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ROBERT BERRY

Crossover Prog • United States


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Robert Berry biography
Based in the Bay Area of San Francisco, USA, composer and multi-instrumentalist ROBERT BERRY has been a force to be reckoned with in the local music scene there for more than three decades, and has established himself as a widely known international artist for the last twenty or so years.

His joined his first band Hush in the mid 70's, and recorded thre full length productions with that outfit before they disbanded in 1985. In that period he also established his own Robert Berry Band, and in 1985 he also issued his first solo album Back to Back.

In 1986 he was invited by Carl Palmer to join supergroup GTR. While the months spent with that outfit didn't result in any album releases, it did lead to Berry being invited to join Palmer and Keith Emerson for a new ELP album. As with other productions not including Greg Lake a different band name was made for the occasion, namely 3. And in 1988 the only production by this alternative version of ELP was issued as ...To the Power of Three, firmly establishing Berry on the international scene as an indirect result.

The next few years was quiet as far as issuing material goes, but in 1993 his second solo effort Pilgrimage to a Point was released, followed by In These Eyes in 1995 and Takin' It Back in 1996. Further solo albums was put on hold though, as Berry now was busy with a new band project, Alliance, along with Gary Pihl, Alan Fitzgerald and David Lauser.

A few years later Berry hooked up with Ambrosia, and was their live drummer for almost 2 years. At the same time he was also busy finalizing the material for what was to be his fifth solo album. In 2001 this production, inspired by the literary works of author Robert Jordan, was released as A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time.

Starting in the 90's Berry had become increasingly more involved in various tribute albums. His involvement with the Magna Carta record label, who started to explore such ventures rather heavily in the new millenium, saw to it that he appeared on numerous such productions for a number of years. And while many of those were in house projects by Magna Carta he didn't limit his involvement to their excursions alone. While this gave Berry a chance to pay his respects to a fair number of artists, his reputation as well as Magna Carta's did suffer from them - first and foremost inside the progressive rock community, where such releases by many are regarded as economically driven projects with insignificant a...
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ROBERT BERRY discography


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ROBERT BERRY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Back to Back
1985
2.98 | 11 ratings
Pilgrimage To A Point
1993
3.50 | 2 ratings
In These Eyes
1995
3.50 | 2 ratings
Takin' It Back
1996
2.64 | 6 ratings
A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time
2001
2.80 | 5 ratings
The Dividing Line
2008

ROBERT BERRY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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4.00 | 1 ratings
Prime Cuts
2006

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ROBERT BERRY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pilgrimage To A Point by BERRY, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.98 | 11 ratings

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Pilgrimage To A Point
Robert Berry Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars A veteran of the Pomp/AOR US and worldwide scene, Robert Berry begun his career in mid-70's with the AOR group Hush, before following a solo career in 1985 with his debut solo album ''Back to back''.The turning point of his career comes in 1986, when he receives a call by Carl Palmer and travels to England, where he meets also with Steve Howe and is being suggested as a replacement of Steve Hackett in the GTR supergroup.After months of sessions GTR eventually disbanded and Berry went on to join Palmer and Keith Emerson in the newly established trio of 3.They released their only album ''...To the power of three'' in 1988, which was never responded by the continuous support of Geffen Records and this trio folded as well.Berry returned to the States and continued writing songs, which finally led to his second solo album ''Pilgrimage to a point'' in 1993, joined by Marcus Miller on bass, Preston Thrall on drums, Mike Wible on keyboards and ex-Hush bandmate Paul Keller on guitars.

About half of the songs date back from the days of Berry with GTR and 3, featuring the composing talents of Howe, Emerson and Palmer, and actually Berry himself dedicated this work to his unforgotten days in the UK with the aforementioned musicians.Musically this a blend of melodic AOR/Pomp Rock with some Prog aesthetics around, based on Berry's sensitive vocal lines, the melodic guitar work, the atmospheric synthesisers and the progressive tendencies in the vein of 3.Some complex and certainly bombastic keyboard parts are always present, albeit a bit cheesy and typical of the sound of the time, reminding the early works of CAIRO and MAGELLAN.Most of the pieces follow the secure lines of straightforward Melodic Rock with grandiose keyboard deliveries, highlighted by Berry's pretty great songwriting, eventually offering memorable themes and catchy choruses, without ever being nowhere near the heart-felt sound of similar sounding bands.His most progressive tracks actually remind a bit of KANSAS' more easy-going material, balancing between a radio-friendly style with powerful grooves and instant melodic lines and semi-symphonic passages with a monster synth sound, efficient guitar moves and extended instrumental textures, like in the long and dramatic ''Last ride into the sun''.

