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SALEM HILL

Neo-Prog • United States


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Salem Hill biography
SALEM HILL was formed in 1991 by singer, guitarist and songwriter Carl Groves, bassist Pat Henry, and drummer Kevin Thomas. Prior to the recording of the bands first album in Spring 1992, simply titled "Salem Hill", the band was joined by Michael Dearing on vocals and guitar. The band followed up their debut with "Different Worlds" in 1993 and then proceeded to take a three year break from recording and performing.

The band got back together, without Michael Dearing, to record 1997's "Catatonia", a concept album about a man born with the inability to dream. Following the release of their third album, SALEM HILL were invited to play at 1997's Progday in Chapel Hill.

They began recording their next album, also a conceptual piece, in 1998. "The Robbery of Murder" centered on the theme of a person's quest to kill the drunk driver responsible for killing his father. For this album, Michael Dearing was back in the fold, but original bass player Pat Henry had departed. David Ragsdale of KANSAS fame made a guest appearance on violin. On the strength of this album, Cyclops Records signed the band to their label.

In 2000, keyboardist Michael Ayers joined the band and Pat Henry rejoined for the release of their fifth album, "Not Everybody's Gold" which included the 28-minute "Sweet Hope Suite". Salem Hill again headlined the Progday festival in 2000 and also played at DragonCon, the largest sci-fi convention in North America the same year. Unfortunately, the process of recording this album had been a grueling one and the band, unofficially, decided to call it quits, with Thomas moving to Florida and Groves unwilling to record again under the circumstances of the previous recording sessions.

In 2002, the band reformed, sans Michael Ayers, for a one-off concert as a tribute to their fans. This performance was recorded and with supplemental live material and one brand-new track was released as "Puppet Show" in 2003. After recording the new track, the band decided to go forward, and began recording their sixth album "Be" which was also released in 2003. Following this release, the band released their seventh album "Mimi's Magic Moment" which included another guest appearance by David Ragsdale, as well as guest vocals by Neal Morse and a piano solo from GLASS HAMMER's Fred Schendel.

Following this release the band recorded the live DVD "Mystery Loves Company" during their tour promoting the album. The DVD was released i...
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Salem Hill official website

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Buy SALEM HILL Music


Mimi's Magic MomentMimi's Magic Moment
ProgRock Records 2005
Audio CD$16.89
$12.99 (used)
Pennies In The Karma JarPennies In The Karma Jar
Lazarus Records
Audio CD$16.89
$24.94 (used)
Puppet ShowPuppet Show
Import
Cyclops Records 2008
Audio CD$46.78
$45.32 (used)
Robbery of MurderRobbery of Murder
Progrock Records 2005
Audio CD$35.99 (used)
BeBe
Progrock Records 2005
Audio CD$22.89
$5.36 (used)
CatatoniaCatatonia
Import
Cyclops Records 2001
Audio CD$66.62 (used)
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SALEM HILL shows & tickets


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SALEM HILL discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SALEM HILL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.11 | 17 ratings
Salem Hill
1992
2.61 | 18 ratings
Different Worlds
1994
2.66 | 23 ratings
Catatonia
1997
3.86 | 47 ratings
The Robbery of Murder
1998
3.50 | 50 ratings
Not Everybody's Gold
2000
3.56 | 43 ratings
Be
2003
3.74 | 59 ratings
Mimi's Magic Moment
2005
3.63 | 33 ratings
Pennies in the Karma Jar
2010

SALEM HILL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.35 | 8 ratings
Puppet Show
2003

SALEM HILL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.36 | 5 ratings
Mystery Loves Company
2007

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

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

SALEM HILL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Not Everybody's Gold by SALEM HILL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.50 | 50 ratings

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Not Everybody's Gold
Salem Hill Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars ''The robbery of murder'' was one of these works you simply can't pass by.The album caught the attention of the Cyclops' management and the British label offered the band a new contract.As Cyclops had done many times in the past, this gave the chance to Salem Hill to re-release their entire back catalogue.Now the fifth album was on the way and the band recruited a new member, keyboardist Michael Ayers, who had contributed additional keyboards in some of Salem Hill's previous albums.The new work carried the title ''Not everybody's gold'' and was released in 2000.

