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Illusion - Illusion CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.42 | 73 ratings

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3 stars Following the positive reception of Illusion's Out Of the Mist album form 1977, 1978's eponymous follow up is slightly disappointing. But the album is worth checking out for it's high points. In an effort, I assume, to branch out and evolve, the music found on this disc eschews the group's stranglehold on baroque piano led songs found on Out Of the Mist and sounds a bit more electric. John Hawken breaks out his full arsenal of Mellotron, Mini Moog synth, Poly Moog synth, harpsichord, Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ to supplement his piano and all are used to good effect without the music sounding too overdubed.

Starting with "Madonna Blue", this song, mostly sung by it's composer Jim McCarty, could be considered the quintessential Illusion song with it's dramatic verse and chorus and stunning instrumental coda. It's a song right out of prog heaven, with it's washes of Hawken's piano complementing his dreamy melodies of synth and mellotron. The song also boasts some stellar guitar work from John Knightsbridge and wonderful pounding bass drums and tom tom fills from Eddie McNeil.

The spell is broken somehow by the group's attempt at a pop song with the folky "Never Be The Same" but it doesn't quite work. Fortunately the song is kept a bit quirky with it's verses sung in a minor key by McCarty's minor key vocals before a CS&N like chorus explodes out from McCarty, Jane Relf and producer and former Yarbird Paul Samwell-Smith. "Louis Theme" is a slow paced atmospheric number sung by Jane Relf with some disturbing synth played in the song's bridge by Hawken. it's an "either you like it or hate it" song, I'm afraid and I'm in the latter camp. "Wings Across the Sea" is a ballad of longing for one's loved ones while being far away. Something that a touring band is well antiquated with and McCarty and Relf nail the vocal beautifully even if the band sounds somewhat pedestrian and lackluster.

"Cruising Nowhere" is more of a chant then a song with it's driving bass and drums and helps to shake up the mood before Jane's take on her late brother Keith's song "Man Of Miracles". A moody introspective song, with only accompaniment from Hawken, "Man Of Miracles" succeeds on many levels and sadly illustrates the lyrical dynamics that were lost with keith Relf's death in 1976. The album closes with more multi keyboard work on the driving "The Revolutionary" which sounds, frankly, like a sub par Strawbs' song both musically and lyrically and is a very weak track to close the album with. Perhaps the group just started to run out of steam, which is all well and good, as I don't feel that Illusion would have moved forward musically from this self tilted album had they continued. 3.5 stars as the band's playing sounds a bit forced on several of the tracks. Another malady of a constantly touring band that stops to record a new album instead of taking a break in order to replenish themselves.

SteveG | 3/5 |


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