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SONGS FROM THE HARD SHOULDER

The Tangent

Eclectic Prog


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The Tangent Songs from the Hard Shoulder album cover
3.89 | 150 ratings | 11 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2022

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Changes (17:06)
2. The GPS Vultures (17:01)
3. The Lady Tied to the Lamp Post (20:52)
4. Wasted Soul (4:40)
5. In the Dead of Night / Tangential Aura / Reprise (16:11) *

Total Time 75:50

* bonus track on limited edition (U.K. cover)

Line-up / Musicians

- Andy Tillison / vocals, keyboards
- Luke Machin / guitar, vocals
- Theo Travis / saxophone, flute
- Jonas Reingold / bass
- Steve Roberts / drums

Releases information

Label: InsideOut Music
Formats: CD, 2LP, Digital
June 10, 2022

Thanks to projeKct for the addition
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THE TANGENT Songs from the Hard Shoulder ratings distribution


3.89
(150 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
25%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
50%
Good, but non-essential (21%)
21%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

THE TANGENT Songs from the Hard Shoulder reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I have been looking forward to this album for a long while. I haven't heard any songs by The Tangent, but I was excited to get into them through this album when I heard of its release date this year. I heard a ton of good things about the band and I was very interested to check them out, so I am pretty stoked to hear what they sound like with this new release.

The album begins with a 17 minute epic called The Changes. When I first heard this song I was really interested in the sound. It was unique to my ears honestly cause I couldn't really pinpoint what exactly made it sound very much like other Prog bands I have listened to but with something different. I do not think it is jazz, but it is definitely something of the same vein. I'll go out on a limb and say that the song uses the swing genre as somewhat of a basis of sorts. The sound is very nicely done, super rhythmic, super enjoyable, and dare I say danceable in some way? I don't know, I just feel like I kinda wanna boogie you know? Looking at it critically it definitely does leave a bit of a weaker impression on me rather due to the fact the song, while changing a lot, definitely doesn't use a sort of suite like song structure and more like a long continuous part with some spiciness sprinkled in for good measure every couple minutes. It's different, and I like that, but it can do a little more woodwork though. Although I think this song has a great payoff with a guitar solo near the end playing the main motif of the song, which is a really neat and interesting way of closing out an epic, with less of a grand spanking epic finale, and more of a awesome little number to tie the song with a neat bow. I also gotta talk about the lyrics cause they are pretty interesting. The vocals are clear as day, and pretty understandable too, which is a plus. The lyrics are about our future and how we can go further from the hardships that came about with 2020 and 2021, plus the changes the band has had since then. Honestly I think this is the song we kinda need at the moment, to show that we can still create a future for ourselves if we just buckle up and move forward and try to not give the world to such bad people next time. It is hopeful without being too grand about it, which I think definitely gives this song some extra value.

Next up is another 17 minute epic, an instrumental piece called The GPS Vultures. I'd say if you like Wobbler, Moon Safari, Flower Kings, Echolyn, or any sorta modern Prog band that takes influence on 70s Prog bands then imagine if they all played together in a room to come up with a piece. This is that song, sorta in a nutshell but I am not downplaying the song, in fact I really enjoy this sorta style. How the band can really create something structurally sound with very nice flowing is just super nice to the ears, plus the use of the keyboards are just golden. Also that part at 11:47 is just ear candy. I love when guitars go wobbly and hard hitting that it just creates this trippy effect on the listener that it's just serotonin in musical form. Although I do find the ending weak, it definitely feels like it less wraps up and tries to create a destination worth the journey and more like a standard ending, a payoff of sorts. To me a long song, especially in this style, needs to have a strong finish that makes you love the whole experience. This, while there are definitely other qualities in the song that makes it great, does not have that, which I find rather disappointing.

Now we get into sort of the signature track on this album being The Lady Tied to the Lamp Post. Unlike the last two songs that felt like a single song that continuously played and added, here this feels more like a standard epic, still without any parts, but still a sort of flow to where you can see some kind of suite being formed in a way. The sound is sort of a mix between The Changes and The GPS Vulture. Very rhythmic and swinging while also being pretty symphonic and complex in nature. However I think this song delivers in a different department, and that is the lyrics. I already praised the lyrics from The Changes but I feel like here it is a lot more clear cut and expanded upon with its themes. The story is of a homeless woman from the UK who gets abandoned by society and ties herself with a bungee cord to a lamppost as a way to protest against her country's handling of the homeless. Obviously this song is a way to showcase that homelessness is a very huge problem in the UK and how the government treats the homeless too, said to play annoying music in stations, put bars on benches, and give people one way train tickets to try and deter homeless people away from sleeping and living in the not so Great Britain. Songs are definitely a good way to showcase a problem in the world in hopes to bring awareness, and if it worked with many other artists like John Lennon with a lot of his songs or Pink Floyd with basically the entirety of their Animals album, then I hope The Tangent gets the same recognition with this song.

