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PETER BANKS

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Peter Banks biography
The English guitarist Peter BANKS (July 15, 1947 - March 8, 2013) is perhaps best-known for his work with the progressive rock band YES. Those who only see that part of the picture, though, are missing out on quite a lot. BANKS first got his start with YES bassist Chris SQUIRE in the group THE SYN. That group made a bit of a name for themselves in England from 1966 to late 1967. SQUIRE and BANKS moved to their next group after THE SYN disbanded, the band MABEL GREER'S TOY SHOP. BANKS left that group at about the time vocalist Jon ANDERSON was starting to become a presence on their scene, but it would only be a matter of time until they would work together. BANKS went to play for a short time with NEAT CHANGE. As fate would have it, though, he hooked back up with SQUIRE and ANDERSON'S TOY SHOP. By then, they had added Tony KAYE and Bill BRUFORD to the lineup and were just ready to embark on a new name for the outfit. The new name and Peter BANKS' return were nearly simultaneous, and YES was born. The group released two albums with BANKS. The first of those was the self-titled debut that came out in 1969, the second album was "Time & a Word" released in 1970. By that time, the group had decided that Peter BANKS was not really the guitarist for the band and replaced him with Steve HOWE. BANKS thus found himself without a musical home.

Undaunted, he formed FLASH, a prog band that seemed to carry on in the mode that YES might have gone had BANKS remained. As fate would have it, keyboardist Tony KAYE was the next to feel the growing pains of YES, and upon his replacement from the group he hooked up with FLASH. The band released their debut, "Flash", in 1972. They followed it in rapid-fire succession with "In the Can" (also released in 1972) and "Out Of Our Hands" (1973). A live album, originally a bootleg, surfaced many years later under the moniker of "Psychosync". FLASH disbanded in 1973 and BANKS released his first solo album, "Two Sides Of Peter Banks", that year. The album featured a rather impressive lineup of BANKS, fellow FLASH members Ray BENNETT and Mike HOUGH, Jan AKKERMAN, John WETTON, and Phil COLLINS.

BANKS' next endeavor was a group that began under the name FLASH Mark II. After a time, though, they came to be called EMPIRE. The band recorded a total of three albums before breaking up in 1980. BANKS was not heard from for quite some time, after the end of EMPIRE. Indeed, his next release was the 1993 solo album "Instinct". The album...
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Two Sides of Peter BanksTwo Sides of Peter Banks
Import · Remastered
Esoteric 2009
Audio CD$9.05
$9.06 (used)
Self ContainedSelf Contained
One Way Records Inc 1995
Audio CD$20.92
$9.75 (used)
The Roots Of Yes 1964-68The Roots Of Yes 1964-68
Purple Pyramid Records 2012
Audio CD$15.99
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PETER BANKS discography


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PETER BANKS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.16 | 40 ratings
Two Sides of Peter Banks
1973
3.13 | 12 ratings
Instinct
1994
2.11 | 8 ratings
Self-Contained
1995
3.04 | 8 ratings
Reduction
1997

PETER BANKS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

PETER BANKS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

PETER BANKS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.10 | 2 ratings
Can I Play You Something?
1999
2.00 | 1 ratings
Prog Guitar Legend 1947-2013
2013

PETER BANKS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

PETER BANKS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Prog Guitar Legend 1947-2013 by BANKS, PETER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Prog Guitar Legend 1947-2013
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars "You know we all must start from very small beginnings, off to a better part"

Peter Banks was the first of the five original members of Yes to leave this earthly life. He was found dead in his home in 2013 after failing to show up for a scheduled recording session. This compilation was released in the same year as his death and features recordings from throughout his long career.

The first three tracks are early Yes recordings, but it is not the album versions of these songs but recordings from BBC sessions in 1969 and 1970. These are the same versions as on the 2CD compilation Something's Coming: The BBC Recordings 1969-1970 which was first released in 1997 with supervision and lines notes from Banks. The performances are very good, but the sound quality is not.

Flowerman and Grounded are by the pre-Yes band The Syn which also featured Chris Squire. These songs were released as singles in 1967 and has since appeared on many compilations, including the 2CD Original Syn: 1965-2004 which was released to coincide with the recent reformation of The Syn (which initially involved Peter Banks).

