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Various Genres definition

Albums or CD's where more than one artist is featured either as a SAMPLER or a TRIBUTE to a particular band. Examples: - Peter and The Wolf - Prog Fairytale - 1975 / The Reading Room - 2000 / Leonardo - The Absolute Man - 2001 / Best Prog Rock Album in the World... Ever - 2003 / Un Voyage En Progressif Volume 1 to 8 / Kalevala - A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic.

Various Genres Top Albums

Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Various Genres | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.23 | 155 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.27 | 78 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.27 | 72 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.36 | 43 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.33 | 40 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.18 | 66 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.21 | 46 ratings
Various Artists (Tributes)
4.78 | 11 ratings
Various Artists (Tributes)
4.14 | 51 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.05 | 70 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.32 | 19 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.09 | 43 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
5.00 | 6 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.03 | 38 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.14 | 21 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.02 | 37 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.31 | 13 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.07 | 22 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.05 | 20 ratings
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.41 | 8 ratings
Various Artists (Tributes)

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Latest Various Genres Music Reviews

 Psychedelic Underground 17 by VARIOUS ARTISTS (LABEL SAMPLERS) album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.00 | 1 ratings

Psychedelic Underground 17
Various Artists (Label Samplers) Various Genres

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars The German label Garden Of Delights has re-released dozens of -- well, in fact nearly two hundred -- more or less obscure and rare German prog albums over the years, each CD with detailed liner notes and pictures, often also with several bonus tracks. Every tenth CD is a sampler of the nine latest re-releases, and the bands are introduced briefly but on a satisfying level (in German / English).

SUNBIRDS was an instrumental quintet playing jazz fusion. The opening track from their debut (1971) is a pleasant, bluesy composition that emphasizes electric piano and flute. - MISSUS BEASTLY is slightly better known, mostly instrumental jazz-rock group of the 70's. Flute dominates on this one, a fresh and percussively strong little piece.- EMBRYO is probably the best known band on this selection. The title song from Bad Heads and Bad Cats (1976) reminds me of the British group Babe Ruth, with the female vocals and jazzy touch.

GUILDENSTERN, an instrumentally oriented group influenced by e.g. Eloy, Genesis and Camel, never released an album, but a decent release was gathered from live and rehearsal room recordings. With a better sound quality it could have come very close to being an excellent symph prog discovery. - The instrumental jazz-rock piece by TETRAGON is from the release Agape which contains previously unreleased stuff. The Nice comes to my mind from the rather jam-like piece emphasizing on organ and drums. - I was quite delighted by the sole album (1976) of LANGSYNE, an English-language psych-folk group. Peaceful 'Morning' is a fairly good outtake from it.

PANCAKE released three different albums, and the third one from 1979 is said to be the hardest. The female vocalist Biggi Zmierczak is frankly quite bad. - The 8th track is a massive live improvisation (37:34) by COSMIC CIRCUS MUSIC. They are compared to the early Ash Ra Tempel. It's not easy to stay awake during this meditation... - And finally, a 12-minute track by a Pink Floyd influenced one-timer VIRUS. The organ-heavy and instrumentally oriented, slightly jazzy piece features great flute contributions.

Otherwise pretty nice selection of vintage German obscurities, but the piece by C.C.M. could have been edited to a decent length in order to have longer tracks from other, more interesting bands.

 Decameron - Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part III by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 2016
5.00 | 5 ratings

Decameron - Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part III
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

5 stars In 1353 Giovanni Boccaccio completed his famous book Decamerone, in which a company of ten young Florentians have escaped the Black Death epidemic of 1348. During ten days each of them tells a daily story; thus the complete Decamerone contains full 100 short stories. It's undoubtedly the most important book in the whole history of short stories. The word 'novella' of Italian origin, used in this three-part anthology series, actually means (in today's English) a short novel, so it's a bit out of place... But anyway, the now-completed massive international project organized by the Finnish prog society Colossus and its Italian chairman Marco Bernard wasn't to make any compromises: each and every story has been given a musical interpretation on three 4-disc sets. Sadly I haven't listened to the previous parts.

