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THE TEA PARTY

Crossover Prog • Canada


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The Tea Party picture
The Tea Party biography
Founded in 1990 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada - Disbanded in 2005 - Regrouped in 2011 up until today (2017)

1990 - The Tea Party consisting of Jeff Martin as lead vocals/lead guitar, Stuart Chatwood on bass and keyboards and Jeff Burrows on drums officially forms after a marathon jam session at Cherry Beach Rehearsal Studios on Toronto's waterfront.

1991 - The Tea Party release their first album independently. The self-titled debut was mainly distributed throughout Ontario and all 3500 original pressings sold out within a year.After this release, they were signed to Chrysalis and sold over a million copies of their official 1st release Splendor Solis, their most successful album to date.During the nineties the band did exstensive tours of both the USA and Canada and have developed something of a cult following.Transmission their studio release in 1997 is regarded as their most progressive album to date sharing a myriad of sound influences.They are widely regarded as one of Canada's most prominent bands and in 2007 they released their first official DVD of live material.

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THE TEA PARTY discography


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THE TEA PARTY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.32 | 18 ratings
The Tea Party
1991
3.79 | 69 ratings
Splendor Solis
1993
4.34 | 114 ratings
The Edges Of Twilight
1995
3.53 | 46 ratings
Transmission
1997
3.41 | 49 ratings
Triptych
1999
3.61 | 41 ratings
The Interzone Mantras
2001
2.73 | 44 ratings
Seven Circles
2004
3.38 | 44 ratings
The Ocean At The End
2014
3.90 | 11 ratings
Blood Moon Rising
2021

THE TEA PARTY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE TEA PARTY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.50 | 8 ratings
The Reformation Tour
2012

THE TEA PARTY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Icon
2014

THE TEA PARTY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 7 ratings
Alhambra
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
Black River EP
2019

THE TEA PARTY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Blood Moon Rising by TEA PARTY, THE album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.90 | 11 ratings

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Blood Moon Rising
The Tea Party Crossover Prog

Review by nick_h_nz
Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

A small disclaimer: I have been a huge fan of The Tea Party since hearing The River from their major label debut, Splendor Solis. That great album was followed by the even greater The Edges of Twilight, which remains a huge highlight of their discography, and the favourite of many of their fans. I loved the Alhambra EP, and I remember being somewhat dismayed and disappointed when I heard the lead single for the following album, Transmission, which heralded quite a change in their sound. I bought the album anyway, though with not much expectation of enjoying it anywhere near as much as that which had come before. But as soon as I let go of the idea that it needed to sound like the previous albums, I realised how much I loved Transmission, and it is probably in my top three Tea Party releases.

The band continued to experiment with their sound over subsequent releases, and as disappointed and dismayed as I had been with Transmission, the band themselves seemed to feel similarly about Seven Circles. The Tea Party went on hiatus, and while the Captain, Jeff Martin, released several interesting and enjoyable albums under various monikers, and Jeff Burrows was part of the supergroup Crash Karma, there was a great deal of interest when The Tea Party reformed. Their reformation album, The Ocean at the End, was released a full ten years after the last, and while it was a good album, it felt slightly tentative to me, and a little less cohesive, a little more disjointed than I would expect. There was swagger, but they didn't seem to have the assurance and confidence I expect from The Tea Party. But if there were any doubts, Blood Moon Rising assuages them from the opening number. The Tea Party are definitely back, and this latest "album" is, in my opinion, one of their best, even if there are no great epics and the songs are all around the radio friendly three to four-minute mark.

So why the inverted commas around album? Well, simply because a great portion of this album was originally released as The Black River EP in 2019 (with the eponymous lead single having been released the year before). The Black River never had a European release, however, so while North American fans get to enjoy a new EP, Sunshower, this year, European fans get the two EPs (from 2019 and 2021) bundled together as an album. So while it may all seem new to some, there will be others (like me) for whom half the album is already quite familiar. I have to admit, I had a great deal of apprehension upon hearing how the two EPs were to be packaged together. As much as I loved The Black River, the last thing I wanted was another album like The Ocean at the End that was full of great songs but which (for me) just didn't hang together. Could the two EPs really make a convincing and cohesive album? The answer is a surprising and resounding affirmative. The track order mixes the tracks of the two EPs together, rather than running one after the other, which just goes to show how well they do mesh. Honestly, if you were unaware that the tracks came from two different releases, I think you'd be very unlikely to notice, and incredibly hard pushed to say which tracks came from which.

