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Don Airey - A Light In The Sky CD (album) cover


Don Airey


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3.88 | 31 ratings

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5 stars This album is a real treat! After disappointing debut album "K2 (Tales of Triumph & Tragedy)", full of pop/rock, 80' Rainbowish songs and some digital, "high-tech" synthesizers exercises I didn't expect so much from 2nd Airey's effort. But man, I was so wrong! His debut can't be called even prog-related, while "A Light in The Sky" is 100%, 24- carat progressive rock effort full of eclectic ideas like symphonic, jazz, heavy prog and space rock. Thanks to Deep Purple experience Don came back to rely on Hammond, Moog & piano, just like on his first albums recorded with "Colosseum II".

Let's check the tracks one by one. There are 17, but don't worry some of them are only few seconds instrumental interludes so there is enough space for well developed prog songs with long, perfectly-composed solos of main keyboards Maestro (as well guitarist Rob Harris from time to time).

1. "Big Bang" - 1 minute intro with space-like waving synthesizer and no other instruments. It finishes with fanfare of "BOOM!" on the keyboards. Nice ditty which introduces us to main cosmic topic of the album.

2. "Ripples in the Fabric of Time" - beginning of this instrumental track is similar to previous one. Some syntheizer noises a la Pink Floyd's "Echoes" & slow rhythm bass, after few seconds drums "join the party" and along with background organs become more and more interesting. Atmosphere is similar to some of the best Ayreon's compositions. After 2 minutes suddenly guitar kick-in with all its power and present tasteful solo. But when Don starts seriously push his organ in front composition reach the hights. Hammond/guitar interluding solos are placed one after another and we almost feel that Keith Emerson is jamming with Blackmore here. But it's not even jamming! Music flows perfectly organized and tight. No show-off. Simple enjoyment of music.

3. "Shooting Star" - first track with vocals delivered here by Carl Sentance. And what kind of song is it! Extremely catchy, "bouncy" guitar riffing & roaring Hammaond + great 70' inspired hard rock vocal. Sounds like Deep Purple from their best period. The only difference is that I've never heard such fantastic, high-pitched Moog solo in any DP's recordings!

4. "Space Troll Patrol" - this instrumental composition with quirky title perfectly catch the essence of organ driven progressive rock a la The Nice, ELP or Tiumvirat. Only Hammond organ, drums and deep sounding bass guitar (ok, also a little synth in a background from time to time). Dynamic, full-enjoyment composition with perfectly sounding, "real thing" Hammond A100 organ with surely good-old Leslie effect. You need to hear these endless soloing which don't sound tiresome even for a second!

5. "Andromeda M31" - without doubt Don was full of fresh ideas when he sat in the studio to record this phenomenal album 'cos here is another big prog-rock hit. It starts with guitar mid-tempo playing based on nice "eternal" synths background. Somehow Pink Floyd style of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". Around 2 minutes organ joins again with marvelous solos. Everything is closed with another electric guitar solo. I can hear some obvious echoes of early "Eloy" in this composition - organ-driven space-rock if you axe me.

6. "Endless Night" - second arrive of Carl Sentance vocalist and another DeeP Purple oriented song. Great heavy prog which could be as well recorded in early 70s. Carl sounds like a mix of Ian Gillan and Glenn Hughes here. We also have obligatory guitar solo, but the real treat is a dynamic Hammond showcase of Mr. Airey in the middle of the song. Lord (Jon of course :-) is surely proud of him 'cos it seems he learnt a lot from him.

7. "Rocket To The Moon" - short (only 1:20 minutes) 50s-like rock'n'roll but with Brian Auger/Jimmy Smith like organ instead of guitar. To be more interesting drummer Harry James is a lead vocalist on this one! And don't worry song is short, but Don is Don and he found a place to fit another tasty Hammond solo...

8. "Lift Off" - short interlude in the same style as "Big Bang". Calm synthesizer "landscapes" which are inspired by Jean Michel Jarre. Nice 1 minute to take a breath.