Beyond And Before will be familiar to Yes fans, but the version featured here is a demo by another pre- Yes band called Mabel Greer's Toy Shop. This band too featured Chris Squire. Images Of You And Me is from the same source. Like the two The Syn songs, the two Mabel Greer's Toy Shop songs were also featured on the Peter Banks compilation album Can I Play You Something?

Knights: The Falcon/The Bear is from Banks' 1973 solo debut Two Sides Of Peter Banks. It is good stuff, but is better heard within the context of the whole of side 1 of that album (side 2, on the other hand, is considerably less interesting). Somewhat oddly there is nothing on this compilation from any of Banks' three 1990's solo albums.

The three albums by Flash are represented with one track each, the best by far of which is Small Beginnings from the self-titled 1972 debut (which also featured Tony Kaye). This album is Banks' best moment and an essential Prog album in its own right. In The Can was released the same year but is less interesting and is here represented by Monday Morning Eyes. Man of Honour (Knight) is taken from Flash's third album Out Of Our Hands, released in 1973. There is nothing at all here from Banks' post-Flash band Empire.

Fast forward to 2012 and the first The Prog Collective album. Social Circles is a song featuring Annie Haslam of Renaissance on lead vocals, backed up by Billy Sherwood, and with a superb guitar solo by Banks. It is a strong track that stands up as well or better in this context than in its original setting. (Banks also contributed to the second Prog Collective album shortly before his death.)

The final three tracks are covers originally featured on tribute albums. Eclipse is from the Pink Floyd tribute album The Return To The Dark Side Of The Moon and also features Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood. Magic Bus is from the The Who tribute Who Are You? and Give a Little Bit is from the Supertramp tribute album Songs Of The Century. That Banks was into Supertramp is a bit of a surprise.

Overall, while Prog Guitar Legend 1947-2013 is a better compilation than Can I Play You Something? and gives a decent overview of the career of Peter Banks, most of the songs featured here are better heard in their original settings.

 Can I Play You Something? by BANKS, PETER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1999
1.10 | 2 ratings

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Can I Play You Something?
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

1 stars Yes, please

This somewhat strange compilation album contains recordings featuring Peter Banks in various constellations, including his pre-Yes bands The Syn and Mabel Greer's Toy Shop. The subtitle of this collection has it that that the contents are from 1964 to 1968, but actually some of the cuts are of a more recent origin. The rendition of Peter Gunn, for example, is said to have been recorded live in 1980. The recordings are not presented in chronological order but instead arranged in some other, more or less random order. Some of the tracks are demos, some are live recordings, and some are spoken "link" pieces that I suspect that Peter created shortly before he gathered this compilation album together in the late 90's. Given the diverse sources and widely divergent sound quality and levels of completion this is actually one of the least coherent compilation albums that I have ever heard.

The Syn's most well-known singles are fun to hear but these are available elsewhere, for example on that band's compilation Original Syn. The Mabel Greer's Toy Shop pieces are of great historical value, but are not terribly interesting in their own right. There is very little if anything at all that may be said to point in the direction of Yes. Even calling this "Proto-Prog" would be a considerable stretch of the term. This is mid 1960's Psychedelic Pop. Peter Banks would do much more interesting things later on, first with Yes and then with Flash.

This odd collection is recommended only as an historical document.

 Reduction by BANKS, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.04 | 8 ratings

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Reduction
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars "Reduction is the way to production, Mr. Banks"

Reduction is the third out of the three albums that Peter Banks released during the 1990's, and it can be seen as a continuation of the previous two. But even though this trio of albums have a somewhat similar sound and style, the feel of Reduction is slightly different compared to the previous two albums. There is more acoustic guitar here which I like and some moments are very tranquil and atmospheric. There is a kind of Dance beat on some of the tracks and I am reminded a bit of Mike Oldfield's Songs From Distant Earth. There are again some samples of spoken word and music from other sources (including a snippet of The Syn's Flowerman right at the beginning of the album), but the samples are less distracting than on the previous album.

The title of the album might refer to the fact that this time Banks does everything alone whilst before he had some help from a keyboard player. The absence of keyboards is however not a problem as they are replaced here by guitar synthesisers played by Banks himself.

In terms of quality, Reduction constitutes an improvement over the previous Self-Contained, and it is as good if not better than Instinct. This is Banks' last ever solo album, but he worked with several artists in various other contexts before he sadly passed away in 2013.

 Self-Contained by BANKS, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.11 | 8 ratings

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Self-Contained
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Contains funkin' profundity!

