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Salem Hill Mimi's Magic Moment album cover
3.79 | 86 ratings | 14 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Joy Gem (15:03)
2. All Fall Down (7:14)
3. Stolen By Ghosts (21:29)
4. The Future Me (18:53)

Total Time: 62:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Carl Groves / guitars, keyboards, piano, vocals, producer
- Michael Dearing / electric guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Patrick Henry / 4- & 12 string basses
- Kevin Thomas / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Neal Morse / vocals (1)
- Alyssa Hendrix / vocals (1,4)
- David Ragsdale / violin (1,3)
- Jeff Eacho / flute (2)
- Fred Schendel / piano solo (4)
- Randy George / guitar (?)

Releases information

Artwork: William Neagle

CD Progrock Records ‎- none (2005, US)
CD QuiXote-Music - QXT CD 38 (2005, Germany)

Thanks to jegheist for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SALEM HILL Mimi's Magic Moment ratings distribution

(86 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SALEM HILL Mimi's Magic Moment reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars This USA progrock band has its roots in 1991, one year later they released their eponymous debut album. They are hailed by the progrock fans and after more albums they performed on the USA Progday Festival in 1997 and 2000. Then a difficult period follows but when thanks to a special meeting that attracks fans from all states Salem Hill the band decides to go on, in 2003 they releases the live 2-CD Puppet Show and in the same year the studio album Be. In 2005 we can enjoy their latest album entitled Mimi's Magic Moment, let's analyse it song by song.

1. The Joy Gem (15:03): The first minutes is a tribute to early Kansas, not only due to the violin work but also the sound of the organ, synthesizer and vocal harmonies. The music is very pleasant, melodic and harmonic featuring fluent shifting moods and lots of interesting musical ideas like a dreamy part with wonderful piano and the distinctive voice from guest musician Neal Morse, fine interplay between a vibraphone and piano and an exciting duel from fiery eelctric guitar and flowing violin. This great composition again ends bombastic evoking early Kansas.

2. All Fall Down (7:14): This is a catchy song delivering warm vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar, followed by fragile slide guitar. Halfway an exciting break featuring a Spanish/Morish undertone and fluent play on the flute.

3. Stolen By Ghosts (21:29): This is the longest track and also the most compelling! It starts dreamy delivering fine bass, piano and vocals, wonderful. Then an accellaration featuring organ, powerful bass and fluent synthesizer runs. The music turns into more and more interesting with a lush atmosphere: delicate classical piano, a strong violin solo with echoes from Jerry Goodman (early Mahavishnu Orchestra), a break with organ, powerful bass, then a great duel between a fiery guitar and swinging violin and finally a strong build-up grand finale featuring emotional vocals, howling guitar and a sensitive violin solo.

4. The Future Me (18:53): The final song starts with a virtuosic duet from vibraphone and acoustic guitar. Then the climate is dominated by a catchy mid-tempo featuring a powerful bass, tastefully coloured by several instruments like a fiery electric guitar and distorted synthesizer sounds. Halfway a dreamy climate with classical piano and mellow organ, then again a more lush and compelling sound, culminating into a sumptuous final part with howling guitar, lush organ and strong vocals.

This is a splendid CD that will appeal to many progheads: a warm and pleasant sound that is rooted in the Seventies. GREAT!!

Review by chopper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the most recent CD from this US prog band. Musically it is in the vein of a lighter version of Spocks Beard combined with bits of Glass Hammer and Kansas. There are only four tracks over the 60 minutes, with "Stolen by Ghosts" being the longest (and best). Each song features typical US prog vocal sections, interspersed with some brilliant instrumental work with jazzy overtones, particularly due to the vibraphone and violin work.

There are some well-known guest artists from the world of US prog - Neal Morse, Fred Schendel from Glass Hammer and David Ragsdale from Kansas, who plays some excellent violin solos.

All in all a solid effort from this band. My only criticism would be that the vocal sections are a bit "light and fluffy" and could do with a bit more bite. Recommended to all fans of the Beard and Glass Hammer. Still don't know who Mimi is though.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars I have to say that whether you come to embrace this album or not, a few listens should convince you that these guys are all very accomplished musicians. I’ve only heard bits and pieces of some of their previous six albums, but I can say that the difference on this one comes from the addition of some superb guest artists including Neal Morse, Kansas violinist David Ragsdale, Glass Hammer pianist Fred Schendel, and Ajalon guitarist Randy George. Also featured are the angelic voice of Alyssa Hendrix and some very delicate and melodic flute work by Jeff Eacho. The contributions from each of these musicians really raise the level of artistry on this latest offering from the band.

