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INTERESTING TIMES

High Tide

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High Tide Interesting Times album cover
2.57 | 11 ratings | 2 reviews | 10% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Nightmare
2. The Nexialist
3. Survival
4. Ice Age
5. Dream Beam
6. Movie Madness
7. The Reason Why
8. Strike A Light
9. Rock Me On Your Wave

Bonus Track on 2003 reissue
10. Heartstream

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Interesting TimesInteresting Times
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Akarma 2000
Audio CD$55.19 (used)
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CD a fierce nature ~ USD $19.06
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LP precious cargo ~ USD $22.58
LP sea shanties (+ unreleased bonus track) ~ USD $23.45


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HIGH TIDE Interesting Times ratings distribution


2.57
(11 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
10%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(10%)
10%
Good, but non-essential (40%)
40%
Collectors/fans only (30%)
30%
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)
10%

HIGH TIDE Interesting Times reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars High Tide fell apart around the time their second studio album released in 1970. Too bad, because there are some good arguments for them being one of the first true progressive metal bands, and their sound was unbelievably forceful and dynamic (as well as way ahead of it’s time). Except for drummer Roger Hadden the former members all managed to find varying degrees of success in the music business after the band’s demise. Tony Hill and Simon House decided (for some reason) to get together and put out a studio release in the late eighties under the name High Tide, I believe coinciding with the issue of a ‘lost recordings’ CD of the band’s early work. Not a great idea really, as this tepid substitute for the real thing is nothing like the original band, and frankly isn’t even a good example of the digital emo-tripe that was filling the airwaves around the same time.

“Nightmare” sounds like it could have been an outtake from Alan Parsons’ Vulture Culture/Ammonia Avenue sessions, except maybe just a little darker. The music for this instrumental consists of some guitar and electric bass but mostly keyboards, programmed drum tracks and electric violin. Nothing to get exited about and sadly representative of most of what was playing on FM radio in the late eighties.

The duo gets back to the early High Tide just a little on “The Nexialist” but here again (and throughout the album) the drums are programmed. Original drummer Roger Hadden has been confined to a mental institution since 1971 and apparently House and Hill didn’t see the need to replace him. House’s violin work is quite similar to the strident shards of music he played back on the first two High Tide albums, except that by now the effects of the late sixties acid trips seem to have worn off and the music is a bit more restrained and composed as opposed to unbridled improvisation. Same goes for Hill on guitar, but he still manages to work his way out to the edges of sanity during a solo piece late in this track.

The boys return to the Alan Parsons-like synth sounds on “Survival” but with House still working his violin bow (again though, much more refined than the early stuff). There are some weird digital keyboard effects that I suppose are meant to be spacey, but in the light of the 21st century they sound more cheesy than anything. It’s interesting that while Hill’s vocals sounded an awful lot like Jim Morrison back in the sixties, now he comes off more like an aging David Bowie but without Bowie’s flair for inflection and note-bending. I suppose twenty years will do that to you.

The next few tunes (“Ice Age”, “Dream Beam” and “Movie Madness”) all sound quite similar, with none of them anything close to what High Tide sounded like as a proper band in the sixties. These are all heavy on synthesized keyboards and strings (as well as some mellow electric violin from House), and lethargic and digitally-manipulated vocals that sound more like the paisley underground bands of the late eighties than a once-proud sixties metal pioneer. Really weird to hear these under the name High Tide.

“The Reason Why” is also very laid-back, but here the band show a glimpse into the folk influences that showed through even their acid-metal dirges on their first two albums. These are simple rhythms with strumming guitar, a little mandolin, and Hill crooning like a road-weary modern troubadour. Odd tune, but at least it shows some character and avoids the parachute-pants pastiche of some of the other tunes on the album.

And once more House and Hill surprise a little with a fairly straight-ahead and crisp metal tune in “Strike a Light”, although even here House can’t seem to avoid including several unnecessary synth riffs toward the end. “Rock Me on your Wave” is the longest and also most boring track on the album. While the sonic quality of the guitar foray at the end is quite original, the six or seven minutes leading up to that point consist mostly of smoky and ethereal keyboards and pansy-like violin bleating. This one is to be avoided.

Finally, the Akarma, Lobster and other various reissues of this record include a bonus track, “Heartstream”, although I don’t know why. This is another instrumental that is more synthesized than real, lacks focus, and is annoyingly repetitive. Fortunately it’s also only three minutes long.