The album begins with the eponymous lead single from The Black River EP, and it's an absolute belter. You really couldn't ask for a better track to announce that The Tea Party is back on top form. Even having been familiar with this track for a good three years now, it's still a truly impressive and anthemic song. While there's no denying that a lot of the attraction for this song is how it harks back to those first couple of major label albums, it is a contemporary take on that sound, so it's not purely nostalgia that gives so much enjoyment. But three paragraphs in, and if you're not familiar with The Tea Party, I've not really given any indication of how they sound. So, in a nutshell, even though it can vary between albums, The Tea Party provide a progressive and eclectic mix of folk, blues and rock that beautifully blends influences and instrumentation from both Western and Eastern traditions. Some albums are more acoustically based, and others more industrial and electronic. The music that makes up Blood Moon Rising is more acoustic. The term "Moroccan Roll" was used early on by the media to describe their music, and while it's not a term I particularly agree with, nor think is particularly accurate, I guess it denotes the east/west collision of their music. Throughout their career, they've been compared to Led Zeppelin (the resemblance to whom I've never heard) and The Doors (who I do hear at times, but not often enough for me to compare the bands). In truth, I think they have a sound that is quite unique, and which people find hard to describe, or find adequate comparisons to other bands.

The album continues with the second single from The Black River, which is presented not only in studio form, but later on as a bonus live version. The east/west dichotomy of The Tea Party is stronger in this song than the opening number, and it's another upbeat track. The tempo and mood follows with the following track, being the title track to this year's Sunshower EP. But, as aforementioned, the flow from one EP to the other is seamless, and there is no sense that these tracks come from different releases. This is no doubt helped by the fact that Sunshower shares the same sense of the style of Splendor Solis and The Edges of Twilight. This seems a good time to point out that while the tracks from The Black River EP are presented in the order they originally appeared, the tracks from Sunshower that are interspersed do not appear in the same order as they do on the EP itself. This shows the care and consideration that has been taken in the sequencing, to ensure that this release flows as well as it does. While I originally thought that European fans had been hard done by, when The Black River had no release here, I now feel that we are now luckier than those from over the Atlantic as the two EPs sound so much better together than they do apart. That I'm aware of North American fans willing to pay heavy import and shipping fees to buy the European release shows that we did perhaps get the better deal, even if we had to wait.

Back to the album, and if the first three tracks were reminiscent of the first two major label albums, then the next four are reminiscent of the following two; So Careless and Hole in My Heart the explosive side of Transmission, Our Love and Shelter the introspection of Triptych. Shelter is easily one of my favourite songs from Blood Moon Rising, with its slow but intense vibe. Incidentally, So Careless and Shelter come from The Black River, and Hole in My Heart and Our Love from Sunshower, but again sound as if they were all recorded at the same time, in the same sessions. And if Shelter (from The Black River) provides one of my favourite moments on Blood Moon Rising then Summertime (from Sunshower) provides another. Summertime was chosen as the lead single from Sunshower and it works as well as The Black River did, with anthemic earworm qualities that will keep the tune in your head long after you've stopped listening to it. Summertime opens the Sunshower EP, and you couldn't ask for a more impressive opening salvo, but it would have been completely out of place on Blood Moon Rising had it been the first track from the Sunshower EP. Again, I have to compliment the sequencing of this album.