Peter Banks rapidly followed up his second solo album, 1994's Instinct with Self-Contained in 1995 (which is striking keeping in mind that there were 21 years between his first and his second solo albums!). This album follows in the same vein as the previous one with Banks' lead guitar playing the main role throughout with support only from keyboards and drum machines. Unfortunately Self-Contained does come off as a lesser album, a bit like the leftovers from Instinct. There are several good moments here and some tracks are up to par with the better tracks on Instinct, but there is also a lot of lesser grade material that feels like mere transportation. With a running time of one hour and 15 minutes, there would have been ample room for trimming.

The album contains no less than 21 separate tracks, some of which are very brief and many of which contain spoken word samples. Indeed, the album takes several minutes before it even gets off the ground as it begins with some unnecessary "foreplay" (first three tracks). I often find the samples annoying as it lifts focus from the actual music. There are references and musical quotes from the music of Banks' bands Flash and Yes. At one point there is a sample from a radio program where two music "experts" agree that the music of Yes is "pretentious and empty". (Idiots!). Banks probably included this to signal humility and self-distance, but it can perhaps also be interpreted less charitably as Banks' attack against the band of which he was once ejected.

Overall, I think this is the least successful of Peter Banks' solo albums. I would recommend it primarily to fans of the guitarist who already have his other solo albums.

 Instinct by BANKS, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.13 | 12 ratings

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Instinct
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Flash

More than 20 years after his first solo album came this second solo effort from Peter Banks. In all the time in between he had been involved in only a few musical projects but not put out any material (he worked with a band called Empire in the 70's but none of that material was released until the 90's). Like 1973's Two Sides Of Peter Banks, Instinct is a guitar-driven album that owes something to Jazz. But the sound and nature of this album is very different from the solo debut.

Even though a couple of other people are credited on the album, this is not a band affair but a solo effort in the truest sense. The album showcases Banks' excellent lead guitar playing and proves that he is indeed a master of his instrument. He is backed up by programmed rhythms that sometimes sound good and sometimes a bit stale. The keyboards play a mainly supporting role. The production values are high but the restricted line-up creates obvious limitations. The sound and style often reminds me of the (rather obscure) instrumental Wishbone Ash album Nouveau Calls.

Some of the time the tempo is slow and relaxing but a few tracks are more intense Jazz-Rock fare which keeps the album varied enough. The album features no vocals, but there are several spoken word samples and snippets from telephone conversations. One of these is a recording of a Yes fan calling into a radio station and asking why Banks was not invited to Yes' Union in the early 1990's. Banks was actually asked to join Yes on stage at one point during the Union tour, but much to the surprise of Peter who had travelled to the location for that reason, the band called it off at the last minute for no good reason thus relegating Banks to the crowd! (There is an interview clip with Banks on Youtube where he describes this, which he calls "the most embarrassing event of his life".) Peter was rightly bitter over this outrageous treatment from his past band mates, but this album proves beyond doubt that whatever the reason was for not letting him play it was not valid artistic reasons as Banks would definitely have been up to playing with Trevor Rabin and Steve Howe.

I find this album an enjoyable listen, but like many albums of its kind it is not very memorable and it doesn't stick. It is a nice addition to a Yes fan's collection, but it is not essential.

 Two Sides of Peter Banks by BANKS, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.16 | 40 ratings

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Two Sides of Peter Banks
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars A good side, and a not so good backside

Peter Banks was the original guitarist of Yes and played with them between 1968 and 1970. Before that Banks was also involved in pre-Yes bands Mabel Greer's Toy Shop and The Syn. After having recorded two albums with Yes - the self-titled 1969 debut and 1970's Time And A Word - Banks was replaced in the group by Steve Howe. Banks then formed a new band called Flash and released three albums with that band. The first, self-titled Flash album was released in 1972 and featured another Yes-man in Tony Kaye (who by that time had also been replaced in Yes) on keyboards. The same year saw a follow-up album called In The Can and in the year after that Out Of Our Hands appeared. Banks' first solo album entitled Two Sides Of Peter Banks was recorded at the same time as that third Flash album and released in the same year.

The album title is apt, as the two vinyl sides are rather different in character. The first side is by far the better one featuring more structured compositions whilst the second side features mainly improvisational material. A case in point is the nearly 14 minute Stop That! which is improvisational in nature and rather aimless. There are no vocals on either side and the guitar is naturally the dominant instrument throughout.

