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ghost_of_morphy View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 17 2008 at 00:32
Lord knows, I would not characterize From Genesis to Revelation as a string of pop songs.  They may have failed at what they were trying to acheive, but pop wasn't their goal.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 17 2008 at 08:44
@ghost_of_morphy: That's what the result sounds like to me, generally, just looking at the frequently repeated choruses, occasional random harmonies, lack of real instrument-time and musical variety within one song. I could well be wrong, and several of the reviews I've seen have described it as more folk. This is one of those times when my lack of general musical knowledge means I may be over-extending the idea of what pop is.

@Micky, Tales has recently received a fairly major turnaround for me, though at first I hated it. Nonetheless, story for a review. Yes'll probably be after Crimson, since I need a lot more listening time to marshall my thoughts about Tales and GFTO.

Anyway, might get a Trespass review up today, since I'm in a productive mood. Probably going to add a spoilered list of reviews done in the first post and individual post links for each of them, largely because of OCD.

Edit: need subjects.


Edited by TGM: Orb - February 17 2008 at 08:45
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 18 2008 at 18:09

Review 8, Trespass, Genesis, 1970


StarStarStarStar

A stunning progressive album, probably second (and maybe first) for me out of all of the classic period Genesis' efforts (behind SEBTP), even though it's not yet the 'classic' line-up. Here Gabriel's voice has taken on a soul-piercing edge that's never quite been rivaled (for me, at least) by his later vocals, Philips' guitar shifts between powerful and driving to the interplay characteristic of later Genesis. Banks has stepped up his choice of instruments and uses piano, organ or mellotron to fit the piece and the idea. Mayhew's drumming seems to be looked down upon, but I enjoy it anyway, and the production isn't great, but is good enough for me, as a non-audiophile. Lastly, a word for Mike Rutherford's bass and acoustics, which are great throughout.

Looking For Someone opens with moody organ and emotional vocals, moving up into searing guitar and drumming, perfectly conveying the search for order and meaning in the excellent lyrics. Banks' piano and organ are brilliantly used. The changes in mood are perfectly executed, and the use of the flute is better and more energetic here than on any other Genesis album. Perhaps the real charm (for me) of this album and this song in particular is that the music and lyrics actually evoke their subjects for me.

White Mountain was one of the two pieces responsible for getting me into Genesis (the other being One For The Vine), and from the mellotron-and-acoustic opening it really drags you into the cold, clear atmosphere it describes, reflecting both the adrenaline of the chase and the beauty, yet savagery of the environment. The drumming feels right, the organ touches are powerful, yet never too dominant, and Gabriel's voice is (again) unique, powerful and expressive, and the bleak and almost mourning ending doesn't break this. Classic song.

Visions of Angels does have choruses, but it's certainly not a pop song. Musically, it's the weakest track here, in my opinion, but emotionally it does as much for me as the others. The verses are beautiful, haunting and yet feel quite sharp, the lyrics are surreal and gripping ('Ice is moving and the world's begun to freeze/See the sunlight stopped and deadened by the breeze'), and for me, a very personal experience. Gabriel's vocal here is (just me talking) his best ever, the quiet mellotron moments are beautiful. The chorus, however, is just not at the same standard (perhaps 'too bombastic' or 'too frivolous' are the words to use. It's not bad in itself, but after the emotional build-up, it seems a bit blunt and unimaginative), and I've never been a huge fan of using harmonies in a chorus. It's an amazing song for me if I can switch off and listen purely on an emotional level, but I can't help occasionally thinking that the chorus on this is the moment that lets down the entire album.

Stagnation is long, and has relatively few vocals, which means that it takes a while to get used to, but I've at last acquired it, and I now actually really enjoy it. Again, the concept is pretty clear, intelligent and enjoyable, the lyrics are good, the vocals are good, and the changes are all done superbly. All of the components are good, but the end result, the haunting atmosphere and powerful music, is a real stunner. There's a lot of the guitar interplay that's present on The Musical box, the keyboards are generally clean and melodic, but vary a lot throughout the song, the drumming essentially takes a back seat here, except in the more 'rock' sections. One of the most forgotten prog epics, and one of the best.

Dusk is a quieter, shorter track with definite folk leanings, a mixture of Gabriel's voice and a harmony as the main , and a combination of guitars and chimes leading the music. After a couple of minutes of this, there's a minute of instrumental middle section which really doesn't hit the heights of the rest of this album, with atmospheric flute at one point. Thankfully, the return to the vocals prepares for a better end. This seems to be one of those pieces where (despite not being bad) the quality and variation really comes from the presence of the vocals and lyrics. Great, but not perfect.

The Knife. What to say? An absolute beast which leaves me wanting more. I almost wish that Genesis had explored the hard rock style evident here a little more. Gabriel's voice is gripping and powerful, perfectly exploring the strong lyrics. Rutherford's bass is superb. The distorted guitar riffs and organ work together in a mind-blowing fashion, with Mayhew's drums basically providing a backbone for the opening. A stunning first section moves into an inquisitive quiet part with excellent bass, guitar and flute, and occasional percussion in the background. Philips' guitar introduces the 'We are only wanting freedom' line, which is repeated to add even more power and tension and the screaming and background sirens really evoke the idea of revolution, of anger, of adrenaline. If there's a song that puts me in the mind of a battle, this is it. The build-up is amazing, the conclusion is powerful, and I even enjoy the much-maligned drumming: this song is a full-on hard/prog rock masterpiece.

Emotionally and personally, this album is a flawless five star. The ideas stand out, and the music essentially conveys them perfectly. Unfortunately, Visions of Angels and Dusk don't, for me, really stand up to scrutiny as masterpiece material. I love them when I'm not trying to pick holes in them, which is usually, but that's what distinguishes an amazing four star album from something I'd label as a general masterpiece.

-----------------------------------------------------

Perhaps I didn't really go into the songs musically that much here, but this is an album where (for me) the music merges with the lyrics and concepts. Listening to it, I tend to just drift off into the soundscapes, rather than thinking about how the music acts on them.

Anyway, anyone particularly love/hate Trespass? Is there someone out there who agrees with my near-heretical opinion that Trespass is Gabriel's vocal peak?

Nursery Cryme up next. It is quite possible that the review might just be a verbal approximation of the organ-and-guitar duet on The Musical Box typed out in an overenthusiastic manner.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 18 2008 at 20:32
Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

@ghost_of_morphy: That's what the result sounds like to me, generally, just looking at the frequently repeated choruses, occasional random harmonies, lack of real instrument-time and musical variety within one song. I could well be wrong, and several of the reviews I've seen have described it as more folk. This is one of those times when my lack of general musical knowledge means I may be over-extending the idea of what pop is.

@Micky, Tales has recently received a fairly major turnaround for me, though at first I hated it. Nonetheless, story for a review. Yes'll probably be after Crimson, since I need a lot more listening time to marshall my thoughts about Tales and GFTO.

Anyway, might get a Trespass review up today, since I'm in a productive mood. Probably going to add a spoilered list of reviews done in the first post and individual post links for each of them, largely because of OCD.

Edit: need subjects.


call me a dipsh*t.. or maybe it is just me.. but always saw FGtR as more than a meer pop album. Maybe not prog...  maybe that is what sort of took for me and made it far more interesting than any of their albums. This group has never ...consistantly done much for me.  Outside of SEbtP. Which is shear brilliance.. the rest... hit and miss.. .like the album you just reviewed Trespass.  Great opener.. great closer.. the stuff in between just is not noteworthy in the least .