In one word, it's a cornucopia! I have been listening to these approx. 70-minute CD's several days now, and I really could have continued to do so for many more days before reviewing. But now to the music. Quite a few of the artists participating in this anthology have favoured notable Medieval/Renaissance flavours (that I'm fond of) in their compositions or arrangements. That would not be the point at all, it simply wouldn't feel natural if all the dozens of prog bands/artists with their own styles tried to catch the spirit of the 1400th century. It's enough that the bands more or less share the spirit of the Golden Age of progressive rock. Downright modern stuff you won't find here. Who would want or expect to? Mellotron, Hammond, Korg, Moog, clavinet... and of course violin and flute are frequently listed on these pages.

My favourites on the first CD include instrumentals by AGENESS (Finland), WILLOWGLASS (UK), and a song by a US group ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND, one of the few using recorder to bring some Medieval touch. Before I forget, the best thing about this anthology has nothing to do with bygone centuries, it is the fact that it's exhaustingly full of excellent prog. The second best thing is that it introduces to me - and surely to anyone - numerous interesting prog acts I hadn't even heard of. I never would have guessed STELLA LEE JONES to be a Japanese prog group.

The most frequent countries are Italy and USA. Italian bands feature e.g. LATTE E MIELE, IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE, TAPROBAN and IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE. There are artists from Canada, France, Spain, Argentina, Australia (UNITED PROGRESSIVE FRATERNITY), Russia, etc.

Less than 1/3 of all artists I had earlier listened to, but I daresay everyone has taken this project with passion and high artistic goals. The existent stylistic variety naturally means that not a single listener can be impressed by all 36 tracks. However, only a very few tracks I rather skip (and I am generally pretty fond of the skip button, believe me). I'm glad that the majority of the tracks are instrumentals. Sometimes the lyrics are slightly clumsy as they concentrate in telling the story. Amusingly there are a couple of tracks with a theatrical or even opera-reminding dialogue approach: 'Put a Tail On It' by CASTLE CANYON (USA) is guaranteed to raise a smile. Usually an instrumentally oriented OZONE PLAYER (Finland) has invited four vocalists.

"Intro" piece by ROBERT WEBB (of England fame) and "outro" by Castle Canyon, again (their 'Nephile's Song' is one of my favourites) aren't directly based on Decamerone stories. Nearly each of the remaining 34 tracks are accompanied with a story synopsis, which is very nice. The thick booklet designed by Ed Unitsky deserves all the praise, managing to be both informative in a user-friendly way and visually beautiful. The same way as the CD's by The Samurai Of Prog, which as a multi-national virtual band can be seen closely related to these Colossus projects. Also here there are pieces featuring musicians from various corners of the globe. In the Internet Age it's not necessary to even meet in person in order to make music that matters.

It's not often that I'm willing to give a full rating to a various artists set, but this is such occasion. If I was imprisoned for months and was allowed to have just one CD release, this might be the one.

 Marillion's Script Revisited (by Mick Pointer Band) by VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) album cover Live, 2014
4.04 | 5 ratings

Marillion's Script Revisited (by Mick Pointer Band)
Various Artists (Tributes) Various Genres

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars A tribute to one of the best if not the best Neo-Prog album, (don't like that label but this is another debate) with musicians from other prog rock bands and with ex- Marillion member, Mick Pointer. The full album and many great songs from B-sides of the band are played. They choose the right vocalist, Brian Cummings singer of The Carpet Crawlers Genesis tribute band, and also singing in the new Peter Gabriel tribute. He has the shape and the big voice to match Fish vocal range. And this is what make this tribute a success. The songs have a lot of energy and keep the spirit of the music intact. If you like this album and Marillion Fish era, you will enjoy that double cd.
 The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.81 | 15 ratings

The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Cosmic at the time

One of the first releases to feature the Moog, and also one of the first concept albums, "Cosmic Sounds" is a collaborative project realized by multiple professional studio musicians and arrangers. Consisting in twelve short pieces representing the signs of the Zodiac, it features all the various psychedelic elements of the late 60's, and an important usage of keyboards, especially the well-known synthesizer, played by Paul Beaver. Each track is built around small musical patterns and narration interludes pronounced by Cyrus Faryar. The words were written by Jacques Wilson, and, most important, the music was composed by Mort Garson, who will later become one of the Moog's audacious explorers.