The evolution of the band from the early, more AOR-oriented releases to a full-blown Prog combo becomes complete with this album, even if discreet hints from the far past are still around.Salem Hill managed to capture the spirit of the 70's and transform it into their own amalgam of complex, rich progressive adventures with strong YES, KANSAS and STARCASTLE influences, led by some powerful electric guitars, fascinating keyboard pyrotechnics and an evident aura from the old years in the bombastic organ parts.There are up there next to SPOCK'S BEARD and similar groups with a vivid mood for dense, quirky yet accesible arrangements, where there is a lot of space for melodic or romantic textures among a storm of concentrated rockin' ideas.They retain their deep American flavor of the KANSAS family due to the prominent use of Hammond organ and striking synthesizers over Classical-inspired melodies and over-the-top refrains, but they get close to British-styled Prog quite often, especially to YES, with the impressive guitar manoeuvres of Groves and Dearing and the strong, symphonic textures of the keyboards.Honorable mention should be written for the 28-min. ''Sweet hope suite'', a great Prog/Symphonic Rock epic in the vein of YES with some lovely keyboard interludes, marching sections, sudden breaks, flashy solos and tons of vintage colors, featuring again the presence of KANSAS' David Ragsdale on violin.

Another solid work by Salem Hill in the vein of old, symphonic-oriented bands.Not much of a personal style, but numerous moments of impressive musicianship and well-executed vocal parts.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Puppet Show by SALEM HILL album cover Live, 2003
4.35 | 8 ratings

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Puppet Show
Salem Hill Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Salem Hill is definitely one of my favourite American prog rock outfits, and since first hearing it 'The Robbery Of Murder' has been a frequent visitor to my CD player. So it was with some sense of anticipation that I looked forward to hearing this double live CD. Performances have been taken from a variety of shows over quite a long period of time, but it has been put together in a manner that means that this isn't audibly noticeable. For the most part the band has a four man line-up, with Carl Groves and Michael Dearing sharing lead/harmony vocals and both of them providing guitar. But there are times when one or both of them play keyboards, so it is possible to go from a guitar-oriented outfit to one containing no guitars at all. While Carl provides most of the songs, bassist Pat Henry also is no mean slouch in the song writing stakes. The line-up is completed by drummer Kevin Thomas.

This is extremely melodic rock, that often reminds me of the mighty Kansas, and indeed ex- Kansas violinist David Ragsdale guests on "Brave New World", and the fact that it is an outstanding number by all concerned is incredible given that they were unable to rehearse together! The album starts with "Evil One" which has a delicate guitar/keyboards introduction, but the song has a harsh edge which played upon with Michael screaming the verse out through gritted teeth while Carl provides the more sympathetic vocals on the chorus. It is extremely hard to pick out a favourite as the album is just so strong throughout. I suppose the five numbers taken from 'TROM' are hard to distinguish between just because I love that particular album so much, but they have picked songs from throughout their career and the result is an album that every prog or melodic rock fan should hasten out to purchase immediately, if not sooner.

Originally appeared in Feedback #73, Jun 03

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 Catatonia by SALEM HILL album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.66 | 23 ratings

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Catatonia
Salem Hill Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars This is the third album from Salem Hill, and was the album prior to 'Robbery Of Murder', which is the one that shot them into recognition in the UK. Their first two albums ('Salem Hill' and 'Different Worlds') have also been released by Cyclops in the UK as limited editions, but I have yet to hear these. Carl Groves re-recorded some of the keyboard lines that he wasn't happy with and this version has also been remixed and given new artwork.

Salem Hill are one of the most exciting prog bands to come out of the States and this album roves it quite plainly. The songs are both simple and highly complex, the music is intricate yet accessible, the lyrics convoluted but easily understandable. They may be more rock based than many of their contemporaries, but they never cross the boundary into hard rock. While Carl Groves is very much the leader (vocals, guitar, keys, all of the lyrics and most of the music) neither Pat Henry (bass) and Kevin Thomas (drums, vocals) are bit players and they are key to the overall sound. It may not have quite the immediate impact of 'Robbery Of Murder' this is an album that I have already played many times and I am sure that I will be doing so again in the future.

Originally appeared in Feedback #65, Dec 01

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 Not Everybody's Gold by SALEM HILL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.50 | 50 ratings

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Not Everybody's Gold
Salem Hill Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars If ever there was an album that I have eagerly been awaiting it was this one. I gave Sara the booklet of their last album to read the lyrics, and she agreed with me that it was some of the most powerful and thought provoking she has ever seen. So how could they match 'The Robbery Of Murder'?

Simple, don't. What they have done here is take the music in another direction without losing any of the power that was there before. David Ragsdale from Kansas has again grace proceedings, here playing on the thirty-minute epic "Sweet Hope Suite". Nevertheless, before getting to that, the last 'song' on the album there is much more to enjoy. The opening instrumental gives no idea of the power of the following number "Riding The Fence" which has some very early-Kansas sounds at times, particularly on the keyboards. It is with Kansas that musically they have the most in common, and that surely cannot be a bad thing.

An album that is a joy from start to finish, with enough strange rhythms and counter melodies to please any proggers, often in the same song. "January" on its' own is enough evidence to buy this album, let alone the epic that is later.

Spock's Beard, Salem Hill, Discipline and Kopecky are all very active prog bands from the States, and all deserve your support. Start here.