I am not a fan... as such maybe I look upon it with clear eyes. We all see our favorites with something less than objective eyes.  Hell.. you should listen to some of the Battiato albums I love and adore. If I suggested them to you...you paid money for it...  you'd frickin run my drawers up the flagpole then kick my skinny white ass hahhaha. To me.. .I identify with the artist.  Thus becomes something more than just the music itlself. But isn't that what it is ALL about.. how the artist   and music relates to you personally. Thus impossible to dispassionately rate or critique.


As far as Tales....  glad to hear the change in heart.  It is one of the albums that it is so easy to hate.. or not appreciate. The word of mouth of it is... well.. not exactly positive.  However listening to it with open ears and mind. shows.. as my review tried to point out... an album that is prog in ways far above many other albums.. then.. and still today. A landmark album.  On par with 'In the Court' for progression of the prog genre.  In fact.. I've heard it said. the day Tales was released.. prog.. mainstream prog.. topped out. and became more a 'genre'  rather than an actually movement to push the boundries.  You really couldn't push the envelope more than Yes did with that album.  Forgetting suggestions of padding... or that Wakeman hated it  for all that matters.  That album is simply one of the 4 or 5 albums that encapsulates everything about prog.


Edited by micky - February 18 2008 at 20:34
[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 20 2008 at 18:08

Review 10, Nursery Cryme, Genesis, 1971

Another very strong album with weak moments, and a mixture of progressive giants (The Musical Box & The Fountain of Salmacis), interesting softer pieces (Harlequin & For Absent Friends) and a couple of lighter more amusing ones (Return of the Giant Hogweed & Harold The Barrel). With Collins on the drums and Hackett on guitar, the classic line-up is complete, and the use of Collins' vocal skills on The Musical Box and Harlequin is inspired.

The Musical Box is my favourite Genesis song, from the hypnotic acoustic interplay of the opening to the final flourish it stands out. The lyrics are 100% Gabriel's style: innovative, somewhat fantastical and very refreshing. The opening is a relatively delicate acoustic thing, with the vocals done by Gabriel and Collins (with possibly the rest of them) providing harmonies and additional vocals throughout. After the first 'Play me my song...here it comes again' chorus, it moves into another slightly more complete acoustic part with more flute, building up to a repeat of the 'Play me my song...here it comes again'. Suddenly, Hackett's guitar and then a powerful organ riff. Dominant drums, cymbal clashes, a shriek, amazing guitar solo, and suddenly quieter again, yet keeping all the build-up and power. How the hell do you make something like that? Gabriel's vocals enchant and drive the song at this point with music essentially provided to support him him, and then the power returns, the guitar bursts into control, the drums break loose, yet stay perfectly under control. Everything continues to build up, and then turns quiet again, seamlessly, delicate guitars, counter-harmonies mesh with Gabriel possessively, and then the organ returns. Almost church-organ, this time, building up and driving in cooperation with the drums, the song's concept builds to its climax (“Now now now now now!”, Hackett slowly works his way into the mix, ending up with a part every bit as dominant as those already there, and the finale is somehow enough to end this amazing song with absolutely no feelings of disappointment. As you may have guessed, my obsession with this is unhealthy. Both very prog and very rock. I love it. Also, it's a great song for air organ...

For Absent Friends is a short, quiet song, with a soothing vocal from Collins and tasteful acoustic guitar interplay. Lovely.

Return Of The Giant Hogweed is perhaps the best example of how Genesis shifts between brilliant and unconvincing to me. The concept is utterly silly, which works quite well, but I generally don't like the vocals. Hackett shifts between frequent additions over the top, and a nice fuzzy guitar . Similarly, Banks here is difficult to stomach, since his organ additions shift between brilliant background work and a gaudy form of dominant bombastic vaguely Rush-like thing that becomes repetitive throughout the course of the song. In the end, it seems that Banks is responsible for both the great and the annoying sections of the track, with his piano making the second half of the instrumental section and leading up to the great end, and his over-the-top organs being too much for me.

Seven Stones has a very strong mellotron-and-bass start, with vaguely folk-ish lyrics about the vagaries of fortune (sound like Banks lyrics to me, but I'm not sure), tasteful bass, excellent drumming from Collins, a powerful chorus with a soulful vocal. Very good solos from banks, good flute parts, memorable keyboards throughout. Hackett's contributions are pretty typical of his style: not dominant in the mix, but always adding something special. A very good track.

Harold The Barrel is great fun for me. What I think is Hackett sounds more like a sax than a guitar, Banks' piano shifts between amusing to a prettier, more reflective tone at the right moments. Collins fits in perfectly, moving between standard beat-drumming to something a little more energetic whenever he can. The bass additions are great, and the mixture of Gabriel's sarcasm and vocal dexterity and the harmonies and the various vocal effects. Probably my favourite of the lighter, supposedly humorous Genesis pieces.

Harlequin is something different again, a very moving Gabriel-and-Collins duet with surreal lyrics and some subtle vocal interplay, the acoustic part changes frequently, and has a lot more direction, in my mind, than that on Dusk, while Hackett's few additions on the electrics are perfect. In my mind, an experimental and enjoyable piece, which grows on me with every listen. An unsung masterpiece.

The Fountain Of Salmacis is another progressive beast, though in a different vein to the album's opener, not necessarily less of a rocker, but somewhat more sweeping and grandiose, with more vocal effects and a more consistent style compared to The Musical Box's build-up. It begins with the keyboard theme of the piece, fading out into a lush soundscape and a bass-and-Gabriel-backed vocals with a mythical theme. Mellotron chords or melodies changing constantly in the background, occasional Hackettry, vocal effects that drive home the theme, powerful guitar and keyboard solos and a surprisingly effective expression of the two-part conversation, the story, the battle of wills between Hermaphroditus and Salmacis, and the final merged creature. A powerful emotional and musical triumph.

The end result of this album is an extremely good impression after every listen, and though I'm reluctant to allow my third-favourite album by a group, and one with a large, weaker song, the fifth star, I have to admit that the overwhelming majority of great material is a match for Selling England By The Pound and Trespass. Furthermore, I keep finding new aspects of the music, or noticing effects and background parts that I didn't really notice before, something not evident on Trespass. Although on a personal level, Trespass and Selling England By The Pound touch me much more deeply, they don't really challenge me as a listener like Nursery Cryme does.

Rating: Five Stars (the extended flaw that is Return Of The Giant Hogweed has some great moments, and there are, in my mind, four six-star tracks here)

Favourite Track: The Musical Box


--------------------------

Essentially, I'd say, a fifth star from me (ignoring pre-ITTTW reviews) comes from two things, challenging me as a listener beyond simply showing the skill of the group, or producing a flawless, consistently great album which gets better on each listen. For me, at least, Nursery Cryme is an example of the former, and Selling England By The Pound of the latter. Larks' Tongues In Aspic is, I think, the only example of both that I've heard so far.
---------------------------

Any comments on this one?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 20 2008 at 19:47
Nice review Clap... another album like Trespass for me...  loved the first song. and the last one.. and rest did nothing for me.
[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 24 2008 at 10:02

Review 11, Foxtrot, Genesis, 1972

StarStarStarStar

This is a rare example of an album where the tracks are divided very neatly into songs that I love and songs that I hate. Even after many listens spent trying to acquire the supposed greatness of Watcher of the skies and get past that hollow percussion sound on the chorus of Time Table, I still don't think of them as anything more than mediocre, or even annoying. Nonetheless, there are three absolutely classic prog songs on here, taking up most of the album, as well as a decent classical guitar solo from Hackett, and it'd be stupid to miss them.