Next up is the shortest song on the album, a four minute and a half song called Wasted Soul. I never expected the band to go from Prog to jazzy disco, but they surprisingly pull it off really well, like it's fun, danceable, and just a very enjoyable tune. The beat is swinging and very fluent, and those saxes and horns just go super well in tandem with the guitar. Overall this song, while poppy in nature, definitely has some great aspects to it that I say is probably my favorite song on the album due to how they seemed to master the disco genre perfectly. The lyrics are also nicely done, with the perspective of someone who is hopeful about what'll happen when Covid 19 restrictions stop. It is meant to be a hopeful piece, much like The Changes and looks at the good of humanity, especially after the rather sad song that was The Lady Tied to the Lamp Post. Not bad, not bad one bit.

And lastly, a bonus track on the album but it is practically a fifth track because they gotta have something for I am guessing a vinyl release, In the Dead of Night / Tangential Aura / Reprise. It is a 16 minute song that takes you on a journey through a ton of jammy instrumentals where the band plays their heart out. It is not completely instrumental though, it does have its fair share of lyrics as well, but they are pretty much a second thought to the instrumentation. Every little note, beat, strum of the guitar, the pressing of the keyboards, the doodles of the horns, it leaves a fulfilled feeling in the listener, knowing they went this far and are rewarded with one bonus song that wraps things nicely, though I do feel like the lyrics should've been more fleshed out and or changed to fit with the album's narrative on the world right now. Just something minor but definitely a bit noticeable especially after the songs before it.

This is a great album, like I am kinda surprised at how wonderfully done it is. Maybe with more time I might find this to be my favorite album of this year, but only time will tell. I love the themes, the instrumentation, and how it all flows, but it obviously has some weaker sore spots that make it a little bit wobbly if you look at it with a crystal clear magnifying glass. Other than that, it is definitely an album I say you should definitely check out.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 2022 sees The Tangent release their twelfth studio album, the really nice 'Songs From the Hard Shoulder' - this one consists of four new songs and a very interesting bonus track, all making up a total of 75 minutes worth of music, filled up with the usual Tangential goodness - a lot of jazzy pieces, shifting moods, menacing synths, and a Canterbury/Van der Graaf Generator-ish nod, all intertwined within Andy Tillison's quite recognizable musical vocabulary. Following up the not so impressive 'Auto Reconnaissance', this album is a definite improvement; However, something is missing and I do believe it is the bombastic lush side of the band's music that one can appreciate on the debut or on 'A Place In The Queue', or maybe it is the focus displayed on 'Proxy' not being too prevalent here, could also be the exuberant excellence of something like 'Le Sacre du Travail', but whatever it is, there is this overarching feeling of incompleteness.

Opening up the album is the 17-minute 'The Changes', a pretty good song for The Tangent's standards, but up until the middle; After that, it gets a little washed. Fine riffs and pleasing jazzy playing are all over this one, but it becomes quite forgettable at a certain moment, making a little too challenging to go though the whole thing. Next up is the 17-minute instrumental fusion-y explosion of 'GPS Vultures', perhaps the best track on the album, which also holds up pretty well for what it is, it also keeps the listener engaged as it is harder to predict where the band will go next. The big 20-minute epic 'The Lady Tied to the Lamp Post' is slightly disappointing, despite the fact that the playing on this one is mostly very minimalistic and intelligent, it suffers from the same problem mentioned for track one - it becomes repetitive and directionless after the first quarter. 'Waster Soul' is too strange to be deemed exquisite, not a big fan of this song. The bonus track is an interesting cover of 'In the Dead of Night' by U.K. mixed up with one of Andy Tillison's electronic pieces, which are scattered all over The Tangent discography, as we know. A good album but not one that betters, for example, the fantastic 'Proxy'. The band get a little too distracted at times and go playing in no-man's land, which ultimately leads to several disposable instrumental moments, at least to my taste.