Previous albums like Be and Robbery of Murder are full-length concept albums, while Mimi’s Magic Moment (odd title aside) is a collection of four individual and largely unrelated tales, each telling a complete story with meaningful lyrics and complex, beautiful arrangements. The band’s sound is somewhat more reserved than American counterparts like Kansas, Spock’s Beard, and Cryptic Vision, but in many ways it’s also more developed and complex than much of that music.

“The Joy Gem” tells the tale of a precious gem that has the power to enrich lives and bring happiness to those who accept it as an unconditional gift, but can also cause pain and despair for those who make selfish demands or misuse its transforming properties. Considering the members of the band are all proclaimed Christians, it’s pretty evident the ‘gem’ they are singing about is that of Christian salvation, but the message is somewhat secondary to the gorgeous arrangements and the harmonic vocals of Neal Morse and Carl Groves. The story line is pretty much laid out in the first few minutes of the song, after which the band wanders off for about ten minutes of variations on the basic keyboard arrangement, including Moog, piano, guitar, Ragsdale’s violin, and what might actually be a Mellotron. The rhythm line is pretty straightforward, but provides a steady pace for the keyboard gyrations. The piano tracks are especially poignant, and provide an excellent backdrop to Morse’s voice as he brings the tale of centuries to a close with the passing of the gem-gift from a father to his son, thus completing the foretold prophecy. Sure, it’s a little preachy and pretentious, but not unduly so for this prog-ligious lineup, and anyway it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for the fifteen minutes or so of outstanding progressive music.

“All Fall Down” is both shorter at just over seven minutes, and more conventional in its arrangement. This was written by guitarist Michael Dearing, who had just completed an extensive tour as backing musician for a very prominent American country music star. The message here is a very sarcastic and biting condemnation of the pretentious popular star lifestyle and accompanying false sense of self-importance that many such icons are guilty of –

“Paint me a picture that’s deceiving, something that’s not everything that it seems - a portrait of decadent grandeur that hides the decay of contemptible dreams.

A mask to display all the confident pride, and tries not to show that there’s nothing inside…”

The pleasant piano and melodic vocals can’t hide the loathsome attitude toward those the words are aimed at. Here again the lyrics are laid out up-front, with the latter half of the song reserved for a foray into musical flights. This time the various keyboard arrangement are accentuated with Eacho’s flute and a more aggressive rhythm that slowly rises to a jumbled cacophony of guitar, keyboards, drums, and sonic feedback, finally collapsing back to the melodic chorus of flute, acoustic guitar, and piano as the traveling pop star returns home and is forced to face themselves in the mirror -

“Sing me a song if you can, tell me what soul that you have. The curtain still hides what is left of your pride, ‘till the wind blows you back home again”.

Worlds apart in emotional terms comes “Stolen by Ghosts”, a twenty-one minute long tale in which the singer laments the loss of a loved one, and seems to find symbols of their presence all around. There are actually multiple singers here, as each band member lends a hand at one point or another. Ragsdale returns to provide bits of violin in between vocal passages, which themselves are framed with delicate acoustic guitar. The refrain “what is left for me now, everything stolen by ghosts” is delivered with raw passion, and stays with the listener long after the song ends. This is the most measured track on the album musically, but the overall effect is quite striking and powerful.

Finally the end comes with “The Future Me”, whose theme can most simply be described as – perspective. This is another Christian-tinged lyrical piece, but the message is one of staying focused on what’s really important to all of us, and not getting caught up in the destructive and pointless cycle of dogmatic theology and baseless black-and-white conflicts that lead only to pain and take focus away from what really important (whatever that is for each of us – for the singer it’s the life on the other side, but again, that’s not really the point). Fred Schendel lays out an absolutely potent performance on piano throughout, which at some points reminds me of some of the more moving work Joe Jackson did in the latter 80s. This is just a beautiful arrangement.

Salem Hill have been floating around the American progressive landscape for about fifteen years, and haven’t made much of an impression outside their small but loyal following. I’ve just recently gotten into them, and after listening to some early samples and comparing that to numerous listens to this album, I have to conclude that they seem to have reached a polished pinnacle of their career.