The general consensus here seems to be that the thick mellotron opening of Watcher Of The Skies is majestic. Unfortunately, it goes on much too long for me, and then launches into something of much the same vein: lots of seemingly random components just thrown together with a couple of highlights. Gabriel's voice and style carries the song's softer 'From life alone...to life as one...think not now your journey's done' sections superbly, but when he's rushing to fit ten words into a second, it's hard to appreciate it, particularly when the lyrics don't seem that brilliant. I don't get lots of the changes from Hackett's screeching guitar to more organ, and the tune as a whole seems a little poorly constructed. That said, after about six minutes with vocals and mellotron opening left behind, it soars up into a powerful, trademark Genesis tune, with a great crescendo ending.

Time-Table has two features that annoy me: one is that annoying hollow sound on the first why of the chorus. Literally three notes on a random barely-featured instrument that manage to wreck an otherwise perfectly acceptable short song. WHY?! Secondly, the vocals are a bit more of a mixed bag than I expect from Gabriel. Not poor, per se, but it doesn't seem like the lyrics or style of the chorus fit him very well. I have to say that every other feature of the tune is excellent, but those two obscure all of the others. Ugh.

Get Em Out By Friday is one of the best, in my opinion. The perfect combination of riffs and musical changes, with tapping, militaristic drumming that suits the concept perfectly, a crisp, ferocious bass sound, dark, fluid organ and the best example of Peter Gabriel's ability to voice multiple roles in one song while still sounding very Peter Gabriel. Superb, somewhat sarcastic lyrics about an interesting reversal of the traditional genetic control to produce super-humans idea, with haunting echoes that haven't yet grown old on me. Not to mention, great shifts between guitar not-quite-solos and atmospheric additions. The instrumental middle section is powerful and tense, and its quietude doesn't actually remove any of the force that has been built up before it. The shift back to the story is handled perfectly, atmospheric chatter and all, and the ending no less so. Masterpiece. Probably my favourite moment for the Genesis rhythm section.

Can Utility And The Coast Liners is also brilliant, from the guitar interplay with added keyboards, occasional taps on percussion and Gabriel's voice on the opening to a mocking, not louder, but more powerful section to the beautiful mellotron-drums-and-guitar trio and a searing vocal ('but he forced a smile even though his hopes lay dashed where offerings fell.../Where they fell!') back to a slightly more flippant section, to another even more flippant section in the space of ten seconds, to the vocals' return, with a guitar echoing Gabriel skilfully to a random and mostly unrelated end section. Musically, this just won't stay still, and that's part of the charm. A six-minute song which is as complex and intricate as many of the much-lauded 10-20 minute epics. Occasionally I wish the stunning mellotron-guitar-drums section would last longer, but that's about it.

Horizons is a charming classical guitar solo piece from Hackett, which both fits quite nicely as a break in the album's mellotron-heavy work, and as an enjoyable listen in its own right.

Supper's Ready is another masterpiece, in my opinion, though views about it seem strongly polarised. The guitar interplay is taken to another level on the opening here, while the developing keyboards are managed very tactfully, as backing, but as an integral component nonetheless. Gabriel's lone vocals, as well as the duets with Collins, are handled soulfully, individually and originally. The occasional harmonies are very strong, and the throwbacks to the main theme of the song during connecting sections are handled very well, switching into diverse styles without a hitch. The Hackett-and-Banks combination on Ikhnaton and Itsacon and their band of merry men is particularly brilliant, and manages to both be great music and sustain and advance the concept. Through a fade, this moves on to How Dare I Be So Beautiful, which really displays how much emotion Gabriel can put into a vocal, even when only backed by a shimmering mellotron.

A Flower? And then it shifts to the bizarre Willow Farm, with a surprisingly intricate combination of instruments, including a few moments on the piano, for such a seemingly light and flippant song. But the real darkness is underneath this, the biting 'You've been here all the time/Like it or not, you've got what you've got/You're under the soil' completely changes the song's feel. It seems to me like the band is expressing both lyrically and musically an illusion of innocence over a much darker reality. Thought-provoking stuff.

Apocalypse in 9/8 turns up after some echoes of earlier themes. The bass-and-drumming backbone with occasional additions over the top is enjoyable, and the vocals are perfect, though it really only

takes off as it continues escalating up and up, building more and more musical savagery to powerful cymbal clashes, driving organ and more vocals...then it slowly shifts back to positive bells and drumming crescendo 'And it's...hey babe'. The final section Sure As Eggs Is Eggs section is perfect, with Hackett's guitar unleashed, amazing drum-work from Collins and optimistic vocals and lyrics. Overall, I think that this song is more connected that it's generally given credit for, a genuine, excellent epic, and a great way to annoy die-hard Relayer fans.

If you don't own this album, you should almost certainly get it, since it'll allow you to vote in those 'greatest epic' polls with Supper's Ready by making ad florem attacks or dribbling like a true Genesis fan. Furthermore, you'll then own another 3/4 of a masterpiece album. Not recommended for those new to Genesis, just because I personally found it very difficult to get past the first couple of songs.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: Get 'Em Out By Friday

----

OK, I need to get my old Foxtrot review (and a couple of King Crimson reviews) deleted so I can beam this one up. Any particular views on Foxtrot? Is anyone sure of what that hollow tapping sound on the first 'why?' chorus of Time Table is?



Edited by TGM: Orb - February 24 2008 at 10:02
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 28 2008 at 18:37
In the absence of a SEBTP review today, because I'm trying to make sure I express it *just* right, I'm going to mention a few samples I've been listening through while waiting for my next load of CDs to finally turn up. Unfortunately, this means that I compulsively need to buy a few more albums as soon as my new ones arrive.

Five tracks I've particularly enjoyed:

Toccata (Live from Welcome Back My Friends...) - ELP
Here
I have to admit that I've overlooked live albums, generally. Listening to this and a live In The Cage version has enlightened me. The album's on my next shopping list.

Stratosfear - Tangerine Dream
Here
Heavily synthesised music usually isn't my thing, but I found this track in particular very compelling.

Arcturus
Here
Usually the big turn-off of prog metal for me is the random growling seemingly endemic of the genre. I randomly went over to the extreme prog metal genre, and clicked on a random album from the top 20. A pleasant surprise, and perhaps a couple of masterpiece songs there, though I'd need to listen more to make a final judgement.

Peaches En Regalia - Frank Zappa
Here
I admit I've previously just looked at Zappa's discography and thought 'what the Hell?!', and sort of classed him in my mind as a niche artist for a few rabid fans. I'm very happy to be proved wrong here. Great jazz-rock. Album on shopping list.

Space Shanties - Khan
Here
Wow. Just wow. Blame Chameleon's excellent 'Beyond The Land Of Grey And Pink' article for this one.


Edited by TGM: Orb - February 28 2008 at 18:38
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 02 2008 at 15:39

Review 12, Selling England By The Pound, Genesis, 1973

StarStarStarStarStar

If there's an album that represents England, this is it. Nostalgia, sarcasm and biting dark atmosphere stand side by side, augmented by (in my opinion) some of the most impressive Genesis lyrics. An absolutely essential and flawless album, and one you should instantly go out and buy if you don't already own it.

'Can you tell me where my country lies?' Gabriel's lone vocal opens the enchanting Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, a song about the search for and loss of identity. Musically perfect, with Collins on drums and the Hackett-Rutherford guitar interplay especially standing out. All eight minutes are outstanding. The stunning, original lyrics take it to another level, and really bring out the tragic and satirical concept.

I Know What I Like is a great, entertaining, light-hearted pop-based song. Magical drumming and good bass here, as well as enjoyably random synths. Perhaps too many pop elements for some people, but it suits me just fine.

The Banks-penned Firth of Fifth is stunning. Great piano solo, great guitar part, great use of various keyboards, good bass part, great vocals, good lyrics and absolutely stunning, original drumming from Collins. At times powerful, at times whimsical, at times moving, very fluid and altogether brilliant. Ten minutes of sheer brilliance.

