pop approach. Yellow Christian is a very good song with some great Queen-like bombast. Here, like in many other places, Dunnery's guitar sound reminds me of that of Brian May. Rose Marie is again a rather straightforward song, whatever progressive elements present are found in the finer details.

The second half of the album is generally more progressive in nature. The first genuinely progressive number is the nine plus minute The Old Man And The Angel which allows the band to stretch out a bit more instrumentally. Overall, this song reminds me quite a bit of the Neo-Prog band IQ. On some passages the guitar sound is strongly Allan Holdsworth-like which brings UK to mind. Some vocal arrangements are quite Yes-like.

The other Prog song here is the closing 15 minute title track which is strongly Genesis-like. In many ways this is It Bites' answer to Supper's Ready. The band are clearly outside of their comfort zone here and I often feel this "epic" is a bit disjointed and it does not reach the same highs as The Old Man And The Angel for me.

Whatever potential there was on the debut is certainly fulfilled here with this second effort and this is surely a good album that will make a nice addition to any Crossover Prog collection. But I hesitate to call this an excellent addition to any Prog collection. The classic Prog purists will not be easily converted to this.

All in all, Once Around The World is a fine album with one foot in Pop and the other in Prog. This might be the most progressive It Bites album, but my favourite is actually their third album, Eat Me In St Louis.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Once around the world is the second release of It Bites from 1988. This much better then the predecesor, the sound is crystal clear, the compositions are tighter, more choesive and has that special atmosphere of late' 80's. Definetly their most mature work and their best album for sure, It Bites release a great album with pleasent music, beutiful voice, and some very good keyboards arrangements, I realy like this album. Bordering between AOR, more rock edged then previous album with some polished pop ventures combined very well with some neo prog elelents It Bites release a solid album in my opinion. Maybe is not very complex like other releases from neo prog, but is very well done. Every pieces is great, specially the longest track from here Once Around The World, nearly 15 min of great music and superb kyboards anf gutar elements. This might be one of the best pop rock albums of late '80' s for sure, everything is well done, very subtile pop, maybe sometimes they remind me of The Box, art pop of the highest calibre. 4 stars for sure for this album, still not very well regarded as their best work in music circles, and still considerated an easy band for traditional progressive listners, to mellow for the progresive metal ones, but in the end a real surprise for me , in agood way. Almost excellent, great album, I like it a lot.
Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is actually a weird album to revisit for me since I vividly remember really liking it back in the late '90s and actually considered it to be the band's best release. Looking and listening to it today just doesn't bring out that same enthusiasm.

Unlike The Big Lad In The Windmill which hid its gems towards the end of the album, Once Around The World throws in all of its assets upfront and slowly begins to stagnate towards its second half. Songs like Midnight, Kiss Like Judas, Black December and Old Man And The Angel can only be described as classic It Bites material, even though the latter is a bit too long for its own good. The problems arrive with pretty stale tunes like Hunting The Whale and Plastic Dreamer and even though the mini-opus of a title track does balance out some of the weaker material, it just doesn't make the overall feel of this album any better.

Once Around The World might not be the great album I remembered it being, but it's still not a total waste of time for fans of '80s Art Rock and even if The Big Lad In The Windmill might feel more consistent, this album is definitely the more progressive of the two. The melodies that work, work all the way, while those that lack the punch fail miserably and fall into the dark hole of obscurity for me. Luckily there isn't a single moment here that makes me cringe because of the sound production, which is pretty much the best compliment one can give to an '80s album.

Not good enough for an excellent rating, but far from a fans only release. I'd say that a good, but non-essential rating is in order here!

***** star songs: Midnight (4:06)

**** star songs: Kiss Like Judas (4:10) Yellow Christian (6:30) Rose Marie (3:34) Black December (3:51) Old Man And The Angel (9:21) Once Around The World (14:49)

*** star songs: Hunting The Whale (4:47) Plastic Dreamer (3:54)

Review by FragileKings
4 stars This album was a pleasant surprise for me to find out about and listen to. I first heard about It Bites a year ago when they released "Map of the Past" and it showed up on my Amazon page. I thought they were some new band but somehow heard that they'd released an album or two before. Then while reading Stephen Lambe's book "Citizens of Hope and Glory: The Story of Progressive Rock", I was surprised to read that It Bites was a band from the 80's! Lambe wrote that their "Once Around the World" album was a surprise piece of prog in the prog parched 80's. I felt that I must check it out and with little more than a glimpse at a video on YouTube I ordered it.