Some albums grab the listener because the music moves them emotionally; others because it causes their adrenaline to rush, either from fear or anger or lust or joy. Others simply touch us because of the context in which we experience them – as backdrops to pivotal points in our lives. This one gets me because of the very important life-concepts it speaks to, and the melodic and artistic way in which it does so. I’ve listened to this album at least thirty times in the months I’ve owned it, and each time I find it more appealing and more accessible. Hopefully you will too. Four stars, and very nearly five.


Review by Chicapah
3 stars "Mimi's Magic Moment" was my first exposure to and investment in this group and I've got to give them their due. They are very talented musicians, imaginative songwriters/arrangers and poetic lyricists. They excel in their vocal abilities and harmonies. The drummer and bassist in particular are superb, laying down impressive rhythm tracks in a wide variety of time signatures and the majority of the keyboard work is of the highest quality. However, they do have a few peccadilloes that irritate me. The synthesizers sound like the obsolete, reedy ARP models from the 70s and the electric guitar sounds like it is being processed through a cheap 60s fuzz tone effect of some ancient sort. These may not bother the average prog lover very much but to me these two distractions take away from what otherwise is a pretty good album. (I just had to get that out of the way up front so I wouldn't spend the entire review pointing out their cheesy timbres.)

"The Joy Gem" starts things off well. One thing these guys understand completely is the importance of melody so right off the bat you're introduced to the song's main theme. The vocals are strong throughout the album but here guest Neal Morse adds a whole 'nother dimension with his charismatic singing style. Mix in another gifted guest artist, violinist David Ragsdale, and you have all the necessary ingredients for some fine symphonic prog and the tune doesn't disappoint. The gem in question is spiritual enlightenment and the words convey the fact that if mankind covets and hordes it rather than sharing it then there's "no change in the hearts of men." Salem Hill's style is to inject instrumental interludes every so often and the first one here features dynamic accents and drum fills as well as a stirring violin solo. They then tastefully drop down to just the piano before the vocals resume. Drummer Kevin Thomas' vibe performance provides a nice touch and the change to a minor key at the end is very effective, as well.

"All Fall Down" utilizes the old synthesizer sound I spoke of earlier on the intro before three part harmonies reminiscent of the Hollies are layered over an acoustic guitar-driven, folk-styled chord progression. Guitarist Michael Dearing's lyrics are brutally honest about the false trappings of stardom. "Put on a show of illusion/spectacular artifice, a clever disguise/fly on the wings of ambition/and try not to be everything you despise" the singer warns. While the verse/chorus is just okay, the stirring gypsy-like instrumental segment in the middle where guest Jeff Eacho's exemplary flute ride soars really delivers the much-needed punch. The rhythmic, underlying piano adds spice to the track and even the weak lead guitar can't hold it down for more than a few seconds.

The best and longest song on the album comes next, the magnificent "Stolen by Ghosts." Ragsdale's somber violin segues into piano with lone vocal to set the beautiful mood as the tune's sad melody is introduced. Let me tell you, Carl Groves is an exceptional singer and his emotion-packed performance throughout this epic cut will stay with you forever and that's no exaggeration. The lyrics poignantly convey the intense, gut-wrenching internal pain of personal loss as well as I've ever heard. The loss could be from a tragic death or from the breakup of a close relationship and if you've been there you know of what he writes. "What is left for me now?/you've taken away all that I loved most/my soul has been stolen by ghosts/all these years have passed me by/all that time, where did it fly?/all that's left are memories/and wondering what might have been." The second instrumental section in this intricate tune features a heated three-way duel between the synth, guitar and violin and Ragsdale wins by a country mile. He bristles with energy and fire. Groves' voice completely steals the show, however, when he goes a cappella with the main theme and makes your hair stand on end as he strains almost to the breaking point with honest, passionate grief. Talk about a WOW moment! The band crashes back and a violin-fueled march takes you to a brief fade-out before a totally different tag drifts in. A dirge-like atmosphere surrounds Carl's electronically altered voice as he sings solemnly yet still very forcefully about "In a soul that is barren there's a sparkle of light" and that one must "hold on" because "at the end of the journey you regain control." This emotionally charged composition is worth the cost of the CD by itself, friends.