I actually love More Fool Me, a melancholy ballad sung mainly by Collins (with one or two harmonies) with emotional acoustic guitar and lyrics which suit it perfectly. Perhaps not for every prog-man, but I prefer it to anything on A Trick Of The Tail.

The Battle For Epping Forest is a bright and cheerful account of a gang war, with occasionally amusing and generally tolerable lyrics and Gabriel really letting himself go with the vocals. A mixture of inane cockney accents, which you either will or won't like, musical sarcasm and the general excellence present on the rest of the album. I've grown to enjoy it, though I was dubious at first, but I suspect that this is one of those songs where the experience is different for each listener.

After The Ordeal is, in my opinion, one of the finest brief instrumentals ever, beginning with the best guitar-and-piano interplay I've yet heard and a few taps on the tambourine. As it moves to a slightly more polyphonic track, with a great drum entrance by Collins and organ, flute and synths all making some sort of appearance, there's a gorgeous guitar solo.

The Cinema Show is basically an exercise in going from soft to equally soft but somehow louder to softer so subtly that the listener barely notices. The Gabriel-Collins duet on vocals is great, and there's trademark soloing by Hackett and Banks, as well as great drumming. One of those songs which is mostly indescribable if you haven't already heard it.

To round off the album, we have possibly one of the best conclusions in the history of prog rock. The brief Aisle Of Plenty is essentially a reprise of part of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight with a brilliant fade. The perfect conclusion to a perfect album.

Rating: Five Stars

Favourite Track: After The Ordeal

---------------------

Not sure I've quite expressed myself as I meant to, and a shorter review than the previous two. Really, I just didn't know quite what to add to the long list of reviews that were already there, but I didn't want to spend more time waiting on an album that I was 100% certain on the rating of and why I liked it that much. Plus, I wanted to get it back above TAAB :p

Nonetheless, I'm looking forwards to reviewing The Lamb, since it'll be nice and easy by comparison.

Edit: Almost forgot

Week whatever, Albums reviewed: Foxtrot - Genesis (4 stars), Selling England By The Pound - Genesis (5 Stars)

Album of the Week -
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Genesis
I've finally managed to 'get' the more psychy instrumental pieces.

Song of the Week -
Down The Dolce Vita - Peter Gabriel
Completely addictive. Amazing song. I'm listening to it compulsively at the moment.

Random Fact, because I can, -
I only enjoy Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb outside of the context of The Wall.


Edited by TGM: Orb - March 02 2008 at 16:06
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 03 2008 at 00:44
Is it too late to comment on Asia? Truth be told, shallow reactionary reviews aside, I can say from seeing them live in 06 that things weren't as impressive as could possibly be-- from a simple very-high-quality prog standpoint. Great energetic show, and great show by most standards, of course. And, too, when Palmer and Howe got their free moments, let's say I've yet to experience anything like it! (except for perhaps Tarkus for the first time on cd) With that said though, the lack of subtlety was a major turnoff.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 03 2008 at 16:22
Originally posted by MoreBarlow MoreBarlow wrote:

Is it too late to comment on Asia? Truth be told, shallow reactionary reviews aside, I can say from seeing them live in 06 that things weren't as impressive as could possibly be-- from a simple very-high-quality prog standpoint. Great energetic show, and great show by most standards, of course. And, too, when Palmer and Howe got their free moments, let's say I've yet to experience anything like it! (except for perhaps Tarkus for the first time on cd) With that said though, the lack of subtlety was a major turnoff.


It's never too late to comment on Asia Wink. I can understand where you're coming from, but I'm not sure that they'd have reached the same heights in a different style if they'd gone in a more progressive and more subtle direction. I just don't know, though. I admit I might have over-hyped it a little in my review, while foaming at the mouth from seeing it rated lower than Alpha, but I still love it. One of those albums, like Caress of Steel or Trespass, where I can see the flaws, but most of them don't annoy me that much.

Also, relating to that:

I got the later Asia album Arena a week ago, after being thoroughly disappointed by Alpha. I was quite impressed by it, and it's got some great 'crossover'y moments on The Day Before The War and U Bring Me Down, as well as some enjoyable relatively plain eighties-sounding rock with an individual atmosphere, and good instrumentals. Admittedly Heaven and Never have some fairly weak moments, and I miss Palmer, but an encouraging 3 star album, imo.

Also related, new album coming out soon from the original line-up, soon. Could be interesting, and some of the samples sounded good.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 08 2008 at 13:56

Review 13, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Genesis, 1974

StarStarStarStar

Because four great albums weren't enough for Genesis. A very interesting change in format took place between Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb. There are no really extended songs, although The Colony Of Slippermen and In The Cage are reasonably long, some of the songs move into psychedelic and ambient territory and the album has a much more American feel than anything Genesis had previously done; lastly, the excellent lyrics are always related to the concept, and are often narrative. On the minus side of these developments, I feel that fades are overused, when they aren't generally needed or feel out of place. Overall, an album that is on a par with other Gabriel-era efforts, and certainly not to be missed.

Beginning with a supple piano solo, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is very much representative of the album as a whole. Brief, with compelling drums and a great lead bass part, Hackett sounding suspiciously like a piano (!), clever, small background additions to give it more depth, diverse sections, musical foreshadowing of the later Carpet Crawlers. Great, biting lyrics and vocals from Gabriel, and an acceptable fade.

'There's something solid forming in the air'. Soulful guitar and vocals leads into the powerful, gripping Fly On A Windshield, with Hackett, Banks' and Collins driving right past the ears and into the brain. Intelligent, constructed, and brilliantly-delivered lyrics from Gabriel here. An absolutely stunning track. The highlight for disc 1, and one of Collins' best drum performances. The beautiful Broadway Melody of 1974 is tacked onto the end of this.

Cuckoo Cocoon is decent, but doesn't really stand out. Does what it was intended to do, lyrically and psychologically, and prepares neatly for the driving In The Cage, but doesn't really go beyond it. Also has a weird slightly delayed guitar sound that doesn't work that greatly here. Not bad, but unexceptional.

In The Cage. What to say? No doubt the most widely-favoured track of the album, with a moving bass-and-vocals opening, leading to a driving, powerful keyboard riff, with good lyrics, occasional changes in mood to heavier or more serious-sounding sections, and then to lighter, more frivolous sections and back again. A very strong song, and vital for those who consider Banks' solos and Gabriel's voice the highlights of Genesis.

The Grand Parade of Lifeless packaging is brief, enjoyable, random, mostly mindless music, with a heavy focus on the chaotic distortion by Brian Eno. Acceptable, but not my thing.

Back In New York City is essentially a relatively normal song. Fairly weak, but probably concept-crucial lyrics, near-punk vocals from Gabriel, and a generally amusing main theme, though it gets a bit repetitive after a while. The chorus is great, catchy and quirky, much like Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath: embarrassing to sing along to, but I can't help it.

Hairless Heart is a beautiful quiet instrumental, led by Hackett (acoustic + electric guitar) and Banks (mainly synths), with Collins providing an appropriate drum beat.

Counting Out Time is, in my opinion, the funniest (though not the best) of the Genesis humourous songs, with a pretty amusing concept and lyrics, whimsical music (held up by a guitar riff and bass) and a hilarious guitar solo. Gabriel's tentative, questioning vocal fits the song perfectly, and the harmonies/fade on 'Without you mankind handkinds through the bluuues...' are delightful every time.

Carpet Crawlers simply doesn't interest me at all. I like the piano tune, I like the music, I like the vocals, but I don't like the song. I don't know why, but it leaves me absolutely cold every time, and occasionally even annoys me. Still, one of the widely liked songs on the album, and perhaps would be the highlight for any ATOTT fan.