Perhaps because the split with Yes had not been amicable, no other Yes members are present on this solo album. Instead, Banks invites Steve Hackett and Phil Collins from Genesis, John Wetton from King Crimson, and Jan Akkerman from Focus to guest on this solo album. Also, Ray Bennett and Mike Hough from Flash appear. If you come to this album expecting something similar to early Yes or a continuation of Flash you will be sorely disappointed. There are some lovely softer moments during the first half of the album that remind of Focus, and some of the heavier passages here remind of King Crimson. Like Phil Collins and Jan Akkerman, Peter Banks too has a jazzier side and he explores that side here on side two of the album.

Despite most of the second side being rather dispensable, the album as a whole is okey but not essential.

 Two Sides of Peter Banks by BANKS, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.16 | 40 ratings

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Two Sides of Peter Banks
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The guitarist's solo debut, 1973's 'Two Sides Of Peter Banks' found the diminutive ex-Flash and Yes axeman backed by a quite incredible(for the times) all-star line-up that included the likes of Focus legend Jan Akkermann, former King Crimson bassist John Wetton, and, a decade prior to his early-eighties soft-pop superstar guise, Genesis drummer-and-singer Phil Collins. Add Flash members Ray Bennett(bass) and Mike Hough(drums), as well as another Genesis member in the form of guitarist Steve Hackett, and you have a lip- smacking proposition for prog-rock fans; a line-up of almost dream-team proportions. On paper, 'Two Sides Of Peter Banks' looks like it might just have everything, with virtuoso musicians mixing together within an exciting progressive framework. In reality, however, this glib album proves anything but exciting. The problem, it seems, is Banks himself. Always drawn as a rather strange character yet universally-lauded for his sometimes dazzling guitar histrionics, the British guitarist enjoyed a brief career in rock 'n' roll, appearing on the first Yes album, and then forming Flash in 1972 with Bennett, Hough and vocalist Colin Carter. Flash would produce three studio albums between 1972 and 1973 and tour North America before splitting, and that - apart from this solo release and a handful of barely-released CD albums from the mid-nineties - is pretty much it for Mr Banks. Here, despite the star backing, Banks has essentially created an oddly-disjointed instrumental album filled with impressive technical performances but sorely lacking in memorable tunes and melodies, the whole affair lacking the fire and passion the guitarist brought to the first two Flash albums. From the maudlin opening tones of the murky intro piece 'Visions Of The King' - a throwaway piece capped by both gritty metallic guitars and lilting acoustic chimes - to the messy pop-prog of 'Knights' and the laboured epic 'Stop That!', 'Two Sides Of Peter Banks' fails to capture the imagination in the same way as the album's cast list has. Banks aficianado's may of course lap it all up, but for this Yes-and-Flash fan, both sides of this particular Banks have proved rather disappointing. It could have been great. It wasn't. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2014

 Two Sides of Peter Banks by BANKS, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.16 | 40 ratings

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Two Sides of Peter Banks
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This album was recorded at the same time as FLASH`s "Out of Our Hands" album in 1973. In interviews the late Peter Banks said that the record company wanted a solo album from him, so he recorded this album during the nightime while the "Out of Our Hands" album was recorded during the daytime. I think that for Banks this working schedule could have been a hard time having to complete two albums working on them almost all the time at the same time. So, in my opinion, this is reflected in the content of his solo album, an album which sometimes looks and sounds more like a collaboration with guitarist Jan Akkerman from Dutch band FOCUS, more than really being a solo album by Banks. At almost the same time, Banks was also playing some gigs with a part-time band called ZOX AND THE RADAR BOYS, a "jam band" which also included Phil Collins on drums, plus Ronnie Caryl on guitar and three other musicians whose names I don`t remember now. So, maybe this was the reason Collins appeared in this album during the time he was playing wiht Banks in that "jam band". Anyway, Banks said that he had great fun while recording this solo album.

This album sounds more like a collection of improvised instrumental musical pieces, or at least, some pre-composed musical ideas which were augmented in the studio with improvisations while recording the album. There are some very good guitar collaborations and interactions between Banks and Akkerman, sometimes using acoustic guitars playing some Classical Music arrangements. Banks also shows why he was considered as a very good guitar player with his very personal style of playing the heavy parts of the songs, also using some complicated chords in some parts and also playing some very good lead guitar parts.