The first two tracks are what I had expected from an 80's album. This is 80's rock that is too synthesizer-swamped for the guitars to make it hard rock, but too rockin' to be just 80's pop. Call it 80's pop rock if you like. Not quite my taste and a little embarrassing to have playing on the car stereo. But not bad songs for what they are.

The third track "Yellow Christian" is in the same vein but more synth and less guitars, making it seem closer to bubblegum pop except that in the middle there's a smart section that turns to prog flavour. The first time I heard this my ears pricked right up after having tuned out of the music. Now I knew that this album might have a few surprised before the big 14-minute-plus finale.

"Rose Marie" sounds to me like mid-eighties Uriah Heep or Blue Oyster Cult. The guitar playing is enjoyable but particularly so because in the YouTube video segment I watched, guitarist Francis Dunnery explained about using a guitar where the strings are higher off the fret-board, making the finger work necessarily more precise. My first guitar also had such high strings and it was not easy to learn how to play a lot of hard rock songs at first. Later when I bought a Gibson Epiphone (a Les Paul would have been nice but...) I at last had an easier time of playing. So, I could appreciate Dunnery's skill and the different quality of sound his guitar solos have on the album.

"Black December" is much like most of the album sounds so far. But things are about to get more interesting.

While on the surface "Old Man and the Angel" sounds like another pop rock track, it soon changes and fits in a wonderful prog section in the middle. At first I was thinking that this is what Yes should have been doing on "Big Generator" but then I thought It Bites were pre- saging the prog revival of the 90's, in particular sounding a bit like The Flower Kings. When the song concludes with its pop rock chorus it maintains an odd drum beat. It Bites came to the dinner party in an appropriate jacket but has now taken it off and is showing a prog T-shirt underneath.

"Hunting the Whale" and "Plastic Dreamer" both take us away from the pop rock factory in different ways. At times I felt the vocals sounded a bit theatrical like Peter Gabriel but "Hunting the Whale" really comes off sounding like what Genesis might have been had the classic line-up held together into the late 80's. It's a bit bizarre with a raucous tavern dinner atmosphere at the beginning and the end, whale sounds, some crusty old salt singing from his boat all blended with an 80's synthesizer as the main music. "Plastic Dreamer" tells the story of someone who gets himself locked in the toy store so he can confirm his belief that the toys come alive at night. Darth Vader dressed in drag is one of the many humorous images conjured up in the lyrics. The whimsy of the song sounds like what some otherwise serious pop rock band would have put on their album and have had it criticized as filler or inconsistency. But I find this song and the previous one showing the band's humour and willingness to go out on a limb.

Of course the song that Stephen Lambe praised was the album closer "Once Around the World". Clocking in a just under fifteen minutes, this song begins very smoothly and appropriately where the music of "Plastic Dreamer" ended off, with very beautiful and delicate synthesizer. The song picks up and goes through some interesting changes not unlike "Supper's Ready" by Genesis with odd clips and snippets of what could have been other songs fitted in smartly. As the music graduated through its atmospheres, tempos, and flavours, I felt it could easily have appeared on any Flower Kings album.

My conclusion thus far is that this album introduces itself as a pop rock album but reveals its secret intention to keep symphonic prog alive in the 80's. Considering that the old guard of the 70's were either split up or recording pop music and the neo-prog movement was by 1988 turning towards the mainstream more and more, finding an album like this one is quite a surprise. Once again I must restate my impressions that It Bites sound like a mixture of how classic Genesis might have sounded in the 80's and The Flowers Kings with a hint of what 80's Yes could have been. Pop rock songs aside, I think this was a very bold and intriguing album for the band to make. It is perhaps due to be rated as one of my favourite prog rock albums of the 80's.

