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Michael Quatro - Paintings CD (album) cover


Michael Quatro


Crossover Prog

3.64 | 12 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Debut album of Michael Quatro called "Paintings" is a truly diverse recording which consists of 4 long, mainly instrumental symphonic prog compositions and 4 shorter pop/rock'n'roll songs. The dichotomy between them is huge and makes this album rather uneven than truly diverse. Unfortunately Quatro seems to like such formula and he also used it on another album "Look Deeply Into the Mirror" (but with slightly better results this time).

"Paintings" includes lots of keyboards-laden classical influenced music which will please all prog maniacs...but they will also find many cheesy, glam rock/pop duds here.

Let's check this strange album's songs one by one:

1. "Paintings" - titled composition of this album is the longest track here. More than 8 minutes of symphonic prog mixed with truly neo-classical music. It's full of beautiful Grand piano passages, mellotron eruptions, "eternal" choruses and some Moog synthesizer flights. This mini-epic is a rather slow-paced, mellow composition full of charming melodies and relaxed atmosphere. Rick Wakeman's solo career was surely the biggest influence here.

2. "Time Spent in Dreams" - another very enjoyable symphonic, instrumental composition full of sparkling piano and magnificent mellotron waves. First half of "Time Spent in Dreams" is rather peaceful and very classical music oriented but later becomes more lively and we can listen to some interesting flute (synth-made?) passages. Very good one!

3. "Circus (What I Am)" - after two great tracks Mike presents us horrible woogie-boogie pop number full of western-saloon piano beat and - completely out of place on prog-rock recording - soul/gospel like screams and shrieks from beginning to an end. Really offensive song for my ears. The only good thing about this crap is that Michael first time uses Hammond organ here, but it's only supportive instrument here and you need to grab Mike's second album "Look Deeply Into the Mirror" to find some truly fantastic organ performances.

4. "Each Day I Want You More" - is another pop number but compared to other "commercial" songs of this album it's the least offensive one. Just uninventive ballad with leading electric piano and some calm Moog playing. Nothing special but passable.

5. "Life" - it seems that when Michael starts to play crappy mainstream music he just can't stop it. "Life" is a 3rd song in row which has no connection with prog-rock at all. It's just basic rock'n'roll/glam rock which could be easily recorded in the early 60'. Boogie piano and generic wah-wah guitar based piece of garbage.

6. "Rachmaninoff's Prelude" - definitely the best track on the album! Mike comes back to truly ambitious artistic rock with this classical sounding, Grand piano-led instrumental. I don't know if this is some Rachmaninoff's work cover but it surely sounds so. This mini-suite is perfect example why still so many people love 70s symphonic prog: memorable melodies, ear pleasing acoustic piano, Moog synth & mellotron passages, busy drumming, mixing classical with rock & jazz influences, pomposity etc. Everything of these and many more you will find in "Rachmaninoff's Prelude". Splendid!

7. "Detroit City Blues" - oh, man! Why again?!! It's another boogie/glitter rock abomination in the vain of "Circus (What I Am)" & "Life". One song of this type on prog-rock release can be an interesting thing, but 3 songs is just a painful experience. Skip it, especially that just behind the corner...

8. "Court of the Crimson" - perfect cover of Crimson King's most symphonic composition. Michael's version is rather trustful to the original however his extraordinary piano & synth skills bring new dimension to this splendid tune. And his mellotron playin' really rules here too! What a fantastic nostalgic mellotron waves! Can be easily compared to KG's original but unfortunately it's much shorter (less than 6 minutes long).

To sum up: Quatro's debut is a very unbalanced album which tries to mix "radical" symphonic tunes with "radical" pedestrian pop/boogie/glam rock duds, and it just doesn't work well. Lots of reviewers says that Michael Quatro is a derivative clone of ELP/Trace/Triumvirat, but I can assure you that I can't hear any such influences here. Quatro's music is much more influenced by Rick Wakeman's solo output (in prog tracks) and glam rock & rock'n'roll music (in non-prog tracks). If you like organ-driven ELPish music you'd better proceed to next Mike's record - "Look Deeply Into the Mirror", which included few (not too many to be honest...) fantastic Hammond moments. However 2nd album is also flawed by some pop/glitter rock songs (but surprisingly they are rather better than this crap on "Paintings"). 3rd album - "In Collaboration With the Gods" is the only fully symphonic album of Mr. Quatro, however it can't be compared to ELP work too 'cos it sounds almost like tribute to Rick Wakeman. Music is very rather mellow, non-bombastic and you won't find almost any organ there. Besides compositions from "In Collaboration..." aren't as good as prog-rock tracks on his first two LPs. In general all 3 albums of this artists can't fly out above 3,5 stars level to be honest.

But let's come back to current record's review! I don't know what kind of music Mike played after 1975 year, but "Paintings" seems to be his weakest effort from the albums I know.

So I'll rate it solid 3 stars, no more but also not less.

ozzy_tom | 3/5 |


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