One of my favourite songs is now followed by one of my least favourites ? the cover of Led Zeppelin's Out on the Tiles. It's not that it's not a good cover, because it is (I'm yet to hear The Tea Party make a bad cover version). I even love the slightly chaotic nature, which is looser than anything The Tea Party has done, surely a homage to the sometimes chaotic and loose playing of Led Zep. This is the one track that doesn't quite fit the album for me (as it didn't quite fit the EP either), and I admit I sometime skip it. But you can't love everything, right? The Beautiful, on the other hand, is the one song on Blood Moon Rising that is reminiscent of the often (unfairly) derided Seven Circles, and it's as beautiful as its title suggests. I love it! The final track of Sunshower is followed by the final track from The Black River, the delicate and gentle Blood Moon Rising (Wattsy's Song). But that's not the nod of this album, as there are three bonus tracks: covers of Joy Division's Isolation, Morrissey's Everyday Is Like Sunday, and a live version of Way Way Down. I'm not generally a fan of bonus tracks, but I love all three of these. Blood Moon Rising has really impressed me. Not only does it never sound like its patchwork nature, but it is probably in my top five favourite The Tea Party albums. That's not something I ever expected from the band this far through their career.

 The Edges Of Twilight by TEA PARTY, THE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.34 | 114 ratings

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The Edges Of Twilight
The Tea Party Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I was lured into listening to this album for two reasons: 1) it has such high ratings and recommendations on ProgArchives and YouTube, and 2) I thought it was an early album of a 21st Century favorite of mine, The Tea Club. (It's not.)

1. "Fire in the Head" (5:06) Steven Wilson/PT with Michael Gira on lead vocals. A little more grunge/metal than SW/PT, thus, influenced by their times. Great two-voice chorus! Really well-crafted, spacious song! Great production. (I'm listening to the re-mastered version.) Sounds like a child of Led Zeppelin ("Kashmir"). Feels like very mature song-craftsmanship. (9.5/10)

2. "The Bazaar" (3:42) North African hand percussion with horn-like guitar bursts into a pretty standard hard rocker. (8.25/10)

3. "Correspondences" (7:28) piano (there are no keyboards cited on the album credits) intro turns into a heavy ballad. It's pretty beautiful--with a great, very beautifully sung vocal. Tension builds at the end of the third minute--fulfilled by the amped up guitars and vocal before a brief instrumental passage with slide (bottleneck?) guitar. The next time we have that buildup isn't until after the next verse, chorus, and instrumental interlude. What a great gravelly voice Jeff Martin has! Nice guitar soli throughout--using three different sounds/guitars for each. Nice but could've rocked out even harder in the crescendo parts. (13.5/15)

4. "The Badger" (3:58) long Scottish bagpipe-like intro with some acoustic guitar picking over the top. Guitar finishes without bagpipes. Really a drawn out guitar interlude. (A little more Led Zeppelin feel here.) (8.75/10) 5. "Silence" (2:51) full-on LED ZEPPELIN opening with Indian lead melody line taken by vocal and mirrored by sustained guitar "horn." Congas and drums. At the two minute mark it goes full on Zep--especially in the rhythm department. (4.5/5)

6. "Sister Awake" (5:43) acoustic guitars strumming (sitar, too) over which Jeff sings slow and deliberately. I keep expecting the music to jump out with some "Over the Hills and Far Away" screams and walls of sound. It kind of does abit at the end of the second minute with a whole mess of hand percussion instruments building up over the wall of acoustic guitars. Then the whole song shifts into rock with a complement of Indian support instruments. The heavy guitars, bass, and driving drum beat definitely brings this East-affected song into the realm of Western rock and roll. A really amazingly well (lovingly) crafted song. (9.25/10)

7. "Turn the Lamp Down Low" (5:16) now to the Memphis blues--even using a little Elvis-like voice stylings. I can tolerate the swampy first half so that we can get to the rollicking, rolling second half. Nice transition! Nice impassioned vocal in the second half, Jeff! Nice Jimmy Page riffing, too! (9/10)

8. "Shadows on the Mountainside" (3:39) Now into the Ozarks. (Can't believe these guys were from Windsor, Ontario, Canada!) Great sound for all of the guitar and vocal tracks--so warm and intimate--and such great playing, chord choices! (8.75/10)

