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Earth And Fire - Gate To Infinity CD (album) cover

GATE TO INFINITY

Earth And Fire

 

Symphonic Prog

2.67 | 43 ratings

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HolyMoly
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
4 stars Four stars, with a disclaimer up front: a large chunk of this album is given to stylings that aren't really conducive to a Prog Rock discussion. My rating reflects my quality assessment regardless of the relevance to Prog. Even though it was the band's prog stylings which brought me into their camp in the first place, this is one of their albums I return to most often. "78th Avenue" and "Driftin" advanced quickly from guilty pleasures to the status of two of my favorite songs of all time.

Side one is essentially a suite of five songs, with the fifth one reprising the first, and the fourth one bringing back some themes from songs 2 and 3. Although the parts are individually very good, they don't really cohere as a suite as well as they could. Still, I love the stately tempo and novel drum beat to "Recognition?", the poppy quickness of "A Princess in Egypt", the ELP-like instrumental "The Joyous Untruth", the... the point is the music is good. A little clunky when thrown all together, but good melodies all the same.

Side two is more controversial. Five pop songs that honestly wouldn't sound out of place on an ABBA record. And I think they're all beautiful. "78th Avenue" was a single, with a disco beat and one of the best choruses I've ever heard. "Smile" is borderline iffy, a sappy ballad with pretty simplistic music, but Jerney Kaagman's guileless vocal delivery saves the day. "Green Park Station" is an impossibly syncopated quasi-reggae-funk number with clavinet, catchy as all get-out even though it's time signatures are pretty complex and hard to count along with. "Dizzy Raptures" is an orchestral-backed ballad, almost classical in its approach. It has a nifty string section in the middle, leading into an emotional Camel-like guitar solo. Nice. And then there's "Driftin'", maybe the best song on the whole album, and the most "prog" song on side two. Starts with a rippin' syncopated synth riff that reminds me of Gentle Giant (e.g. "Free Hand"), has an extended opening instrumental section with echoey guitars not unlike mid-period Eloy, and then goes into a dreamy vocal section with another one of the best choruses I've ever heard. It closes with an instrumental outro again featuring soaring guitars.

For me, this album began as an "ugh... disco", graduated to a guilty pleasure, and currently sits as an album I listen to regularly without apology. If you like late 70s pop music with interesting chord structures and arrangements, give it a try.

HolyMoly | 4/5 |

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