True story: the back cover includes the mention "Must Be Played In The Dark"...

The opener "Aries - The Fire-Fighter" is a psychedelic rock typical of the 60's. One of the best passages of the record, very catchy! Then comes "Taurus - The Voluptuary", a soft pastoral ballad, followed by the strange "Gemini - The Cool Eye", displaying various spacey ambiances but a bit uneven. "Cancer - The Moon Child" opens with a mysterious threatening ambiance, to then release furious guitars (at the time). Although "Leo - The Lord Of Lights" is a nice psyché-rock, my personal favorite track is undoubtedly the stellar "Virgo - The Perpetual Perfectionist" is. A perfect (short) trip into the stars!

The trippy meditative "Libra - The Flower Child" uses Indian instruments, whereas the martial "Scorpio - The Passionate Hero" is more oppressive. On the contrary, the weird circus "Sagittarius - The Versatile Daredevil" sounds a little out of place. No the best sign here... Much more mysterious is the sinister ritual "Capricorn - The Uncapricious Climber". The record finishes with the aerial crystalline "Aquarius - The Lover Of Life" and the peaceful melancholic "Pisces - The Peace Piper".

Despite its short tracks and length, the music manages to offer multiple varied atmospheres. For sure, the disc sounds a bit dated now and contains a few weak moments, but the result is very nice, ahead of its time and spacey for 1967. Accessible and not too experimental, "Cosmic Sounds" is a colorful and trippy journey around the Zodiac.

This album will influence other bands, such as MOODY BLUES for their pioneering "Days of Future Passed", usually considered as one of the first progressive record ever. An innovative and historic proto-prog album, and an essential listen for psychedelic and space rock lovers. Cosmic pop from the sixties!

 The Show That Never Ends: The Best of Progressive Rock - Live from the King Biscuit Vaults by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
3.00 | 2 ratings

The Show That Never Ends: The Best of Progressive Rock - Live from the King Biscuit Vaults
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars "THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS: The Best of Progressive Rock Live From The KING BISCUIT Vaults" is one of the many releases from the famous American syndicated radio show THE KING BISCUIT FLOWER HOUR that broadcast on Sunday nights from 1973 to 2007. While encompassing everything from B.B.King and Bruce Springsteen to Billy Squier, the show covered more than its share of progressive rock bands as well.

This release is basically a sampler pack highlighting some of their progressive releases with two tracks each from a total of six artists which include Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Dixie Dregs, Renaissance, Gentle Giant, Rick Wakeman and Greg Lake. These tracks are simply taken off each artist's retrospective full live album released on the King Biscuit label.

This is a rather strange mix of company here indeed and i can never fully recommend these kinds of samplers unless you are utterly clueless about progressive rock in general and really just want to sample some of the greats at their prime. I would steer the prospective listener to simply acquiring the entire "King Biscuit Flower Presents" album for the artists of choice. For example of these i actually own the Gentle Giant album from which "Proclamation" and "Experience" emerged and can highly recommend that album as a whole.

I doubt any serious progger would track this down but all the performances are top notch so if you happen to find it at a decent price it is by no means a bad album. It's just not what i'd call the least bit essential either so my 3 star rating is simply a reflection of the compilation itself and not the contents of the music although i can't say that the ELP tracks are my top pick for inclusion nor are those of the Dixie Dregs. The inclusion of Greg Lake covering King Crimson tracks as if they were his own rubs me the wrong way as well, but as i stated, everything is performed extremely well and well worth a listen if you happen to find this jumping into your stereo system.

 To Cry You a Song: A Collection of Tull Tales (Jethro Tull tribute) by VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.29 | 22 ratings

To Cry You a Song: A Collection of Tull Tales (Jethro Tull tribute)
Various Artists (Tributes) Various Genres

Review by VianaProghead

3 stars Review Nº 60

I bought this CD a couple of years. Honestly, I picked it up, mainly because of two reasons. The names of the artists involved in this project and because this is a tribute to one of the best and most important bands, but also because they're one of my favorite progressive groups of ever. Sincerely, I must confess that I gave only a very small importance to this album, when I bought it, and because of that, I just listened to it a few months ago.

