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Rascal Reporters


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Rascal Reporters The Strainge Case of Steve album cover
3.94 | 33 ratings | 5 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2023

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fat Delivered (4:59)
2. A Race Against Time (2:40)
3. Papa Norco (4:57)
4. Beetle Borscht (5:15)
5. Over and Out (3:05)
6. The Odor at Tavistock (4:33)
7. How Archontic the Ankle Biters (8:21)
8. Lady and the Old Codger (2:27)
9. Unknowable (5:14)
10. Love Is a Dead Smelly Fish (4:34)
11. I Cries Crimes (3:56)
12. Uh Oh (Lait Suspendu Fermenté) (3:39)
13. Groom of the Stool (3:32)
14. Lurking in Shadow Fury (3:41)
15. Guns for Clones (7:43)
16. People Who Eat People (8:53)

Total Time 77:29

CD 2 - Dux in a Row (on 2CD Limited Edition only)
1. Improv Cost Me My Job (0:52)
2. One of Our Dogs Is Missing (4:29)
3. Cashew Medley (16:28)
4. Her Kind (5:38)
5. Moments (9:14)
6. My Three Sounds (3:38)
7. Egg Soup (10:12)
8. Fallen Mind (3:55)
9. Egos Explode (4:27)
10. The Unfettered Way (4:05)
11. Hubert Greenery Peck (14:02)

Total Time 77:00

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Kretzmer / organ, electric piano, clavinet, piano, synthesizer, keyboards, choir, bass synth, programming, arpeggiators, sound effects
- James Strain / bass, drums, guitars, melodica, piano, organs, fake horns, synthesizer, electric piano, fretless bass, sitar, bass synth, keyboards, gangsa, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, programming, beats, samples, sound design

- Dave Newhouse / horns, woodwinds (1,9,11)
- Dario D'Alessandro / guitar (1,11), synthesizer (3,9,11)
- Penelope Lovelace / vocals (8)
- Guy Segers / bass (11)
- Kimara Sajn / bass (11)
- Jessica Martin Maresco / vocals (12)

"Dux in a Row" line-up:

- Steve Kretzmer / piano, keyboards/synth, organ, vocals (4,8), radio advertisement sound design & narration
- James Strain / drums, 6-string bass, fretless bass, bass synth, keyboards/synth, electric & acoustic guitars
- Steve Gore / keyboards/synth, vocals, electric guitar, drums & percussion, programming

- James McDermott / vocals (5)
- Dario D'Alessandro / synth (7)

Releases information

Cover art by Dario D'Alessandro

CD Cuneiform Records (USA, July 28, 2023)

2CD áMARXE - 09232CD (2023, Spain, Limited Edition with "Dux in a Row" extra CD)

Thanks to Mirakaze for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy RASCAL REPORTERS The Strainge Case of Steve Music

RASCAL REPORTERS The Strainge Case of Steve ratings distribution

(33 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RASCAL REPORTERS The Strainge Case of Steve reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I'm not sure why, but here we have the Two Steves minus one Steve (Gore), bassist James Strain picking up the place vacated by the missing Steve, yet the music is as happy, quirky, humorous, shifty, melodic, and wonderfully- Canterbury as ever!

1. "Fat Delivered (4:59) As if Dave Newhouse and Dave Stewart melded their Canterbury style musics together with Phil Miller's guitar and, at the end, into the form of some traditional Celtic pop song. (8.875/10)

2. "A Race Against Time" (2:40) piano-based 1980s synthesizer-infused jazz with an old, classic jazz-pop melody line tying it all together. The sound palette is still very much like early HATFIELD AND THE NORTH. (4.5/5)

3. "Papa Norco" (4:57) a bit of a militaristic take on some French street music (because of the strong presence of accordion, no doubt) with a definite Dave Newhouse pace and feel to it. The backing synth sounds like The Northettes! (8.75/10)

4. "Beetle Borscht" (5:15) cool piano opening, soon joined by synth before drums and rhythm section jump in. Really nice, relaxed, melodic HOMUNCULUS RES-like tune. Great melodies and instrumental contributions throughout. A top three song for me. (9.75/10)

5. "Over and Out" (3:05) melodic ZAPPA, Moogy Klingman-and-Homunculus Res-like synth pop sound performing a rigorous sound and skill test. (9/10)