9. "Drawing Down the Moon" (5:26) A guitar-showcasing real blues rocker in the tradition of John Mayall, Robin Trower and even God himself, the Jimi. The vocal starts out a little bit too similar to the previous song, but amp up powerfully for the great chorus. This guitar noodling going on in the background goes from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Don "Buck Dharma" Roeser for the second verse. Wow! What a switch. Then to Jimmy Page & the Zep for the second chorus. What an amazing song! What vision! What balls! Rock 'n' roll does not get much better than this. I love how clear and direct Jeff's guitar playing is--no frilly unintended flashes, all intentional and purposeful. (9.5/10)

10. "Inanna" (3:48) Another East Indian-infused song; not as cheesy as George Harrison, not quite Shakti or other Indian raga-based, but the most Indian music on the album. The vocal is most like that of Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, stylistically. Lots of sitar and other Indian stringed instruments used throughout. (8.75/10)

11. "Coming Home" (5:53) another acoustic guitar-based Led Zeppelin-like song with another Eddie Vedder-like vocal. Love the multiple guitars (including 12-string) in the lead up to the chorus sections. The rest of the song (and lyrics) are just okay. (8.5/10)

12. "Walk with Me" (14:20) great opening--like DEAD CAN DANCE (the hammered dulcimer) with STEVEN WILSON and METALLICA. But after that, it's all pretty routine near-Led Zeppelin stuff--perhaps a bit more spaced out, Petri Walli style. Vocals here remind me of the lead singer for FIELDS of the NEPHILIM (andy Delaney). (26.25/30)

Total Time 67:21

Surprise, surprise! What we have here is a heavily-Eastern India-influenced LED ZEPPELIN-inspired rock band with some very serious compositional and production ideas. I love how thoroughly "finished" each song feels. I gotta admit: this is one of the best albums I've heard to come out of the 90s--so finely crafted. I don't know if the original release is as clean and well produced as the "re-mastered" version I have, but I'm betting it's close. Still so hard to believe they were from just across the river in Windsor!

 The Edges Of Twilight by TEA PARTY, THE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.34 | 114 ratings

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The Edges Of Twilight
The Tea Party Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Take Jim Morrison, put him in front of Led Zeppelin, and stick them in an isolation tank full of bong smoke and early 1990s goth albums and you might end up with something resembling The Tea Party's The Edges of Twilight. Although they don't sound very similar, I kind of think of this crew as being a bit like a Canadian answer to early Porcupine Tree, in the sense that in both cases the artists in question apply some of the production styles and motifs of 1990s indie/alternative rock to a progressive rock agenda, though they are rapidly distinguished from each other by their choice of influences. Porcupine Tree mashed up trippy psychedelia with aspects of trance music and jangle-guitared British indie pop, whereas The Tea Party take the most progressive moments of the Doors and Zep, taken the progginess a few steps further, and give them a Sisters of Mercy sort of aesthetic. It's a weird, weird plan, but somehow it works.
 The Edges Of Twilight by TEA PARTY, THE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.34 | 114 ratings

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The Edges Of Twilight
The Tea Party Crossover Prog

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars 20 Years On: The Tea Party's The Edges of Twilight

It's kinda amazing that this album even exists in a way, let alone exists, and is good. This is a progressive hard rock album, released smack bang in the middle of the 90's, when both progressive rock and hard rock was at its most uninspired and awful. Prog then was either corny Dream Theater clones or corny wannabe 70's revival trite, and hard rock was split between grunge and post-grunge (aka buttrock) and AC/DC-style 'tuff guy' wannabe 70's revival trite. It seems ridiculous that somehow The Tea Party (oh, and these guys are called the [%*!#]in Tea Party) could put out a proggy hard rock record that a) isn't terrible, b) doesn't just sound like Rush, and c) actually is progressive and actually is hard rock is pretty incredible to be honest.

I'm going to say this straight away - this is better than any Rush record. Okay, maybe Moving Pictures tops it, but The Tea Party, at least for me, manage to merge prog and hard rock in a way that doesn't make me cringe internally. This isn't wanky nonsense with a punchier bass to give it a hard rock tag, nor is it dadrock with long songs to give it a prog tag. This is more or less the best progressive hard rock album I have heard, and it came out in 1995.

