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Izz Ampersand album cover
3.09 | 52 ratings | 5 reviews | 4% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ancient Memory (6:41)
2. Afraid to Be Different (4:03)
3. The Wait of It All (5:50)
4. One Slice to Go (1:55)
5. Confusion (5:47)
6. The Bar Song (4:10)
7. My Best Defenses (live in Pius X Hall at Manhattanville College) (4:19)
8. Molly's Jig (live at the NJ Proghouse, January 2003) (2:36)
9. Razor (live at the Dividing Line Webcast, September 2003) (7:00)
10. Another Door (live, as above) (4:45)
11. Star Evil Gnoma Su (live, as above) (8:51)

Total Time 55:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Paul Bremner / acoustic & electric guitars
- Tom Galgano / keyboards, vocals, acoustic guitar
- John Galgano / bass, electric & acoustic guitars, piano, vocals
- Brian Coralian / drum programming, acoustic & electronic percussion
- Greg DiMiceli / drums, percussion

Note: The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

Outtakes from the first two albums, and some live tracks

CD Doone Records - DR4-669563 (2004, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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IZZ Ampersand ratings distribution

(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

IZZ Ampersand reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a hard one to rate. It should be somewhere between two and three stars. Since the stars have five points I'll give it a 2.3/5 rating. Why? There are some great songs here which are strong and deserve a wider audience than just a Collectors/Fans only rating.

Ampersand is a collection of studio tunes which did not appear on Sliver of the Sun or I Move and a few "Live" versions of other songs. This amounts to an EP with the "Live" tracks used to flesh it out to a whole LP.

The good stuff: Basically the best parts are the new full band tracks, the EP part of the disc. Ancient Memory has some CSN styled harmonies over a nice tight chord arrangement, which blossoms into a wild keyboard solo and syncopated drumming then a blistering lead from Brems. It's one of my favorites here.

Afraid to be Different has a very Beatlesque vibe, straight from Abbey Road. A solid track, but could have used some harder moments to break up the rythym.

The Wait of it All features some vocals by Annmarie Byrnes, which elevate the tune above the electronic drumming. Tom Galgano's keyboard solo brightens things up using some Keith Emerson style patches.

Confusion, a concert regular, finally gets the studio treatment and is one of the best tracks to sum up the IZZ sound. It places an emphasis on their vocal harmonies, Annmarie Brynes guest here too. Galgano plays some piano here, before adding some synth sounds during the middle section and melts into ambient washes on the close.

The Bar Song flows along with introspective lyrics, more wonderful harmonies, this time Laura Meade fills in. This is the type of song that gets stuck in your head, slow but melodic and thoughtful. Understated solos flow through the sections, never really hitting hard. This could have been opened up with some stronger soloing and a keyboard break.

The problem here is the lack of continuity, the pieces don't fit together. The full band tracks are strong and have some wonderful moments. Guitarist Paul Bremner's solo piece "One Slice to Go" is a jazzy acoustic number that seems so out of place that I regularly skip it so as not to break up the flow. Maybe it was an attempt to add a Steve Howe-like guitar piece to add some diversity to the album? Here it just doesn't work.

My Best Defenses, a solo vocal and piano piece by Laura Meade, really makes you scratch your head. It's a beautiful song, but it's a Laura Meade tune, no IZZ members play on it. Is she now a full member? It just doesn't fit.

The Live pieces are great re-creations of older IZZ tunes, but the standout here is Molly's Jig from Paul Bremner's solo album Wombsong. Similar to the Mists of Dalriada from I Move, this Irish flavored tune is really uplifting and shows the facility of Brems playing.

This is not THE place to start with IZZ, but it's still a good rewarding listen that has regularly found it's way back into my CD player.