Nevertheless, when good, 'Songs From the Hard Shoulder' is really good! Its pessimistic tone, however, is not what some of us necessarily need to absorb all the time, and this is way too 'in-your-face' on tracks one and three.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another massive album of millions of musical ideas, many borrowed, many from the workaday life of Andy Tillison and his merry little band of merry virtuosos, all smashed together this way and that (and sometimes other ways) into five songs.

1. "The Changes (17:06) after a rather moving reflective opening couple of verses, we get to Andy's view of life on the road. It sounds very nostalgic, though not as much fun since COVID-19 for these career musicians. The hooks are good, especially in the first five minutes, but then they become too fleeting: as if the band finds them but then gives them up for the next greatest idea. The musicianship is above excellent, but oft-times (as usual in Tangent work), it seems so for questionable reasons (I mean: does every musician always have to be performing at their top speed and with their most flashy stylings?) (30.75/35)

2. "The GPS Vultures" (17:01) Latin grooves to support a prog-jazz blend (aka: Jonas is busy!). Again, do these musicians, excellent each and everyone, really have to be soloing, showing off their flashiest chops, at every moment of these epic songs? Can't repeating motifs be established to allow the listener something to anchor one's self in? As usual, Andy (& Co.) flirt with imitation/borrowing other well known classic riffs, sounds, and themes to build upon, only oft-times they're too close for comfort--too much like the original. Then, how do you explain passages like the sixth and seventh minutes when it "appears" as if the band has broken down--where nothing flows, gels, or works. I suppose that's part of the "genius" of virtuosi: they can make any structure work ? even chaos. Then they can fall into holes of such sappy styles like the blues-rock-by numbers passage in the tenth and eleventh minute, or the acoustic John McLaughlin jazz passage in the fourteenth. Again, the execution and performances are top notch (amphetamines included) just, kind of, over the top. And it's all instrumental! (30.25/35)

3. "The Lady Tied to the Lamp Post" (20:52) a very nice, melodic and emotional opening leads to a lot of choatic noodling. As much as the heart-string-pulling music and lyrics seem to come from Mark Johnson's THE THE sound and chordal palettes, this start is, for me, the most engaging and enjoyable part of the album. Unfortunately, in the second quarter of the song the composition strays from melodic niceties until the soft instrumental passage in the tenth minute. This is then broken up by an abrasive screaming saw-synth solo in the eleventh (which does get better over time, with repetition). A stripped down jazz-rock section is then peppered with space synth and spacey electric guitar bent-note play. Good section as delicate piano and hard snare hits move the song forward into more delicate, airy music over which Andy sings quite sensitively. At 14:10 we're back to full force and more of Andy's narrative singing of current events in his surroundings. (35.5/40)

4. "Wasted Soul" (4:40) a kind of Neo-R&B pop songs la The Style Council or The Blow Monkeys with plenty of hits from the banks of computer horns. The chord progressions and melody line kind of follows the Keith Jagger David Bowie collaboration for the remake of "Dancing in the Streets." It seems as if old age is hitting Andy hard. (8/10)

5." In the Dead of Night / Tangential Aura / Reprise" (16:11) * (a cover of the classic UK song from 1978 plus the Andy Tillison touch.) (I can see that some of these musicians might have tried making a living covering songs like this in their younger days.) I like the "Tangential Aura" jam all right (except for the drum machine sound of Steve's programmed drums). Then, in the Reprise, Luke has his best (most Allan Holdsworth-like) runs. (26.25/30)

Total Time 75:50

* bonus track on limited edition (U.K. cover)

B/four stars; an album of excellent musicianship with a busyness that is sometimes off-putting. At the same time, there is no denying the infectious charm of Mr. Andy Tillison's world perspective as well as my respect for his very sincere passion for music (and high standard of musicianship).

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Celebrating 20 years in the business, The Tangent returned in 2022 with their twelfth studio album, and although they historically suffered with line-up changes this one has been together for some time now so band leader/singer/keyboard player Andy Tillison is again joined by Jonas Reingold (bass), who also plays with the Steve Hackett Band, Luke Machin (guitar - Francis Dunnery's It Bites), Theo Travis (sax & flute - Soft Machine, Dave Gilmour, Robert Fripp) and Steve Roberts (drums - David Cross). Although the UK edition has an additional track, more of that later, the main album comprises four songs, of which three are 17-minute plus epics, all quite different from each other, while the last is 4-minute bouncy Motown-style track, "Wasted Soul".