Berry's career remained fairly connected with the easier side of Rock music, both via his solo releases and after the formation of his more steady band over the years, Alliance.He has been also a member of the Christmas-inspired Art Rock group The December People.

''Pilgrimage to a point'' is not only Berry's most progressive album.It is a sum of his memorable stint with GTR and 3 next to some of the most significant Prog figures of all times.Recommended, especially for fans of melodic Prog/Art Rock, who are not afraid of a more pompous approach.

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 A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time by BERRY, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.64 | 6 ratings

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A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time
Robert Berry Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars A novel soundtrack

It may look like a film soundtrack album, and it may sound like film music, but (as far as I understand) this is not a film soundtrack album. Indeed, (again as far as I understand) no such film exists. Rather, it is a conceptual album based around a series of fantasy novels written by Robert Jordan. I have never read any of these novels, but presumably Robert Berry has read them, and he has created a book soundtrack to go with the fantasy series. The music could however easily have been for a film, at least some parts of it sound like film score material. Other parts reminded me of Alan Simon's Excalibur trilogy, even though the present album is significantly less star-studded. Most of the instruments are played by Berry himself, but he does invite a few helpers including two members of the brilliant Prog Folk band Tempest. Berry has previously contributed production and keyboards to Tempest's albums and here Lief Sorbye and Michael Mullin of that band repay the service on mandolin and violin respectively. The album is mostly instrumental, but a few tracks feature lead vocals by Andy Frazier and Lisa Bouchelle.

Compared to the only other solo album I've heard from Berry, Pilgrimage To A Point, this one is radically different. While Pilgrimage To A Point is best described as Crossover Prog in the vein of GTR (the band featuring Steve Howe and Steve Hackett and in which Berry was involved at some point) and 3 (the version of ELP in which Berry replaced Greg Lake), A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time is a mixture of Folk Rock/Prog Folk and "film" music. At first, I found it a bit tame, but I began to appreciate it after several listens and find it a rather enjoyable listen. The mandolin playing of Sorbye adds a nice touch to the often hard edged electric guitars and New-Age like synths. The best track for me is The Winespring Reel in which mandolin, lead guitars, and synthesisers interact wonderfully.

A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time is worth hearing, but it is certainly not essential listening

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 Pilgrimage To A Point by BERRY, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.98 | 11 ratings

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Pilgrimage To A Point
Robert Berry Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Progressive... to a point

This album sounds like a cross-breed of GTR (the 80's band formed by guitar legends Steve Howe and Steve Hackett) and 3 (the version of Emerson, Lake & Palmer not featuring Greg Lake). This is hardly surprising since Robert Berry was involved in both bands; Berry was invited to contribute to a follow-up (that never came to fruition) to the self-titled GTR album and he was Greg Lake's replacement in 3. On the present album, Berry goes solo, but at least some of the material consists of leftovers from GTR and 3 sessions. Some of the songs here were co-written by Berry and Steve Howe, some with Carl Palmer, and the closing track with Keith Emerson. Perhaps this is what Asia would have sounded like had it been Emerson instead of Geoff Downes handling the keyboards?

Berry sings all lead vocals and plays most of the instruments. This includes some very Howe-like guitars and some very Emerson-like keyboards. Berry is a good musician and instrumentalist, but he lacks a style of his own. The vocals are professional, but again rather anonymous.

The quality of the material is varied and ranges from strong to pedestrian. The best, and most progressive, track is the closing number Last Ride Into The Sun. This one is in the style of To The Power Of Three (which in turn is in the style of ELP). Another highlight is Shelter which reminds me somewhat of the style of Trevor Rabin's better recordings. It features a nice piano and acoustic guitar section. No One Else To Blame that opens the album is the most GTR-like number. It is not bad, but is not up to par with the better songs from the self-titled GTR album (an album I actually like a lot!). The least good songs are in the middle towards the end. Here the album runs out of steam and frankly tends to get unexciting (until it is reinvigorated by the aforementioned Last Ride Into The Sun).

Pilgrimage To A Point is a good but far from essential album. It is recommended to fans of the bands mentioned above.