The Chamber Of 32 Doors begins with a great solo from Hackett, and superb drumming from Collins, though most of the song is dominated by Gabriel's vocals, Banks' piano and the bass. There are some beautiful lyrics here, 'I'd give you all of my dream...if you'd help me find the door...that doesn't lead me back again...take me away.'. A superb conclusion to the first CD.

The second disc opens with a nice, somewhat explosive pop-rock tune, Lily-white Lillith. Great harmonies, powerful music, a bit of Hackettry, good lush keyboards from Banks, great vocals, and a good echo of the Broadway Melody of 1974 on the end.

The Waiting Room is certainly psych rock, though other tracks on the album and the way the album's constructed as a whole have a psych-y feel to them. A gradual progression with tingling, orderless percussion, screeches on the guitar and synths, with several themes being dabbled with and developed or dropped, explosions and an emergence into a full band piece, which continues to develop and shine. Complete and utter chaos, and something that took me a while to acquire in context, but completely my thing.

Anyway is my highlight for the second CD, with a gorgeous piano part courtesy of Banks, Gabriel's searing, echoey vocals, strong, original lyrics, relating to delirium and death. The sprawling piano on the instrumental break in the middle leads to a truly stellar guitar solo from Hackett and then returns to the main theme with added synths (or possibly guitar that sounds like synths), more vocals, percussion and some organ.

The Supernatural Anaesthetist is essentially Hackett on the loose, with Banks and Rutherford shadowing him. There are a few vocals on the start. An interesting combination of ways to play guitar, and the narrative (see the CD booklet) comment on the events taking place is absolutely priceless.

The Lamia is a soft multi-part song, showcasing Gabriel's vocals and lyrics (beautiful and at the same time advancing the story) and Banks' piano and keys, though Collins and Hackett are both very important in places, and the drumming stands out. A real grower, and a standout track on an excellent album.

Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats is interesting, with some more of that tingly percussion, a single repeated slow riff at various volumes, choral additions (probably done with some sort of synth, I guess) and interesting overlaid music.

The Slippermen begins with a minute and a half of seemingly random psychedelic noodling, and then dims to prepare for the most surprisingly explosive 'bubbity-bub' in the history of rock, followed by an extensive, silly song with great solos on keyboards, some well-concealed additions on guitar, great, eclectic drumming and addictive riffs. Superb vocals from Gabriel, with lots of small harmonies, and whimsical lyrics. A great fade here, and absolutely seamless music. Really good fun to listen to, and the weirdness hasn't grown old on me yet.

Ravine is a somewhat darker continuation of the Silent Sorrow... idea, with the same riff, but very different in its sound.

The Light Dies Down On Broadway is an echo of the album's opener, and absolutely great, with a compelling drum performance. More great vocals, and very strong lyrics (IIRC, from Collins, here). Good organ from Banks, and an enjoyable bass part.

The somewhat dancy Riding the Scree is an oddity, with a great rhythm section (Collins sounds like he's crossed himself with Mike Giles), blaring soloist keyboards, and a nice vocal. Great stuff.

In The Rapids is opened by Hackett, who's a strong presence throughout, together with Gabriel. Rutherford twangs on the bass once or twice, while Collins adds his own style. Essentially an atmospheric lead-up to It.

'It' has very catchy music, and great vocals, with lyrics that only really make any sense in context, but are still enjoyable. Fairly memorable performances from everyone involved, and the synth screech moving to the guitar riff is great. A good closer to the album.

All in all, a very strong four star effort, though it may take more time to get the same position of pride as other Genesis albums. Completely atypical of Genesis at the time, but nonetheless highly enjoyable, with a great mixture of styles. Perhaps too great a mixture of styles for the band's own good, since it seems unlikely that everything on the album will appeal to the average listener. Two discs of great material, and worth getting even at the price.

Favourite Tracks: Fly On A Windshield (disc one), Anyway (disc two)

Rating: Four stars

----

*coughcoughcoughsomuchbetterthanTheWallcough*

Oddly, coming back to Genesis, it seems that I've become fairly Collins-centric in my way of thinking, whereas previously I was a through-and-through Hackett fanboy. Really, I'd never previously thought of how important the guy's drumming on Selling England... and The Lamb is to those albums, though I've always liked it. I'm currently thinking out a self-indulgent essay about how rediscovering a couple of things with a more 'analytical' mind recently (most notably Court and early Genesis) has been, so I might post that here if I like it (not so likely).

Well, that's the Gabriel era done. Anyone here have particularly extreme views on The Lamb?

Also, feel free to lay into my reviews, I'm beginning to get lonely in here Tongue


Edit: Interesting, apparently I actually submitted that embarrassing review I wrote earlier about The Lamb, after far too few listens and with absolutely no real analysis, which goes mostly against what I said in my new and shiny review. Ah well, same rating, so I'll wait until I want to replace a few more at the same time to get it deleted. Um. The album was a little acquired for me.

Edit edit: My god, did I really call 'Lilywhite Lillith' fairly heavy? What the Hell was I on?

Edit edit edit: At least I got in a cheap shot at The Wall in the old review.


Edited by TGM: Orb - March 08 2008 at 14:08
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 08 2008 at 16:43
you know.. this album NEVER ...ever took to me ... and I really have tried... but this is an album I gave up upon.. probably haven't listened to it in at least 2 years.   I'll give it another spin tonight after I toss off some reviews of my own.  Now that [email protected] has let me do my voodoo again... and let me log on... have some reviews to catch up with. 

you do write a great  album review though... looking forward to seeing you tackle more obscure stuff as well.
[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 08 2008 at 19:41
Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

you know.. this album NEVER ...ever took to me ... and I really have tried... but this is an album I gave up upon.. probably haven't listened to it in at least 2 years.   I'll give it another spin tonight after I toss off some reviews of my own.  Now that [email protected] has let me do my voodoo again... and let me log on... have some reviews to catch up with. 

you do write a great  album review though... looking forward to seeing you tackle more obscure stuff as well.


Many thanks for the kind words, though I don't know why [email protected] would make such a silly mistake LOL

I'm sharpening my teeth on the obvious stuff, since it makes up most of my currently small collection, and I want to get better at analysing/understanding the albums and my personal opinions before I go on to those  more obscure things that actually need the reviews and ratings, so I can give them the love they deserve. Might get in a Colosseum or Maneige review sometime soon, though, even if they're lesser-known rather than obscure.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 08 2008 at 20:48
Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

you know.. this album NEVER ...ever took to me ... and I really have tried... but this is an album I gave up upon.. probably haven't listened to it in at least 2 years.   I'll give it another spin tonight after I toss off some reviews of my own.  Now that [email protected] has let me do my voodoo again... and let me log on... have some reviews to catch up with. 

you do write a great  album review though... looking forward to seeing you tackle more obscure stuff as well.


Many thanks for the kind words, though I don't know why [email protected] would make such a silly mistake LOL

I'm sharpening my teeth on the obvious stuff, since it makes up most of my currently small collection, and I want to get better at analysing/understanding the albums and my personal opinions before I go on to those  more obscure things that actually need the reviews and ratings, so I can give them the love they deserve. Might get in a Colosseum or Maneige review sometime soon, though, even if they're lesser-known rather than obscure.


meh... I think [email protected] was pissed off at me for busting his balls about that damn jingle for the site. 

Didn't make it to the Lamb tonight... but I will tomorrow... late night is not the best time for me to listen to Genesis anyway LOLWink Sounds like a good plan there...I had to learn reviewing on the fly so to speak.. got promoted.. yet never reviewed an album.. so I was told to start reviewing LOL My first reviwes (not an invitation to read hahhaha) were god-frickin awful.. and still even now don't think they are particularly good..  I just plug away at them and try to improve as I go.  What makes it easier is I don't review the top albums.. so I can toil away in relative obscurity.  Think I have only reviewed one of the top 100 albums or some crap like that.  Maybe more than that.. but not many more. 
[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 09 2008 at 13:16

Review 14, A Trick Of The Tail, Genesis, 1976

StarStarStarStar

After the departure of Peter Gabriel, Genesis' sound really does take a drastic change. For some people this is a welcome development, but not so much for me.