9. "Love You Too Much" - in the middle of the album arrives a little surprise - power ballad. After first couple of Deep Purple, ELP and Jarre inspired tracks this one is surely a big change of mood, but I have to admit that it's a really good song which I like to listen a lot. It reminds me late Rainbow output but I much prefer Danny Bowes' vocal (yes, it's the first & only song sang by him on this album), than Joe Lynn Turner's one. He has much more power and passion in his voice. This composition is mainly piano-driven but in the middle we can listen to good, atmospheric synthesizer solo too.

10. "Cartwheel Eso 350-40" - 3rd sort ditty of electronic sounding synth, but with a bit Eastern-style melody this time.

11. "Somarero M104" - another great instrumental here. Fantastic Grand piano performance but in contrary to other prog-rock artists which like to add such compositions (like Attilio Perrone or La Torre Dell' Alchimista) except piano we can also hear great drumming and some background synths which make the track "fuller'. "Somarero M104" is very dynamic and Airey's playing is truly virtuosic. Everything sound very symphonic, almost like real classical music.

12. "Into Orbit" - another instrumental track is much different then the previous one. This time Don proves that he can also play very calm, dreamy passages on his piano. However the real hero is Lidia Baich in here. Her violin is truly breathtaking and melodic in the same time. This composition sounds like classical music with an inch of psychedelia similar to violin-loaded 1st album of Japanese keyboardist Hiro Yanagida called "Milk Time".

13. "A Light in the Sky, Pt. 2" - no matter what happened with part 1, "A Light in the Sky, Pt. 2" is one of the best songs on this album. Mix of Deep Purple with the hardest ELP output (a la "Knife-Edge" or "A Time and a Place") makes it a must-have for everybody. Carl Sentance again delivers passionate heavy metal vocal (I could swear it's young Ian Gillan!) and Don play the hardest possible Hammond organ chops. It's the longest track on the recording so we can also enjoy bunch of good solos: Moog and Hammond in the middle, electric guitar near the end and everything finishes with another long, crunchy organ solo where Airey goes crazy in a clear Vincent Crane's way (from "Atomic Rooster" band).

14. "Pale Blue Dot" - along with "Space Troll Patrol" this is another The Nice-like organ- dominated performance. The main Arabic or Indian-like theme is marvelous and makes a big difference compared to classical music inspired music of Emerson. Solid Hammond A100 organ freak out!

15. "Metallicity" - another short interlude but this time except cosmic synthesizer also drums and electric piano are presented.

16. "Big Crunch" - I've read interview with Don Airey that this album was intended as some kind of tribute to Keith Emerson (obvious in many, especially instrumental compositions), J.M. Jarre (mainly in this 1 minute long ditties) and Mahavishnu Orchestra. As far as I know Mahavishnu Orchestra is a jazz-rock band but I've never listened to them to I can only suppose that this track is strictly dedicated to them. It's quite long (almost 7 minutes) jazz jamming with powerful, dynamic drums and thundering violin, synthesizers and electric piano solos (no organ this time). For me it's just OK, but maybe for fans of such genre it can be even more interesting.

17. "Lost in the End of Time" - the closing composition is also an instrumental one. It's a very beautiful track driven by acoustic piano with orchestra-like synthesizers, violin and electric guitar for good measure. Everything sound very symphonic, classical oriented. I really dig all of these fanfare-like, pompous keyboards "explosions", they perfectly blend with Airey's splendid piano runs.

All in all this is a must-have for prog-rock lovers, especially these ones who prefer classic 70s style full of good melodies, passionate vocals and powerful instrumentals loaded with analog keyboards. In general I would like to recommend this album to fans of keyboards-driven prog and especially to Hammond organ freaks (like me :-). To be more precise this album reminds me the most 3 other artists: Ryo Okumoto's latest album called "Coming Through"(similar mix of different styles, analog gear), Collossus Project "The Empire & the Rebellion" (similar vocals & old school keyboards) and Ayreon's output (mix of organ with electronic sounding digital synths and analog Moogs). For me this is surely 5 stars effort.

ozzy_tom | 5/5 |


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