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I have to agree with several things Danbo wrote in his review. The most important is this is not the place to start with IZZ. Even still there are some great tracks here starting with the opening which has become on my favorite IZZ songs, Ancient Memory. One of things I love about IZZ is their Beatles influence and they use it well in things like Afraid to be Different and Confusion. The latter is of similar style to Deception off of My River Flows. The Wait of it All is perfect IZZ song with the great fusion like feel on the rhythm with a great vocal on top, nice song. The Bar song an Once Slice to Go are OK but nothing special. The last studio piece is My Best Defenses sang by Laura Meade and backed by Anamarie Byrnes is a great vocal but the underneath part is just piano and is just too spartan. I think they could have held this one back and reworked it for another release.

All 4 live tracks are excellent examples of IZZ live and are worth the price of the album as well. Being that this is a bits an pieces release and should be treated as such this one gets 3 stars. Maybe don't start here but don't be afraid to come back to it.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I am always sceptical with releases combing great left over numbers. Since the history of the band was rather short, some live tracks are added to come up with an appropriate length (over fifty minutes).

So, to my astonishment, the first song Ancient Memory is not bad at all. Vocal harmonies remind Yes and the hard guitar attack is close to what the band had delivered in their second album I Move. The track is elaborate and pleasant. A good left-over I should say. But it is the only one of that class here.

Not that the other songs are bad, but after an OK Afraid to Be Different, the mellowish The Wait Of It All is too sloppy for my ears and the jazzy acoustic One Slice To Go is just a filler.

Confusion is the second good piece of music from Ampersand. The vocal harmonies are beautiful and the music is quite atmospheric. It sounds far much better than the classic rock ballad The Bar Song.

The Crimsonian Razor and Star Evil. are the best moments from this album although I far much preferred the beauty of the latter in its studio version.

In all, this album is for dedicated fans; it doesn't feature a lots of great songs and it is the reason why I rate it with two stars.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Apparently Izz had hit the stride with the first pair of released albums, as the band started to become a regular visitor of famous Prog festivals, beginning with Progfest 2002, where they shared the same stage with Thieves' Kitchen and Prog/Fusion veterans Kraan and The Muffins.The Galgano brothers thought that some of material not included in the previous album was too good to be left aside and decided to offer it to the public under the title of ''Ampersand''.Just one week before its release in 2004, Izz would make another significant performance in Rosfest 2004 next to acts such as Jadis, Salem Hill and Sonus Umbra.

The leftovers from ''I move'' are supported by a bunch of live tracks in an album that is pretty interesting without reaching the best moments of Izz'es normal studio albums.While the previous efforts of the band were basically deeped into Neo/Symphonic Prog with huge pop sensibilities, ''Ampersand'' sounds mostly as a collection of Prog-Pop tracks with quirky instrumental workouts and less emphasis on symphonic orchestrations.You can turn around the band's main influences and this one comes as if THE BEATLES turned Prog, influenced by GENESIS, YES and GENTLE GIANT.The acoustic guitars come in evidence, the cinematic textures are a basic content and the lyrical moments seem to be among the leading forces of the album.Even so, this is way too far from typical, crappy Pop material.Izz complemented their sound with nervous synthesizers, some dramatic instrumental lines with a GENTLE GIANT-like complexity and lots of light, Neo/Symph Prog elements close to the principles of MOSTLY AUTUMN, early PAATOS or BREATHING SPACE.As for the live tracks, these are recorded in three different venues and come basically from the band's previous albums with ''Star evil gnoma su'' being an absolute stunner in this live version, Progressive Rock at its best form, complex, naughty, intricate and melodic.The biggest surprise comes from the ''Molly's jig'' track, a rural instrumental piece with some supporting lines by electric guitars and keyboards, originally included in Paul Bremner's 2004 album ''Wombsong''.

Do not leave this work by Izz aside.The band seems so talented that even these Pop-inclined pieces are covered by an inventive, proggy flexibilty.Close to the sound of BRIGHTEYE BRISON's early material or SPOCK'S BEARD more accesible compositions and warmly recommended.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The Prog Beatles ride again!!!. But don't get too excited, this time it's only a bunch of outtakes and live versions, just for completists. NO!!!. Do get excited!!!. This material really deserved to see the light of day. Get it as soon as possible. IZZ are becoming true classics. How about a t ... (read more)

Report this review (#31237) | Posted by | Thursday, February 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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