This album also was like a "Progressive Rock Star Session" due to the appearances of John Wetton on bass, Steve Hacket on guitar (in a very brief and in an almost "cameo apperance"), Phil Collins on several tracks (with his drums playing being particularly very good and present), plus two of Banks` bandmates in FLASH Mike Hough and Ray Bennet.

I don`t know if this solo album was released before "Out of Our Hands", but it seems that FLASH was in their last days as a band anyway, so maybe the record label wanted to give more support to Banks as a solo musician, so they asked him to record this solo album, but it was not as successful as expected. Unfortunately, FLASH broke up as a band during a tour in the U.S. in 1973 and Banks` musical career was not very successful for the rest of the seventies, a time during which he tried to form another band called EMPIRE which could not get a recording contract. Fortunately, in the nineties he became more active with his solo career recording and releasing several solo albums and also playing some concerts with a band called HARMONY IN DIVERSITY. But he died a year ago being 65 years old.

 Two Sides of Peter Banks by BANKS, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.16 | 40 ratings

BUY
Two Sides of Peter Banks
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BORA

2 stars Meandering, gentle and totally directionless.

This is the first solo effort I've ever heard from Peter Banks. Chances are it may be the last, too. No, it's not horrible at all, indeed the musicianship is pretty good, but the compositions leave a lot to be desired.

All instrumental - which is not at all against my preferences - but little substance is to be found here to fill the void in place of vocals, or other vital input. Indeed, I feel that I am listening to an Ementhaler cheese with more holes than solid material. Still, not without taste, but biting into chunks of not much is not my preference.

The album starts with a flamenco-ish touch and ends up with a mediocre hoedown. In- between there are some very pleasant licks, showing that Banks could play if he wanted to, but the lack of attention to compositions fail to support his talent as a good musician.

It's not before I get to the second last and longest track "Stop That!" that my interest is raised somewhat. This is a groovy and slightly jazzy piece - somewhat reminiscent of Jan Akkerman's laid back, "lazy Sunday afternoon" approach heard on "Complete Guitarist", or "It Could Happen To You". Well, if this album was made up of pieces like that, I would enjoy it much more alas, one tune alone does very little to me.

Overall, this release reminds me of when I visit musician friends, catching them just fooling around in the basement without being too serious. This is definitely not Jazz-Rock just because it has no vocals. Then again, I am not familiar with Banks' other works.

Suffice to say, I am pleased that Steve Howe had replaced Banks in YES. With Banks, YES would have never become the band it is/was. This album makes "Topographic" a roaring Rock&Roll piece in comparison.

In a sense it's good, but closer to collectors material. 2.5 rounded down.

PS: Good Heavens! At the time of writing my piece I wasn't even aware that Jan Akkerman was featured here. Well, it only shows....

.

 Instinct by BANKS, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.13 | 12 ratings

BUY
Instinct
Peter Banks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Moogtron III
Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars Peter Banks is the original guitar player of Yes, and it's regrettable that he never found commercial success. He left Yes before they became big, and the reasons are even today a bit unclear. Didn't Banks develop himself fast enough within Yes, or was it because of leadership conflicts that he had to leave? However the case, after the guitar genius Steve Howe took over Banks' role within Yes, and after Banks couldn't reach a wide audience with his records with Flash and as a solo artist, he was somewhat forgotten, except by some true Yes aficionados.

This album, proves the world wrong, though, because this all instrumental album clearly shows that Peter Banks is an excellent guitar player, a very good composer, and a good keyboard player and drum(machine program)mer on top of it.

Looking at the cover art, with the paintings that look as if they were from Van Gogh, Dali e.a., the suggestion comes up that this is a true guitar player's album, an album with a lot of guitar soloing.

And to be honest, this is true if you look at the way the songs of the album are built up. There is quite some variety on the album, but most of the songs have the same construction, or skeleton, so to say: there is a steady drum pattern, slow, fast, swinging, or whatever the mood of the song is. On top of the rhythm there is a warm synth layer like an ocean wave. And finally, on top of it all, it's Banks soloing on his guitars, like riding the crest of his own (keyboard) waves. Oh yes, and as an ornament: between the songs, and sometimes within the songs, there are some sound samples which sound like they were taken from a somewhat distorted transistor radio, where a few gentlemen are stating some funny, absurd, oneliners like: "I wouldn't, and neither would my daughter" or: "Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't seen nothing yet."