Not quite essential to any prog rock collection but certainly essential for an 80's prog collection. For the effort put toward prog on this album I'll give it four stars.

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Report this review (#2409546) | Posted by Zoltanxvamos | Wednesday, June 3, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Nothing short of being a pop/rock/prog masterpiece. It Bites really takes the cake here. Influence by heavy progrock like Rush, Saga and even the pop-approach of Mike and the Mechanics, Francis and co set the standard for years to come. No longer, prog had to be about long songs and relentless ... (read more)

Report this review (#711483) | Posted by Kingsnake | Friday, April 6, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Don't forget these boys. It Bites, probably best known to joe public for their top ten fluke hit "Calling All The Heroes" (1986) were quickly destined to be filed away in the long line of faceless pop bands that dominated the late 1980s and ultimately made the discerning listener yearn for th ... (read more)

Report this review (#569240) | Posted by iguana | Thursday, November 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Probably my favorite prog-crossover act of all time, It Bites are one of those bands that I wished I had the opportunity to see when I was overseas in England back in the late 80's. They had a pompy Smiths/Van Halen hybrid approach to proggy songwriting that made them rather fun to listen to in a ... (read more)

Report this review (#326434) | Posted by Drake/Sinister | Friday, November 19, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 5 stars. Nothing else like it. Well, then. When it was released. There is tons now copying this band! For me-this album was the harder side of YES i'd always secretly wished they'd been. or Genesis for that matter. Though I do like those guys-but gave up on the idiom until It Bites came along ... (read more)

Report this review (#205307) | Posted by johnnythelowery | Tuesday, March 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First of all I want to say a couple of things: this is the FIRST time I give a 5 stars rating and most important of all, you MUST have at least some appreciation for pop music to enjoy bands like It Bites. I think it's a mistake to judge It Bites as a progresive band, I'd like to define their m ... (read more)

Report this review (#146803) | Posted by Prosciutto | Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Some great comments here - nobody gets it wrong! "Prog for beginners" - really like it! This is a real minefield - a mate with impeccable taste hates this. I love it. Quite right, the first two songs suck. But the whole point with IB was that they were unashamedly after the big time, and weren ... (read more)

Report this review (#94649) | Posted by Paul Stump | Sunday, October 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A perfect marriage of Pop and Prog that puts all other Neo-Prog of the 80's to shame. Catchy without being simplistic and hooky without being too repetitive or obvious, It Bites managed to unify two genres that are rarely seen side by side: actual British-style Pop and Metal-tinged Prog. Yes, ... (read more)

Report this review (#79088) | Posted by Teaflax | Tuesday, May 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Prog rock didn't get much better than this in the 80s. The opening track "Midnight" is lightweight funk-pop, but don't be put off. "Kiss Like Judas" (performed live on "Wogan" as I recall) is proof that prog bands can do pop singles. "Yellow Christian" is a delightful exploration of time signa ... (read more)

Report this review (#25318) | Posted by | Wednesday, March 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I agree with the other reviewers that Francis Dunnery is a great guitarist and there is some interesting use of the guitar but on the whole I find this album disappointing. Yes it does have odd signatures and lots of different moods but only in the longer tracks the rest is just very dated so ... (read more)

Report this review (#25313) | Posted by Jools | Wednesday, June 9, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is by far a gem,inthe world of prog music!! Mr.Dunnery are really an example of great guitarplaying and prog composition. Now i havent heard their other works,but if this album is anything to go by! Id like to hear everything by them. Dunnery are a supreme guitarist and composer! And the b ... (read more)

Report this review (#25312) | Posted by | Tuesday, June 8, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Anyone who doesnt acknowledge the talent of IT a serious contender for this years: "Get your ears checked" !! As Mr.Dunnery (he of IT BITES leadguitar and compository fame) headmaster and grand leader of the guitar and lyrically serpent of UK band IT BITES...this their second outing.. i ... (read more)

Report this review (#25310) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Friday, January 9, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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