Firstly, Collins takes over lead vocals. I think the issue here is not his voice, which I, personally, enjoy on all the previous albums, and on the following Wind & Wuthering, but that he's not that confident with it, and doesn't really make the songs his own on this album. Occasionally he adopts weird accents on Dance On A Volcano, Mad Man Moon and Robbery..., but it just doesn't pay off for him as much as it did for Gabriel. The lyrics are still very good, but the relatively non-distinctive nature of Collins' vocals here do obscure that a little, so they originally felt like repeated pop choruses, even when they aren't.

Secondly, the music is somewhat less explosive. There are far fewer great rock moments, and nothing like Fly On A Windshield or Firth Of Fifth. For me, at least, this meant it's taken a lot longer to acquire and get used to, and puts it somewhat behind the Gabriel era albums for me.

Anyway, they say she comes on a pale horse, onto the music:

Dance On A Volcano was a little difficult for me to get into, but I now do enjoy it. Great opening, mainly guitar-based, good drumming, a great quirky bass part from Rutherford, and overall a very enjoyable track.

Entangled is an odd creature. On the verses and the instrumental second half, good, enjoyable acoustic guitars from Hackett and Rutherford, here, and banks provides excellent synth and mellotron (I think) parts. Collins provides a nice vocal, and the song suits him. However, the choruses really don't work for me. I've never been a great fan of playing acoustics with too many chords, and this isn't an exception. The vocal harmonies aren't very distinctive, either. A very good song, I admit, but not one that grips me.

'Like father, like son' A good, but simple drum-and-bass rhythm, with matching guitar, opens Squonk. Great vocals for decent lyrics, here, somewhat more assertive than on the rest of the album, I feel, though I wish they were a little more prominent in the mix. I love the drums on this one. One of my favourites from the album.

Mad Man Moon is one of the most beautifully opened songs I've heard so far, with stunning piano and keys, emotive vocals, perfect background electrics from Hackett, and an uncharacteristically quiet performance on the percussion from Collins. Oddly enough, it merges into something with a more Latin feel, with strange percussion that sounds like castanets, cheerful and classical-styled piano juxtaposed. This is followed by the strange Sandman section, with odd, but intelligent lyrics, accented vocals. After that brief interlude, it returns to an even finer rendition of the opening, 'Within the valley of shadowless death', with a superb return to the piano theme, even better guitar minimalism and percussion, and a great ending from banks. Lyrically, this is certainly my favourite song from the album, and probably for Genesis as a whole. Essential listening for Genesis fans.

Robbery Assault And Battery is yet another weird case, where nothing manages to offend, and I love the electric guitar and bass, and the drumming's quite catchy. The cockney vocals are amusing enough, and there are two great short instrumental sections near the end and at the end, respectively. I think it's the silly keyboards here that put me off the song as a whole. A good song, and I think I should like it more than I do.

Throughout Ripples, much like Entangled, I love the piano-and-guitar verses, with superb vocals, but I don't enjoy the chorus and its harmonies much. Good lyrics, great piano, and a decent instrumental section towards the end. I prefer my soft songs staying relatively soft throughout, rather than doing what these two do, which is start with a beautiful melody and then go to a generic chorus at a slightly louder volume.

Oddly, I really enjoy the pop-ish ATOTT. A thoroughly enjoyable short song, with great guitar from Hackett, and acceptable vocals and lyrics, with some great harmonies, plenty of bombastic silliness. I don't know what so many people dislike about it, but unlike the rest of the album, I liked this one on the first listen.

Los Endos is essentially a medley of tunes from the rest of the album, together with the legendary 'There's an angel standing in the sun!' of Supper's Ready, and a couple of weird shimmerings and strange percussion things indicative of what the band would do with the instrumentals on the next album. This, however, is much more catchy and enjoyable than them, with the rhythm section standing out a little more than Banks and Hackett.

In the end, not my favourite, but a solid four star effort. Perhaps not recommended to those who prefer the harder rock aspects of Gabriel-era Genesis, or those who healthily dislike acoustics. If, like me, you fall partly into the first of those two categories, it may need a fair few spins to grow on you.

Rating: Four Stars, though personally a borderline three
Favourite Track: Mad Man Moon


----
Had the time and inclination to dash this one off today, and I'm a little happier about it than about my previous couple of reviews. As usual, on the lookout for opinions about the album. Might get another review about a non-Genesis album up next, since I'm not in the mood to listen to W&W now.

Edit: Trick is an odd album for me, because while I can say I enjoy it, but could happily live without it, I think every prog-man (or even non-prog-man) should at least try it out.


Edited by TGM: Orb - March 09 2008 at 13:20
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 13 2008 at 12:50
I apologise for my earlier lies

The recent arrival of

Tubular Bells (vol. 1) - Mike Oldfield
Script For A Jester's Tear - Marillion
Valentyne Suite - Colosseum
The Inner Mounting Flame - The Mahavishnu Orchestra
Moving Pictures - Rush
Les Porches - Maneige
Permanent Waves - Rush
Moonmadness - Camel
Pawn Hearts - Van Der Graaf Generator

and expected arrival of
Perdition City - Ulver

has removed the time I'd need to take on this intermediate review, and the WInd And Wuthering one will wait for the weekend.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 15 2008 at 09:21

Review 15, Wind & Wuthering, Genesis, 1977

StarStarStarStar

Wind & Wuthering (along with Trespass) is responsible for getting me into Genesis, even when I, at first, found Selling England By The Pound a little awkward. I've always loved the first two long tracks, but the rest of the album has somewhat worn thin over a good number of listens, and I just don't get anything from listening to the instrumentals. The highlights are, in my mind, preferable to those of A Trick Of The Tail, as are Collins' vocals, which have matured somewhat, and really do make the songs more accessible. A good Genesis starter-album, coupled with something from the Gabriel era, and a good album overall.

Eleventh Earl Of Mar has a great synth opening, a noteworthy organ-drums-bass trio, good vocals from Collins, and a beautiful quiet acoustic-dominated section backed by echoing synths. Lyrically, it just about makes sense, but sounds right. There's an excellent ending with Hackett working over a lush percussion-keyboard canvas, somewhat reminiscent of Hackett's first solo album's closer, Shadow Of The Hierophant.

One For The Vine is probably second or third in my long list of favourite Genesis songs, with absolutely great vocals, very strong lyrics from Banks, which work perfectly over the music. Various keyboards are used in a sophisticated manner, and the talents of all four musicians are well-displayed. Superb instrumental sections, and changes in tempo, and a perfect example of musically realising a concept without letting the concept at all overshadow the music or vice-versa.

Your Own Special Way is difficult to like. I can tolerate and quite happily nod along to the verses. Unfortunately, the opening is utterly terrible, repetitive, with whiny keyboards that I'm not too fond of. The song proper isn't too bad, a decent pop-tinged song, with some of the fairly characteristic Collins drumming that made IKWIL good. The vocals are a little non-distinctive here, but still acceptable, as are the lyrics. The guitar, the harmonies, and the instrumental section are small highlights within the song. If only they'd managed to provide a good opening for it.

Wot Gorilla? is the first of the album's instrumentals, with a tingly percussion opening, suitably silly synths and guitar reminiscent of Hackett's solo album playing along nicely. A real throwback to the instrumentals from The Lamb, listenable, but nothing special.