An infectious, tricky up-tempo riff joining guitar and mallets together brings on the last tune, "The Future Me." When Thomas' drums jump in the song really takes off despite the distracting buzzing of the electric guitar and synthesizer playing the tune's melody line. Bassist Patrick Henry gets a chance to show off his extensive fretboard skills before you are treated to a brilliant acoustic guitar and piano duet. Then another guest artist, Fred Schendel, literally tears it up on the piano before the vocal arrives. Again a meaningful subject matter is tackled as Groves sings about the quagmire of religious dogma and doctrine that can retard genuine spiritual growth. He points out the futility of self-serving "sermons on my neighbors/and how they fail in the end/while there's so much we lack/one more easy attack/one more pat on the back." The song builds steadily to a powerful ending where the refreshing voice of guest Alyssa Hendrix adds a dramatic slant to the climax.

I personally prefer a cavernous depth of sound to my symphonic prog but I also realize that many do not share my affection. Salem Hill's production here is very up front, flat and direct in its approach but I won't let that detract from my overall rating. But will someone please save these boys from themselves and equip them with some 21st century synths and guitar effects on their next outing? Nostalgia is one thing but a little goes a very long way, fellas. I feel that if they would have simply employed more up-to-date instrumentation this could have easily been four-stars. As it is I still find it challenging, highly impressionable and definitely worth your while. 3.4 stars.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Salem Hill consecutively failed to produce great works that could move me. I really wonder how this band is catalogued as a symph prog one while at best they produced some average neo-prog and very much derivative music.

From AOR-ish in their debuts, they moved to a "Yes" pastiche and then moved on to be a "Kansas" one. This was felt in their previous recording ("Be") and is even more highlighted here.

A song as "The Joy Gem" holds any ingredient you could expect from this very good US band (I mean "Kansas"). The fact that David Ragsdale is holding the violin in this song is of course not alien to the feeling. In all, this song is of course quite pleasant: melodic, intense and truly symphonic. It is probably one of their best songs so far. If only the whole album would be so good.

This album features four songs of which "Stolen By Ghosts" is the shortest one. The extremely poor and mellowish start could have been some sort of a "press next" piece but the instrumental middle part is really excellent and should not be missed. When it is good, I always recognize. But as soon as the vocals come back during the last seconds, they just ruin it all (as the first half the song).

This "Mimi's Magic Moment" is really shining thanks to the great David Ragsdale who has a major influence on two of the three epics available. But if a band is relying on external guests to make it, I just believe that there is a strong and basic problem with their work (Neil Morse being another guest featured on this album).

In terms of epic, I have to say that "All Fall Down" is far from reaching the emotion and consistency of "The Joy Gem". It sounds quite awkward and passionless. More of a jam stuff during the instrumental parts. For over twenty minutes. There are hardly few moments of grandeur included here. My conception of interesting epics is quite different. But I've been grown up with "Close To The Edge", "Supper's Ready" and "Thick As A Brick "... This song is just long, it doesn't hold anything worth of a true and gorgeous epic IMHHO.

The band reverts to a much more classic YesSound for the last track of this album. A classic and tortured musical intro, some quiet keys and vocals to follow could have lead to some greater composition. As such, it is just another piece of music which isn't remarkable. Too derivative, really.

"Mimi's Magic Moment" is not a bad album, it just lacks of highlights / personality like (at best) each of "Salem Hill" work. Three stars is as high as I can go.

Review by progpositivity
5 stars Lush, varied, mature, subtle, powerful... This is Salem Hill's "Magic Moment" indeed - their greatest album to date. Surely this is a pinnacle from which they can climb no higher! Or is it? I can't wait to find out. 5 stars.

Ever since their debut way back in 1992, Salem Hill's albums have successively reached greater heights and "Mimi's Magic Moment" is no exception. As a matter of fact, it is a milestone album for the band. The transformation from neo-prog band to symphonic prog band is now complete.

A familiar master violinist appears as "special guest" on two of the album's four songs, a serendipitous happening that has become so frequent that one could be forgiven for starting to feel as though Ragsdale is an honorary member of the band!