The album was released in 1996 by Magna Carta and has fourteen tracks. The first track "A Tull Tale" is an instrumental track written specifically for this tribute by Magellan featuring Stan Johnson, Trent Gardner and Roger Patterson. The second track "Aqualung" is the title track of "Aqualung" and is also performed by Magellan featuring Trent Gardner, Wayne Gardner and Roger Patterson. The third track "Up The 'Pool" is a track of "Living In The Past" featuring Roy Harper and Colm O'Sullivan. The fourth track "Nothing Is Easy" is a track of "Stand Up" featuring John Wetton, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker, Glenn Cornick, Ian McDonald, Phil Manzanera and Robert Berry. The fifth track "Mother Goose" is a track of "Aqualung" featuring Lief Sorbye, Mike Varney and Robert Berry. The sixth track "Minstrel In The Gallery" is the title track of "Minstrel In The Gallery" featuring Robert Berry and Lief Sorbye. The seventh track "One Brown Mouse" is a track of "Heavy Horses" and is performed by Echolyn featuring Brett Kull, Ray Weston and Paul Ramsey. The eighth track "Cat's Squirrel" is a track of "This Was" featuring Charlie Musselwhite, Derek Trucks, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker, Mike Summerland and Robert Berry. The ninth track "To Cry You A Song" is a track of "Benefit" featuring Glen Hughes, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker, Glenn Cornick, Derek Sherinian and Robert Berry. The tenth track "A New Day Yesterday" is a song of "Stand Up" featuring Robby Steinhardt, Ian McDonald, Mick Abrahams, Phil Manzanera, Robert Berry, Clive Bunker, Glenn Cornick and Mike Vible. The eleventh track "Teacher" is a track of "Benefit" and is performed by Wolfstone featuring Ivan Drever, Stuart Eaglesham, Duncan Chisholm, Derek Sherinian, Mike Abrahams, Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornick. The twelfth track "Living In The Past" is the title track of "Living In The Past" featuring Keith Emerson, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornick. The thirteenth track "Locomotive Breath" is a track of "Aqualung" and is performed by Tempest featuring Robert Berry, Lief Sorbye, Rob Wullenjohn, Adolfo Lazo, Jay Nania and Michael Mullen. The fourteenth track "Life Is A Long Song" is a track of "Living In The Past" featuring Matt Pegg, Dave Pegg, Tom Mates and Rob Armstrong.

"To Cry You A Song" is a very nice album and very pleasant to listen to. It has a very interesting set of songs from Jethro Tull, despite it comprises almost only tracks from their first albums, but the new versions are in general good. For me, the album has four tracks of quality far above the others, which are "A Tull Tale", "Aqualung", "Minstrel In The Gallery" and "One Brown Mouse". About the remaining tracks, some are more interesting than others, with the exception of "Cat's Squirrel", which is for me, a track which passed by me in relation to the other remaining tracks.

About the four songs mentioned by me, I have to say something more about them. "A Tull Tale" is a great performance of Magellan that fits perfectly well into the music of Jethro Tull and is a great tribute to them that passes through various pieces of their music. The version of "Aqualung" made by Magellan is, in my humble opinion, a perfect choice by this great band, not only because, it's for me, one of the best songs of Jethro Tull, but also because it fits perfectly in the Magellan's music. I've listened to this version many times, and honestly, I don't consider this version inferior to the original. "Minstrel In The Gallery" is also, in my humble opinion, one of the best tracks of Jethro Tull and represents also a great version of the original composition. "One Brown Mouse" is one of the simplest and most beautiful songs of Jethro Tull and to my taste, this startlingly original version of Echolyn is simply brilliant and amazing. This is probably my favorite track of the album. It makes shining the name of this great American band.