All In A Mouse's night is another good longer song, though I found it utterly intolerable at first. Compulsive drumming here, great thudding bass, very good vocals coupled with tolerable (if acquired) lyrics. Some distinctive shifts in style, and the tiny, yet vital, electric additions from Hackett and Banks on piano (where the tune is held up by synths) absolutely make the song what it is. An excellent ending, and certainly well worth hearing.

Blood On The Rooftops opens with a memorable acoustic solo from Hackett. The verses are basically a showcase for his acoustic playing, and with small contributions from the rest of the band, while a great bass part from Rutherford particularly shines in the choruses. Collins vocals are again good, and lyrically the nostalgia and very English sarcasm are great.

Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers is largely made by the echoing guitars and piano, with a synth over the top that I find somewhat annoying to listen to, and usually try to ignore. It's mostly acting as a lead-up to In That Quiet Earth, which has a great guitar solo, a good bass line, and some interesting drumming. It moves on to a superb, very mobile, slightly heavier section with Collins really standing out. I don't know quite why, but it does feel a little awkward and repetitive, and the lead-up to Afterglow feels a little forced.

Afterglow is a very simple song, with minimalistic guitars and a slow drum-beat augmented by a nice mellotron. Typically, not the sort of thing I'd like, but the gradual build-up does work very well, and the emotional vocals, while still not Gabriel, are great. A very good conclusion to the album.

All in all, the album is one that strikes me as a little mixed, and brought down a bit by the instrumentals and Your Own Special Way's opening, but the longer tracks are absolutely stunning. Generally recommended.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: One For The Vine

------
And that signals my Genesis collection running out. Probably going to alternate between gushing over all the Crimson  (Heart)releases up to and including Discipline and reviewing less partially other odds and ends next.

I am *very* happy with all of my purchases, so I'm posting my early impressions here,

Tubular Bells (vol. 1) - Mike Oldfield
A good instrumental album, and I love the random nasal choir thing on the second side. First impression: strong 3 Stars, might be 4.

Script For A Jester's Tear - Marillion
Absolutely great album, with particular highlights in Chelsea Monday and Script... itself. I love all the tracks, although Garden Party and Web aren't at the same standard as the rest. Great guitar and vocals, but I found the drumming a little weak. First impression: Strong 4 Stars.

Valentyne Suite - Colosseum
Wow. I've had Daughter Of Time for a while, but this was something completely different. Stunning blues/jazz rock, amazing bass and bluesy guitar, and the great Jon Hiseman on drums. I'm particularly fond of Butty's Blues and The Grass Is Always Greener (Valentyne Suite, Third Theme). First Impression: 5 Stars. Great stuff.

The Inner Mounting Flame - The Mahavishnu Orchestra
And I was impressed by Birds Of Fire... A fusion classic, and worthy of that title. I really enjoy the acoustic A Lotus On Irish Streams, and the rest of the album is very, very dense musicianship. No weakness. First Impression: 5 Stars, could be 4.

Permanent Waves - Rush
I wasn't so happy with this one on the first two or three listens, but it really did click for me yesterday. Jacob's Ladder, Natural Science and The Spirit of Radio are great, and even if I preferred Lee's voice on AFTK and 2112, his bass here is superb. First Impression: 4 Stars

Moving Pictures - Rush
Some great songs (Tom Sawyer and Witch Hunt in particular). I might be happier without Red Barchetta and its irritating lyrics, but still a good album. Perhaps it'll click for me with a few more listens. First Impression: 3 Stars, could be four.

Les Porches - Maneige
Have to admit, I'd already heard this quite a lot, but the impression from the proper-quality release was so much better. Absolutely stunning classically-inspired piano, a very memorable title track, and the superb Les Aventures.... Only really weakened a little by Chromo. Impression: Five Stars.

Moonmadness - Camel
I was more satisfied by this one than by Mirage or The Snow Goose, and I have to admit that Ward's drumming seems to have come on a lot, though Ferguson's bass still feels somewhat like a prop. I'm very fond of Song Within A Song, and the rest of the album is good. First Impression: Four Stars, could be a strong three.

Pawn Hearts - Van Der Graaf Generator
Hm. I'm very glad I went for the superb Godbluff before this one, even if it's still very strong. I felt that Jackson really rocked more on Godbluff, and lyrically Godbluff felt more connected. Nonetheless, great album, and Guy Evans really does shine on it. A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers is really my sort of utter chaos, and the other two are very good. First Impression: Four Stars.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 17 2008 at 16:22

Review 16, Sinister, John Wetton, 2001

StarStar

I don't know John Wetton's solo career outside this album, but I'm somewhat familiar with early Asia, and can say with certainty that most of this album is very much in the same vein. Unfortunately, it's not generally at the same quality. Nonetheless, there are a couple of real peaks at the beautiful Fripp-Wetton-Macdonald instrumental, E-SCAPE, and the opening Heart Of Darkness is a really great rocker. The rest of the album is both short and pretty unthreatening, though Wetton's compositional skill is present throughout, the end result is quite miserable.

The opener begins with promising moody keyboards, and a couple of piano and twanging bass notes lead into great uplifting rock song with dark moments. Wetton's voice, still excellent, begins the song proper. Some enjoyable guitar here, and the bass part isn't bad. A fantastic example of eighties-sounding rock. Stunning.


Say It Ain't So isn't terrible, either, but the drumming's utterly bland, and I've heard better choruses. Some nice small touches on various instruments (especially organ), but it wears thin after only three minutes, and somehow feels quite samey. A couple of the changes in tempo feel generic.

No Ordinary Miracle is a ballad. Cheesy vocals, lyrics, and even an incredibly tacky thunderbolt effect. An essentially decent main theme, and, again, some fairly nice additions on minor instruments. Unfortunately, it says nothing new, and I don't like the use of drums to drive a ballad so bluntly. Not my thing.

Where Do We Go From Here is relatively typical of the rock pieces of the album. Thumping bass, fairly generic, but acceptable drumming. Not particularly stunning chorus, but the verses are good. I feel the brief instrumental moments here could have been properly developed, but weren't, and a jarring return to the chorus after a five-second guitar-keyboard interplay was not the greatest idea. Blunt and unexceptional.

E-SCAPE features Fripp and McDonald (both of King Crimson) on sound-scape guitar and alto-flute respectively, while Wetton takes keyboard duties. It's a very stunning, mesmerising and beautiful soft instrumental, with McDonald's absolutely gorgeous ethereal flute particularly standing out, and some exceptional interplay from the musicians. Worthy of a Crimson album, though entirely uncharacteristic of Sinister.

The biting Another Twist Of The Knife, while essentially a three-chord AOR piece, is comfortably the third-best thing on the album. Wetton's energy on the vocals is winning, and the song really does manage to rock properly, even the drums working well here. The chorus isn't quite up to the standard of the verses, but's still decent. Good fun. Perhaps brought down by the big block of vocals and lyrics on the 'Go on... cut me... til I bleed' section. Great guitar solo here, but I say that about just about any guitar solo, for some reason.

Silently. Ugh. Generic piano. Cheesy ballad-styled vocals. Lame drumming. Pathetically bad chorus, appalling lyrics. No merits to consider, except the middle instrumental section, which works pretty well, until the vocals come back again. Some good ideas, but a crap song.

Before Your Eyes is the least appalling of the album's ballad-styled things. Quite nice, quiet, not mindlessly thumping on the drums, slightly improved lyrics, and Wetton's vocals seem more individual. The flute is nicely included. The keyboards hold it up quite well. The choir/harmony thing was a little poor, though. Overall, an acceptable effort.