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 Pilgrimage To A Point by BERRY, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.98 | 11 ratings

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Pilgrimage To A Point
Robert Berry Crossover Prog

Review by Gerinski
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Robert Berry is an odd character, in the liner notes he insists in reminding us of his relationships to proper prog (member of 3 = close relationship with ELP, his work with GTR and Steve Howe etc, he even includes a family tree showing all these links and more) but actually his music is plainly crossover. A very similar case to Trevor Rabin or Billy Sherwood.

The music we find here is not much different from 3, GTR, Asia or Trevor Rabin / Billy Sherwood-era Yes, AOR-oriented prog, easy-listening and melodic while still retaining a decent level of complexity and using several typical prog sound patches and motifs, it sounds good but it's far from outstanding when you think of it a bit in detail.

Robert's voice is good, no question about it, but it is not very personal and it does not save the whole thing.

The best songs for my taste are in the second half of the CD, with "The Blame", "The Otherside" and "Last Ride Into The Sun", the best song here, a great symphonic 10 min epic with many nods to ELP.

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 Pilgrimage To A Point by BERRY, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.98 | 11 ratings

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Pilgrimage To A Point
Robert Berry Crossover Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Robert Berry's Pilgrimage to a Point is in my collection for a very long time now (since it's release I believe) and I always felt a bit sad Berry wasn't included in our site yet. Till recently when the crossover team decided to add him anyway, a rightful decision as far as I'm concerned. Because crossover is an excellent subgenre for this album (don't know any of his other works just yet). The booklet has a very handy schedule of Berry's musical history up until 1995. It shows his roots are especially in the typical eighties "prog"band Asia with slighter lines drawn towards ELP (Emerson and Palmer), Yes (Howe) and even a bit of Boston and Sammy Hagar there. And that's pretty much what you should think of if you want to know the musical style of Berry.

It's mainly Asia (No one else to blame, The Love we share, Freedom) that comes to mind when listening to this album added with some ELP (Another Man, Last Ride into the Sun) and even hints to Cairo (Shelter, The Blame) and a little bit of Toto (The Otherside). So that means a blend of prog and AOR roughly spoken. It's probably no coincidence that the longer tracks Shelter, The Blame and Last Ride into the Sun are the most progressive on this release. On two of these three Berry had the assistance of Carl Palmer concerning the songwriting. These three tracks justify Berry's presence here on PA where Pilgrimage is concerned. The other six added with the hidden track The Weapon is Love are more or less forgettable for the real proggers in our scene. And that is when the progressive content is concerned and not really the quality of music because the other six are also worthwhile.

In the end the only right outcome for me is three stars taking into account this is a progressive site. But it's rounded down, the right score is around 3,3 for me. Recommended for those who dig crossover prog and don't mind a bit of AOR flavour.

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 A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time by BERRY, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.64 | 6 ratings

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A Soundtrack For The Wheel Of Time
Robert Berry Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

2 stars This was just a haphazard discovery from the library; it had 'progressive rock' description and it was classified in the electronic/ new age section, so it had a good chance of being interesting. The fact that it's a "soundtrack" for Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time fantasy series is not a recommendation for me, because I really couldn't care less of epic fantasy literature (Tolkien is the only name from the genre that I've read). But who knows, the music might be nice nevertheless, I thought. After one quick listening (and that's all I'm going to give it, except for re- listening to few better tracks for a possible inclusion in a compilation CD - you see, there just isn't time to re-listen everything that's not interesting in the first place, that's my principle with music) I can say that it was not up to my taste.

The music has no memorable melodies, and it feels as if it's not even properly composed, just worked together in the studio with images and plots of the fantasy story constantly in mind. I believe that multi-instrumentalist Robert Berry has captured very well the atmosphere of the series, and the dedicated reader of Jordan's fantasy may gladly use the CD as the background listening while reading, or memorizing the story in his mind. And it seems that's exactly what the "soundtrack for The Wheel of Time" stands for, as it is not a case of any film or TV series. The music is dark and cinematic, it has a sort of sinister feeling of a quest through dangerous landscapes (by this music I get a picture of the books themselves); happily there are no overblown battle sequences or other sorts of megalomanic drama, but as a whole the CD is quite tiresome and frustrating to listen to if you're not already familiar with the world it describes. It simply doesn't work as pure music on its own.

It's mostly instrumental, and neither of the featured vocalists (Andy Frazier and Lisa Bouchelle) are ones I would want to hear more. Mandolin on several tracks brings a folkish feeling. This is epic fantasy music all right (note that I use the word epic as an epitome to fantasy, not to music itself: the longest track is about five minutes). But I'd say it's only for the target audience, the fans of fantasy books and roleplaying games.

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