Not sure what House and Hill were thinking when they put this thing together, or what they hoped to accomplish. Except for “The Nexialist” and “Strike a Light” there’s nothing here that sounds even remotely like proto-metal, and even those two aren’t very good. I can’t imagine many of the band’s original fans would take to this album any more than Yes fans did to ‘90125’ or ELP fans did to ‘Love Beach’. This is shallow, commercially-oriented stuff with little redeeming value even for fans. I was going to give it two stars for collectors-only, but really I’m not sure even collectors need this. Let’s go with two stars but no recommendation, just to be on the conservative side. ‘Nuff said.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#165557) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Review by The Whistler
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A brief history lesson. High Tide broke up in about 1970 (give or take a tour), reformed occasionally, sometimes utilizing members of the old Arthur Brown band, but the dream was pretty much over. Or was it? Yes...yes it was. Until 1989 of all years. For some reason, guitarist Tony Hill and violinist Simon House got together and created Interesting Times. Interesting it is...how does High Tide chopped in half with some synthesizers and drum machines grab you? Pretty bad, huh? And yet...and yet, it almost sorta kinda works!

Take the opening instrumental, “Nightmare.” It’s an ominous sounding synth rocker...well, it probably would be more ominous, except the synths kinda date it, so it sounds like the score from some cheap eighties thriller. But there’s a halfway decent tune under it!

The next two tunes are probably the best. “The Nexalist” is another synth rocker, but this one with lyrics. And it’s also pretty fast, so you can probably just bob your head along, until about halfway through when House produces this absolutely gorgeous violin line. I’m serious. Of course, in the end the scattered riffage breaks down into just Hill goofing around on his six string, so some might find it irritating.

The best song by far is “Survival” though. C’mon! If the 1970 lineup recorded this, it would be one of the best High Tide songs ever. The synthy intro is honestly interesting, and it bleeds into a bittersweet violin line backed by Hill’s guitar, and it’s completely packaged with some optimistic/pessimistic lyrics. This is right up there with the band’s “classic” material in my mind, easy.

Anyway, it starts to go downhill from here. Slow rocker “Ice Age” is an older tune that’s been redone with the purposeless drum machines. Fairly inoffensive, if you dig the violin out, but utterly disposable. “Dream Beam” a little folky, laid back instrumental, but it seems a bit purposeless. “Movie Madness” tries to pick it back up again with some rockin’ qualities in the drum beats, but it’s still somewhat lifeless, and will leave most wondering why (especially considering the length).

As if to answer this, comes “The Reason Why,” which continues the laid back folky line. And you know what? Here, it’s good. A pleasant (hell, a pretty) vocal melody, and the eighties affectations are held in the background WHERE THEY BELONG, which leaves us with...a nice lil’ ballad. And House even sticks with piano instead of violin to give us some variety.

“Strike a Light” comes in like a cheap eighties metal number, with poisonous guitar tones and all (it actually reminds me of what Martin Barre would have been doing about this time with Tull). But this is fairly good cheap eighties metal, and while it’s no great shake, it doesn’t embarrass itself too much.

“Rock Me on Your Wave,” however, does embarrass itself. A completely unmemorable seven minute finish. And you know how some songs wear their time on their sleeves? Oh yeah. This one does. Tries to be atmospheric and everything at first. Utterly fails. Sometime later, it tries to rock AND be serious. Damn it. But, hey, I’m not surprised. It’s called “ROCK Me on Your Wave,” what did you expect? End the album with “Reason Why,” and I might forgive it. End it with “Strike,” and I’ll overlook it. “Rock Me” is just no good.

So...our old prog metal heroes playing Cure-esque eighties crap. Why a three? I dunno. Maybe because I set my standards so low anyway. When I first heard this, I assumed it was a two, what with the drum machines and all. But then, I started to dig some melody out of things like “Survival” and “The Nexalist,” and then “The Reason Why” hit me, and gosh, I realized that this is not the old High Tide, it’s a new High Tide, and they lads can still occasionally write songs that aren’t just good, but have all the brilliance of the old High Tide.

I mean, I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone who isn’t already a High Tide fan, but if you’ve shown some interest in the band in the past, and aren’t wholly allergic to eighties stylistics, this isn’t the worst album on earth. Maybe I am being a little generous, but still...there are some really good songs here. Amidst all the crap. And sometimes buried in the crap. Okay, it’s a crappy album, but a good crappy album. I’ll shut up now.

(Psst! Mine comes with a bonus track called “Heartstream.” It’s another instrumental, but unlike “Nightmare,” it’s...very pleasant, almost pretty. Still kinda Cure-esque with the synths and all, but more effectively atmospheric practically Bach inspired. Okay, maybe Vivaldi. But seriously, pull off some of the dross that’s attached to the normal album and stick this on, and who knows? The rating would probably be just the same.)

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Send comments to The Whistler (BETA) | Report this review (#224714) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 06, 2009

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