'Fire in the Head' is an absolute mother[%*!#]er of a song. I do hate using profanities to describe music, but there's simply nothing else that can grasp the balls on this track. From the harmonic- ridden guitar riff to the insane verse groove to the rich, powerful vocal lines, this song has testosterone levels that AC/DC could only dream of, yet does it without ever talking about trucks or intercourse. There's an insatiable swagger to Jeff Martin's voice here, with a very Jim Morrison-esque vibrato to it keeping the song in check. There are no tough-guy manly man-ness vocals of manliness here, because they're too good for that. It's so rich in powerful energy that even a rather campy Rush-styled pre-chorus lick can't pull the balls off it.

But the rest of the album doesn't try to repeat the energy of that track, and it shouldn't. Sure, a full record with the intensity of that song would have been pretty impressive, but it also would have been insanely dull. Despite me describing this as progressive hard rock a number of times, the majority of the album wouldn't exclusively fit in either. When it needs to pull some hard punches, it does, and there are some truly monstrous riffs to be found here, and the 'prog' side is more of a 'it's not generic trite' than a 'it has billions of solos' style of prog. The music here is tastefully written and arranged, which is a rarity for hard-edged rock music, even featuring soft, lengthy, piano led pieces, and a rather impressive acoustic instrumental piece, 'The Badger', focusing brilliantly on the harmonic play that many of the heavy riffs have, but with the acoustic instrument it takes its own form. 'Correspondences' is easily the other standout of the record, perfectly combining softer elements of piano and acoustic guitar with progressive structures and a couple of meaty hard rock riffs coming in its second half.

Jeff Martin's vocals really are the focal point of this album on the whole though, and I'm certain that without his romantic croon, this album would be nowhere near as impressive. He carries the music wonderfully through the album's otherwise pedestrian middle-run, with pretty much every song in this section being decent in one regard or another, often due to Martin alone. And I feel that this is the downfall of The Edges of Twilight. Although within the context of the 90's, this is absolutely brilliant and nearly unheard of - a new band coming in with the sounds of the 70's that actually legitimately sounds great, take this out of context and it's not as incredible. And the same thing goes for its genre. This may be a fantastic progressive hard rock album, but when has progressive hard rock really been fantastic? On the whole it is impressive, and definitely an essential album for any prog fan, but it's not quite as good as I want it to be overall.

7.7

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

 The Ocean At The End by TEA PARTY, THE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.38 | 44 ratings

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The Ocean At The End
The Tea Party Crossover Prog

Review by russellk
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Has it really been nearly ten years? One listen to THE TEA PARTY's 2014 reformation album makes it seem no time at all since they broke up after the bland 'Seven Circles'. And I don't mean that entirely in a good way.

Look, these songs are great. Some are outstanding, and the band certainly take more risks than they were taking in 2005. But - and I am finding this difficult to put into words - there's an oily sheen of rock professionalism all over this album. Perhaps it's the overproduction, but I have the feeling it goes deeper. 'The Black Sea', for example, ought to be a standout, but it falls flat. There's no rough hand reaching out from the speakers and grabbing me around the throat. I am not compelled to listen. We get THE TEA PARTY doing PINK FLOYD on the title track, with a plodding pace, ascending chord sequences and a bitchin' guitar solo. Actually, I like it. 'Like' is about the most they get out of me. Heck, even 'Submission' fails to move me, despite the amazing intro. The only time I did a double-take was at the chilling electronic five-minute outro. They have cleansed this record of anything that might irritate or hook the listener and, in so doing, have rendered it sterile.

And what's JEFF MARTIN done with his voice? He's sounding more and more like JIM KERR these days. (Have a listen to 'Cypher' to hear what I mean.) Now I love KERR's heavily affected voice, and it worked in the context of SIMPLE MINDS' elaborate electronic, pulsing rock of the early 80s ('Sons and Fascination' is one of the best records ever made - ooh look, I'm getting sidetracked). But it just sounds incongruous here. He tickles my ear now, when back then he scorched.

This album's good, make no mistake. But I think the band wanted to do better than good. If so, they're probably a little disappointed.

Was it worth them reforming the band? I'll find out in a couple of weeks' time, when I attend their Canberra gig.