6. "The Odor at Tavistock" (4:33) very pleasant Canterbury Style jazz-pop-rock with many completely different motifs sown into one song with the same sudden twists and turns that Homunculus Res uses\d on their 2012 debut album, Limiti all'eguaglianza della parte con il tutto. I love the percussion and bassoon-dominated second motif. One of the most proggy-sounding songs on the album. A top three song for me. (9.5/10)

7. "How Archontic the Ankle Biters" (8:21) with its dominant piano base and synth-funk sound in the rhythm section, this is the jazziest, most classically-influenced, and most dated sounding song on the album--even during the click and pop motif in the second minute. A clever, humorous song that could have been created or produced by fellow- Detroiter Don Was. (17.5/20)

8. "Lady and the Old Codger" (2:27) an ambivalently malevolent and, at the same time, humorous song that really gets your attention. Like a scene out of an Eminem movie. Powerful! (5/5)

9. "Unknowable" (5:14) synth-o-mania! Interesting, but sounds and feels rather dated and more like an étude than something intended for consumer/listener pleasure. (8.6667/10)

10. "Love Is a Dead Smelly Fish" (4:34) another song on the jazz-side of the musical spectrum--as if Homunculus Res went more toward French street music or straight jazz. (9/10)

11. "I Cries Crimes" (3:56) Fender Rhodes! And, according to the liner notes, a whole host of all-star guests! The rhythm tracks are much more seamless and laid back than many of the other songs. Another favorite. (9.25/10)

12. "Uh Oh (Lait Suspendu Fermenté)" (3:39) Singing! in French! By a female "NORTHETTES"-like choir (all Penelope Lovelace multitracked?)! Such a joyful song! My favorite song on the album! (10/10)

13. "Groom of the Stool" (3:32) lots of sound FX in the opening before a heavier early-DAVE STEWART-like piano chord progression opens up the minor-key song construct. It's like a soundtrack song from an European spy thriller. Interesting but nothing exceptional or ground-breaking. (8.75/10)

14. "Lurking in Shadow Fury" (3:41) piano and accordion and, later, synthesizer trading turns in the lead over staccato stop-and-go jazz foundation. A little hurky-jerky for me, too reliant on an oft-repeated melody line. (8.66667/10)

15. "Guns for Clones" (7:43) one of the more serious-sounding songs on the album, it's quite like the early Canterbury instrumentalists (Hatfield, Gilgamesh, or even National Health). I like the constantly shifting tempo and accordion work. (13.75/15)

16. "People Who Eat People" (8:53) again, there is an undefinable French street musicality to this music--and it's so carefree and happy-go-lucky--like a walk through several of the delightful neighborhoods in Paris' 2nd or 3rd Arrondissement coupled with the occasional encounter with the the Right Bank of the Seine or museum stroll through. (18.25/20)

Total Time 77:29

Being that this all-instrumental album is so long and completely saturated with the crazily complex twist-and-turn compositions, it is a very hard album to review with my usual play-by-play style. Suffice it to say that all 16 of the songs retain a wonderfully high standard of consistency in enjoyable, melodic, quirky-yet-engaging, each feeling fresh and creatively unique. After my first listen I had one clear favorite: "Uh Oh (Lait Suspendu Fermenté)"--for its French lyrics sung by a Northettes-like female choir (I'm a sucker for both female choral vocals-specially when delivered in the French language). But then, after three listens, I have been able to pick out a few other favorites ("Beetle Borscht," "The Odor at Tavistock," "I Cries Crimes," and "People Who Eat People")--and the rest of the album just keeps growing in my esteem.

A-/five stars; an amazingly refreshing collection of mostly "future jazz" songs from these Cuneiform-supported music masters; music every prog lover should hear--and will probably love! (Especially if you love Canterbury Style music.)

Review by kev rowland
3 stars Rascal Reporters have had a somewhat unusual career in that they were formed in 1974 by multi-instrumentalists Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer, with the latter taking a step back from composition after 1995's 'Purple Entrapment' before taking a break from music altogether. Steve Gore continued working under the name, utilising guests such as Dave Newhouse (The Muffins) before Gore died in 2009. Kretzmer later decided to revisit old material with bassist and multi-instrumentalist James Strain, releasing the two 'Redux' albums in 2019 and 2021, and now the pair have shared writing and performing on the first album of new material since 2008's 'The Mind Boggles'. There are again a series of guests including long-time collaborator Dave Newhouse (The Muffins, Manna/Mirage) and Guy Segers (Univers Zero), along with Jessica Martin Maresco (Pili Coit, Le Grand Sbam) and Dario D'Allessando (Homunculus Res).

