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Red Bazar - Tales from the Bookcase CD (album) cover


Red Bazar


Crossover Prog

3.76 | 32 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I was almost ready to post my review over a month ago but I would have gotten the whole thing all wrong! I had recently purchased and brought home Peter Jones' prog rock masterpiece "Cocoon" by his one-man band project, Tiger Moth Tales. I had heard about Red Bazar and I wondered why after two Tiger Moth Tales releases Peter would go and do an album under a different band name. But when I heard Red Bazar, I understood. This was very different from Tiger Moth. No wonder he decided to do it under a different band name, I thought. I came home after the third listen and was ready to begin typing my review when I consulted the CD info to confirm whether or not Peter was alone on this album, and that's when I discovered, to my embarrassment, that Red Bazar is a band and Peter Jones is the singer only on this album. That changed a lot of how I perceived the album. No wonder it didn't sound at all like "Cocoon"!

Red Bazar is Andy Wilson (guitar), Rick Wilson (bass), Gary Marsh (keyboards), and Paul Comerie (drums) with Peter Jones on vocals for this, their third album. The title "Tales from the Bookcase" was chosen because the songs tell stories from some of Peter's favourite books. The highlight of these for me comes in the two part story "Queen of the Night". Part 1 introduces us to the circus and then the Queen of the Night, a beautiful woman who dances at the circus. Her lover is the Ringmaster who is also an abusive alcoholic. Peter's vocal performance throughout this song changes depending on the scene and subject. The parts about the circus have strong showmanship in his voice. When he sings "Behold! And feast your eyes!" it sounds like he's channeling Ronnie James Dio. The music has a very animated early eighties metal sound and it's a blast to listen to this track. Part 2 tells of how the Strong Man and the Queen of the Night are in love and how they plot to save her from the dastardly Ring Master. Their plan fails though and through a horrible twist of Fate, the Queen of the Night suffers a life-changing tragedy. The story, Peter's performance, and the music make these two tracks the most memorable for me.

Most other tracks are not as overtly dramatic and the music tends to be less dynamic, but each of the songs attract my ear in some part or parts. I can't help but think of side two of Pink Floyd's "Animals" with long songs that move through moods at a mid tempo pace, occasionally emphasizing some parts for dramatic effect. Peter's performance and the lyrics are often the most catching, but the guitar sound and keyboards as well as many of the musical compositions are still very good. They are, however, slower to develop and much less involved when compared to Tiger Moth Tales. But Red Bazar are under the crossover prog banner here so one should not expect anything similar to Peter Jones on his own. My impression is that this is neo- prog that has borrowed a lot from eighties metal at times without the dramatic hair metal song styles.

Most of the songs are between 8 and 12 minutes long, and so while much of the music serves to carry the lyrics and doesn't head off on some bold instrumental adventure, this album's music is more for enjoying on a simpler level and the lyrics presented to stir the imagination or inspire thought. "City and the Stars" addresses xenophobia, nuclear weapons and war, and environmental destruction. "The Lights of Home" describes a ship's voyage for revenge and some disastrous outcome.

In spite of being less complex as I've stated above, the music still offers a lot to enjoy, especially if one is more in a mood to take things a little easy. My personal feelings are that sometimes the progress is a little slow and it's easy for my mind to wander while commuting with this album in my ears. But listening now while typing this review I can say that Red Bazar have crafted very carefully what should go into their songs. And by the way, the sound of the production is excellent with each instrument clearly audible.

One question that keeps coming to mind is why an instrumental band would wish to include the remarkably talented Jones and employ only his song writing and vocal abilities. There's no doubt that Peter contributes to the album in a way that very few could, but is this intended to be a one time deal? Peter currently performs with Camel and has his own projects. Was this to be Red Bazar featuring Peter Jones?

I'm temped to rate the album with three stars simply because of my impression that the music is not what I had expected to hear from an album with Peter Jones and that the songs are less adventurous with their use of ten minutes than what they could be. But Peter's vocal performance, the quality of the sound and the players' ability, and the interest of some of the song lyrics make me think a little higher rating is deserved. It is a very good album overall.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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