Conclusion: Like Gatot, I also think that a tribute album can't be considered as a masterpiece. However, I would like to put the question in another way. Can a tribute album to a band be essential to any progressive musical collection? I think the answer can be yes if it's an album with a bunch of good songs that perfectly represents the band's repertoire, or when the new versions are great and well performed by those artists. However, in this case and unlike Gatot, I don't consider this album essential to any progressive musical collection mainly due to two reasons. First, it isn't fully representative of the repertoire of the band. Second, in general, I don't consider it, an album of great new versions of the original titles. Anyway, in spite of everything I wrote before, "To Cry You A Song", consists in the vast majority, of interesting versions, especially the wonderful versions made by Magellan and Echolyn, of which I'm a big fan.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Classic Rock Society: New Species - Volume VII by VARIOUS ARTISTS (LABEL SAMPLERS) album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
4.00 | 1 ratings

Classic Rock Society: New Species - Volume VII
Various Artists (Label Samplers) Various Genres

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars Compilation CDs of the sampler variety, most often found as attachments to music magazines of various kinds, is a feature that has become increasingly more common in the digital age, presumably as a selling point for paper publications as they try to add a selling point when competing with uncountable numbers of music news outlets available for free on the internet. The value of such sampler CDs is contested, as many find that they devalue the worth of music in general. But outside of the circles of ardent, dedicated music fans these have proven to be rather popular, as they do manage to be of interest to many, especially more casual fans as well as those who don't take the time to search for new music themselves but rather opts to rely on guidance by others. Playing through such a sampler CD is a time efficient manner in which to discover new music that may be worthwhile getting more familiar with.

"New Species Volume VII" dates back to 2013, and was assembled by the Classic Rock Society, attached to their magazine Rock Society (issue 194). As far as such samplers go it features all the low and high points of such compilations: The songs included are of a generally high quality throughout, but the sheer diversity at hand means that the overall appeal will be something of a hit and miss affair, the number of listeners that will find all the songs of an equally high interest will be finite and limited.

Roughly speaking the tracks from 12 artists included may be described in this manner: - Kompendium: Gentle, symphonic progressive rock with orchestral movements and pastoral sequences. - Kingbathmat: Psychedelic rock with space rock elements and a vintage hard rock undercurrent. John Lawton And Diana Express: Classic 70's piano driven hard rock. - The Room: Early 80's Rush meets early 80's Magnum, with a touch of 80's AOR hard rock thrown in for good measure. - Jolly: Dark, oppressive and bleak progressive metal. - Antony Kalugin's Kinematics Orchestra: Careful, exotic material in an Ozric Tentacles meets symphonic progressive rock kind of way. - Tusmorke: Organ and flute driven 70's progressive rock, not all that far removed from the likes of Black Widow. - Panzerballett: Tight, intense metal combined with jazz and jazzrock on top of a reggae backbone. - The Aurora Project: Majestic and tight classic era progressive metal combined with atmospheric laden neo-progresive rock. Ebony Tower: Tight and distinct folk-oriented rock combined with vibrant hard rock. - Karfagen: Scandinavian and Middle East inspired folk music themes explored in a multifaceted symphonic progressive rock context. - Argos: Playful and whimsical progressive rock with firm nods in the direction of the Canterbury bands, with darker undercurrents and occasional classic era Genesis tendencies.

A lot of variety in other words, not all of it material most would categorize as progressive rock either, but first and foremost a case of great diversity.

Sampler CDs of this kind will often turn up as flea market items at giveaway prices or plain and simply given away by people, some will even throw these in the garbage can. Personally I'd recommend this one, as most others of it's kind, as a CD that is a worthwhile listen, and then first and foremost for those with an interest in discovering new music and new artists. Not everything will be as interesting to everybody, true enough, but the very premise of such productions is to include everything alongside the proverbial kitchen sink, so that as broad an audience as possible may discover some music to their liking. As far as I'm concerned this CD accomplish that very well, and as a person with a fairly broad taste I'll readily admit that this was a CD I really enjoyed giving a spin.

 Greasy Truckers Party by VARIOUS ARTISTS (LABEL SAMPLERS) album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1972
3.95 | 2 ratings

Greasy Truckers Party
Various Artists (Label Samplers) Various Genres

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Greasy Truckers Party was an important live set for Hawkwind - recorded so that choice extracts could be included on the 2LP set to commemorate the occasion, it captured the band at a crucial point in its development - with Rob Calvert, Lemmy, and Stacia all having come onboard since In Search of Space and the group's live set already attaining an early prototype of the sound and mood later captured in Space Ritual. The live version of Silver Machine from the set would also eventually form the basis of the classic single, once Lemmy's vocals were put on in place of Rob Calvert's (whose vocals are probably the one aspect of the release that isn't especially well-mixed). Even a power cut earlier in the evening can't throw them off their stride, though it does mean that they have a bit of a false start as the synthesisers crap out during the first attempt to play This Is Your Captain Speaking.