 Seven Circles by TEA PARTY, THE album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.73 | 44 ratings

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Seven Circles
The Tea Party Crossover Prog

Review by russellk
Prog Reviewer

2 stars And so we reach the rather bleak nadir of this compelling band. THE TEA PARTY learned its chops performing LED ZEPPELIN covers. However, by this, their seventh album, they have all the chops in the world but bind them up rather in the manner Chinese women were once forced to wrap their feet. The result is stunted and unbalanced.

And yet. A surfeit of heavy rock riffs still stirs a faint pleasure in me. Stop it, 'Overload'! I don't want to enjoy this; I shouldn't! But - hee hee - it's still fun. 'Writings On The Wall' is a superior hard rocker. The chorus to 'Wishing You Would Stay' is lovely, with the female voice lifting the song out of mediocrity. Listened to in isolation - perhaps as part of one of their earlier albums - these tracks wouldn't be too bad. (Well, 'The Watcher' is pretty bad, really.) But put 'em all together and you have the same result you'd get if you forced Shakespeare to write a script for a Teletubbies episode.

No, 'Seven Circles', I'm going to resist your crude blandishments. You are a sellout, written to get heavy rock radio airplay, and I despise you for that. If I was the charismatic lead singer and had a desire to make more meaningful music I'd leave after such a limp effort - oh look, he did.

 The Interzone Mantras by TEA PARTY, THE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.61 | 41 ratings

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The Interzone Mantras
The Tea Party Crossover Prog

Review by russellk
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A classic case of misleading advertising. One look at the album cover and title and you'd be forgiven for thinking THE TEA PARTY have returned to their glory days of beautiful Eastern melodies. But they have not. These are not mantras. Shiva does not appear as guest vocalist on any track. Drat.

With this album THE TEA PARTY settle firmly into their post-'Transmission' album formula. Really, this review is largely interchangeable with any of their four most recent albums. And that's a shame: there's no surprises left. It happens to virtually every band - but one can hope...

So. Hard rocker to open, a couple of mid-tempo ballads as singles separated by a few stronger (but interchangeable) numbers. After about five or six tracks, pull out a sequence of three excellent tracks lightly dusted in the glamour that made them a candidate for Crossover Prog: a bit of Arabic melody and rhythm, an oud or a sitar or a tambla drum, a flash of LED ZEPPELIN tinsel (there's a guitar figure in 'Angels' that'll arrest your attention if you're a ZEP fan, and 'Must Must' is yet another return to that troubled Himalayan province, you know the one I mean). Save the most progressive track for the end. Result: an album much more Crossover than Prog. Rinse and repeat.

But.

They are so very good at it.

Crunchy riffs (Exhibit A: 'The Master & Margarita'), superb rhythm section (Exhibit B: 'Apathy'). The occasional surprise (the delicious, sumptuous horns in Exhibit B) and outright brilliance (Exhibit C: the entirety of 'White Water Siren', but especially the chorus riff, oooooh) make this an album I play again and again, albeit in reduced form as a 40-minute playlist. Two songs ('Apathy' and 'White Water Siren') make it on to my 50-minute Best Of THE TEA PARTY playlist. Write more of this stuff, guys! To me, all this adds up to a solid three-star album.

But with a more liberal sprinkling of prog dust it could have been so much more.

 Triptych by TEA PARTY, THE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.41 | 49 ratings

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Triptych
The Tea Party Crossover Prog

Review by russellk
Prog Reviewer

2 stars It happens to almost every band eventually. Their repertoire gets large enough that their new songs begin to sound derivative of their old songs. THE TEA PARTY have consciously worked to avoid this since the beginning of their career, but I'm afraid on this album they do not succeed.

