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High Tide - Interesting Times CD (album) cover


High Tide


Heavy Prog

2.71 | 21 ratings

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2 stars High Tide fell apart around the time their second studio album released in 1970. Too bad, because there are some good arguments for them being one of the first true progressive metal bands, and their sound was unbelievably forceful and dynamic (as well as way ahead of it’s time). Except for drummer Roger Hadden the former members all managed to find varying degrees of success in the music business after the band’s demise. Tony Hill and Simon House decided (for some reason) to get together and put out a studio release in the late eighties under the name High Tide, I believe coinciding with the issue of a ‘lost recordings’ CD of the band’s early work. Not a great idea really, as this tepid substitute for the real thing is nothing like the original band, and frankly isn’t even a good example of the digital emo-tripe that was filling the airwaves around the same time.

“Nightmare” sounds like it could have been an outtake from Alan Parsons’ Vulture Culture/Ammonia Avenue sessions, except maybe just a little darker. The music for this instrumental consists of some guitar and electric bass but mostly keyboards, programmed drum tracks and electric violin. Nothing to get exited about and sadly representative of most of what was playing on FM radio in the late eighties.

The duo gets back to the early High Tide just a little on “The Nexialist” but here again (and throughout the album) the drums are programmed. Original drummer Roger Hadden has been confined to a mental institution since 1971 and apparently House and Hill didn’t see the need to replace him. House’s violin work is quite similar to the strident shards of music he played back on the first two High Tide albums, except that by now the effects of the late sixties acid trips seem to have worn off and the music is a bit more restrained and composed as opposed to unbridled improvisation. Same goes for Hill on guitar, but he still manages to work his way out to the edges of sanity during a solo piece late in this track.

The boys return to the Alan Parsons-like synth sounds on “Survival” but with House still working his violin bow (again though, much more refined than the early stuff). There are some weird digital keyboard effects that I suppose are meant to be spacey, but in the light of the 21st century they sound more cheesy than anything. It’s interesting that while Hill’s vocals sounded an awful lot like Jim Morrison back in the sixties, now he comes off more like an aging David Bowie but without Bowie’s flair for inflection and note-bending. I suppose twenty years will do that to you.

The next few tunes (“Ice Age”, “Dream Beam” and “Movie Madness”) all sound quite similar, with none of them anything close to what High Tide sounded like as a proper band in the sixties. These are all heavy on synthesized keyboards and strings (as well as some mellow electric violin from House), and lethargic and digitally-manipulated vocals that sound more like the paisley underground bands of the late eighties than a once-proud sixties metal pioneer. Really weird to hear these under the name High Tide.

“The Reason Why” is also very laid-back, but here the band show a glimpse into the folk influences that showed through even their acid-metal dirges on their first two albums. These are simple rhythms with strumming guitar, a little mandolin, and Hill crooning like a road-weary modern troubadour. Odd tune, but at least it shows some character and avoids the parachute-pants pastiche of some of the other tunes on the album.

And once more House and Hill surprise a little with a fairly straight-ahead and crisp metal tune in “Strike a Light”, although even here House can’t seem to avoid including several unnecessary synth riffs toward the end. “Rock Me on your Wave” is the longest and also most boring track on the album. While the sonic quality of the guitar foray at the end is quite original, the six or seven minutes leading up to that point consist mostly of smoky and ethereal keyboards and pansy-like violin bleating. This one is to be avoided.

Finally, the Akarma, Lobster and other various reissues of this record include a bonus track, “Heartstream”, although I don’t know why. This is another instrumental that is more synthesized than real, lacks focus, and is annoyingly repetitive. Fortunately it’s also only three minutes long.

Not sure what House and Hill were thinking when they put this thing together, or what they hoped to accomplish. Except for “The Nexialist” and “Strike a Light” there’s nothing here that sounds even remotely like proto-metal, and even those two aren’t very good. I can’t imagine many of the band’s original fans would take to this album any more than Yes fans did to ‘90125’ or ELP fans did to ‘Love Beach’. This is shallow, commercially-oriented stuff with little redeeming value even for fans. I was going to give it two stars for collectors-only, but really I’m not sure even collectors need this. Let’s go with two stars but no recommendation, just to be on the conservative side. ‘Nuff said.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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