For the most part there is no doubt this is an excellent album, but in some ways it seems strange that The Tangent started life with musicians from The Flower Kings as there are times I am reminded of them, and not necessarily in a good way. Although the songs have great structures and wonderful playing there are times when it feels as if they are searching for ideas. In opener "The Changes", which is about COVID times there is one instance where we get a line from "Eleanor Rigby", another when they start playing what sounded like the old advertising music one used to hear in cinemas, and another when the harmony vocals are all going "la la la". That probably makes it seem as if I did not enjoy the album, but that is not the case at all as there is a great deal going for it here with wonderful intricacy and melodic themes which come and go from a band who adamantly refuse to set themselves any boundaries. When it comes off, which it does for the most part, with "GPS Vultures" being a case in point (a 17 minute long Canterbury style instrumental) it is a masterpiece, but one wishes there had been a few instances when someone from outside had asked why they were going down a certain path.

Early editions and the vinyl version include a bonus track, a cover of UK's "In The Dead Of Night". I believe that UK have in many ways become one of the forgotten bands of the prog scene, which is nothing short of criminal as they were stunning, and I hope this extended and changed version gets newer proggers into their music. For all its faults this is still an incredibly solid album showing that even after two decades The Tangent continue to show many others what needs to be done. One for all progheads to enjoy.

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. I've been spending some time of late with some of my favourite THE TANGENT albums and would rate the debut "The Music That Died Alone", "Down And Out In Paris And London" and "The Rust Of Forgotten Machinery" as my top three from this band. That Second one "The World That We Drive Through" is right up there as well.

This is studio album number 12 from 2022 and the only one they did created completely during the lockdown. I thought this might be a concept album in the line of "Brave" by the cover art and title but really that's just a part of it. Of the three tracks with lyrics two deal with the lockdown and "The Lady Tied To The Lamp Post" is the theme for the cover art and the centre piece at over 21 minutes.

This is a lyric heavy album and cynical as only Andy can be but it really is a somewhat depressing record. Even that bouncy, fun closer at less than 5 minutes "Wasted Soul" is negative with the lyrics, but it's the instrumental part of it that I really don't like at all. The highlight is the 17 minute instrumental "The GPS Vultures" with some surprising bluesy guitar at one point. I like this track. "The Changes" at over 17 minutes opens the album and dealing with the covid here. Personal stuff included which is cool.

This is one of the few THE TANGENT albums that I couldn't get into. It's also one of their higher rated albums by fans so there's that. Not my scene. So grateful for all the amazing music Andy and Jonas have brought us since 2003.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The Tangent are a jazz-oriented progressive rock band, started in 2002, with an ever-changing roster of players surrounding the consistent presence and guiding force of songwriter-keyboardist -vocalist Andy Tillson. This is the band's 12th album, and contains 3 long-form tracks (17-20 min each) and ... (read more)

Report this review (#2872994) | Posted by BBKron | Wednesday, January 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Could easily end up being my album of the year this. And I'll start by saying that somehow, this is the first work from The Tangent / Andy Tillison I've actually listened to. Somehow. At first I thought lyrically things were a bit too simplistic and mundane. But the longer you listen, the more ... (read more)

Report this review (#2788408) | Posted by bartymj | Tuesday, September 6, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Over the decades that I have been listening to prog rock I have come across many albums that are so good that I regularly return to them and play them from beginning to end. The Tangent are unique in that almost their entire body of work is of such quality that I never tire of listening to their ... (read more)

Report this review (#2773500) | Posted by CeeJayGee | Wednesday, June 29, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I am really starting to think that I just can't go wrong with The Tangent. Each and every album has something memorable to keep. This time, three mostly instrumental long suites that showcase how easy is for these guys to fuse Canterbury, rock (even metal), latin, oriental and electronic element ... (read more)

Report this review (#2771465) | Posted by Soul2Create | Sunday, June 19, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars When listening to The Tangent, I almost always get that strong Van Der Graaf Generator vibe, which is also irradiating from this album. And it's a good irradiation, if you don't mind people wearing their influences so openly on the sleeve. The Changes, a 17 minutes plus epic, opens the proceedings ... (read more)

Report this review (#2770232) | Posted by Heart of the Matter | Saturday, June 11, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Tangent simply can not disappoint their fans. The newest album it is as good as you can expect, a step up over their 2020 " Auto Reconnaissance", in the line with their most recent albums like "The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery" or "Proxy", but maybe a little weaker than "The Music That Died ... (read more)

Report this review (#2769959) | Posted by emisan | Friday, June 10, 2022 | Review Permanlink

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