Neal Morse makes a guest vocal appearance, as does accomplished CProgRock veteran Randy George (Ajalon, Neal Morse Band) on bass guitar and keyboard wizard Fred Schendel (Glass Hammer) on piano.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is considered by many of SALEM HILL's fans to be their best record. I still think "Be" is their best album but I haven't heard an average sounding record by these Americans. I did think of SPOCK'S BEARD at times and heck Neal Morse even guests on vocals on one track. Others mention KANSAS so it's no surprise that David Ragsdale guests on violin. He's played on previous SALEM HILL records as well.We get four long tracks over 63 minutes.

"The Joy Gem" is synth led early then vocals arrive a minute in. It turns instrumental and we get some violin before 6 minutes. It settles with piano 8 1/2 minutes in. Fragile vocals a minute later that reminds me of Neal Morse. Okay it is him.Violin is back later. "All Fall Down" opens with synths then strummed guitar, vocals and a beat join in.The tempo picks up before 4 minutes as flute, piano and guitar help out. "Stolen By Guests" opens with violin and a mellow sound. Reserved vocals and piano take over quickly. Not a fan of this. It's much better when the organ, bass and drums take over. A calm follows with laid back piano.Vocals join in.Violin after 7 1/2 minutes then the tempo picks up. It settles with piano before 13 minutes then the vocals are back a minute later. A great vocal performance around 16 minutes. It changes 18 minutes in with a beat, synths and vocals.

"The Future Me" is intricate and uptempo to start. Chunky bass, organ then synths eventually follow. It settles right down with piano, then reserved vocals join in. Nice. Piano before 8 minutes when the vocals stop.The tempo picks up 9 minutes in as synths and drums lead then organ. Solo piano before 11 1/2 minutes before synths and drums return, then vocals 13 minutes in. A calm at 15 minutes then female vocals come in before 16 minutes. Male vocals too. Just a great sound to end the album.

This is as good as advertised. More Symphonic than past albums but they sacrificed the heaviness.

Review by Warthur
3 stars I'm mildly surprised that more reviewers haven't commented on the production job Salem Hill did with Mimi's Magic Moment, which to my ears sounds absolutely bizarre - the sound quality seems extremely flat and tinny to my ears, which rather ruins the effect of the band's compositions. Then again, I think Salem Hill are a band you either "get" or you don't. I personally find that most of their work isn't quite to my taste except for The Robbery of Murder, which I consider to be a real high water mark for the band, but if you have a broader enjoyment of their previous albums I suppose Mimi's Magic Moment might be worth a try.

Latest members reviews

4 stars On "Mimi's Magic Moment", Salem Hill (like Glass Hammer) unabashedly pulls out nearly all of the classic progressive rock cliches to which we became accustomed in the 1970's - lush synthesizers, fast organ solos, the occasional odd meter and key change, epic-length tracks, inspiring lyrics, etc. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2442102) | Posted by Squire Jaco | Friday, August 28, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Now I know that Im free, safe in step towards the future me" The Future Me This is the only album of band led by Carl Graves I enjoy entirely. Intentionally, this is the most symphonic in the American group repertoire. Each of the songs is a gem to discover and enjoy, filled with passages pleth ... (read more)

Report this review (#1441396) | Posted by sinslice | Thursday, July 16, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Salem Hill has been a difficult band for me. When I first started listening to them, I really fell in love with them. I considered "The Robbery of Murder" to be a masterpiece?it was honestly one of the first prog albums that I really fell in love with. I was a little disappointed by "Not Everybod ... (read more)

Report this review (#379696) | Posted by natewait | Thursday, January 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Salem Hill has 7 studio albums, with three of them generally being regarded as their top efforts: Robbery of Murder, Be and their latest Mimi's Magic Moment. While ROM and Be are full of regular length songs, MMM is filled with 3 epics and a fourth shorter song, which still clocks in at over 7 m ... (read more)

Report this review (#179383) | Posted by johnobvious | Monday, August 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Salem Hill has done a very well ellaborated album. Yes, the simmilarities with Flower Kings,Transatlantic,Neal Morse and Glass Hammer are notorious,but those groups are contemporary of SH. So you can put Salem Hill in the group of the best neo prog bands(mainly the american ones). ... (read more)

Report this review (#146898) | Posted by robbob | Thursday, October 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A bit softer than I like most of my prog, but awesome songs nonetheless. The Joy Gem is my favorite and Neal's vocals help carry the emotion. Think of it as a softer Transatlantic or Spocks Beard. ... (read more)

Report this review (#82372) | Posted by Tang Daobo | Saturday, July 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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