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Step Ahead - Step Ahead CD (album) cover

STEP AHEAD

Step Ahead

 

Neo-Prog

3.71 | 41 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4.5 stars. I have to give Greg Walker a thankyou for bringing this band to my attention some time ago. It wasn't until recently that I was able to get it, as it has been out of print for some time. Greg sent me a list of his all time favourite prog albums (1 per band) and this was on that list of about a 120 albums from all over the world. Anyway STEP AHEAD were from France, and the leader and guitarists' name was Christian Robin.This guy is an outstanding player, I mean he could play in a Metal or Fusion band he is so amazing. He ended up getting Gerald Macia on acoustic guitar, he had played with CARPE DIAM late in the career of that band. Speaking of CARPE DIAM, their keyboardist Christian Truci helped out STEP AHEAD with the keyboard arrangement that had been written by changing and elaborating on them, even starting over from scratch on some of them. His sister Claudie Truchi would end up on this recording playing the keys. She had sung on stage with CARPE DIAM during some of their concerts, and played keys with another band, and also composed her own music. So STEP AHEAD was ready to record their album, except for one problem. One month before they were to go into the studio they still had no singer. A friend of Christian's who was camping told him about this superb singing voice that he had heard issuing from the caravan of an Irish tourist. Christian was so desperate that he contacted this man who turned out to be Danny Brown. In the liner notes it says he used to play for THE SMALL FACES, but I can find nothing to confirm that. So it's either a mistake on the band mentioned or Danny may have just told them that ? I don't know, but apparently he was a singer, and man can he sing ! This Irishman agreed to stay in France and become part of STEP AHEAD. Oh there is some guest flute on the song "Thinking" by another CARPE DIAM member Claude-Marius David.

"Eyes" opens with beautiful acoustic guitar and piano melodies. Drums and aggressive guitar take over briefly before it settles back down. Tempo shifts continue. What a beautiful melody 2 minutes in as the synths join in. Vocals before 3 minutes. Screaming guitar and pounding drums follow. Great opening track. "Right Or Wrong" features many tempo changes in the first minute alone. The guitar is incredible. He can really rip it up. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in are simply moving. Blistering guitar before 3 minutes. Piano and vocals follow. It's not often that i'm singing along with the chorus. Synth waves are followed by a calm. A guitar solo is next followed by what sure sounds like mellotron(it comes and goes). A guitar solo late goes on and on. Unbelieveable ! "Thinking" opens with some tasteful guitar, then flute replaces along with acoustic guitar. Guitar and crisp drums come in. The tempo picks up as the guitar is on fire. Vocals and a calm 2 minutes. What is it about his vocals that are so moving. Fantastic tune. I love when it becomes almost melancholic at different times. Check out the speed of light guitar shredding after 4 minutes.

"Heaven" is an instrumental. Gentle guitar to open before some surprising heaviness a minute in. Some great synths and filthy guitar to follow. "Eleven Days" is a mellow tune with cello and almost Jon Anderson-like vocals. There is a lone acoustic guitar melody 2 1/2 minutes in before drums and vocals return. "Hell" is another instrumental that opens with intricate acoustic guitar, cello 1 1/2 minutes in follows. "White Lady" opens with reserved vocals and piano. Gulp. Drums come in and a fuller sound. Some uplifting guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. Incredible tune. "The End" opens with piano and some atmosphere. Vocals, followed by a child's voice. More vocals as guitar then drums come in. Tempo continues to change quickly. Love the guitar as usual.

I really believe every Neo-Prog fan out there should have this beautiful album. It's so close to 5 stars in my opinion, it would be hard for me to explain why it shouldn't be rated a five. Maybe in time I will change my rating. There are some live bonus songs on this version which allow us to get a sense of how good they were on stage.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |

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