'Triptych' is a reasonable album. Musically competent, full of excellent melodies. What it's missing, however, is heart. The songs sound like inferior copies of what's gone before. The #1 Canadian single, 'Heaven's Coming Down', is stripped back soft rock... dare I mention a band called NICKELBACK? This is an abrogation of what makes the band great. This song succeeds only because the passion has been torn out of it. Rock by numbers. MARTIN's great voice is wasted here - in fact, it sounds incongruous, more like TOM JONES than JIM MORRISON. Songs like 'Underground' and 'The Messenger' drift past on a cloud of their own inconsequence. Others ('Samsara', as you'd guess from the title, and 'Halcyon Days') reference the glorious 'The Edges of Twilight' but those days appear to have gone. There's nothing exotic here, nothing searing, nothing propulsive. It's telling that many of the songs fade out. As does the album.

Again I must emphasise that this is not a poor album. But I would genuinely choose to listen to 'Transmission' twice in a row than follow it with this one.

 Transmission by TEA PARTY, THE album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.53 | 46 ratings

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Transmission
The Tea Party Crossover Prog

Review by russellk
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The follow-up to the wildly impressive 'The Edge Of Twilight' is a calculated change of direction. You have to admire a band for opting out of a reprise when their formula has reached its pinnacle. THE TEA PARTY does just that by introducing samples, loops and other techniques garnished from the electronica/IDM scene that was cresting at the time. The result is 'Transmission', an album that continues the band's excellent songwriting and performance.

Unlike their earlier albums, this is a slab of top-quality music with no weaknesses - but fewer strengths also. There's no 'Sister Awake' or even 'Save Me', but there are searing rockers (and I mean searing: 'Temptation', 'Pulse' and 'Gyroscope' stick their fingers in your ears and try to gouge out your eardrums) and intriguing, superbly original tracks, such as the title track. This track begins with electronic feedback overlain by what sounds like a sample of a Jim Jones rant, joined by a thunderous Arabic beat, a Mellotron, an Eastern flute and MARTIN's vocal rasp. The song doesn't take full advantage of such an intriguing beginning (which is a complaint one could levy at most of the tracks on this album) but it is wildly atmospheric and needs to be heard to be believed. To my mind this is exactly what a progressive band needed to do in the 90s - take from the dominant musical cultures to flavour their own work.

And those flavours are stolen without apology. After fifty seconds of exactly what you'd expect, the opening track ('Temptation') is subverted by a pulsing beat one reviewer describes as reminiscent of 'When The Levee Breaks' but is in fact lifted straight from 'Minniapolis' an obscure 1992 Lemon Interupt (later to be Underworld) track. This sot of thing wins my admiration even though it comes at the cost of much of the Arabic/Eastern feel.

In a decade where 'progressive' music was by and large taking place outside normal 'prog rock' circles, it was refreshing to see bands like THE TEA PARTY reinventing themselves.

 Alhambra by TEA PARTY, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1996
4.08 | 7 ratings

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Alhambra
The Tea Party Crossover Prog

Review by russellk
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Issued as a way to keep interest alive after their superb 'The Edges Of Twilight', THE TEA PARTY's 'Alhambra' is an excellent EP and well worth acquiring for any aficionado of the band.

Acoustic-based songs are an important part of the band's repertoire, both on their studio albums and live: in fact, they have toured as an acoustic outfit. This EP offers acoustic versions of some of The Edges Of Twilight's choicest cuts. Indeed, 'Inanna' and 'Turn the Lamp Down' are substantially the better for it - particularly the former, which is slowed down to a pace where the Arabic flavour seeps into your bones. Delicious.

After four acoustic tracks somes the highlight of this release. ROY HARPER guests as vocalist on 'Time' (sorry, Floydian flashback there) and I can see why he was asked - this outstanding song would not have suited a baritone. HARPER's voice sounds excellent, if a little thinner than back in the day, and it is somewhat of a coup for the band to have recruited him. When the glorious chorus arrives, after over two minutes' worth of largely acoustic setup, it is a substantial shock. Genuinely one of the best tracks in THE TEA PARTY's canon.

What to say about the remix of 'Sister Awake', a remake of one of the best tracks in rock? We're better for having it, I suppose, but it's not up there with the original. This is a link between their previous album and the upcoming industrial electronic feel of 'Transmission'. I think this is an excellent example of how a song's arrangement is crucial.

Four stars as an excellent example of what can be achieved in an EP's length. These days I suspect it would be issued as a bonus disk.

Thanks to chris s for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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