As it comes to Banks' guitar playing: didn't Bill Bruford once say that Peter Banks had some Wes Montgomery in himself, and lots of Pete Townshend? That was, and is, a good analysis. Yet, Peter Banks widened his palette since his Yes days. Banks has obviously grown as an artist. One can, for instance, also hear David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton back in his music. Bruford's statement is still true, though, especially as it comes to the Pete Townshend part. Peter Banks has quite a bit of aggressiveness in his playing. Sometimes even when he's into a more laid back kind of soloing, you often feel his restless energy under the surface.

As it comes to Banks' compositions: Banks is very skilled, but why oh why, Peter Banks, didn't you take the time in making all of the compositions work? The first four tracks are quite sensational, and after those tracks, boredom steps in, until at the end, the last two tracks are bringing back the adrenaline in the blood stream of the listener.

As I said: most of the tracks have a uniform construction. There isn't much complexity on the album. Banks is a very skilled composer, though, because with some simple means (rhythm track, simple synth sounds, different guitars) he can make a really varied album. If he in fact used a drum computer, than he's a genius in programming it.

The album sounds quite 1990's modern, but with a great sound. If you like keyboard layers with guitar soloing on top of it, this might be a very interesting album for you. It reminds me of Allan Holdsworth solo albums, where Holdsworth often does the same: soloing over ever changing synth layers, with a lot of chord changes. Banks is much less complex than Holdsworth though. Where Holdsworth has a lot of jazz and a bit of rock in him, with Banks it's the opposite. And to be very honest: Banks can play very fast, but he's not a real virtuoso, but I get the impression that he doesn't care to be one, but is more into keeping things simple but emotional, like for instance David Gilmour and Andy Latimer. And Banks is certainly an emotional player.

And now it's time to put some songs into the limelight: album opener "No Place Like Home" has no rhythm pattern, but for the rest it has the same construction as the other tracks: a keyboard layer with a guitar solo on top. This is a slow track with Wes Montgomery - like jazzy playing, and it is an atmospheric album opener.

"All Points South" has a slow rhythm track, reminding of a camel walking with a slow pace through the desert. At this point I owe something to ProgArchives - fellow reviewer Evolver. Normally I don't look to other peoples' reviews before I write my own, because I don't want to be influenced by other peoples' opinions. Still, this time my eye fell on something Evolver said in his review: that the album reminded him somewhat of Jeff Beck's "Guitar Shop". I agree with him on that and I find the comparison especially clear in this track.

"Fogbound" is a short but incredibly beautiful track: Banks has some simple, but wonderful chord changes on his warm sounding synths, with some wailing guitar themes on top. It's so breathtakingly beautiful that it almost makes me cry.

"Sticky Wicket" is also a magnificent track. Starting with a drum pattern, augmented by swelling synths and some simple but soulful guitar soloing, the track is most notable for it's wonderful, exciting chord changes throughout the song. Also, Banks has some synth effects which heighten the atmosphere: really, the guy is quite skilled in composing songs and sounds.

After the first four tracks, the level of compositions drops. "Shortcomings" is a long, loud, nervous sounding track with some over the top wild soloing by Banks. After that song, the boredom really steps in: I wouldn't say that the next four tracks are bad, but they are a bit mediocre to say the least, and it drags down the level of the album as a whole. Also you get the feeling that you've heard it all before, earlier on the album.

At the end of the album there are two songs that are like a wake up call. It doesn't restore the excitement of the first four tracks, though. The damage has been done and that is really a pity.

"Dominating Factor" is really entertaining, not in the least because one hears back Banks most famous riff: from Yes' Astral Traveller. The riff is not completely the same, but it certainly reminds you of it. For the rest: the song has some very good chord changes. Like the rest of the album: simple but effective. Finally, "Never The Same" is a slow song, also with atmospheric keyboards and guitars.

Looking back over the album as a whole: what's the overall impression? On the first four tracks Banks is sensational, using simple beautiful chord changes and skilled instrumental performances, with an eye for detail, to baffle the listener. The last two tracks are also good. Banks should have made more work of the rest of the album, though, and probably should have limited himself to a 40 - minutes album, focusing on the real good compositions that he has. On his best parts Banks deserves four stars, on his most boring parts he deserves two stars. I let simple mathematics do the rest for my rating.

But... when Banks shines, he really shines!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Rune2000 for the last updates

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