With a career stretching nearly five decades, and with this being their eighth studio album, it is somewhat surprising this is the first time I have come across them, as what we have here is a band who are highly experimental and obviously start from an area of improvisation which is then reworked so melodies are repeated, harmonised etc. I am not sure how much time Kretzmer and Strain spent in the studio together, as this took six years to bring together and was recorded in their respective studios, but do not know if they travelled the Atlantic or worked in isolation. I do wish they had utilised the likes of Dave Newhouse (who guests on three of the sixteen) more, along with bringing in experts in the likes of clarinet and bassoon as the artificial versions being played by synths just sound a little off and it would have been much better to have the real thing.

Once the ear connects into the heavy usage of synth it definitely detracts from the overall enjoyment of the album which is a shame, as here we have Canterbury Prog of some note, with obvious influences from Hatfield & The North, Caravan and Soft Machine. It is the more electronic tendencies and sounds which lets this down, so while it is enjoyable there is always the impression it could have been so much more. This is a long album at well over 70 minutes, but if that is not enough then it is possible to get a special edition with a second CD containing 'Dux in a Row' which features Kretzmer, Gore and Strain and is a compilation of previously released tracks which have been remixed and with new overdubs and additions, similar to the 'Redux' releases. In some ways this is well worth getting with nice complexity combined with commercial Canterbury sounds, but in others this is an opportunity missed.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I was really looking forward to this one although I knew from the only other two records I have by this band that it could be great or not so much. Those would be "Ridin' On A Bummer" from 1984 and "Happy Accidents" from 1988. I'm such a big fan of "Ridin' On A Bummer" it's included in my "best of" Avant list while "Happy Accidents" was just too much for me, too difficult. Well I don't consider "The Strainge Case Of Steve" to be difficult, I'm just not into it at all. The synths run the show and while there is a Canterbury flavour I found it minimal.

This is a long one at 77 1/2 minutes with 16 tracks. Some great guests here including former UNIVERS ZERO bass player Guy Segers, Dave Newhouse from THE MUFFINS and he has been on many albums by this band. Dario D'Alessandro from HOMUNCULUS RES and by the way James Strain one half of the duo here mixed and mastered this album and he also did the same for the latest HOMUNCULUS RES record. Steve Kretzmer is the other half and original member, both are multi-instrumentalists.

The music here reminded me somewhat of NECROMONKEY, GOSTA BERLINGS SAGA and MAHOGANY FROG all heavy on the synths and beats but those bands are all in Eclectic here while RASCAL REPORTERS are in Avant and that is possibly the key because there is some off-kilter beats and stuttering sounds throughout and I guess noisy sections that all bring Avant to mind but not much else. Mostly instrumental and oh more guests in Jessica Martin Maresco one of the singers from LE GRAND SBAM and how could I miss Kimara Sajn from THINKING PLAGUE.

My favourite track is "Fat Delivered" the opener because of the distorted keys bringing Canterbury to mind but it's also more melodic and it pulls me in. Similar sounds on the next track "A Race Against Time" and the next one that follows "Papa Norco" but they just aren't melodic. There are some strainge sounding synths and stuff on here that I'm not into or those high pitched synths either. Some sound design, sound effects and samples too. "How Archontic The Ankle Biters" is my least favourite and it's almost 8 1/2 minutes but I do like "Love Is A Dead Smelly Fish" despite the title and what follows "I Cries Crimes" with that all star cast helping out.

"Dux In A Row" is the better record by a substantial amount and I hope to spend more time with it next week.

Latest members reviews

5 stars The new 2CD release via áMARXE of "The Strainge Case of Steve / Dux in a Row" is an absolute revelation and a true listening pleasure of the highest order. "Dux In A Row" collects both volumes of Redux (70s material), but completely updated from the ground up, incorporating new layers and takes. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2962758) | Posted by manfredprog | Friday, October 20, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If it wasn't for the helpful folk at PA, I would never have known this band existed. This is the first album I've heard by Rascal Reporters and I can enthusiastically report that these rascals have blown me away. I love this album. Mostly instrumental, the music brings something unique ... (read more)

Report this review (#2942730) | Posted by Grumpyprogfan | Friday, July 28, 2023 | Review Permanlink

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