Various editions of the material exist and circulate; the original LP is the way to go if you just want a couple of tracks from Hawkwind and a sprinkling from the other bands in attendance, but most fans will want more, hence the existence of the Live at the Roundhouse 1972 bootleg. Luckily, the recent 2007 reissue of the Greasy Truckers compilation provides a much more complete record of the event, including the entire Hawkwind set. If you're only interested in the Hawkwind material and don't care for the likes of Man, Brinsley Schwarz, and Magical Michael, the recent This Is Your Captain Speaking... Your Captain Is Dead boxed set presents a two-CD presentation of just the Hawkwind set, with the original LP mixes of Master of the Universe and Born to Go as handy bonus tracks.

 Ponder The Mystery (William Shatner featuring Billy Sherwood) by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 2013
2.95 | 2 ratings

Ponder The Mystery (William Shatner featuring Billy Sherwood)
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars Now here's one that is just so out of left field that i just had to check it out. WILLIAM SHATNER has done many things in his long career whether it was playing TV host for Rescue 911, celebrity pitchman for "" in the 90s or for his acting career whether it be the police sergeant on T.J. Hooker, his roles in The Practice, Boston Legal or in the role that every television viewing human being knows so well which landed him international fame in the 60s as James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek series.

One of SHATNER's lesser known side careers comes in the form of his unique musical parodies that began way back in 1968 with the release of his first album "The Transformed Man" which includes the only track i've ever pretty much heard from the man in the form of "Spleen / Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" where he displays his ability to take a perfectly good song and butcher it beyond recognition with his exaggerated interpretive reading of the lyrics instead of singing. Little did i know that SHATNER has released several albums over the decades and PONDER THE MYSTERY is actually his 8th! Wow. Who's buying this stuff?

OK. I admit it. I bought this one but only because this one is different. This album goes well beyond the kitsch novelty of simply using spoken word over a well-known pop hit for a startling and contrasting effect. This is in fact a Billy Sherwood (guitarist of Yes from 1997 - 2000 as well as with World Trade, Lodgic, Conspiracy, Circa and The Prog Collective) album under the guise of a WILLIAM SHATNER release. Granted SHATNER does exactly what he does and contributes all the poetic lyrics but everything musical here including the songwriting, sung vocals, drums, bass, guitars and keys are done by Sherwood while there is a whole army of guest musicians on board helping out including another Yes family member Tony Kaye.

Right from the beginning you can tell this is a serious project with state of the art production values and symphonic touches that swirl around and smooth out every little sound and note with careful precision. The music sounds like a beautiful progressive rock world of sophistication on the short instrumental opener "Red Shift" and then suddenly it changes to "Where It's Gone? I Don't Know" where we get a slowed down symphonically accompanied acoustic guitar with Billy Sherwood singing in the background and then without further ado enters the Captain's spoken word poetry which philosophically ponders the nebulous concepts of being lost in life in a seemingly roundabout of causes and effects which becomes joined by the lead guitars of Mick Jones (of Foreigner).

This album comes off very much as a symphonic progressive album in the vein of a Neil Morse album except the lead vocals are spoken instead of sung. Despite the novelty effect in full force this is a seriously complex project with well thought out musical accompaniments that includes a huge host of progressive guest stars roster including Simon House (Hawkwind), Steve Vai, Al Di Meola, Rick Wakeman, Edgar Winter, Nik Turner (Hawkwind), Vince Gill (the country singer), Edgar Froese (Tangerine Dream), Robby Krieger (The Doors), Dave Koz (smooth jazz saxophonist), George Duke (Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa) and Zoot Horn Rollo (Captain Beefheart).

