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Roger Powell picture
Roger Powell biography
Born 14 March 1949 (San Francisco, USA)

Roger Powell has deep roots in the history of synthesizers. As a one time protege of Robert Moog, and then a synth designer for Arp, and more recently a programmer for Apple, Powell has always been at the forefront in the development of synthesizers and audio software. He even developed one of the first PC MIDI sequencers. His first solo album was released in 1973 on Atlantic records, and from there he soon became a member of Todd Rundgren's band, UTOPIA. While in that band, he created the first hand-held polyphonic synthesizer.
After a break from performing, Powell has in recent years returned to recording and performing live.

::: Evolver :::

Photo by Lois Greenfield

See also: WiKi

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ROGER POWELL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 8 ratings
Cosmic Furnace
3.00 | 5 ratings
Air Pocket
3.00 | 3 ratings
Fossil Poets
0.00 | 0 ratings
Blue Note Ridge

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cosmic Furnace by POWELL, ROGER album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.57 | 8 ratings

Cosmic Furnace
Roger Powell Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A synth´s parade

Roger Powell's credentials are impressive, arena Rock BIG.

Winged by the great Robert Moog, Powell is a synth designer, musician, sound engineer, magazine columnist, programmer for Arp synths and later programmer for Apple, Roger Powell has that perfect balance between talent and showmanship. This same attribute brought him to play alongside "stage monster bands" like UTOPIA and Richie Blackmore´s RAINBOW as Meat Loaf, David Bowie and other stadium acts. Enough with the resume.

This 1973 first solo release goes by the name of "Cosmic Furnace" consisting of 2, 20+- minutes tracks, subdivided in 3 sections each, unconnected, musically speaking, but concieved as a project album.

Composition wise it takes different routes, some with better results than others. It travels the pulse/electronic Berlin school like route, as it can go the funky Jazz "a la Jan Hammer" , other times it takes the "Latin" path, added also by some slow paced piano solo meditations and here and there touches of synth solos in the kind of arena Prog/Rock, of which he was one of the "keyboard player as frontman", "litetarally speaking", pioneers (behind Keith of course).

Now the sad news. More than once his musical songwriting relies too much, or solely, on its super synths' idiosincracies. He over saturates good musical ideas turning them into unattractive pastiches and at the same time making them sound totally predictable.

Disappointing in direct proportion with my expectations. But reality bites and music composition is all that really matters at the end of the day and this album in that regard is highly uneven.

What is great is solid great but what´s not is simply quiet boring. So dissecting this 6 song effort. I sadly report that it goes half and half , making it good but short of essential.

***3 PA stars.

 Air Pocket by POWELL, ROGER album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.00 | 5 ratings

Air Pocket
Roger Powell Progressive Electronic

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars Roger Powell's second solo album was released in 1980, just as Utopia was completing their metamorphosis from a prog outfit to a power pop group. And this album shows us that Powell was a willing participant in that change.

The first side of the album is dominated by three power pop ballads, Landmark, Windows (which also appeared on a Utopia album) and the fantastic Emergency Splashdown. While this album side is good, there is just too much of what Utopia was becoming at the time.

Side 2 of the LP is more like I was hoping for. It's full of beautiful keyboard work, amazing sounds and progressive compositions. If the entire album was like this it would have earned a much higher rating.

 Cosmic Furnace by POWELL, ROGER album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.57 | 8 ratings

Cosmic Furnace
Roger Powell Progressive Electronic

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Roger Powell should be well known to those who love synthesizers. He was a protege of Bob Moog, went on to become a programmer for Arp, and even developed one of the first (if not THE first) portable synthesizers for moving about on stage (Jan Hammer fans most likely saw one of Powell's keyboards in use).

This album was the first of Powell's all too infrequent solo albums. Released in 1973 on the once proud Atlantic Records label, it showcases Powell playing in a style somewhat different than what his fans who know him from his work with Todd Rundgren and Utopia may be used to.

The underlying style, not surprising considering the year it was produced, is similar to what Tangerine Dream was doing at the time, mostly hypnotic swirling synthesized rhythm tracks, with solos on top. But it's in the solos that Powell stands out. He was able, long before the use of samplers, to capture the spirit of guitar and saxophone solos, creating a recognizable sound, while also retaining much of the keyboard feeling as well. I presume this may have had something to do with Rundgren signing him on two years later hor the Utopia project.

I must say that this album has become one of my favorite electronic albums since the day I found it in a record store. I see that it has been released on CD. I must upgrade my copy.

Thanks to Philippe for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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