Originally appeared in Feedback #62, May 01

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 The Robbery of Murder by SALEM HILL album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.86 | 47 ratings

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The Robbery of Murder
Salem Hill Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Better days were ahead of Salem Hill.The ''Catatonia'' album was followed by the partcipation of the group in a major prog event, the Progday 97', in Chapel Hill, NC.The fourth studio album was Salem Hill's next step.Six months of recordings at England Studios and another concept story was the background of ''The Robbery of Murder'', released on Lazarus Records in 1998.It tells a story of a man, desperately hunting the killer of his father, featuring David Ragsdale of Kansas on violins.

Ragsdale is not the only link of Salem Hill with KANSAS.Finally the new album of the Nashville boys shows strong influences from the US Prog scene with KANSAS being the first band to come to mind next to reasonable comparisons with GLASS HAMMER and SPOCK'S BEARD.The arrangements of the group are much more elaborate and symphonic in nature with an appropriate space for more evident keyboard parts, while Ragsdale's presence adds a much needed color to Salem Hill's sound.''The Robbery of Murder'' contains excellent melodic parts, elegant and dreamy soundscapes and sensitive vocal harmonies to compete with the elite of the genre.Of course a few tracks, apparently following the concept, are still a bit more aggressive, with harder guitars in evidence, but even these are sounding more refined due to Ragsdale's superb violin textures.A fair dose of sudden breaks and some great, lush orchestral themes complete the fresh sound of the group, which eventually seems to head towards the right direction.Some bombastic passages with a deep atmosphere are not absent either and, as a result, ''The Robbery of Murder'' maintains a superb balance from the start to the very end.

The questionable potential of Salem Hill has finally grown into a mature and satisfying album.For all fans of modern US Prog in the vein of GLASS HAMMER or MAGELLAN, this is definitely a great addition.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 The Robbery of Murder by SALEM HILL album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.86 | 47 ratings

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The Robbery of Murder
Salem Hill Neo-Prog

Review by sinslice

4 stars Salem Hill should be much more popular in this site. Especially The Robbery of Murder, a strong history together with music. Carl Groves leading the band in this sad journey about death of a young in an accident. There is different melodies repeated through the songs like a guiding principle in the concept. Smooth songs riddled of sadness and power songs with angry and fury like Someday or Revenge. Best part for me is the union of Father And Son and To The Hill. Lyrics and music in perfect harmony to describe homesickness narrated. And Epilogue is such a good end. Last song Evil One is no part of conceptual album, This is the best work from this Nashville band, scarcely better than Mimi┤s Magic Moment.

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 Mimi's Magic Moment by SALEM HILL album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.74 | 59 ratings

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Mimi's Magic Moment
Salem Hill Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Be by SALEM HILL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.56 | 43 ratings

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Be
Salem Hill Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Salem Hill's Be sounds to me like a return to the musical approach of The Robbery of Murder, only with mildly better production and a drastically reduced sense of focus. Stretching to well over an hour, Salem Hill unfortunately do not come up with sufficient material to really merit that sort of running time, and whilst they do seem to have a knack of tugging at the listener's heartstrings, the lack of a firm concept for the album means that it all seems rather aimless, and when their emotional prodding isn't serving a decent story it's profoundly irritating. Not my favourite by a long shot.

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 Not Everybody's Gold by SALEM HILL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.50 | 50 ratings

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Not Everybody's Gold
Salem Hill Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Salem Hill's followup to the pretty decent The Robbery of Murder doesn't sound quite as compelling to my ears - possibly because this time around the band's Kansas influence is much more prominent, and I'm afraid Kansas are a band that I've never been able to understand the appeal of. On top of that, the production values on the album seem to be a bit more rudimentary than those on The Robbery of Murder - and that was hardly an engineering masterpiece to begin with. It may be an OK listen for Kansas fans but I suspect even they would have to admit it's not a patch on its illustrious predecessor.

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 The Robbery of Murder by SALEM HILL album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.86 | 47 ratings

BUY
The Robbery of Murder
Salem Hill Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is a very capable narrative concept album from Salem Hill, with a sound reminiscent of less obvious neo-prog influences such as Discipline's Push and Profit and the more majestic portions of The Sentinel by Pallas. David Ragsdale's contributions on violin helps shake things up and distinguish the group's sound from the rest of the neo-prog crowd, whilst the actual execution of the concept is one of the better I've seen in a concept album.

The story is, at its heart, very simple - a man is killed in a hit-and-run accident, and whilst the drunk driver responsible is consumed by guilt the bereaved son of the victim plans to kill him in revenge - but the band do an excellent job of creating emotional snapshots of each of the major participants in the story. The plot is just interesting enough to sustain itself over the course of the album, whilst not being so complex as to be difficult for a first-time listener to follow. Even better, musically speaking there's more or less no filler, making this one of the better concept albums to come out of the neo-prog scenes.

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