The lyrics are as you would expect, goofy with a pretense of being deeply profound. They are indeed SHATNER's own philosophical take on life laid out in a poetic parade of cynicism, regret as well as shock and awe and displays his stance as a perplexed 82 year old man still trying to work out some of the deepest mysteries of life which adds to the irony that supposedly makes the whole thing ludicrous and humorous in a roundabout way. It is to a certain extent but at a running time of 65:13 tends to wear out its welcome by the end.

This is one of those head scratchers actually where i wonder exactly what the participating parties were expecting. I mean i can't imagine anybody being won over to progressive rock through the novelty spoken-word, uh talents (?), of WILLIAM SHATNER and i certainly can't foresee too many progressive rock aficionados feeling the urge to delve into the kitschy novelty act of WILLIAM SHATNER either. By nature this hybrid product ends up in a strange limbo where no musical act has boldly gone before and arguably should never go again!

My opinion of this one is that it's not as bad as it sounds. The music is actually quite good although the restrained spoken word delivery does keep the energy tamped down to a sizzle instead of ever really letting loose. There was obviously a lot put into this one and nurtured some strange aspect of Billy Sherwood's personality that needed to be expressed. After all is said and done i can't say i regret buying this album. The music is very intricate and well suited for the poetic content however i will not be delving into MR SHATNER's discography for more of his contributions to the musical world as i only picked this one up merely for the progressive rock musicians on board. While i would hardly call this an essential album in any musical arena, it is somewhat of a curiosity that will tickle the funny bone of the open-minded music lover who doesn't mind serious music being blended with ridiculousness. Good but not great. Vision expressed, so it's time for Scotty to beam me up and outa here to something more interesting.

 Encores Legends & Paradox (Emerson Lake & Palmer tribute) by VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.63 | 23 ratings

Encores Legends & Paradox (Emerson Lake & Palmer tribute)
Various Artists (Tributes) Various Genres

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Toccata

There is sometimes talk of a "big five" or "big six" of progressive Rock - referring, not necessarily to the best five or six bands, but at least to those that are most well-known among the wider public - even though there is probably no consensus on exactly which bands should be included. If you would ask Magna Carta records they would probably tell you that the big six consists of Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Rush, and Emerson Lake & Palmer. At least it is precisely these six bands that this label has released tribute albums to.

Encores Legends & Paradox is a tribute to Emerson Lake & Palmer and is one of the better tribute albums in the series by Magna Carta. As could be expected, keyboard players play an important role here given the nature of the music of Emerson Lake & Palmer. Geoff Downes, Erik Norlander, Derek Sherinian, Jordan Rudess, and Igor Khoroshev are some of the keyboarders who pay their respects to Keith Emerson on this tribute. Emerson's influence on these players is undeniable.

Among the vocalists we find John Wetton whose career is intertwined with that of Greg Lake in interesting ways. Both Lake and Wetton were of course part of King Crimson at different times, and Lake at one point (albeit very briefly) stood in for Wetton in Asia (as documented on the live video Asia In Asia). Other singers involved in this tribute are Glenn Hughes, Robert Berry, and Dream Theater's James LaBrie. Berry, as ELP fans will know, was Lake's replacement in the band in the late 80's when they adopted the moniker of "3" for one album; To the Power of Three, released in 1988.

On the drum stool we find, among others, Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater and Doanne Perry from Jethro Tull. Interestingly, guitars are more prominent on these cover versions than they ever were on the originals. Original Yes guitarist Peter Banks contributes to a couple of tracks and long-time Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre contributes to one. Marc Bonilla is another guitar player involved and he would later go on to collaborate with Keith Emerson himself. They did a good studio album in 2008 under the name "Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla", and an excellent live album and video followed in 2011. (See the entry for Keith Emerson for these releases.) I have often thought that ELP would have benefited from the addition of a permanent guitar player and my view is confirmed by versions including more guitars. (Also Greg Lake have performed ELP material live with guitar players to great effect; see, for example, the very good DVD Greg Lake Live.)

All of the ten cuts cover tunes from ELP's first four albums, released between 1970 and 1973. As most fans would agree, this was the best period of the band, and the song selection reflects the band's greatness. No tribute album can ever be essential and Encores Legends & Paradox is no exception. But it is a worthy celebration of a great band and one of the better entries in Magna Carta's series of tributes released between 1995 and 1999.

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