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Argent - Circus CD (album) cover

CIRCUS

Argent

 

Crossover Prog

3.33 | 69 ratings

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Steven in Atlanta
4 stars The last two Argent albums tend to get written off quickly, which is a real shame as there's much wonderful stuff both on the Circus and Counterpoints elpees.

With guitarist/singer/songwriter Russ Ballard gone, the Argent musical direction was now left solely to keyboard man Rod Argent who all but jettisoned the straightforward song structures that Ballard preferred in favor of keyboard-heavy proggy/jazzy workouts, still heavily arranged but, happily, never solos-for-solos' sake.

Replacing the departed guitarist/singer was not one but two players: lead guitarist John Grimaldi (with lineage to the Royal Family of Monaco, no less - not many royal figures end up in prog outfits, do they?) and second guitarist and singer John Verity. The late Grimaldi was quite the nimble fingered guitar man, particularly aiding and abetting Mr. Argent in his jazz fusion leanings in no small way. Verity's singing voice is actually not too dissimilar to Ballard's, that is when you can actually hear him sing at all - Rod Argent himself curiously takes on all lead vocal duties here (save for bassist Jim Rodford on his own track Trapeze). Perhaps Verity joined the band after most of the sessions were completed - I'm not familiar enough with the band's chronology in that department.

Still, there are many fine PA moments and arrangements to be enjoyed on Circus. Both Highwire and Trapeze I feel are among this band's finest ever tracks. The two ballads, Clown and Shine On Sunshine, are unfortunately sappy additions to the show, however nicely arranged (maybe they had a 45 release or two in mind). Still, I wouldn't let those two short diversions keep you away from this otherwise excellent album.

For you keyboard nuts, Rod Argent utilizes every instrument in his considerable arsenal. And all are front and center with synths, Fender Rhodes and mellotron at the head of the line - the Hammond, not so much, interestingly.

If you enjoyed the Music From the Spheres track from their previous album Nexus (the band's most popular here at PA), you'll certainly enjoy Circus.

Steven in Atlanta | 4/5 |

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