Second Best, despite a promising energetic start, takes the whole generic AOR-aspect that plagues the album to an entirely new level. Appalling chorus. More of that disastrously plain drumming. The lyrics are dubious, the vocals vary from great on the verses to dreadful on the chorus. Another good guitar solo on this one, but again it goes back to the chorus where it didn't need to. The fade is welcome. Again, some good ideas, but overall an un-focused product.

Real World is not great. A fairly random acoustic guitar part, some really weird vocals from Wetton, who apparently has given up on even trying to maintain the facade of writing lyrics, and the harmonies are equally weird uninteresting keyboards. Steve Hackett's contribution on harmonica isn't bad. A weird song, but not a success with me.

If you don't like Asia's debut (probably the best known comparison, though not entirely fair), avoid it like the plague, if you do, perhaps to be considered for the stunning opener and a couple of the other better tracks, but still not great. Wetton's bass is still pretty good, but you're just not going to find the stunning bass work from his spell with Crimson on this album, and it's often overshadowed by the styles of the songs. His vocals are very divisive, still of the almost-shouted kind, and not for everyone. Clocking in at just 38 or so minutes, much of which is pretty poor material, probably not a great value-for-money buy. An effort with its moments, but ultimately unsatisfying.

Rating: Two Stars

Favourite Track: E-SCAPE


----


Also, great album cover. Not much hope for discussion, though. I should dash off a Court review next, and then maybe Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble (because I want an excuse to listen to Gypsy compulsively). Many thanks to the admin/review moderator team for dealing with my old Court review.

Is all of Wetton's solo career this dubious? The Wetton-Downes collaborations any better?

Edit: How's that for obscure LOL. Only 6 ratings for the album.


Edited by TGM: Orb - March 17 2008 at 16:22
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 24 2008 at 14:08

Review 17, In the Court Of the Crimson King, King Crimson, 1969

StarStarStarStarStarStar

An old crush, that I can never, no matter how hard I try, get rid of. I have managed to persuade myself at different times that it's not that groundbreaking, decide that Court itself is way too bombastic, and that the mellotron is too thick for me, that the improvisation on The Illusion is utterly pointless, that this album doesn't deserve even five stars. However, every time I hear the first throb of 21st Century Schizoid Man, all these delusions disappear. An absolutely stunning album from start to finish. Much like ELP's debut, this is only made more amazing by the variety of material on the album: jazz rock, softer songs, an extended improvised section, grandiose emotional pieces with a very epic feel. Artistic and emotive, very musically tight and diverse, and with Sinfield's amazing lyrics fitting each song perfectly. Just perfect. An almost unique six star rating (the other being Larks' Tongues In Aspic).

21st Century Schizoid Man is, in my opinion, the greatest opener ever, perhaps even the greatest song ever. Two subdued throbs on a mellotron give way to a driving, powerful sax riff, Fripp's guitar with fuzz box hammering through behind it, stunning drumming from Mike Giles and Lake's almost-spat out, distorted vocals. After the second verse, it moves into a stunning jazzy 'jam' (I don't know quite how to describe it: too organised and tight to be a 'jam') with bass, sax, drums and jazz guitar emerging from the mix at different moments, and then a forceful, brilliant return to the main riff. The last verse takes the song to another peak, and it ends with an insane, chaotic splintering combination of the instruments. Sinfield provides brilliant, gripping, evocative lyrics, perfectly fitting the music. Designed to be played in a dark room at an obscene volume. This song alone has more merit than most complete albums.

I Talk To The Wind is a very sharp contrast to the opener, but it works superbly in the context. A very soft song, particularly showcasing Greg Lake's voice, a beautiful flute part from Ian McDonald and Mike Giles' enchanting percussion. The vocal and instrumental sections both stand out. Truly magical. Sinfield's lyrics again fit in very neatly, and can really transport the listener to another state of mind. Very simple in format, but nonetheless perfect. Not your average ballad.

Epitaph can only be described by itself. Pure emotion trapped inside 8 minutes and 47 seconds of music. Again, a completely outstanding song, with more of Sinfield's superb lyrical contributions. Greg Lake's vocals, Fripp's acoustic guitar, McDonald's mellotron and piano and Mike Giles' drumming especially stand out. In fact, everything stands out. Another dose of musical perfection, and another dose of imagery.

Moonchild is the strangest of the expressions in the album, but no less effective. It begins with the haunting Dream, with the sublime guitar part from Fripp, a bit of subtly used Mellotron and Greg Lake's beautiful vocals introducing the idea: moonlight. Mike Giles provides more of his unusual percussion. After a few minutes, the largely improvised (according to most things I've heard about it) 'The Illusion' section begins. It echoes and brings up the lyrics and the imagery, cycling through the actions of the moonlight described by Sinfield's lyrics. The improvisation leads fluently to another arranged section, suggesting a slow dawn, and the shadows of the night gradually vanishing. A musical painting, and a greatly under-rated one.

In The Court Of The Crimson King crashes into existence with a thu-thu-thu-thub from Mike Giles and the suffocating, thick mellotron riff that is the core of the song. The verses are composed mainly of pretty acoustic guitar, vocals and a careful, directing drum part, and have a very medieval feel. As it moves onto the repeated 'chorus' line, perhaps the most impressive use of block vocals in rock history, the choking mellotron returns. Sinfield again provides superb lyrics with a very bitter, dark edge. Of especial note are the instrumental Return Of The Fire Witch, highlighting Ian McDonald's skill on the flute, with a sort of weird borderline improvisation around it from Lake, Fripp and Giles, and the double-conclusion. The first conclusion is a relatively simple vocal or mellotron (can't really tell which) fade out, probably responsible for the end of Genesis' Visions Of Angels. Giles provides a couple of taps on the percussion, and a mocking reed organ begins playing. We are treated to a brief solo from Mike Giles, and then McDonald and the band return to provide a full overblown repeat of the main riff, driving slowly towards a superb and hectic conclusion, echoing the end of Schizoid Man.

One of my introductions to prog rock, and yet still improving with every listen. Mike Giles' drumming here is perhaps my joint favourite for any album overall (together with ELP's Tarkus), and demonstrates how you can escape the mould for a musician even as a drummer. If not for Robert Fripp's ability to go on and keep making superb material with several completely different line-ups of King Crimson, the departure of Lake, Giles and McDonald after this album would be an utter tragedy. This album is genuine art as music. Peter Sinfield's lyrics, as I have pointed out earlier, are absolutely the best throughout this album, on a par with Roger Waters' Echoes. A stunning series of images, and a true observation. Art at its finest.


Rating: Six Stars. It's the other Larks' Tongues In Aspic.

Favourite Track: 21st Century Schizoid Man


--------

Only after very deep and angsty examinations of the rating, I've decided that Court does merit the elusive, not even within the rating system, sixth star. The review's mainly late because I had to re-listen to Moonchild in the context of reading Certif1ed's review, I had a DOE practise expedition (please, don't ask...) to go through, and I had actually forgotten the sheer extent of my fawning fandom of this particular Crimson album, and some of its merits are only just being revealed to me.

Two things concerning In The Court Of The Crimson King:

First

A great bow to Certif1ed's particularly amazing review of ITCOTCK. It's been responsible for my own turnaround with regards to Moonchild, which I'd previously thought wasn't particularly stunning, and also was a great read in and of itself, combining considerable technical and musical knowledge with easy reading for the non-musical, and objectivity with subjectivity.

Thumbs%20Up + Clap

Review here

Second

Stumbled across Peter Sinfield's site after a little searching today, and it has a very interesting insight into the lyrics and the concept of the album. If you're a self-proclaimed lyrics man, like me, and you like the lyrics to Court, then it's worth checking out this section:

Peter Sinfield's comments on the lyrics to Court

So, now that's posted: any thoughts on the review, the album in question, Crimson in general, any of the band members, and Court's influence?
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